News Archives

  • New Round of Entrepreneurship Innovation Grants Announced

    Six proposals approved for total of $170,000
    The UMKC Entrepreneurship Innovation Grant Program announced its second round of grant recipients in late December. Six proposals were approved in the second round of funding for a total of approximately $170,000 worth of one-year grants. Projects submitted by UMKC students, faculty and staff will be considered for these grants, which come with entrepreneurial support programs in addition to the financing. The Entrepreneurship Innovation Grant Program is funded by the Kauffman Foundation and is a joint effort by the UMKC Innovation Center, the Regnier Institute at the UMKC Bloch School of Management and the UMKC School of Law to increase entrepreneurial activities throughout the university. These grants support a variety of initiatives in entrepreneurship including curriculum development, technology commercialization, school and department initiatives, community service, engagement and ecosystem building. These projects received grants in the second round: Arts Entrepreneurship Residency The grant provides funding for a two-day arts entrepreneurship residency with Jonathan Kuuskoski, director of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance’s EXCEL Lab. The residency title is From Portfolios to Platforms: Developing, Launching and Sustaining Arts Projects. Four sequential workshops will prime students to embrace best practices from the realms of entrepreneurship, leadership and management training to enhance their own creative pursuits. Interactive, outcome-oriented sessions will draw from methodologies such as Lean Startup and Design Thinking Process to help students craft creative projects from ideation to funding. Commercialization of SGM for the Destructions of PFAS The objective of this project is to scale and commercialize a novel, patent-pending UMKC-grown technology for destruction and complete mineralization of PER and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). It will demonstrate proof of concept to potential investors through creation of a market-ready reactor to meet remedial regulation for the PFAS market. Entrepreneurial Legal Services Pro Bono Panel The Entrepreneurial Legal Services and Intellectual Property Clinic will establish a regional pro bono panel of attorneys to assist with Community Services Engagement and Ecosystem Building by providing relevant and timely business information, counseling and management, and legal matters services for low-income aspiring and existing business owners in the Kansas City region. Pharmacy Innovation Challenge Program The grant will fund creation of an integrated experience for graduate Ph.D. programs and professional Pharm.D. students within the UMKC School of Pharmacy to engage with the entrepreneurial environment at UMKC and within the Kansas City region. The goal is to create a learning environment that integrates research, entrepreneurial thinking, diversity and engagement with stakeholders outside of UMKC. Students will learn about the entrepreneurial environment in Kansas City, and how to create a business plan for an enterprise in pharmaceutical sciences and/or pharmacy in fields such as precision medicine and digital health. Development Smart Agricultural Entrepreneurship (SAgE) Program for Sustainable Urban Food Ecosystem The grant to the UMKC Center for Applied Environmental Research (CAER) will fund development of the Smart Agricultural Entrepreneurship (SAgE) Program to support the development of sustainable urban food ecosystems in the Kansas City metro area. The mission of SAgE is to promote agricultural entrepreneurs (agripreneurs) in urban areas to succeed in the business of farming, which will add value to the quality of life for the agripreneur and their surrounding community.  Summer Research Opportunities for Students of Color The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship will receive funding to increase the participation of students of color who are interested in entrepreneurship in UMKC’s Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunities (SUROP) program. Jan 19, 2022

  • Honoring Trailblazing Alumna and Educator

    Conella Coulter Brown was one of the first Black students to graduate from Kansas City’s university
    Conella Coulter Brown (1925-2021) was one of the first seven Black students to integrate the newly desegregated University of Kansas City, the precursor to the University of Missouri--Kansas City. She applied after reading a story in the Kansas City Call that UKC had opened admission to students of color. While Coulter Brown did not feel as if high school had prepared her for college, she persevered and in 1949 was accepted by UKC. In an interview with the UMKC Alumni Association in 2015, she reminisced about her time at the university and noted that she felt accepted by her peers and ran for secretary of the student council during her time as a student. “I campaigned all over the university. I had a microphone and talked in the cafeteria. I talked everywhere. I was elected the Liberal Arts Treasurer by a 90% white student body." In 1953 she was one of the first seven Black students to graduate from UKC, and the first person in her family to graduate from college. “I walked across that stage and received that degree, and it was a joy. I felt like I was somebody.” Following graduation Coulter Brown applied but wasn’t hired to teach in schools in Kansas City because of her race. She moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where she had a long and successful career in education, retiring in 1980 as assistant superintendent of the Cleveland Public Schools. She was the only Black woman serving as an assistant superintendent of a major school district in Ohio at the time. UMKC awarded Coulter Brown an UMKC Alumni Achievement Award in 1964, the same year she became an assistant principal. In 2015, UMKC Chancellor Emeritus Leo Morton recognized Brown as a trailblazer and awarded her a UMKC diploma, honoring her as “an original Roo.” “When we talk about trailblazers and thanking those who paved the way – you are at the top of our list,” Morton said at the ceremony. Coulter Brown returned to Kansas City after her retirement and founded the Student Aid Mentoring Ministry through the Community fellowship Church of Jesus Christ to help students of color overcome challenges. Jan 19, 2022

  • UMKC Professors Study the Impact of Sound on Operating Room Safety

    Faculty donation leads to collaboration between professors in the School of Medicine and UMKC Conservatory to yield safer surgeries
    Medicine and music aren’t an obvious pair, but in a discussion between colleagues at the UMKC Surgical Innovations Lab, experts in each field realized an interesting link between the two topics. Gary Sutkin, M.D., professor of surgery and associate dean of women’s health at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has focused much of his research on surgical safety and mitigating errors in the operating room. Today he’s working to expand that research by teaming up with his colleague – and composer – Paul Rudy, MM, DMA, Curators’ Distinguished Professor and coordinator of composition at the UMKC Conservatory, to study the effects of sound on patient safety in the operating room. Studies have shown that reducing hospital noise levels has a direct impact on improving patient safety, but in operating rooms, in addition to conversations among the surgical team, the equipment required for surgeries makes noise. Though some sounds are necessary ­-- such as the noise of the oxygen saturation monitor, which creates the rapid high-pitched beep people may recognize from medical shows on television -- the noise created by people in the room often is not. Gary Sutkin, M.D. Rudy and Sutkin are working together to develop training and surgical methods that reduce some of the noise and related risk. “People have been trying to solve the problem of miscommunication in the operating room for 20 years and there hasn’t been any meaningful progress,” Sutkin says. “What I know is that we need brains other than those of researchers, surgeons and nurses to study the problem.” Sutkin’s interest in collaborating with people who have expertise in areas outside of medicine, coupled with Rudy’s curiosity and ability to hear the operating room with fresh ears is already leading to interesting results. By observing surgeries, Rudy recognized that surgeons’ work entails very fine motor movements and unwavering focus that requires them to keep their heads down. He also observed other members of the surgical team are focused on their own tasks and responsibilities. “People have been trying to solve the problem of miscommunication and errors in the operating for 20 years and there hasn’t been meaningful progress. What I know is that I need other brains than only researchers, surgeons and nurses.” - Gary Sutkin, M.D. “No one’s looking at the surgeon’s body language to figure out what’s needed,” Rudy says. “For example, the anesthesiologist is reading a screen. Much of the communication [the team receives] is coming through sound.” But despite the importance of verbal communication, he observed a lot of the noise people make in the operating room is not critical to the surgery. “Everyone is doing something necessary,” Rudy says. “But sometimes someone has to unpackage something in a hurry, and they can’t throw it in the trash can, so it ends up on the floor. Or someone picks up that big wad of plastic to get it out of the way and you can’t hear anything else over the noise. This has to be done - someone could trip over it - but if the surgeon needs to communicate something important to the anesthesiologist at that moment, the noise will mask the communication.” Because of Rudy’s background as a musician, the amount of residual noise in the operating room came as a surprise. “In rehearsals and in performances, no one makes any extra sound anywhere for any reason,” Rudy says. “Musicians carefully turn pages of sheet music so that the binder doesn't make any noise.” He’s aware of the differences between the disciplines, but still notes there is room for improvement when it comes to eliminating some unnecessary noise in operating rooms. Rudy’s research has identified solutions to common disruptions that OR teams may not even notice. “For example, in the operating room there are really heavy metal step stools,” Rudy says. “People tend to scoot them across the floor with their feet and it makes this really intense grating sound that may mask any kind of communication that is going on in the room.” Paul Rudy, Ph.D. leading sound meditation Rudy understands that the medical professionals in the operating room move the stools with their feet because they need to keep their hands sterile, but he wonders if manufacturers are aware of the ramifications of production decisions. “This research could lead to that awareness, and maybe even influence manufacturing standards.” Observations like this that lead to opportunity for innovation and increased safety is at the heart of the mission of Surgilab and are why Sutkin wants colleagues like Rudy in the operating room. “There’s value in having insight from brains other than researchers, surgeons and nurses. Paul brings a wealth of knowledge and creativity. And, surprisingly, to be honest, a scientific mind that contributes very well with this research.” A gift from UMKC professor emerita, Elizabeth Noble, Ph.D., helped fund this research collaboration. Noble supports research that reaches across different fields of study because she thinks it makes the outcomes more reliable and more transferable. “Today most researchers would agree that cross-disciplinary research is valuable,” Noble says. “It stimulates new ways of thinking about different issues, especially when we’re talking about music and medicine which are not always assumed to go together.” “This research is exactly what I hoped would occur. I’m very happy that Dr. Rudy has had this kind of success,” she added. Jan 19, 2022

  • UMKC to Offer New Biomedical Engineering Degrees

    Students have the option to earn bachelor's and master's degrees through this exciting new program
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will offer two new degree options - Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering - beginning in the Fall of 2022.  The Biomedical Engineering program will combine biological and chemical science with multiple fields of engineering, including mechanical and electrical. The program is designed to provide an extensive curriculum that prepares graduates for careers in engineering, health care, medicine, dentistry, biotechnology, bioinformatic and pharmaceutical fields, said School of Computing and Engineering Dean Kevin Truman.  “UMKC has already established a long history of excellence in the fields of health, life and biological sciences. Now combined with the rapidly growing fields of computing and engineering, these degrees will provide a new generation of students the opportunity to thrive,” Truman said.   While the School of Computing and Engineering will be home to the degree program, the curriculum will be taught by professors from the multiple schools and departments on the UMKC campus, including engineering, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing and biological sciences. Led by educators from diverse fields of study, this program will expose students to a wealth of knowledge, creating a well-rounded and robust educational experience for the students.  The University of Missouri System Board of Curators approved the two new degree programs in December 2021. These newest additions to UMKC’s curriculum are backed by community partners who are invested in UMKC and understand the impact the university has on preparing students to enter the workforce. University Health, Children’s Mercy, Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, RBC Medical Innovations and Mid America Heart Institute submitted letters expressing support for the new degree programs for consideration by the Board.  Students enrolled in the Biomedical Engineering programs may take some courses in the state-of-the-art Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center. The university debuted the $32 Million high-tech research center in the Fall of 2021. The five-story building features 11 research labs including a 3D printing lab and fabrication studio, a two-story drone flight-testing bay and an FAA-approved flight simulator. All throughout the building students can use cutting-edge technology to enhance their studies, including high-performance computing and analytics equipment and $3 million worth of augmented and virtual reality equipment.  "The Plaster Center has all but ensured that UMKC will remain the number one ranked school for computing and engineering in Kansas City for years to come," said Truman.  Both the new degree options and unveiling of the Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center have made for an exciting year for the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering. The new degrees represent progress in the university’s strategic plan to reimagine the future in innovative and creative ways that will position the university for excellence for years to come.  Jan 18, 2022

  • President Biden Appoints Two UMKC School of Law Alumnae

    Andrea Spillars, Meg McCollister will lead regional efforts in emergency management and environmental protection
    Two UMKC School of Law Alumnae have been appointed by President Biden in key leadership roles as Regional Administrators for Region 7, which serves Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and nine tribal nations. Andrea Spillars and Meg McCollister have been selected for positions in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), respectively. Spillars (J.D. '89) has been appointed as the Regional Administrator for FEMA Region 7. She had a lead role in the Missouri state response to natural disasters as the Deputy Director for the Department of Public Safety, including the devasting Joplin tornado in 2011, the prolonged flooding in 2011, drought relief efforts in 2012 and the historic ice storms in 2009.  McCollister (J.D. '11) has been appointed the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 7. She will lead the implementation of the administration's efforts to address environmental justice, climate change, and building resilience for regional industries. Read more about Spillars and McCollister here. Jan 07, 2022

  • UMKC’s Graduate Assistance Fund Wraps Up Momentous 50th Anniversary Year

    Group adds two new grants, thanks to generous donors, partners
    For 50 years The University of Missouri – Kansas City Women’s Council has worked to change the lives of women through the Graduate Assistance Fund. Established in 1970 with a gift of $750, the UMKC Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund has come a long way. As the group wraps up its 50th anniversary year, members have raised more than $50,000 and added several new named awards, or grants, to provide additional support to female graduate students. As the year comes to a close, the Women’s Council is encouraging supporters to finish out the year strong by contributing to a final giving campaign. There is still time to celebrate the hard work of so many women over the past 50 years, and to support the future potential of many graduate students to come. Every year the UMKC Women’s Council’s Graduate Assistance Fund awards grants to enable post-baccalaureate students to pursue educational opportunities. The group now has more than 125 named awards, which are named after those who have made a $10,000 investment in the Graduate Assistance Fund, or GAF, endowment. This generosity has helped provide financial support to women graduate students, who have used the money to fund study abroad trips, research endeavors and more, to significantly enhance and enable their educational experience and careers. “We are proud to have supported thousands of women over the years on their paths to success. With this year’s expansion of the fund, we will be able to help even more women realize their true potential," said Debbie Brooks, former board president, UMKC Women's Council. "The GAF has become a labor of love for those involved and we’ve received incredible feedback from our recipients, the future leaders and innovators studying at UMKC." On Oct. 5, 2021 Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas presented the Women’s Council with a proclamation to recognize 50 years of the Graduate Assistance Fund. He ended the presentation saying, “Here’s to another 50 years and all of your outstanding work!” As the GAF 50th anniversary year comes to a close, the group hopes for a strong end to a memorable year. The group relies on donations to continue its mission as an organization of women supporting women in the Kansas City community. Contributions help the Women’s Council increase awareness, connect with new donors and further grow the Graduate Assistance Fund. For the 2021 year, donors who take the standard tax deduction, can write off up to $300 in cash charitable donations ($600 for married filing jointly). “We are helping women graduate students achieve incredible things they might not have had the chance to experience otherwise. Any contribution tells UMKC that this is a very important resource to its women graduate students,” Leslie Boe, J.D., President and Programs Chair, Women’s Council. Donate here Learn More About GAF Dec 22, 2021

  • A Performance Worth the Wait – Crescendo 2021

    High flying dancers and vibrant musicians and actors took center stage at the 25th annual Crescendo Benefit Gala.
    A group of talented student performers from the UMKC Conservatory left their hearts on stage at the Kauffman Performing Arts Center during a one-hour performance in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Crescendo. UMKC and a host of community members, friends and alumni joined together to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Friends of the Conservatory's Crescendo Benefit Gala. Crescendo 2021 featured artistic performances led by the talented students and internationally acclaimed faculty of the UMKC Conservatory. From music to dance to theatre, the ensemble flowed together in uninterrupted succession throughout different locations around the concert hall creating a beautiful and visually stimulating atmosphere.  It was the Conservatory’s first in-person gala in two years, due to COVID. “What we are celebrating, more than anything else, is commitment. The commitment to persevere through the time of dark theatres and empty seats,” said Mauli Agrawal, chancellor. “We arrived at this moment because of the commitment of the performers who continued to study and practice, the instructors who continued to teach and inspire, the donors who kept the faith that their ongoing generosity would pay off when the lights came up again.” Held at the stunning Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, one of the premier art venues in Kansas City, the one-hour performance followed a dinner and cocktail hour.   The event raised more than $815,000 to support student scholarships, which are essential to the Conservatory’s success and a critical part of recruiting and retaining top talent. Thanks to the generosity of donors who chose to add a “silver lining” and increase their sponsorship donation by 25 percent in recognition of the gala’s 25th year anniversary, a special Crescendo Silver Anniversary Scholarship endowment was established to assist performing arts students with the cost of tuition while studying at the UMKC Conservatory. The UMKC Conservatory is home to the university’s Music, Dance and Theatre programs and has been recognized for its artistic excellence and innovation for more than 115 years.   Learn More About UMKC Conservatory Dec 21, 2021

  • From Classes to Practice

    Recent Law graduates navigate the bar exam and first jobs — all during a global pandemic
    The transition from law student to practicing attorney can be challenging. Add in the COVID-19 pandemic, quarantining and working and learning from home, and the transition becomes even more complex.   We spoke to three recent School of Law alumni about their transition from being a student, studying for and taking the bar exam and entering practice — all during a global pandemic.  Why did you become an attorney and what are your career goals?   Yasmin Herdoiza (J.D. ’21): I originally wanted to go into psychology or counseling. While working on my degree, I worked at a nonprofit where I did some in-home care for children with intellectual and physical disabilities. This experience showed me what it was like for disabled children living in poverty, and it sparked something in me to learn how to help them. I did some research on family law and talked to my father, who is an attorney, about guardian at litem work. He was super happy when I told him about my plans to go to law school, but there was no pressure to attend. I want to be a judge one day, because that is the way to make fundamental changes.   John Pipes (J.D. ’20): Before law school, I worked a couple of blue-collar jobs. I hadn’t found a career that suited me yet, but knew I wanted a job with a bigger purpose. I became a lawyer to help provide low-income Kansas Citians dignity in the legal process. Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom is a great fit for the work I envisioned myself doing. I would like to stay here at Heartland and help build a movement alongside low-wage workers that uplifts them and improves their living and working conditions. My next career goal is to see Heartland Center and the Missouri Workers’ Center succeed in our campaign for Kansas City to pass a law that provides all tenants facing eviction an attorney to advocate for them. We know that universal representation is a game changer for tenants and all low-wage workers.  Claire Wyatt (J.D. ’21): I loved arguing and advocating from childhood onwards. My first love was film, but I quickly got burned out in the marketing and commercial world. I decided I wanted a career that gave me more purpose and the ability to serve others. I enjoy being in a courtroom. My passion is animal law. It’s a very small field with very few jobs. Animal law would be the dream. I also interned with Jackson County Prosecutors Office, which was great experience.  Herdoiza says she learned a great deal during her internship at the Missouri State Attorney’s Office, which allowed her to argue in court before she even graduated from law school. What were your strategies for studying for the bar exam?   YH: Exercise kept me motivated. I went on a lot of walks. I got a Fitbit and logged hundreds of steps each time. I also had a rotation of flashcards and took them on my walks. My boyfriend walked with me and he would read the cards to me.   JP: I gained a lot of good skills studying for the bar. Due to the pandemic, I was home a lot and had time to study. I treated law school as a job and had a schedule each day. The closer I got to the exam, I added more and more work to my days. Normally, I would have studied at the library, but I had to study at home. That was the most difficult. But I learned to make it work, and now I’m more equipped to work from home.   CW: I spent several days compiling requested documentation about my ADD diagnosis and previous accommodations. I then had to appeal my denial of accommodations when the board denied my request. Eventually, they reversed the decision and granted me partial accommodations. I felt really proud of myself for advocating for myself using the sharp skills that UMKC Law taught me.    Preparing for the bar, there were many days I was not able to complete all the tasks that my bar prep program had assigned me, but I persevered. I am very grateful that it ended up being more than sufficient to pass the bar.  John Pipes (J.D. ’20) is an eviction defense attorney for the Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom. Where do you work now and what do you like about being an attorney?   YH: I work at the Missouri State Attorney’s Office. The experiences I got from my internship helped a lot. I have been doing discovery and working on low-level felonies. The pressure is high. When my clients are in custody, I worry about them.   I love being a public defender. I believe in the rehabilitative framework. Incarceration doesn’t prevent crime and affects more than just the accused. Many people can’t afford bond and that affects their families, jobs and housing. Sometimes people need to be provided a chance to succeed, even after they’ve previously failed. We must believe and support others.  JP: I graduated in May 2020, early in the pandemic. I went to work for a personal injury attorney for a few months, then decided to transition away from that work and applied for a Truman Fellowship. After three months as a Truman Fellow, I moved to the Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom, where I took a long-term position doing similar tenant defense work. I work with low-wage workers who have found themselves defendants in eviction lawsuits and provide free legal representation and advice to those tenants.   While a Truman Fellow and now at Heartland Center, I enjoy providing great legal representation to individuals who so rarely have the money to hire a lawyer themselves. We at Heartland Center know how important it is for tenants to be represented by a lawyer. Without a lawyer, tenants lose their case 90% of the time since landlords are almost always represented by legal counsel. When tenants do have a lawyer advocating for them, the results are flipped, and an eviction is prevented in 99% of the cases. I enjoy helping to keep people housed in the long and short term.  CW: I am a Truman Fellow working with the UMKC Tenant Representative initiative. My daily job consists of performing client intakes, exchanging forms with the client, communicating with opposing counsel or pro se landlords (those who do not have legal counsel), reading leases and ledgers, drafting settlement agreements, updating clients on their case status and trying to help clients with related housing matters as best I am able. We have several evictions dockets each week in the Truman Fellowship, so court appearances are a big part of the job.   I love the work I’m doing. I love thinking critically and crafting arguments, and I love advocating for and helping people. I love solving problems, and I feel really fortunate that I’m in a position to help others solve theirs. Learning the law and finding a potential place for myself inside the institution of law has been one of the most empowering and transformative experiences in my life.   Claire Wyatt (J.D. ’21) is a current Truman Fellow working with the UMKC Tenant Representative Initiative. Wyatt says advocating for and helping people has been one of the best parts of being a new attorney. Tell us about your transition from student to professional.   YH: Through my internship, I argued in court before I graduated, which was helpful. When my internship pivoted from in-person to virtual, the change was very difficult. I had to do things on my own. The most challenging part of transitioning from student to professional was the responsibility. My co-workers are helpful, but it is my name, my bar license and no one else’s. No one is responsible for me, but me.   JP: The Truman Fellowship really helped me with the transition and to hone my skills. I made appearances in front of judges, handled my own caseload, and pursued the best way to keep evictions off a person’s record. It was a real honor to be awarded a fellowship. The people I worked with were passionate, and I enjoyed having a transition period. I dipped my toes into the landlord-tenant space, which I now am involved with at Heartland. Since my fellowship, I have found a wonderful group of colleagues at Heartland Center who are enthusiastic about our work and treat one another with respect. For that I am grateful.   CW: The transition between student and professional was slower and more painstaking than I expected. The last nine months felt like nine years. I went straight from school into intensive bar prep. Pandemic fatigue was very prevalent over the summer, but we all had to soldier on and prepare for the bar exam. It was very rigorous, but I had to remember why I was doing all this – because I want to help people. Getting internships during my time in law school helped to ease the transition between student and professional because I was confident I’d be well prepared by the time I was finally licensed to practice. I am also really grateful for the UMKC Truman Fellowship, which allowed me to work for UMKC’s Tenant Representative Initiative after I took the bar but before I received my bar results. There is a dire need for tenant assistance, and it’s great that UMKC was willing to jump in and offer help. It has helped out so many people in our community by allowing them to stay in their homes while the pandemic rages on.  What advice do you have for someone considering law school?  YH: There is a steep learning curve. You’ll be drinking from a fire hydrant, but it’s fun. There’s nothing better than a client telling you, ‘thank you.’ It’s a really good feeling.  CW: I would encourage future law students to accept that in learning this new, vast discipline, they might at times feel stupid or incapable; they might fall short of their aspirations. I would encourage them to accept this fear instead of fighting it: join the mock trial team even if they’re afraid of how many hours it will add to their schedule, participate in student organizations as members or allies, and speak their truth when they’re afraid of how it will be received by their classmates. I would also tell new law students that their interests may change as they learn more about different areas of law and to be open to new opportunities and horizons as they appear.    Pipes says his Truman Fellowship from the School of Law helped him to hone his skills as a new attorney.   Dec 21, 2021

  • Bold Transitions

    When opportunity calls, these alumni don’t shy away from a new challenge
    Ask any seasoned professional if they’re still doing what they thought they would be doing in college, and you’ll likely hear stories of unexpected pivots, discoveries and transitions (sometimes several times over). That adaptability is one of the lessons students learn while at the School of Law — how to continue learning and growing after graduation, even if it takes them outside their predicted career path. These are the stories of three UMKC alumni who stayed open to new opportunities, igniting new passions and interests along the way. Tim McNamara (J.D. ’80), Chief Legal Officer, BKD, LLP Tim McNamara (J.D. ’80) has always loved being in the midst of the action. After graduating from the UMKC School of Law, he went straight into business litigation at the firm now known as Lathrop GPM, handling trials, arbitrations and mediations for well-known clients like John Deere and The Kansas City Star. He even became the firm’s municipal court lawyer early in his career. “Everything’s a lot more specialized these days, but I was lucky enough to have a diverse set of experiences,” he says. Over the years, McNamara built relationships, took on high-stakes cases and made partner. One day in 2015, his long-time client, BKD, approached him asking for advice on hiring their first chief legal officer. By the time the conversation was over, he had a job offer. “I hadn’t thought about it until they suggested it that day, but the idea appealed to me,” he says. Though he knew them well as a client, McNamara says joining BKD was much more of a change than he imagined. Not only was he working more independently, but he also learned to be comfortable being more involved in the decision-making process, functioning as both lawyer and client. “To me, it’s been one of the more challenging and rewarding parts of the job,” he says. “I had to learn so much about the business world. I’d always thought that getting an MBA would be interesting and fun. I kind of got a mini-MBA on the job.” His 36 years of broad, diverse experience at Lathrop proved beneficial, as did his experience managing and working with a legal team. He doesn’t see the inside of a courtroom much these days, but McNamara says that’s okay with him. “I’m enjoying the challenge of what I’m doing now so much that I haven’t missed it at all,” he says. And now another transition is in store for McNamara, who recently announced he will retire May 31, 2022, almost exactly 42 years since he started practicing law. An avid cyclist, he’s now looking forward to taking more rides and spending more time with family, including his young grandchildren. Lischen Reeves (J.D. ’18) says a case involving the Americans with Disabilities Act inspired her to get into health-care privacy and cybersecurity work. Lischen Reeves (J.D. ’18), Corporate Counsel, Privacy and Cybersecurity, Cerner After two years working at Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP, Lischen Reeves says she was not looking for another opportunity. But when she came across a job posting for the corporate counsel for privacy and cybersecurity position at Cerner, she knew she had to apply. “I told my husband, ‘This job has my name on it,’” she says. “I don’t shy away from opportunities. If it comes my way, I’ll put myself forward.” For Reeves, it was a natural transition. As part of the business litigation team at Shook, Hardy & Bacon, she had worked on employment and complex commercial matters, but a case involving the Americans with Disabilities Act shaped her next step. When she expressed interest in the privacy portion of the case, the senior partner she was working with encouraged her to reach out to the chair of the firm’s privacy and cybersecurity practice at Shook. It turned out they needed an expert on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and privacy, so Reeves focused her career on becoming one. “That was a pivotal moment in my career because this is exactly the work I do for Cerner,” she says. At Cerner, Reeves has zeroed in on health-care privacy and cybersecurity. She recently completed her Certified Information Privacy Professional U.S. certification, a professional certification for privacy specialists. As someone who knew she wanted to be a lawyer since she was in third grade, Reeves says she has always been intentional with her career, but she has also made a point to keep an open mind. “I’m moving through this career that I didn't imagine before law school, and I am so glad about how it's turning out,” she says. “I truly thank God for my career. I also owe so much of the development of my mindset to my mother. She supported and encouraged me in every endeavor and challenged me to never stop learning and dreaming of all that could be.” Sara Rittman (J.D. ’81) has spent 40 years building on the skills she learned at the School of Law in roles at the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, Missouri Supreme Court and even her own private defense firm. Sara Rittman (J.D. ’81), Deputy Chief Counsel, Litigation Division, Missouri Attorney General’s Office During her four decades in the legal profession, Sara Rittman (J.D. ’81) has taken a practical approach to moving up the career ladder. More than an abrupt about-face, hers is a story of a series of shifts leading to distinct, yet related, roles. Through the years, she has worked in both prosecution and defense, with roles in public service, then private practice, then back again. “I’m one who tends to look for things to build on,” she says. Rittman started her career at the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, representing professional licensing agencies in the state and helping various agencies — like the nursing, podiatry and funeral director boards — with disciplinary litigation against those who violated their professional standards. Compliance and ethics became her niches. Eventually, she moved to a similar role as a staff counsel and then the deputy chief disciplinary counsel, ensuring attorney compliance with the rules of professional conduct. Next she moved from compliance to advising, serving as legal ethics counsel, where she provided informal advisory opinions to attorneys and served as counsel to the Missouri Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee. But the most dramatic change of her career came in 2012, when she opened a private defense firm. In her private practice, Rittman helped lawyers facing complaints or ethics violations achieve compliance or answer complaints against them. She provided consultation to them on ethical questions regarding their practices. Having worked on the prosecution side for the state was helpful, Rittman says, but there was a learning curve. “I did find that there were certainly some perspectives that I hadn’t really understood as fully as I thought I had before I actually made the change,” Rittman says. “I think it is always valuable for attorneys to be able to understand the perspectives of the people that they’re dealing with.” Rittman re-joined the Attorney General’s Office in 2019, and in July of 2021, became deputy chief counsel in the Litigation Division, essentially the defense firm for the state. Rittman says that even though her roles have been different, some things are universal. “At every stage of a legal career, you’re going to have to learn new things,” she says. “A constant that I’ve learned is, as a lawyer, if you are prepared and you behave professionally, those are the two most important things.” Dec 21, 2021

  • Paving The Way For The Next Generation

    Two UMKC Law professors are reaching major milestones this year
    John Ragsdale, William P. Borland Scholar and Professor of Law  John Ragsdale (LL.M. ’72) is celebrating his 50th year of teaching at UMKC. During the past half-century, he’s seen huge shifts in his specialty, environmental law.   “I spent all my formative years hiking and kayaking, climbing in the mountains,” Ragsdale says. “I got out of school in 1970, which is really when the environmental revolution began. Richard Nixon passed the Clean Air Act and Endangered Species Act (in 1973), so that was the heart of it. This sort of tide of environmentalism wasn’t something that had existed yet.”   In 1971, Ragsdale began teaching at UMKC. Over the years he taught a variety of subjects, but his interest in the environment always came back. He saw an opportunity to make an impact.   “I wrote things on environmental law that convinced me there were large-scale problems, and they weren’t yet being addressed,” Ragsdale says.   When asked what he loves about teaching, Ragsdale shies away from the image of a stern professor at the lectern. He says he enjoys when students challenge his views in class, because it shows they care deeply about the issue.   “This is why I really love to teach,” he says. “I teach to talk to people, but it’s less to educate them than to do my presentation of what I know, what I think is important, and elicit what they think is important, too. It has to be a conversation.”   As for what’s next for Ragsdale, he’s hoping it’s more of the same. Environmental law has changed so much over the years, but he’s still finding environmental problems that aren’t being addressed and hoping to fix those problems even 50 years later.   Professor John Ragsdale (LL.M. ’72) began teaching at UMKC in 1971, making this his 50th year in the classroom. “I have an article that’s coming out this month. It’s on Aboriginal rights to land and water. It leads into a lot of current dilemmas, and the intersection of tribal rights and the ever-encroaching, ever inexorable growth society that’s nibbling away at them at all times. That’s still going on.”   And of course, he’s hoping he’ll continue to teach as long as he can, specifically here at UMKC. Professor Ragsdale is himself an alumnus of UMKC Law, earning his LL.M. in 1972. “God, I love this place. It’s been my home. It’s been my life. I love teaching, and I want to keep doing it. It has been exactly what I want to do. I would ask myself, ‘Would you rather be a judge? Would you rather teach at Yale?’ No. UMKC is my home, intellectually.”  “I love this place. It’s been my home. It’s been my life. I love teaching, and I want to keep doing it.” — John Ragsdale, William P. Borland Scholar and Professor of Law Sean O’Brien, Professor of Law   Sean O’Brien (J.D. ’80) is not only a professor of the UMKC School of Law, but he’s also an alumnus. He graduated in 1980 with plans to be a tax and business lawyer. He quickly discovered that wasn’t his calling and joined the public defender’s office in 1981. Three years later, he was appointed the chief public defender in Jackson County. "I did my first death penalty case in 1983,” he says. “And I’ve been doing mostly death penalty work since then. It’s a long time, and I’m still absorbing that. In a lot of cases and a lot of projects that we do in our daily lives, we say, ‘OK, that’s good enough.’ It’s hard to be good enough when life is at stake. It’s quite a burden, and I’m still not sure what it feels like not to have that burden.”   Professor Sean O’Brien (J.D. ’80) is entering a new season in his career following nearly four decades as a death penalty defense attorney. For the first time in 38 years, O’Brien does not have a client on death row. The case he just finished took 12 years to reach a decision; another before that took 20. Given the average length of cases of this nature, O’Brien feels it’s time for another season in his career.   “I realize I don’t still want to be doing this when I’m 80. I shouldn’t still be doing this when I’m 80. I don’t want to be that lawyer who gets famous for falling asleep in court, you know? It’s time for me to let other people continue to do the work.”  For decades, O’Brien has been doing just that: helping other people to continue what he started. Since 1983, he has served as director of various criminal defense clinics at the UMKC School of Law, including the Public Defender Appeals Clinic, the Public Defender Trial Clinic and the Death Penalty Representation Clinic. In 2005, O’Brien began teaching at UMKC as a doctrinal professor of criminal law and procedure. He’s taught multiple criminal procedure courses, as well as courses on fact investigation and another specialized course on mental health investigations.   “As far as I know, we’re the only law school in the region, if not the country, that offers a for-credit class in investigation,” he says. “It’s a delight to do.”   “I realize I don’t still want to be doing this when I’m 80. … It’s time for me to let other people continue to do the work.” — Sean O'Brien (J.D. '80), Professor of Law As for what comes next for O’Brien, he has some plans. He’s determined to create even more opportunities for students to carry on the work to which he’s dedicated more than half his life.   “I’m thinking about creating a sentencing mitigation clinic that would focus on representing people who are in prison for lengthy terms that are applying for parole … because we’re not going to solve the problem of mass incarceration by cherry-picking innocence cases,” he says. “We won’t reject cases because you’re not worthy, you’re not innocent enough or we don’t think we can prove you’re innocent. I’m working across campus with other professors who are interested in that.”  Dec 21, 2021

  • Linebacker Lawyer

    How Bob Stein (J.D. ’73) balanced full-time legal studies with playing for the Kansas City Chiefs — and became a hall of famer
    While a full-time law student at UMKC, Bob Stein (J.D. ’73) had to split his time with another major endeavor: playing professional football with the Kansas City Chiefs. In 1970, the 21-year-old Stein became the youngest ever player at the time to compete in a Super Bowl. Three years later he graduated in the top 10% of his class at UMKC Law. Following his NFL career, Stein became a successful sports attorney and served as the first president and CEO of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves. In 2020, he was inducted into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame. We sat down with Stein to reflect on a truly unique career.   You’ve had a great career in sports. How did law school fit into all that?   I’d been raised in a home where education was a priority. When I went to college, I intended to be a doctor, but I happened to have a constitutional law class from Professor Harold Chase, who was a brilliant, fascinating guy. I asked him to be my advisor and that got me thinking of law. I thought that whatever I ended up doing, if I had a law degree, it would be helpful and could apply to anything.   It must have been a real challenge to play professional football and attend law school at the same time.  There were a lot of folks who had full-time jobs. It wasn’t like I was doing anything heroic – I had a full-time job playing football. I remember we had one student who was an FBI agent. Other people had families. To me, having kids and all their demands and any kind of a job was more of a demand than playing football. What was really nice about it was that it balanced something that was really intellectual with the really physical “every day’s a day out with the boys” part of football. I always liked living in both worlds.  Do you stay in touch with the people you went to law school with?   Absolutely! One who I’ve stayed in touch with for years is Don Fehr (J.D. ’73), who’s been so prominent in NHL and MLB labor organizations. He’s terrific. When my daughter was in seventh grade, he let her interview him for an hour for a class project. Who does that? At the time he was executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association. My point is there were a lot of quality people in my class. Another of the classmates I stay in touch with is Jerry Bressel (J.D. ’72), a prominent family law attorney in Kansas City, as is Mark Reza (J.D. ’75).   How was the transition to full-time law practice?   When my football career ended, I really thought the transition to full-time law practice would be a breeze. Boy, was I wrong! The idea that, “I’m going to be able to fool around with the boys for a few months, and then I’ll come back and be a lawyer” was gone. It was a real shock.   One of the things (Chiefs head coach) Hank Stram said that I didn’t think of a lot at the time was, “You’re not a “football player; you’re a person who plays football. You have a family life. You have to develop a professional life apart from football.” For a coach whose livelihood depends on a team’s success and is under such high pressure as a professional coach, that was very unusual and admirable.   Tell us a little bit about your practice life.   I started out intending to do anything but become a sports lawyer. Then, my first year fully out of football, one of my former teammates Ed White called me. Ed was a Pro Bowl-level guard who ended up playing 17 years. I didn’t know anything about athlete representation, but before long, that’s what I was doing! The case was one of those that had a real high profile and turned out well. Soon I was representing other players.   What keeps you busy these days?   I still practice, mostly around the class actions of retired players. In 2009, I started the first class action on behalf of retired players regarding their name and likeness. The case ended up creating the first benefits for vision and dental care for NFL retired players. I really went through the wringer there — learning class actions. Also, for three years, I’ve worked with Lisa Marie Riggins, whose husband is John Riggins, a Super Bowl MVP and Hall of Fame player from Kansas. We started a group called FAIR – “Fairness to Athletes in Retirement” – to advocate on behalf on the players who played before free agency in 1993. We were able to triple the “legacy benefit” pension for those players.  Dec 21, 2021

  • UMKC Graduates Headline Downtown Arena

    New Roo alumni celebrate graduation in the heart of Kansas City
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City celebrated its graduates in a new downtown location fitting of Kansas City’s university.  UMKC Provost Jennifer Lundgren acted as grand marshal of the winter commencement ceremony at T-Mobile Center. “We are delighted to be here today at the beautiful T-Mobile Center to continue our new tradition of celebrating our graduates at iconic Kansas City locations,” Lundgren said, referring to ceremonies last spring which were held at Kauffman Stadium. Chancellor Mauli C. Agrawal congratulated the graduates and recognized their accomplishments. “Earning a university degree is a significant accomplishment even under the best circumstances,” he said. “The class of 2021  has done so while overcoming  a lifetime of challenges, starting with the great recession that arose when most of you were children, and continuing through to the ongoing global pandemic.” Agrawal recognized the graduates’ resilience, perseverance and grit in the face of these challenges. “That is something that you can carry proudly with you for the rest of your lives. Let it be a source of strength for you to draw on when you face the challenges yet to come.” Olympic silver medalist and UMKC alumna Courtney Frerichs (B.A. ’15) congratulated the more than 1,000 new UMKC graduates. Frerichs rewrote the Roo record books in track and field and became a world-class competitor and Olympian in the steeplechase event, winning the silver medal in 3000 meter steeplechase at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. She is the first American woman to break the nine-minute barrier for the event. In preparation for her commencement address, Frerichs mined her recent Olympic experiences. "Graduation is in many ways like a starting line, and I'm making a living knowing all about starting lines."  She said learning how to pivot and adjust her expectations has been an important part of her success, especially leading up to her silver medal race. The pandemic postponed her participation in the 2020 games and her dreams felt like they were being put on hold. But she found value in having one more year to train and prepare for the Olympics in 2021. She pulled her silver medal from around her neck to show the crowd. "It paid off," she said to the cheering crowd. Following Frerichs’s address and the recognition of individual graduates the class enjoyed taking part in the tradition of moving the tassels from the right of their caps to the left to symbolize the individual's movement from candidate to graduate. During the ceremony Chancellor Agrawal also recognized the supportive role family and friends have played in the lives of the graduates.  “Our part was easy. We provided them the knowledge and helped them to hone the skills they need to go to work and change the world for the better. You made them the outstanding people they are today.”   He noted that the graduates’ years at UMKC resemble the opening chapter in a good book. “You just know there are a lot of great chapters to follow.” At the conclusion of the program blue and gold confetti fell from the ceiling showering graduates seated in rows on the floor of the arena. An indoor pyrotechnics display launched near the stage as the crowd erupted in applause for this grand send-off for our 2021 Roo grads. Dec 20, 2021

  • UMKC School of Law Mock Trial Team Wins First Place at Prosecutor's Cup

    The team beat out several other Missouri law schools
    A University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law mock trial team took home top prize at the 2021 Missouri Prosecutor's Cup Mock Trial Competition. The Prosecutors Cup is a mock trial competition among Missouri's top law schools. UMKC students studying for careers in the legal profession used trial advocacy skills to try cases against each other. This year's winning team included Trey Allison (3L), Alissa Beirmaier (3L) and Margaret Stansell (3L), coached by law professor Michaelle Tobin. "My first reaction when I found out we had won was absolute joy. I was so excited to compete and so proud of my team. We put in a lot of hard work and late nights to prepare for this and I was so happy that work paid off and we were able to come home with a win," Stansell said. The competition, held in St. Louis in late November, featured mock trial teams from across the state of Missouri, including teams from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Missouri-Columbia. After winning the competition the championship team had the opportunity to have an exhibition round with practicing attorneys as opposing counsel. Scott Rosenblum, of Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry, Travis Noble, of Travis Noble P.C., and several other high profile St. Louis attorneys acted as defense counsel. The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, Sayler Fleming, played the defendant and the Honorable George Draper of the Missouri Supreme Court was the judge. UMKC sent two teams to the competition, the winning team, and another team that finished undefeated but came up just six points shy of advancing to the final round. The undefeated team was comprised of Casey Campbell (3L), Lauren Gregory (3L) and Eric Honea (3L). "This win is so important to me as a 3L because it reflects all the skills I've learned, nurtured and crafted over the years in undergrad mock trial and on the law school team," Stansell said. "It always feels good to win but this was so special because we're about to graduate and really only have a few chances left to compete and bring these accolades to our school." Dec 16, 2021

  • UMKC PA Student Inspired by Emergency Room Care

    ICU healthcare provider offered comfort in a time of crisis
    Roos don’t just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Name: Kevin DuAnticipated graduation year: May 2023UMKC degree program: Master of Medical Science – Physician AssistantHometown: Kansas City, MO When Kevin Du, MMS, ’23, lost his father to an acute myocardial infarction three years ago, he was numb, but he remembers that a care provider in the ICU stopped to comfort him. “I remember how kind she was and how heard I felt,” he says. “Looking back on that is what initiated my interest in the physician assistant profession, and I know that I want to be that type of provider in my career.” Du is currently enrolled in the physician assistant program at the UMKC School of Medicine. He says the pace of the program can be a challenge, but he loves the small class sizes and the support he receives from the staff members. “Also, we are a smaller cohort, so we receive more personalized attention from our amazing, supportive faculty when we need it.” “UMKC is culturally diverse and encourages students to be understanding of others’ backgrounds. I admire the commitment to the community.” Du is a first generation college student. His parents immigrated to the United States following the Vietnam War and settled in Kansas City. While his parents’ goals for him were more focused on having a happy life than the pursuit of an advance degree, Du would like his achievements to inspire future generations in his family and make his mother proud. “I want to pay my mom back for all the sacrifices she made for me and validate my parents’ choice to immigrate here,” he says. Du believes his confidence has allowed him to learn new things and expand his opportunities. "We are a smaller cohort, so we can receive more personalized attention from our amazing, supportive faculty when we need it.”  “I will always be the first one to volunteer or answer a question,” Du says. “Whether I answer correctly or perform well does not matter to me. I take all my successes and failures in stride and just treat everything as a learning experience.  After every experience I ask, ‘How did I do that, and can I do it better?’ This has given me a positive outlook on life and more perspective on how I can improve on myself.” Du is the president of the UMKC Physician Assistant Student Association and appreciates the inclusivity of the UMKC environment. “UMKC is culturally diverse and encourages students to be understanding of others’ backgrounds. I admire the commitment to the community.” Dec 16, 2021

  • Top Photos of 2021

    Moments we'll remember from this last year
    From wrapping up the online spring semester with Commencement at The K to much-anticipated return to campus in the fall, 2021 has definitely been a year to remember.  Each year our campus photographers select some of their favorite images to share with us. Here are some of their favorites that highlight key moments this year.  Some of our favorite images are portraits we get to take of students, here is one of former Student Government Association President Brandon Henderson, who shared the importance of self-care. Mascot bonding time: KC had a blast with Sluggerrr doing a photo shoot for our countdown to Commencement at The K this past May.  Two days of multiple ceremonies, some with rain, didn't dampen these smiles. Grads were pumped to have in-person Commencement at The K.  Incoming freshmen swung by campus on Commitment Day this spring to take some photos.  Students were excited for the dedication of our new Roo statue, designed by Kansas City artist Tom Corbin. We love creating promo images of our student-athletes. Go Roos! We got some great images from the Mental Health Mile color walk that Roos for Mental Health hosted on campus. This year our Conservatory students returned to Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts for their annual Crescendo gala performance.  Not only has UMKC provided vaccine clinics for our employees and students, but many of our Roos have served in various roles in the vaccination rollout to our larger community across the city, state and region.   Dec 16, 2021

  • Meet the Outstanding UMKC Alumni Being Recognized in 2022

    Sixteen alumni and one family will be honored on April 29
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Class of 2022 Alumni Achievement Award recipients include the founder of a veterans housing program, a judge, national CEO and a legacy family whose education and contributions to UMKC have spanned generations. Join us in honoring the Class of 2022 awardees in an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. Visit UMKC's Alumni Association website to learn more about this year's honorees and the event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. The Alumni Awards ceremony is one of the university’s largest events to support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards event has garnered more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate aid for UMKC students. Co-chairs for the 2022 event are Dr. Joseph P. Spalitto (B.S. ’68, D.D.S. ’72) and Debbie Thompson (B.S.D.H. ’81) University-Wide Alumni Awardees Alumnus of the Year: Bryan Meyer (B.A. ’11, M.P.A. ’15, J.D. ‘15) Bryan served in the Marine Corps for five years before coming to UMKC. After his Marine service, he earned three degrees from UMKC: Bachelor’s (2011), JD and MPA (2015). Following graduation in 2015, he then turned his attention to helping fellow veterans by helping to establish the Veterans Community Project (VCP) in Kansas City. He now serves as the CEO of VCP, which is an innovative non-profit that provides housing for homeless veterans in a tiny home village. The village setting provides a sanctuary and emotional space needed for veterans to live and collaborate with those from similar backgrounds and shared experiences. A variety of services are offered to VCP residents, including a Veteran Support Services unit that works to address the underlying causes of homelessness. VCP also provides case managers who work with veterans to achieve incremental, lasting results in the areas of health and wellness, education, employment, financial literacy and the development of a personal support network. Bryan is driven by service and is passionate about building an organization that serves veterans. Spotlight Award: Riddhiman Das (B.S. ’12, M.S. ‘19) Das graduated from UMKC with a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2012 and earned his master’s degree in computer science in 2019. While in school he was a part of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management Entrepreneurship Scholars program, which allows students to develop a business idea alongside a peer group while working with mentors who are accomplished local entrepreneurs. In the fall of 2019, Das launched a company called TripleBlind, where he currently serves as CEO & Co-Founder. TripleBlind offers data privacy as a service to companies, allowing them to safely provide and consume sensitive data and algorithms in an encrypted space, without compromising privacy or security. Das has spent most of his career in leadership and has held various technical roles in software and product development, academia and consulting across a variety of industries. He is a recipient of the 2013 White House Champion of Change award presented by President Barack Obama. Das was named the 2013 Technologist of the Year by Silicon Prairie News and was featured in Ingram’s Kansas City Business Magazine in 2014. The Bill French Alumni Service Award: Ann Mesle (J.D. ‘72) In the midst of building a successful law career, Judge Ann Mesle has dedicated a significant amount of time and service to her alma matter, UMKC. She has served on several boards including the UMKC Law Foundation (President), UMKC Trustees, Martha Starr Education Fund (Co-Chair) and the Board of Diastole-Hospital Hill (Chair). She has received the UMKC Law Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, its Alumni Achievement Award and its Best Friend Award. Judge Mesle’s leadership has been demonstrated on various UMKC boards and committees including the Capital Campaign and Stewardship and Events (Chair), UMKC Trustees Board and Executive Board, Athletic Foundation, UMKC Trustees Initiative-Law, Law Foundation Board, Law Foundation, and as a Law Foundation Emeritus Trustee. Additionally, she has served on the boards of innumerable civic organizations, including years of service to the Kansas City Bar. Defying the Odds Award: Susan Wilson, Ph.D. (MBA ’05) Susan Wilson, Ph.D. (MBA ’05) is a proud UMKC graduate whose professional accomplishments are a stellar reflection on the University. Susan attended the University of Pittsburgh and earned three degrees. She pushed past poverty, discouragement from professors, racism and discrimination to seek research opportunities and guidance needed to prepare her for the application process for the school’s graduate psychology program. Susan was accepted to the clinical psychology program and matriculated through the very rigorous program as a single parent of two children. Susan went on to complete her Ph.D. and secured a post-doctoral fellowship at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka. She moved to Kansas City in 1989 and went on to have a multifaceted career in healthcare administration, education and broadcasting. She served as a treating clinician for the Kansas City Chiefs and the National Football League (NFL). In 2005 Susan received her MBA at UMKC and in 2008 became the associate dean for diversity and community partnership at the UMKC School of Medicine. She was named vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion in 2014. During her tenure, she implemented a comprehensive, campus-wide plan for diversity and inclusion, built diversity and inclusion training programs, launched the Faculty Diversity Dialogues program and campus Diversity Advocates programs for students and employees. She retired from her role in January 2021, but has continued working with the School of Dentistry in a diversity and inclusion role. Legacy Award: North/Cheadle Family The North/Cheadle family’s UMKC legacy dates back to the 1960’s. Don Cheadle Sr. (M.A. ’70) and his brother-in-law  Basil North Jr. (B.A. ‘61, J.D. ‘71) were the first in their family to graduate from Kansas City’s university and laid the path for many generations that followed to become ‘Roos. North’s daughters, Sheryl North (M.D. ’82) and Maria North Morgan (J.D. ’91) are both UMKC alumni. A host of other relatives have attended UMKC including: Glenn North, Jr. (M.F.A. ’20), Stasi Bobo–Ligon (B.B.A. ’88), Dione Cheadle (B.A. ’89), Myles Cheadle (attended) and Kellie North (attended). Not only did members of this family graduate and/or attend UMKC, they selected different coursework, so this award represents excellence across several schools on campus. Many of these students have also succeeded in other interests such as art and music. The family is also very committed to public service, with many participating in numerous and impactful volunteer initiatives.   School Alumni Achievement Award Recipients College of Arts and Sciences: Melissa Zarda (B.A. ’02, M.A. ‘07) Owner, Pixel Lunch LLC School of Biological and Chemical Sciences: Joseph Lambing (Ph.D. ‘90) Senior Vice President, Bristol Myers Squibb, formerly MyoKardia (retired)  Henry W. Bloch School of Management: Mike Perry (B.B.A. ’89) President & CEO, Hallmark Cards, Inc. School of Computing and Engineering: Jungwoo Ryoo (B.S. ’96, M.S. ’98) Professor, Information Sciences and Technology; director, Division of Business, Engineering, and Information Sciences and Technology (BEIST), the Pennsylvania State University-Altoona. Conservatory: Dr. Xi Wang (M.M. ’03) Associate Professor, Music Composition and Theory, Southern Methodist University School of Dentistry: Brenda Bohaty (Ph.D. ’09) Nelson Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry School of Dentistry – Dental Hygiene: Jo Ann Weatherwax  (B.S.D.H. ’06, M.S. ’12) Founder/director, Volusia County Health Department Dental Program (retired) School of Education: Lucero Garibay (M.A. ‘16) Floor Supervisor and Psychotherapist, Pilsen Wellness Center School of Law: J. Kent Emison (J.D. ’81) Partner, Langdon & Emison LLC School of Medicine: Lucky Atul Chopra (B.A. ’91, M.D. ’92) CEO, Advanced Diagnostics Healthcare School of Nursing and Health Studies: Leslie Luke (M.S.N. ’00) Family Nurse Practitioner/Owner, The Care Clinic School of Pharmacy: Janelle Sabo (Pharm.D. ’00) Vice President of Clinical Capabilities, Eli Lilly and Company   Dec 15, 2021

  • Winter fun in Kansas City is closer than you might think

    We asked the UMKC community to share their favorite winter-time activity
    While we love this town in all seasons, Kansas City is particularly cool in the winter. Not just in temperature, of course, but in how many exciting things there are to do. We asked our UMKC community on Instagram what their favorite thing to do in Kansas City in the wintertime, and we’re sharing the best of them here for your own cold-weather enjoyment! KC Rep’s A Christmas Carol The Kansas City Repertory Theater and UMKC have a long history. Located on UMKC’s Volker campus the Rep is a popular place during the holiday season for it’s well known tradition of putting on A Christmas Carol, a musical version of the classic Charles Dickens tale. With stunning performance, sets and costumes, it is sure to wow and warm the heart of any Scrooge.   UMKC Basketball Games When the weather outside is frightful, there’s nothing more delightful than catching a game at the Swinney Center, where our players are always heating up! You can catch men’s and women’s basketball games all season long. Don’t forget to check the athletics site for the latest info and to get your tickets!   Kansas City Zoo  One of Kansas City’s favorite outdoor attractions is not just for summertime! This is one of the best seasons to see the Kansas City Zoo. There’s an outdoor polar bear exhibit, and on Saturdays and Sundays through February, you can watch the Penguin March at 11 a.m. It’s one of the zoo’s most popular events.   Crown Center This city district, just west of our Health Sciences campus, is the holiday headquarters of Kansas City. It’s home to the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, and the beloved Ice Terrace, the premiere spot for ice skating in town. Warm up inside with some holiday shopping, delicious food and festive special performances in their two theaters.   See the Lights It can be a bit of a downer when the sun sets before 5 p.m. each night, but what better to lift low spirits than twinkling lights. There’s so many to see all through Kansas City. From public walkthrough displays, like Powell Gardens Festival of Lights, to drive-through spectacles like Winter Magic at Swope Park and Magic of Lights at Arrowhead Stadium, there’s a glow out there for everyone. Short on cash? Drive by Ward Parkway or Candy Cane Lane, a neighborhood light spot that’s been a Kansas City area staple for more than fifty years. And speaking of lights…   The Plaza Lights We’d be remiss not to mention the world-famous Country Club Plaza Lights, within walking distance of our Volker campus. Kansas City has kicked off the holiday season with a lighting ceremony here since the 1930’s. Grab a hot beverage and enjoy them while you frequent the many Plaza shops, or just take the most festive walk of the season.   Dec 14, 2021

  • Law School Recognized for Helping Students Manage the Cost of Their Education

    AccessLex proves to be a valuable resource for UMKC law students
    A nationwide program is helping UMKC students take charge of their finances and mitigate the cost of law school. The AccessLex Institute is a non-profit dedicated to improving access to law school. It offers a program called MAX by AccessLex at 174 law schools across the country, which provides quick, easy-to-understand personal finance lessons for students, including how to pay for law school, retirement and investing. Recently the UMKC School of Law was named among the top 10 schools in the country for personal finance course completion on MAX by AccessLex. Dean Barbara Glesner Fines said that the high participation for UMKC students did not come by accident. The law school integrated the financial literacy program and frequently promotes its use by hosting presentations, sending monthly reminders and providing access to AccessLex counselors. “What makes us stand out is that we uniquely take advantage of opportunities and that’s why our students do so well in the MAX program,” said Glesner Fines.Being a law student is inherently stressful, but Glesner Fines said when students are financially strapped on top of stressing over rigorous coursework, it is apparent. “I see it so powerfully when a student doesn’t have to worry about financing their legal education or retaining huge student loans, it affects the classes they choose, the internship they take, the ability to do pro bono work and volunteer, the ability to be in competitions, be on the trial team or client counseling team. And it affects their career choices for the rest of their life.”While many of UMKC’s law students go on to pursue lucrative careers in the private sector, Glesner Fines said a majority go to work in prosecutor and public defender offices.“These are such critical roles in our community in providing access to justice, but they do not pay as much as other legal employment opportunities. If a student graduates with excessive student loan debt, they may find these career choices are simply unmanageable for them,” she said. In addition to MAX programs, UMKC students have also benefited from other AccessLex benefits. In 2019, UMKC law student Kourtney Hodge was awarded a $40,000 scholarship from the non-profit. UMKC Law also received a $25,000 grant in 2020 to assist with emergency expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those funds helped students purchase technology for remote classes, provided assistance to students whose employment was affected by the pandemic, provided child care and helped with paying for medical crises. “They’ve been very generous partners,” said Glesner Fines. Dec 14, 2021

  • Top 10 Stories of 2021

    A year of investment, innovation and bold initiatives
    The year 2021 will be remembered as the one in which UMKC created a sharply sloped upward spike in its growth graph, launching strong initiatives with impact that will be felt for years. The year saw the opening of a new high tech research center, the launch of the UMKC Forward reimagination initiative, the unveiling of a new outdoor artwork to serve as a campus rallying point, and much more. Here are the university’s Top 10 stories of 2021. UMKC Forward Will Invest More Than $50 Million to $60 Million for Excellence and Achievement The University of Missouri-Kansas City rolled out its UMKC Forward plan, pledging to invest more than $50 million to $60 million over the next five years in five key investments. Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said the investments are designed to achieve growth and excellence for Kansas City’s university. In addition, the university will spend another $5 million to hire new faculty in key strategic areas over the next three years.   Introducing a Bold New Concept in Higher Education: Professional Mobility Escalators™ A centerpiece initiative of the UMKC Forward plan will create the university’s signature Professional Mobility Escalators™ program. This innovative student success initiative includes a unique system of personalized support and services to propel students from their academic studies to good-paying careers. University officials believe the combined features and goals of the program make it unlike anything being offered at any other college or university in the United States.   UMKC Welcomes Public to $32 Million High-Tech Research Center The five-story, 57,800 square-foot Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center features 11 state-of-the-art research labs. It is the largest privately-funded capital project in UMKC history, with more than 25 donors.   Roo Sculpture by Artist Tom Corbin Settles Into New Home UMKC students, faculty and staff welcomed the newest UMKC Roo to campus in the first public event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mahreen Ansari, UMKC Student Government Association president, introduced the Roo sculpture by artist Tom Corbin that stands proudly in the heart of campus on the University Walkway near the Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center.    Commencement at The K: Unique In Every Way The university emerged from more than a year of pandemic isolation in spectacular fashion, as the community celebrated the degrees earned by more than 2,300 graduates in a historic two-day commencement celebration at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals.   UMKC Awarded $5 Million to Fight COVID on the East Side The Jackson County Legislature has appropriated about $5 million in CARES Act funding to a project led by UMKC to promote and deliver widespread COVID-19 vaccinations and other health services to neighborhoods on Kansas City’s east side, the city’s most socially vulnerable community.   UMKC to Serve as Backbone for $10M National STEM Education Initiative for Students with Disabilities The university will serve as backbone for a $10 million research effort from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education among students with disabilities. Auburn University will lead the five-year project while UMKC will "backbone," or guide vision and strategy, support aligned activities, establish shared measurement practices and support the implementation of research, according to the NSF.   African American Students Cite Chancellor for Leadership The African American Student Union (TAASU) surprised Chancellor Mauli Agrawal in his office April 12 with the presentation of the Dr. Joseph Seabrooks Jr. Leadership Award. The award recognizes the service, leadership, professionalism and dedication of a faculty or staff member. TAASU members wanted to let the chancellor know how much they appreciated his leadership during the difficult social justice events of the past year.   $15.2M Renovation Underway at Bloch Heritage Hall When completed, the renovation of Bloch Heritage Hall will be more than new carpet and reconfigured classrooms. It will be even more than eye-popping technology, although the reimagined facility that has anchored the Bloch School since its earliest days also will get that. The $15.2 million renovation, expected to welcome students by the Fall 2022 semester, is really about fulfilling its namesake’s unwavering vision of excellence for the school.   RoosDo: UMKC Launches New Campaign to Highlight Success Stories The university launched a new branding and marketing campaign to demonstrate how UMKC people are powering our community by making discoveries, serving others and challenging the status quo. Dec 13, 2021

  • UMKC Public Health Researchers Enact National Guidelines

    Advocating for physical education as public health policy
    If parents notice a more active school day for their kids, they can thank two public health researchers at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies. Joseph Lightner and Amanda Grimes authored recommended changes to physical education requirements nationally. The new guidelines recommend kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each school day. “With these guidelines laid out and the evidence supporting them,” said Grimes, “we hope that someone working at the local level can use these to enact change in their community.” According to Grimes, the guidelines have academic benefits as well. “Is physical activity of lesser value than academics?” said Grimes. “We just know that the research shows they are tightly correlated. Kids who are more physically active do better in school, behaviorally and academically.” Lightner and Grimes work with the local program Move More, Get More, whose goal is to increase physical activity and nutrition among middle school students in Kansas City public schools. Part of the program tracks how active students are in their daily lives through pedometers so Grimes saw first-hand the affect the pandemic had on these students. “After the pandemic hit, the kids’ activity levels went down to 40 minutes a week,” said Grimes. “That means in an entire week, they’re not even meeting what we’re hoping for in a day.” Lightner knows that sustained behavior change is hard, but the research in the field of public health has found that it’s easier to get kids active than to get adults to change sedentary ways. In response to that, Lightner and Grimes are advocating for not only an increase in physical activity, but also physical literacy so students can carry an active lifestyle into adulthood. With extracurricular athletics getting more and more competitive, kids can get left behind and lack the skills in adulthood to participate. “I was super involved in sport growing up,” said Grimes. “I think about how that impacted my life and trajectory, not only in my career, but also taking a healthy lifestyle into adulthood.” Lightner readily admits that he didn’t like physical education classes when he was in school. But he is also training for a half-triathlon, so he’s not one to shy away from being active. The difference is he’s found joy in his pursuit of being a triathlete. “Enjoyment is one of the best predictors of physical activity throughout life,” said Lightner. “I love physical activity but not in school. I tried to get out of PE as much as possible.” But Lightner knows that physical activity is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to combat the most common chronic health problems:  heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. “It’s always thrown around in public health circles,” said Lightner, “but if physical activity was a pill, it would be the most prescribed medicine on the planet.” According to Lightner, physical activity is a relatively young area in the field of public health but that doesn’t take away from its importance. “Policy is a long road,” said Lightner. “I think it’s important to note that it took us a long time to get to this point and it will take some time to get to the next step.” Dec 10, 2021

  • Congratulations to the Fall 2021 Honor Recipients

    Eight students honored for academic excellence, leadership and service
    Eight graduating seniors who have excelled in both academic achievement and service were named as a Dean of Students Honor Recipients this fall. This program recognizes the exceptional students who maintain high scholastic performance while actively participating in University and community leadership and service activities outside of the classroom. Students were nominated by faculty and staff across campus for the honor. The Division of Student Affairs hosts a breakfast for the recipients to celebrate this distinguished award with their family and nominators. For many of the students, it is one of the last events that give them an opportunity to reflect upon their career at UMKC before they cross the stage at Commencement. Fellow awardee Morgan Kensinger had this to say about what her experience as a Roo has taught her. "As a medical student at UMKC, I have seen how imperative and remarkable human connection can be. Holding the hand of a fearful patient. Sharing a laugh with a classmate after a stressful exam. Listening to stories from my mentors. Giving a helping hand to a member of our KC community. Connection defines us," she said. "And while we are all here to celebrate the service and honorable acts that we have completed over the past several years, I think we can all agree that it’s not the act itself that binds us, but the stories and moments shared. I have been so incredibly privileged to learn alongside amazing students and work with truly resilient patients. It is my sincerest hope that I take the lessons learned and appreciation for human connection forward with me in my career." Congratulations to the Fall 2021 Honor Recipients! · Nichole Alexander, College of Arts and Sciences, nominated by Lynne O’Dell · Courtney Dorris, School of Medicine, nominated by Brent McCoy · Anya Joyo, School of Medicine, nominated by Krisana West · Morgan Kensinger, School of Medicine, nominated by Muhammad Shah Miran · Micah McGlaughlin, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, nominated by Katie Garey · Victoria Pavlik, School of Nursing and Health Studies, nominated by Matthew Chrisman · Matthew Robinson, College of Arts and Sciences, nominated by Mathew Forstater · Krithika Selva Rajoo, College of Arts and Sciences, nominated by Crystal Doss Dec 10, 2021

  • Missouri Pharmacy Association Honors UMKC’s Brady Smith as Student of the Year

    School of Pharmacy student's resume of success, leadership stands out
    Brady Smith was still in middle school when he felt the tug of his career calling. It started with a job shadowing opportunity at school. Following his pharmacist father seemed like a safe bet. “Dad was the one I job shadowed because of the convenience,” Smith said. “And I figured out, hey, I really kind of like pharmacy. Pretty much from sixth grade on, I’ve known that I’ve wanted to go into the pharmacy field.” Smith began working in his father’s community pharmacy in Neosho, Missouri, during his senior year of high school. His career path hasn’t veered much since. Now a fourth-year pharmacy student at the UMKC School of Pharmacy’s Missouri State University campus in Springfield, he is an accomplished student, a mentor for younger students and an ambassador for the School of Pharmacy. He’s also the Missouri Pharmacy Association’s Student of the Year. Presented annually, the award recognizes a pharmacy student for commitment to pharmacy and community, participation in pharmacy organizations and community involvement. The award caught Smith off guard. “I didn’t even know it was a thing. I was actually quite surprised,” Smith said. “I was very honored to receive the award.” His resume made Smith a perfect candidate for the award. Since moving to Springfield to attend college, he has spent the past four years working as a pharmacy intern at a local community pharmacy. “It’s really the niche that I enjoy in pharmacy,” Smith said. “I've been working there since before I got into pharmacy school. I feel like that's kind of helped me through the pharmacy curriculum as well.” Earlier this year, Smith took an elective course in business planning. He and three classmates teamed up to participate in the Community Pharmacist Association’s Student Business Plan Competition. Their plan was strong enough to place them in the top 10 in the national competition. Smith points to his leadership experience as a highlight of his student career. He’s been a student liaison on local and national committees, while at the same time doing weekly tutoring sessions with third-year pharmacy students. He also serves as a student ambassador for the School of Pharmacy. It’s a big responsibility helping students on the Springfield campus get and stay connected to the school in Kansas City. “You’re the face of the UMKC School of Pharmacy, welcoming new students, attending orientation and helping students transition into pharmacy school,” Smith said. “That role has a lot of responsibility and a lot of merit.” Smith exemplifies the quality of students at the School of Pharmacy, said Paul Gubbins, Pharm.D., associate dean for the UMKC School of Pharmacy at Missouri State University. “UMKC School of Pharmacy has the best student pharmacists,” Gubbins said. “They contribute much to their communities and our profession, which has been recognized time and time again at the national and state level. Being from the Springfield site, we are incredibly proud of Brady. He is someone who has demonstrated himself as a student leader since the day he started our program. In addition, he is passionate about our profession and thus, I have no doubt he will be an excellent pharmacist and accomplish much in his career. I will be excited to see his future achievements for many years to come.” Smith is on track to graduate from pharmacy school next May. But he’s already looking at extending his academic career. Next up, he hopes, will be a residency to prepare him to work in ambulatory care or possibly academic pharmacy. “It’s a one-year residency and they say that you get three years’ worth of teaching in that one year,” Smith said. “I’d love to get that additional knowledge and information before I get out there in the real world.” Dec 08, 2021

  • Donation Process During UMKC Campus Closure

    Here’s how to give
    While the UMKC campus is closed during Winter Break, it’s still easy to make a year-end gift by observing the following guidelines. UMKC offices will be closed Friday, Dec. 24 through Friday, Dec. 31. All gifts must hit UMKC Foundation accounts by Dec. 31 to receive tax credit for the 2021 calendar year. Checks and cash need to be postmarked on or before Dec. 31. Credit card and stock gifts must hit the UMKC Foundation accounts by Dec. 31 to receive tax-credit for the 2021 calendar year. Checks and cash need to be postmarked on or before Dec. 31 The date UMKC receives and processes checks and cash from the mail has NO impact on a donor’s taxable year contributions. The “gift date” for the IRS is the date the donor relinquished control, not the date the gift is processed. Availability and Contacts The Office of Gift Processing will be available Thursday, Dec. 30 from 8 a.m. to noon to accept year-end gifts. The Office of Gift Processing will be closed on December 31 through the remainder of winter break and will re-open with regular business hours on Monday, Jan. 4. The UMKC Foundation Office will be closed during winter break. Should you have any inquiries during that time, please call 816-235-5778 and someone will return your call. For any stock gifts or wire transfers, please contact UMKC Foundation Accounting at Inquiries about all other year-end gifts can be directed to Sara Hampton at 816-235-5329 or via email to The Office of Gift Processing will also be taking calls at 816-235-1566 during the office hours listed above. Gift Timing Checks must be in an envelope postmarked prior to Dec. 31, 2021 to be credited in the 2021 tax year. If the envelope received is postmarked after Dec. 31, it will be counted as a 2022 gift. Donors should send their checks to the address below: UMKC Office of Gift Processing 112 Administrative Center 5115 Oak Street Kansas City, MO 64112 Checks dated prior to Dec. 31, along with postmarked envelopes, should be received in the Office of Gift Processing on or before Friday, Jan. 7, 2021. Gifts received after that point will not be automatically included in processing for the annual tax receipt. For stock gifts or wire transfers, please contact Tracie Rodriquez at for the transfer form and DTC instructions. Stock gifts must be received into the account on or before Dec. 31 in order to be reflected in 2021 tax period, per the IRS. In order to liquidate the stock gift, it is required to provide the donor’s name, number of shares, security, expected date of transfer and area for where the gift is intended. This information can be completed on the transfer form or sent via email. Stock gifts will not be liquidated until confirmation of this information is received. Mutual funds take an additional 3-5+ business days before posting to our account. Please advise your donors to have their brokers initiate any mutual fund transfers no later than Dec. 21. Regular equity stock takes 24 hours to post to our account. Credit card transactions must be received by the Office of Gift Processing by 5 p.m. Dec. 31 to be reflected as a year-end gift. Credit cards may be called into the Office of Gift Processing on Dec. 30 from 10 am to 2 pm at 816-235-1566 or the form may be hand-delivered. On December 31, credit cards can ONLY be called in to 816-235-5329. Credit card gifts may be made online through the UMKC Foundation website until midnight on Dec. 31 to be reflected as a 2021 gift. Any online credit card gifts received after midnight Dec. 31 will be dated in January. Gifts received after hours may be deposited in the night deposit box located beside the Cashiers Office at the Administration Center lobby and will be processed the following business day. Credit card gifts received through the lockbox will be dated the following business day. Credit card forms dropped off on December 30 after 2 PM will not be processed until January 3, 2022.  Dec 08, 2021

  • SOM researcher receives $867,000 grant to study treatment for chronic lung disease

    Study is part of part of a 5-year, $3 million projected supported by the National Institutes of Health
    UMKC School of Medicine researcher Paula Monaghan Nichols, Ph.D., has received a $867,000 National Institutes of Health grant to look into a treatment that minimizes neurological side effects for a chronic lung disease that affects a significant number of premature babies. The project is part of a multi-principle investigator initiated proposal between Monaghan Nichols, Dr. Venkatesh Sampath from Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas City, and Dr. Donald DeFranco at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, that totals more than $3 million in NIH funding over a 5-year period. The research will explore the use of Ciclesonide (CIC), an inhaled steroid currently used to treat asthma, as an alternate therapy for bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). BDP causes tissue damage in the tiny air sacs of the lung leading to severe respiratory distress. It is often the result premature birth and mechanical oxygen ventilation. The disease touches nearly seven of 10 infants born before 28 weeks of gestation. In the United States, that is an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 babies a year. There is currently no cure for BPD but clinical treatments to limit inflammation and the progression of BPD include long-acting synthetic drugs such as dexamethasone. Those drugs, however, also come with a significant risk of adverse effects on a child’s systemic growth and neurodevelopment that can lead to long-lasting changes in brain structure and function. Monaghan Nichols, associate dean for research, professor and chair of Biomedical Sciences, said infants that acquire BPD face significant mortality rates. Survivors often have recurrent hospital visits, need for respiratory therapies and persistent limitations in pulmonary function. “Therefore, there remains a need for a pharmacotherapy for BPD in neonates that will have beneficial anti-inflammatory and lung maturation effects, but limited adverse neurological side effects,” Monaghan Nichols said. Preliminary studies have found that Ciclesonide, even with intermittent doses, can suppress acute lung inflammation with limited neurological alterations in rat models. “Given the established safety of CIC in very young children, the clinical translation of our proposed studies to human neonates could be expedited, particularly given the limited, safe and effective therapeutic options available for treating or preventing BPD in susceptible premature infants,” Monaghan Nichols said. Dec 07, 2021

  • UMKC Professor, Vice Chancellor of Research, Named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

    Anthony Caruso becomes the second UMKC faculty member in two years to earn prestigious fellowship
    Anthony Caruso, a UMKC faculty member, has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors — the highest professional distinction awarded to academic inventors. The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. Caruso's research team conceptualized, and for the first time, showed certain nuclear materials could be identified by their neutron emitting fingerprint. His team has also developed methods for making nuclear batteries, new techniques to generate and radiate high power microwaves for electronic attack and materials that reduce the size of computer chips. "Receiving this honor means that our team was able to collectively execute on technology that is deemed new, novel and useful," Caruso said. "Coming together as a team is important and should be held in high regard." Caruso wears many hats at UMKC, serving as professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Computing and Engineering as well as the Associate Vice Chancellor of Research. Beyond the university, he is highly regarded as a national expert in atomic physics and has a long-standing record of federal research support from the Department of Defense, specifically the Office of Naval Research and Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Caurso is also among a team of researchers at the Missouri Institute for Defense Engery. "As our team forges ahead, we hope to make major changes in the affordability of whole foods, through urban horticultural engineering, and, in education, through platforms that can adapt the individual and their learning style to enrich and accelerate the information they ingest, retain and use to solve the wicked problems of tomorrow, Caruso said. UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal nominated Caruso for the fellowship. Upon finding out he had been named, Caruso said his first reaction was, "Chancellor Agrawal has my back." "Tony's work is extraordinarily groundbreaking, and he has made a difference in the lives of many," Chancellor Agrawal said. "UMKC is proud to call him one of our own and is delighted to continue supporting him in his future endeavors." Caruso is the second UMKC faculty member in the last five years to be named a Fellow of the NAI. Last year, Reza Derakhshani, professor in the School of Computing and Engineering and developer of a biometric technology that makes the eye the only password needed to secure smartphone and mobile devices, received the honor. The 116-member 2021 Class of Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors will be inducted at the NAI 11th annual meeting in June 2022. The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprised of U.S. and international universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutions with more than 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. The NAI was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovated students and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society. Collectively, NAI Fellows hold more than 42,700 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 13,000 licensed technologies, 3,200 companies and created more than one million jobs. Dec 07, 2021

  • Welcoming Nursing’s Next Wave

    Nursing enrollment and applications increase in response to pandemic
    The global pandemic directed a spotlight on many important roles within the health care profession. From contact tracers to frontline nurses to emergency room doctors, COVID has pushed health care careers to the fore front, particularly nursing. For those in health care higher education, the question is how that attention affects the plans of future college students. Does it ignite an interest in health care or upend prospective students’ best-laid plans? The answer is taking focus with recent data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Nationally, enrollment is up 5.6% for baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral nursing programs. According to UMKC’s Joy Roberts, the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies is seeing a similar trend – but doubled. “We saw undergrad applications jump by ten percent,” said Roberts, interim dean. “These prospective students were seeing the agony in their communities, in cities, and they wanted to help.” Further proof for Roberts is the attendance she’s seen at UMKC’s First Semester Experience classes that focus on nursing. The university offers various courses designed for new students to explore the various career paths available at UMKC. Nursing offered two dates of its class, Thrills, Chills and Eeewww! Adventures in Nursing. Both proved popular with new students. “We’ve had standing room only at our sessions,” said Roberts. “A lot of times, the students had never even thought about it – never even thought about going into nursing – until it was suddenly forced in the public eye because of the pandemic.” At the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies, there are different academic paths to earning a nursing degree, as well as a degree in health sciences with minors in public health and exercise science. Dec 02, 2021

  • Emerging Research Scholars

    New student program aims to encourage undergraduate research projects
    Most students think research is something done by old men in lab coats, that it’s out of reach as they earn their undergraduate degree. Kimberly Johnson, Ed.D., is looking to change that. Johnson has been an integral part of the UMKC community for the last twenty years in a variety of roles. Her passion, though, has always been working with and supporting students, particularly students of color. Her new role with Multicultural Student Affairs allows her an opportunity to do just that. “Emerging Research Scholars is new a program with the UMKC Office of Multicultural Student Affairs that offers high-achieving, historically underrepresented students research projects in their field of study with faculty mentors,” Johnson said. “Scholars will receive academic, social and financial support while becoming integrated into the intellectual climate of the university.” To utilize resources already available to UMKC students, Johnson reached out to Jane Greer, director of Undergraduate Research, to collaborate on this new student opportunity. Through this collaboration with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship, students can be matched with a faculty mentor who can best support the student in their chosen field of research. The office was also able to offer work study positions to students in this first Emerging Research Scholars cohort. “We've always tried to focus on making sure that our different opportunities serve the full range of UMKC students, including students from historically excluded groups,” Greer said. “We were especially excited that Dr. Johnson took on this new role in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and is working to create more ways to support these students in terms of getting them involved in research.” Increasing student interest and involvement in research begins with encouraging them to conduct research in fields that interest them. “This is not just for medical school, you could be studying arts and sciences, law, whatever field they want to study,” Johnson said. “We're hoping that they can find a faculty member or someone here in the Kansas City community that can help them. We do have some students who are not yet paired with the faculty member because we need more faculty mentors.” Hannah Leyva, ’24, who just declared her major in Sociology, with an emphasis in Cultural Anthropology and minors in Spanish and Urban Studies, was one such student in this first cohort. “I was not originally paired with a faculty mentor, and although this caused some uncertainty at first, it really was beneficial,” Leyva said. “As someone who has only recently declared their major, having the opportunity to reach out to professors instead of being automatically paired allowed me to investigate what kind of research I wanted to do. It is also overall helpful, as someone who wants to continue research in graduate school, to gain that experience of taking the initiative to network.” Earth and Environmental Sciences student Amanda Mercier, ’22, is also thriving with the new connections she has made in the program, both student and faculty. “Being part of the Emerging Scholar's Research Program this semester was incredibly motivating, insightful and helpful with regards to professionalism and getting involved in research or opportunities provided by the school or community,” Mercier said. “I felt that I constantly had a team of people that had my back and were a great source of information on any subject.  I learned that the things that gave me anxiety or I struggled with, I wasn't the only one and didn't feel alone anymore.” These conversations and the relationships that form from them are exactly what Johnson is hoping for. Her ultimate goal is for Emerging Scholars to gain experiences that will prepare them for graduate school and their future careers. “Many of these students are just trying to get through their undergrad and are not thinking beyond,” she said. “How do we get our students, particularly students of color, thinking about grad school right now and what they need to do to prepare for it? If you're not prepared for graduate school, how does that help you in the workforce? If they're getting exposed to it, knowing that they can do research as an undergrad, they're more prepared to apply for graduate school.” This is, of course, a main goal of the Office of Undergraduate Research, and Greer is thrilled that Emerging Scholars allows this connection with students that may not have been made otherwise. “As the Emerging Scholars Program continues to grow, the future is really bright,” Greer said. “Dr. Johnson’s very astutely providing a lot of social support and structures to help students who may have never had these opportunities presented to them. We serve all students, and undergraduate research is something that every student UMKC should have an opportunity to get involved in.” Leyva says she’s proud to be among the first cohort of this program and is grateful for the variety of opportunities the program can provide. “What I found helpful about the Emerging Research Scholars is that there is a support system to help guide you through undergraduate research,” Leyva said. “It is not only your faculty mentor, but Dr. Johnson as well, and professionals who volunteer their time for research/graduate school workshops, and even other students in the program. It really is refreshing to be surrounded by others who understand the importance of diverse representation in research.” If you are a UMKC faculty member interested in mentoring Emerging Research Scholars, please contact Kimberly Johnson at Nov 30, 2021

  • Nearly $1M Awarded in Research Grants to SCE Faculty This Quarter

    Research ranges from artificial intelligence to app design
    In the second half of 2021, faculty from the School of Computing and Engineering have been awarded $906,604 in research funding. Among those who have received funding is Reza Derakhshani, Ph.D., professor in SCE and head of the university's computational Intelligence and Bio-Identification Technologies Laboratory. Derakhshani, whose research is primarily focused on eye vein pattern identity verification, was awarded $389,604 from the United States Army for a wearable deep vascular identification system. Derkhshani is best known for leading the development of a biometric technology that makes the eye the only password needed to secure smartphones and mobile devices. The product, known as Eyeprint, was commercialized by the Kansas City-based startup EyeVerify. The company was acquired by Ant Financial Services Group in 2016 for a reported $100 million. It maintains its headquarters in Kansas City and has been doing business as ZOLOZ since 2017. Derakhshani acts as the company's chief scientist. In 2020, he was named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Below is a complete list of research funding awarded: $20,000 to Antonis Stylianou for statistical shape modeling for pediatric knees and ACL injury risk. $150,000 to ZhiQiang Chen for an augmented reality pilot to demonstrate the flooding risk at 103rd Street in Kansas City, Missouri. $100,000 to Jejung Lee for the development of GIS-based watershed need classification. $50,000 to ZhiQiang Chen for HyperGLU: Hyperspectral and Geometric Learning for UAV-enabled plant species identification and localization. $15,000 to Baek-Young Choi for using artificial intelligence without a data center for reliable wireless sensing and communication for space and extreme environments. $15,000 to Sejun Song for the education of smart and reliable technologies for a future non-terrestrial network system. $2,000 to Srvya Chirandas for a budgeting app that will be an outward-facing application that will give customers useful information about their full financial picture. $55,000 to Amirfarhang Mehidizadeh for identification and understanding of major underlying mechanisms of asphaltene and deposition dynamics. $389,604 to Reza Derakhshani for DVIS: A wearable deep vascular ID system. $130,000 to John Kevern for timely and uniform application of curing materials. Nov 29, 2021

  • KCUR Features Conservatory Faculty Who Are Up for Grammy Awards

    The 2022 Grammy Awards are set to air Jan. 31
    The 2022 Grammy nominees have several ties to the UMKC Conservatory. Sandbox Percussion, a quartet comprised of UMKC Conservatory resident faculty members, received two nominations for their album, Seven Pillars. The quartet includes Ian David Rosenbaum, Jonny Allen, Victor Caccese and Terry Sweeney.  2020 Conservatory Alumni Achievement Award recipient Andrés Salguero and his wife, Christina Sanabria, were also nominated for Best Children’s Music Album.  Additionally, professor and pianist Alon Goldstein contributed to a nomination for producer Steven Epstein, whose nomination includes a composition by Goldstein. KCUR featured KC nominees in a recent piece, which you can read here. Nov 29, 2021

  • Law Professor Weighs in on Compensation for Wrongfully Convicted

    UMKC law professor Sean O'Brien said that compensation for the exonerated Kevin Strickland is unlikely.
    Strickland served nearly 43 years in prison before a judge threw out his conviction. O'Brien spoke with KCUR and the Kansas City Star following the judge's ruling to explain Missouri's laws on compensation for wrongful convictions.  Read his interview with the Star. (Subscription required) Read his interview with KCUR. Nov 23, 2021

  • Critical Conversations: COVID-19, Vaccinations and (MIS)Information in Communities of Color

    UMKC hosts discussion about facts and perceptions around vaccine hesitancy and availability for people of color
    Community health leaders participated in a panel discussion on, “COVID-19, Vaccinations and (MIS)Information in Communities of Color.” The Nov. 16 discussion was the tenth in the Critical Conversations series of panel discussions addressing systemic racism sponsored by the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion. It was the second of the 2021-22 school year. The Critical Conversations series is a part of Roos Advocate for Community Change, a campus-wide initiative launched in June 2020, which highlights thoughtful action on campus and in our community to ensure lasting and comprehensive changes. The goal of each Critical Conversation discussion is to enlighten, educate and explore the causes and potential cures for racism. Attendance to the discussions is free. Panelist for this session included: Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., professor, department of biomedical and health informatics, UMKC School of Medicine, and director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute Liset Olarte, M.D.,  division of infectious disease, Children’s Mercy Kansas City Qiana Thomason, M.S.W., president/CEO, Health Forward Foundation Frank Thompson, interim director of health, Kansas City Health Department Excerpts of the conversation are below. To view the complete recording of the conversation, click here. History of mistrust in the health care profession by people of color Olarte: Mistrust in the healthcare system stems from historical events related to discriminatory practices that have impacted communities of color that may continue to this day. The most known example of unethical experimentation in health care is the Tuskegee syphilis study which lasted 40 years. It ended in the in the 70s, so not that long ago. This study targeted about 600 black men with and without syphilis, conducted by the U.S. public health service and the Tuskegee Institute. The study examined the natural course of the infection of syphilis in the participants, but they were not informed of the real purpose of the study. And what is more concerning is that once penicillin became the standard of care, the participants were not offered treatment. Syphilis can cause permanent neurological and cardiac damage, and can be potentially life threatening. This experiment has deeply impacted the relationship between the black community and the healthcare system. Solutions in improving and tracking chronic condition management Thomason: It's time for us to begin to look at the disparate outcomes that result in health injustices, and it's time for our states - Missouri and Kansas -  and our Federal Government to require the use of race, ethnicity and language data, so that we can ensure that we have the full picture. We cannot change what we cannot measure. Providing healthcare where people are Thomason: We’ve seen that the best and most promising practices here locally, as well as nationally,  focus on connecting underserved communities with health care services through channels that offer proximity and trust, like our faith-based communities.   UMKC role in furthering virus information and vaccination Thompson: The UMKC group that Jeannette Berkeley-Patton heads, has access to a faith-based network that targets the populations [in Kansas City] that are the most underserved in terms of vaccine access and distribution, and have been the hardest hit in terms of cases. One of the things I’m the most excited about is that the federal grants that allow us to get out and work with  community organizations that not only work with COVID awareness, but also around developing their own organizational capacity. Improving overall health through community connection Our medical system is set up to treat sick people. When you’re really talking about improving health, you need to talk abut relationships, so we need to think about how we restructure our medical systems. COVID is a really good litmus test. With COVID, more than ever before, we saw health services being pushed into the communities where people live. Nov 18, 2021

  • Celebrating Our First Gen Roos

    Connections and resources for first-generation students at UMKC
    Student voices filled the air as peers and mentors mingled amongst each other with the occasional clash of jumbo Jenga blocks in the background in the Student Union as UMKC’s First Gen Roo Program celebrated the success of its students. A National First-Generation College Student Celebration took place across the country on Nov. 8 and at UMKC, the activity revolved around the UMKC First Gen Roo Program, an initiative for first-generation students designed to increase student involvement, success and satisfaction and assist in GPA, retention and graduation goals.   The event kicked off with an informational resource fair in the morning, a professional photobooth available throughout the afternoon, an informational session “Networking Like a First Gen Boss” with Nabil Abas and special UMKC alumni guests Shae Perry (B.A. ’19, film and media), Kennedi Glass (B.B.A ’22, marketing), and Victor Michimani (B.B.A. ’21), followed by a discussion on the imposter phenomenon, and wrapped up with an undergraduate research panel.   There were numerous booths set up with First Gen Roo swag, a photobooth with props, caricature artist, peer mentors readily available for questions, and more.    This celebration highlighted the resources of the First Gen Roo Program which, along with First Gen Proud, helps in continuing as a First Gen Forward institution.   Starting college can be difficult for anyone but being the first one in the family to do it is even more frightening. This program is important because it offers the support and assistance that some students might miss out on when they are the first generation to attend college. There is something special about connecting with peers on another level who have been down the same path and can offer useful insight, as well as the bonds and friendships built from those connections.  Within the First Gen Roo program, students receive help navigating campus and becoming more involved, working with technology, and refining skills for academic preparation like time management and study skills, as well as social preparation such as decision-making, financial literacy, and other strategies for student success. Students are provided with many resources and opportunities like early move-in, resource workshops, and one-on-one meetings—all before the semester even begins. Once the semester has started, students can expect to have a peer-mentor available for additional support along the way.  In addition to being surrounded by peers in a similar situation, the program provides trained and dedicated mentors that are eager to help every step of the way. UMKC has a long-term commitment to discovering ways to break down barriers and assist first-generation students’ success here on campus and out in the community after graduation.   Jailyn Polk, freshman, criminal justice and criminology, said her favorite part of the program has been making friends before the semester started and how helpful it’s been meeting new people and building those bonds.   Program Coordinator Megan Elsen, who’s worked with first-generation students since 2009, says it’s vital to build a strong community of students and staff that focuses on social and emotional supports in college to create a safe space for those whose parents do not have the direct experience of navigating college.   "It's important for first-gen students to feel a part of the university just as much as other students. They need to feel like they belong," she says.  And as the program offers a place for students to connect with others and become more confident in themselves, their studies, and their overall college experience.  Nabil Abas, senior, communication studies, says that’s definitely been his experience. He reached out as a first-gen student and now he’s one of the support program specialists (mentors) with the program.  “Tap into people who want to see you fly—who really care about you,’’ he says.   "You just have to find what works for you, and for me, it's First Gen Roos." Nov 17, 2021

  • KCUR Features Law School Program Helping Tenants

    The Tenant Representation Initiative team estimates they have successfully settled up to 85 percent of their cases
    When the federal eviction moratorium for COVID-19 expired in August, many renters found themselves in need of legal representation. The Truman Fellows, sponsored by UMKC, started the Tenant Representation Initiative to help. Brian Larios, UMKC School of Law adjunct clinical professor and managing attorney for Tenant Representation Initiative, recently spoke with KCUR about the program. Listen online. Nov 15, 2021

  • UMKC Med Student Vaccinates Underserved Kansas Citians

    Six-year M.D. program provides opportunity to learn while serving the community
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Demi Elrod Anticipated Graduation: 2026Academic program: B.A./M.D. School of MedicineHometown: St. Louis, Missouri Demi Elrod wants to be a doctor so she can help people, and she chose UMKC so she could streamline her education through the six year B.A/M.D. program. While she recognizes the challenges – the level of intensity and the fast-paced nature of the program – she likes that she will be finished in six years instead of eight.  The accelerated program has helped Elrod improve the way she works and make meaningful connections. “The course load has taught me a lot about how to prioritize my tasks and manage my time,” she says. “And another advantage is the mentoring that is available. Throughout the program I will receive guidance and counseling by my docent, who is a doctor within the School of Medicine.” Since entering college, Elrod has discovered that she is interested in infectious disease and microbiology. “Since the pandemic began, I have learned a lot about COVID-19 and the vaccine in my classes and during my experiences as a volunteer vaccinator,” she says. "These experiences and lessons have shown me how interesting infectious disease is, and how I can serve my community to aid in the pandemic.” Elrod has participated vaccination events in underserved communities in conjunction with Our Healthy Eastside Kansas City (OHKCE), a community wide initiative that promotes and delivers COVID-19 vaccinations and other health services to residents on the east side of Kansas City. While the events are geared toward providing COVID-19 vaccinations and information related to the virus, they also offer other health services such as pre-diabetic and blood pressure screenings. She says working at the vaccination events has been an unforgettable experience that’s helped solidify her choice to practice medicine. “It’s shown me a lot about how important medicine is, and how important it is to bridge the gap between community and medical services. The message of OHEKC is, ‘You don’t have to come to us – we can come to you to help.’ Getting that message out builds trust between the community and health care providers.” Elrod says attending medical school and the experiences it has provided have inspired her to be intellectually curious about the world around her. “Over the past year and a half, I have learned so much about the world of science and medicine. I cannot wait to learn even more in the upcoming years.” Nov 15, 2021

  • Pharmacy Professor Breaks Down Technician Shortage for KSHB

    KSHB reports some pharmacies are adjusting hours due to a shortage of pharmacy technicians
    Sarah Oprinovich is a pharmacist and a professor the the UMKC School of Pharmacy. She said that staffing shortages may mean patients will wait longer for their prescriptions. Read more. Nov 12, 2021

  • Olympian Alumna to Deliver Commencement Address at ‘Roos in the City’

    Track and Field superstar Courtney Frerichs will welcome Class of ’21 to join her in ranks of UMKC alumni
    Olympic silver medalist and UMKC alumna Courtney Frerichs (B.A. ’15) will speak at the “Roos in the City” commencement celebration for the Class of 2021 at the T-Mobile Center. The mid-year commencement will take place Sunday, Dec. 19 at 3 p.m. at Kansas City’s downtown arena. There will be a single ceremony for all academic units. More than 1,000 graduates are expected to participate. Anyone who would like to submit messages of congratulations to our graduates can do so using this online form. Frerichs raced to a silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the 3000-meter steeplechase. During her athletic career at UMKC, the native of Nixa, Missouri, was an 11-time conference champion, five-time All-American and set seven school records that she still holds. She graduated summa cum laude from UMKC in 2015 with a bachelor of arts in chemistry. Upon completing her NCAA eligibility, she signed a professional contract with Nike and joined the Bowerman Track Club.  She has competed professionally for the last five years, during which she has made two Olympic teams (2016, 2020), three World Championship teams and won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships. After the 2020 Olympics, she reset her American record in the event, becoming the first American woman to break the nine-minute barrier. She currently lives in Beaverton, Oregon and is married to fellow Roo Griffin Humphreys (B.B.A. ’16). She trains full-time while also pursuing a master of science in nutrition at Auburn University.      Nov 12, 2021

  • 'Boy Erased' Author's Pride Lecture Discusses Meeting Hate With Compassion

    Garrard Conley shares life story of overcoming the trauma of conversion therapy
    New York Times Best Selling author Garrard Conley shared his story of surviving conversion therapy during the 15th annual UMKC Pride Lecture on November 9. The lecture, presented by the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion, covered his journey of removing from the trauma of conversion therapy and how to meet hate with compassion. In his memoir Boy Erased, Conley recounts his childhood in a fundamentalist Arkansas family that enrolled him in conversion therapy during his college years. The book was later adapted into a film by the same name in 2018. It featured Nicole Kidman, Russell Crow and Lucas Hedges, who was nominated for a Golden Globe in his role based on Conley. Conley is now an activist and speaker, lecturing at schools and ventures across the country on radical compassion, writing through trauma and growing up gay in the South. He also works with other activists to help end conversion therapy in the United States and abroad. Below are some highlights from his presentation, delivered live over Zoom: Please note: This lecture features content that some may find upsetting- including mention of sexual assault. Life growing up Conley grew up in a small town of roughly 100 in the Mississippi Delta region of Arkansas. Every aspect of his life revolved around the local Missionary Baptist Church, he said. "All of our gathering, pot-lucks, you name it, was all taking place there. We didn't even have a general store, that was our whole world," Conley said. "The way these people thought, was the way that we thought because that's really the social glue that held our lives together." Through his church, Conley said he had beliefs instilled into him that included the idea that women were not permitted to hold positions of power and that marriage was strictly between a man and a woman. As he was entering his teen years, Conley began to question his own sexuality, right around the time Matthew Shepard was murdered. Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming who was beaten, tortured and left for dead on a fence post — many believe because he was gay. His death sparked conversations nationwide about what it meant to be gay in the United States. "I was thinking to myself, 'I don't know exactly what I am, but I don't feel comfortable with any of this.' My parents had no idea that I was gay, but if they had known they would have been sacred out of their minds that would have been me tied to the fence post," Conley said. Conversion therapy While in college, Conley confided in his roommate, a friend from high school, that he was questioning his sexuality. Conley's roommate responded by sexually assaulting him and confessing that he sexually assaulted another young boy at a church camp. Conley reported his roommate to his school's administration. His roommate sought revenge on Conley by outing him to his family. "My dad gave me an ultimatum that if I didn't go to conversion therapy, that I wouldn't see my mom or my dad again, I wouldn't continue my education and I wouldn't be allowed to step foot into the house again," Conley said. Conley then began attending a six-month period of Bible-centered therapy sessions every weekend, which culminated in a two-week conversion therapy camp that left him suicidal.  When he first began thinking about writing a book on his life experiences, Conley said he had to face some hard questions about his journey and his relationship with his family. "When you are writing a memoir you have to think in terms of the big picture. The question I kept coming back to was, what really brought our family to the doors of (conversion therapy)?" Conley said. "What brought a loving family to this place? What brought my mom and dad to make that decision, and most importantly, why did I agree to go? I struggled with these questions for years." Changing minds Conley said he hopes his work has an impact on the fact that people can choose to live a more compassionate life. "I realize that in 2021 that can often sound naive. It seems like everyone is yelling at each other and there is no understanding and no real desire to actually speak the truth to people. But in my life, what I have seen, that is not always true," Conley said. Every person can instill compassion into others through the art of communication, Conley said, and by sharing his story he hopes to show others that change is possible. "People can actually change, not that they can change their sexuality because they can't, but they can change how they feel about other people and they can grow and become more compassionate," Conley said. Nov 10, 2021

  • Criminology Professor Talks Gun Violence Reduction Strategies with KC Star

    Ken Novak said cities need a portfolio of strategies
    Novak is currently a Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology. Read his interview with the Kansas City Star here. (Subscription required) Nov 10, 2021

  • Make it Count Foundation Gift Supports UMKC Veteran Students

    Couple honors their late son through education support for veterans
    The Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Foundation donated $10,000 to the Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Fund at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to further educational opportunities for United States veterans. Spencer C. Duncan, a U.S. Army Reserve door gunner, died in combat in the largest single-incident loss of U.S. lives in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. While his family was grieving, they decided the best way to honor Spencer, an Olathe, Kansas native, was to help other servicemen and women. “Our family really wanted to shut other people out and grieve,” Dale Duncan, Spencer’s father and chairman of the board of the Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Foundation says. “But we knew that our son wouldn’t have wanted that.” Following Spencer’s death, a family friend recommended organizing a 5K run in his honor. His family decided this would be a great way to honor Spencer and help others. The event raised $20,000 that year and has raised more than $900,000 in its ten year history. "These student veterans receive more than just money towards their expenses. It also shows that UMKC has community partners who support the student veteran population and want to see them succeed.” — Eric Gormly Jason Parson, BA ’99, president and CEO of Parson & Associates, LLC, and a veteran who served in Iraq, is president of the board of the Make it Count Foundation.  “I joined the military when I was 17 years old,” Parson says. “It was the greatest decision I ever made. It’s been the foundation of all my success. I hope we can continue to grow this partnership and help more veterans earn their degrees.” Shelby Manning, who is currently pursuing her master’s in business administration and has plans for law school; and AJ Sharif, a first-generation student determined to get his master’s in business administration; are two UMKC student veterans who have received scholarship support through the Make It Count Foundation. Eric Gormly, assistant director of Veteran Student Support Services notes that this support makes a significant difference. “These generous gifts can help reduce some of the stress a student veteran may be having and allow them to focus more on their schoolwork rather than how they are going to afford books. But these student veterans receive more than just money towards their expenses,” Gormly says. “It also shows that UMKC has community partners who support the student veteran population and want to see them succeed.”     Nov 10, 2021

  • At Ease Zone Ready for Action

    Resource for veterans has convenient home in the Student Union
    Eric Gormly, assistant director for Student Veteran Support Services at UMKC, oversees the At Ease Zone, a resource center for veterans on campus. His background gives him keen insight into student veterans’ needs. While in the U.S. Marine Corps, Gormly was deployed to Hurricane Katrina, Iraq and Peru. When he completed his service, Gormly, a Kansas City native, took advantage of his G.I. Bill and enrolled in community college to pursue a degree in law enforcement and worked in the Veterans’ Affairs office. “After a couple of semesters my academic advisor said, ‘You talk a lot about helping vets. Are you sure you want to go into law enforcement?’” He realized that helping veterans was his calling. Gormly has spent 10 years working in higher education establishing programs to make the transition to college easier for veterans, and to help them feel a part of campus life. “Veterans go from a highly organized structure in the military to no structure at the university. We help with the transition.” — Eric Gormly “There is culture shock on re-entry,” Gormly says. “Veterans go from a highly organized structure in the military to no structure at the university. We help with the transition.” In order to be better informed of veteran enrollment, there is an opportunity for applicants to identify veteran status on the UMKC admission application. Gormly’s office uses that to contact and connect with students who might benefit from services his office provides. While that form provides some basic information about veterans on campus, Gormly recognizes that all veterans do not have the same needs. “We know who receives benefits, but there’s a wide range of student veterans,” Gormly says. “Also, the military doesn’t do a great job explaining the benefits, and some veterans may not be clear on how to use them.” The At Ease Zone can be a great place for veterans to find resources. Located in Student Union, the At Ease Zone also provides a comfortable spot on campus for military-affiliated students to study, socialize and connect with staff and each other. There are 156 new veteran students at UMKC this semester. “I call every incoming student,” Gormly says. “We push that out. They don’t have to ask. They may need help to connect on campus. For some students, groups are better, for others one-on-one meetings work best. We try to find the best fit.” Regardless of their preferences, Gormly notes that having a visible location on campus has made a significant difference in the way they can provide services with a variety of resources beyond being a place to relax and do homework. “There are computers available, and students are welcome to come in to study or do Zoom classes. We have tutors, academic coaches and a 32-inch display with resources including veterans’ organizations on campus and information on the Kangaroo Pantry.” He says with students back on campus this semester, they have been able to do more events, including volunteering. “There are many opportunities for student veterans to get involved. Every home Chiefs football game, 20 student veterans volunteer with the Chiefs organization for pre-game activities.” Building these connections is critical to student veterans’ success. Kavitha Reddy, BLA ’99, MD ’00, is associate director of Employee Whole Health in the Veterans’ Health Administration Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation and assistant professor in Emergency Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine. Throughout her career, she has been an advocate for veterans’ health through a variety of resources in and outside the hospital setting. “Places like the At Ease Zone are perfect places for veterans to be proactive about their health and well-being,” Reddy says. “For the men and women who went into the service relatively young – often 18 years old – they are facing a lot of new challenges along with mental and physical health issues. Civilian life may seem fragmented, and taking care of themselves, mind, body and spirit, is incredibly important “The university establishing a safe space that is visible on campus is significant.” Gormly is excited about the opportunities ahead. “Vets face a lot,” he says. “They are often confronted with the idea that veterans have trouble adapting, but being in the military often helps us to adapt. These students bring a different level of commitment with maturity, motivation and persistence. Our office provides training for faculty and staff to understand a vet’s mindset. There are so many positive qualities that they bring to campus. We hope to expand.” For more information on services or to volunteer contact Eric Gormly at or 816-235-5599. Nov 08, 2021

  • Associate Professor Offers Advice for Holiday Shoppers on KSHB

    William Black suggests people buy gifts early
    Black, an associate professor in economics, said supply chain shortages and delays will make the typically busy holiday shopping season even tougher this year. Read more.  Nov 08, 2021

  • Biology Student Featured in KCBJ

    Emily Wesley was recently in The Kansas City Business Journal
    Wesley lost both her parents to health complications at a young age. Inspired by one of her father's doctors, she now studies Biology and works in a research lab at the Stowers Intitute. She also founded a peer mentoring group on campus. Read more. Nov 08, 2021

  • KCTV Asks Associate Professor to Weigh In on Local Elections

    Beth Vonnahme, Ph.D. helped put the increased turnout and election results into perspective
    Vonnahme attributed the increase in turnout to a variety of factors. Read more Nov 08, 2021

  • UMKC Professor Studies Connection Between Sleep and Alzheimer’s Disease

    Successful research on flies furthers advances for humans
    Stephane Dissel, Ph.D. fell in love with biological research as an undergraduate in his home country of France thanks to his natural curiosity, his love of the lab and a little luck. His interest in the connection between Alzheimer’s disease and sleep came later. During his undergraduate studies, Dissel focused on immune response using flies. His current research studies the effect of sleep on flies’ brains and the ability to manipulate the expression of specific genes to affect memory. Sleep ensures that everything gets connected in the right way Dissel says. “Every animal on the planet has to sleep.” Dissel says. “Depriving people of sleep has been used as a method of torture,” he says. “People start by losing their sanity, but eventually they could die. It’s essential. Every species, every animal sleeps.” Dissel says sleep is important for the development and the wiring of the brain. “It helps ensure everything works properly. Even in the animal kingdom, babies sleep more in early life.  But as people age, they tend to sleep less, and their sleep is less efficient.” “The question is, are these people developing Alzheimer’s because they have sleep problems, or do sleep problems increase with Alzheimer’s?” — Stephane Dissel Dissel notes that it’s common for people in their 40s and 50s to start sleeping less and less. Sleep during this time becomes less deep, which makes it more likely that people will wake up in the night. He says that most neurodegenerative diseases come with a sleep deficit component. “The question is, are these people developing Alzheimer’s because they have sleep problems, or do sleep problems increase with Alzheimer’s?” Dissel says. “This is still up for debate. But what I know for sure is that if you can improve the quality of sleep, you can delay or diminish the onset of severe Alzheimer’s.” He says flies are critical to his research because their brains allow for precise, targeted manipulation. The way that humans sleep, and flies sleep are obviously different, but there are commonalities that allow the research to apply to human conditions. “At the end of the day it’s about healthy memory– or  plasticity. We are trying to understand which neurons in the brain are underlying the benefits of sleep on plasticity. If we can identify the important cells, we can manipulate, activate or silence them. “ While there is no “cure” for Alzheimer’s on the horizon, Dissel is heartened that there is a lot of funding available for this research. He also notes that there is good news. “We know from our research that, in a fly that has a genetic mutation that leads to memory impairment, making sleep more efficient enables the brain to find an alternative way to bypass that mutation and restore memory.” “It’s never quick enough, but little by little we will find a way to prevent the disease.” He says the means of inducing sleep are less relevant than the sleep itself. “We can increase the quality of sleep in different ways. We can activate specific neurons in the fly brain which we know are sleep inducing. We’ve also used drugs for pharmaceutical activation, and it leads to the same conclusion. No matter how you do it, increasing sleep in flies makes memory better.” He notes that part of the challenge with Alzheimer’s disease is that it is complex and controlled by genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. “You can’t pinpoint a single gene that triggers the disease. In some cases, there are multiple  gene mutations, which can lead to increased risk. There are so many possible causes that lead to this disease, it’s very difficult to find a treatment strategy that is applicable to everyone.” Still, he is confident in the progress that is being made, though it’s often in incremental steps. “It’s never quick enough, but little by little we will find a way to prevent the disease. Even if we cannot cure it now, I’d consider it progress if we can delay onset, lessen the severity or improve the quality of life. I’m much more optimistic about this right now because I know it’s doable.”     Nov 05, 2021

  • UMKC Pharmacy Students, Childhood Friends Reach Semifinals of National ACCP Competition

    Run to the Clinical Pharmacy Challenge final four follows UMKC’s 2020 national championship
    UMKC School of Pharmacy students Zach Carroll, Allison Baker and Austin Dockins have a certain chemistry with one another. After all, they’ve been together since what seems like forever. It’s a connection that helped them make it all the way to the semifinal round of this year’s national Clinical Pharmacy Challenge sponsored by the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. “The three of us have been friends since elementary school so it has been fun to see how much we’ve learned over the years together,” Baker said. They met as third graders at Mill Creek Elementary School in Columbia, Missouri. They graduated together from Columbia’s Rock Bridge High School. The three fourth-year pharmacy students even discovered a common interest working at the same local pharmacy while completing their undergraduate degrees. “All of us enjoyed working there and we individually decided to apply to pharmacy school,” Dockins said. It wasn’t until after each had submitted their applications to attend UMKC’s School of Pharmacy at the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus, that the trio realized they would be continuing their college careers together while following similar career aspirations. “We didn’t talk about applying to pharmacy school until after we all had submitted applications,” Dockins said. “We were all a little surprised that each of us had made the decision to apply, but we were excited to take on the adventure together.” Earlier this year, that journey culminated with the three battling their way to the national semifinals of the annual AACP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge. The competition pits three-person teams from pharmacy schools and colleges against one another in a quiz bowl–type format. It began in September with more than 90 teams from across the United States. Each round of the competition consisted of trivia/lightning, clinical case and Jeopardy-style segments with questions prepared by expert clinical pharmacy practitioners and educators. “It’s been great to work together as a team,” Baker said. “Throughout school, most assessments are individual, so this has been a neat opportunity to collectively think through questions, use each other as resources and pull from our unique rotation experiences to answer questions.” The UMKC team successfully navigated the first five rounds to reach the national semifinals before being eliminated from the competition. The trio credited their UMKC pharmacy professors for their preparation, both the competition as well as their future careers as pharmacists. “Competing against intelligent students from prestigious universities across the country was a really neat opportunity,” Dockins said. “We feel very accomplished and proud that we were able to make it to the top four.” Dockins said that he, Carroll and Baker have participated in team competitions as an opportunity to reinforce how much they’ve learned throughout pharmacy school. “We really just compete to see how well we will do,” he said. “We don’t have huge expectations when entering, although each one of us has a bit of a competitive spirit. We know that each one of us brings something different to the table and we know each other so well that it’s easy to communicate during these competitions.” Their sprint to the final four is the continuation of what is a growing legacy of excellence for the UMKC School of Pharmacy on the national stage. Last year, the UMKC team of Jamie Sullivan, Kathryn Rechenberg and Brooke Jacobson won the Clinical Pharmacy Challenge national championship. Nov 04, 2021

  • KSHB Shows How Civil and Mechanical Engineering Department is Helping City's Innovation

    Over the next year, Kansas City, Missouri, will study the effectiveness of three pilot programs designed to repair sidewalks.
    The city, along with partners at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, Gunter Construction and Rubberway, will study how a rubber sidewalk near East 41st Street and Kenwood Avenue holds up in the snow, ice, rain and to heavy foot traffic. Learn more Nov 03, 2021

  • KCBJ Highlights Dean's Impact on Students, Community

    Dr. Mary Anne Jackson has been studying infectious diseases for more than three decades.
    The Kansas City Business Journal recently highlighted Dr. Jackson for her role in the COVID-19 pandemic response for the state of Missouri and the University of Missouri - Kansas City. The article also showed the impact that the UMKC School of Medicine has had on rural health in Missouri, teaching future doctors about social determinants of health and its recent ranking among the top Primary Care residencies on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Graduate Schools list. Read more Nov 03, 2021

  • Newspress Now Uses UMKC Research to Shed Light on Grant's Impact

    The U.S. Department of Education’s Trio program is designed to provide services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City found that 40% of students in the state’s largest university system have no immediate relatives who went to college. Read the article Nov 03, 2021

  • Dentistry Students and Faculty Provide Screenings to Elementary Students

    School of Dentistry, TeamSmile, United Way and Chiefs make a great team
    Pearly whites were plentiful as well as Chiefs red at the TeamSmile event at Arrowhead Stadium on Oct. 26. Students from the UMKC School of Dentistry volunteered at the event, delivering much-needed dental care to 200 local elementary students. Sponsored by the United Way, more than 40 students and faculty from UMKC participated, providing initial dental screenings, X-rays and recommendations for what care the kids would need that day. Each year, dentistry and dental hygiene students participate in three TeamSmile events: at the Kansas City Chiefs, Royals and Sporting KC. Started in Kansas City, TeamSmile is a national advocacy group that works with professional and college sports teams to provide children in need with a life-changing dental experience. For those youngsters who may have a fear of the dentist, seeing their favorite athletes can help put them at ease. The friendly faces of UMKC students help, as well. Since the organization’s inception in 2007, UMKC School of Dentistry students and faculty have volunteered their time with TeamSmile. The organization provides comprehensive care to the children who participate, from preventive care such as fluoride treatments and cleaning to extractions and root canals. “We’re incredibly proud to have been involved with TeamSmile for over a decade,” said Becky Smith, one of the faculty members who accompanied the students at the event. “It gives our students the opportunity to hone their skills, provide dental care to some of our youngest citizens of Kansas City, and help instill the importance of volunteerism going forward.” Nov 03, 2021

  • The Kansas Leadership Center Journal Taps Urban Education Research Center Expertise

    The Latinx Education Collaborative teamed up with researchers from the Urban Education Research Center (UERC) to generate a “landscape analysis” of...
    UERC is a research and evaluation center within the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education. Read the story  Nov 03, 2021

  • Bloch Professor Finds Love of the Profession Keeps Nurses Going

    Bloch assistant professor Karen Landay recently led a study to see how passion helps fight stress and burnout amid COVID-19
    Assistant professor Karen Landay, Ph.D., has always been fascinated by the connection between work and passion. Inspired by her first career as a violinist, the assistant professor of management at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management now focuses her research on work passion. “That’s really stuck with me, this idea of passion as a really important part of our work and as this force that helps us get out of bed in the morning and go and do what we do,” she said. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic threw health care workers into some of their most challenging circumstances ever, she was curious if passion helped them avoid stress and burnout during the darkest of days. Landay said she was particularly interested in the effects of two different types of passion, harmonious and obsessive. Harmonious passion, Landay explained, is a voluntary passion that is under our control and stems from a love of a job. Obsessive passion is involuntary passion that can be all-consuming and uncontrollable. Landay said the latter form of passion can stem from pressures like workaholism or expectations from loved ones.“Harmonious passion is generally a good thing that leads to other good things. Obsessive passion is a lot more mixed. It’s not always bad, but it’s not universally positive like harmonious passion,” Landay explained. Landay enlisted the help of a professor at another university and her Bloch School graduate assistant, Allen King. From November 2020 to January 2021, the team sent a series of surveys to dozens of nurses across the United States. They asked them about their jobs, the level of passion they have, what was behind their passion and questions to gauge their stress level at various points throughout the pandemic. Landay expected to find that nurses who had harmonious passion would have decreased levels of stress and burnout, while nurses who had obsessive passion would experience increases. Instead, she found that nurses who were passionate about their work had less stress and burnout regardless of the type of passion they had. Landay said her team believes that timing may have played a role. When the surveys were conducted, vaccines were only recently becoming available and nurses had endured month after month of extraordinary circumstances with no end in sight.“It’s possible had we conducted our study six months later, perhaps we would have found those different results for those different types of passion,” said Landay. That is exactly what her team hopes to find out in a follow up study that is kicking off soon. This time, the surveys will also include many other types of first responders in addition to nurses including doctors, firefighters, police officers and EMTs. They hope to have a large enough sample to separate the nurse data out, compare it to the 2020 data and see how things have changed since last year.In the meantime, Landay said her findings can be a valuable tool for health care employers as they look for ways to support an overburdened, pandemic-weary workforce. “It’s not expensive. You can have small support groups, things like that. Encourage people to talk about it, but it’s not like you’re having to buy equipment or those kinds of things. So it’s kind of the best of both worlds. It could be a fairly cost-effective solution that could have a big impact,” said Landay. “These are some really intriguing preliminary findings. We’re excited to pursue this and see where it goes and hopefully be able to make a difference for some people.” Nov 02, 2021

  • KCTV5 Features Alumna

    Providence Medical Center recently added Certified Nurse ​​Midwife Emily Fox, MSN, APRN, CN​​​M, to its healthcare team.
    Fox received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Missouri – Kansas City and Master of Science in Nursing with an emphasis in nurse midwifery at Frontier Nursing University, Versailles, Kentucky. She is board-certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board. Read more Nov 01, 2021

  • Gladstone Dispatch Reports on The CARES Act Funding

    Students getting $218 million from $496 million in federal pandemic funds awarded to Missouri public universities
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is allocating over $18 million for student financial aid from CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds. Read more. Oct 28, 2021

  • FOX4 KC Reports on Missouri Universities

    Six universities on Best Global University list, including UMKC
    Six Missouri universities have landed on U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best Global Universities. The University of Missouri-Kansas City scored in the 65th percentile. Read more. Oct 28, 2021

  • KCTV5 Takes a Tour of Historic House on Campus

    Hair-raising stories surround UMKC’s Epperson House
    When you look at the old, abandoned Epperson House on the UMKC campus, it’s easy to imagine how it might have looked in the last century. Chris Wolff is a campus employee and a major history buff. He gives tours of the campus and one of his favorite stops is the Epperson House. Read more. Oct 28, 2021

  • MSN Reports on Stacker Rankings

    Best colleges in Missouri
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City was listed at #7 on their list of the best colleges in the state, according to Niche. Read more. Oct 28, 2021

  • New Scholarship Seeks to Redefine Potential

    Hogan Family Scholarship supports Kansas City Public Schools graduates enrolled as Business majors
    “Redefining Potential” is the theme of the new Hogan Family Scholarship Fund at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. It’s a subject Nate Hogan knows well, because it’s essentially the story of his life. Hogan serves as chair of the Kansas City (Missouri) Public Schools (KCPS) Board of Education. He and his wife, Felecia, endowed the fund to support KCPS graduates of color who enroll in the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Hogan holds an Executive Master of Business Administration degree from the Bloch School. His route to a master’s degree was hardly a typical one; that road began with his decision to drop out of his Florida Keys high school in 10th grade (the only year he lived outside of Kansas City). Today, he is Vice President, Healthcare Solutions for NIC Corp. in Olathe. The scholarship is designed to support and inspire young people who face similar hurdles to those he overcame. “My high school grades were terrible,” he admits. “Nobody would have offered Nate Hogan a scholarship.” The Hogan Scholarship has no GPA or standardized test score barriers. “Why look at every kid through the lens of standardized tests?” he said, noting that such tests also heavily influence high school GPA. “It’s not a really good predictor of a person’s potential.” The scholarship program is designed to ensure every student who wants to go to college, has an equitable opportunity to do so. The $2,000 annual scholarships are intended to supplement the Pell grants and other financial aid these students typically receive – and serve as a motivating force. “We want to tell these kids, ‘you have a real opportunity here,’ and help them understand that they can ignore all the noise going on in their lives, all the noise going on in society, and think about how they can dig deep and tap into their full potential,” Hogan said. Nate and Felecia started the scholarship fund with an $8,000 contribution, and have committed to make that same donation on a yearly basis. Additional fundraising has added another $2,000 to the fund, and the Hogans plan to step up their personal involvement in fundraising for the scholarship in future years. The focus on business education is also based on the Hogans’ personal journey. “Our entire careers have been business-focused,” Hogan said. They met at Commerce Bank – Nate’s first job outside the service industry – where today Felecia serves as senior vice president and director of diversity, equity and inclusion. Nate has served in a variety of business roles before taking his current position at NIC, crossing just about every major business discipline (accounting, finance, sales, relationship management, operations and leadership). “We believe a business degree can be a great foundation no matter what you end up doing in your career,” he said. Ultimately, Hogan’s motivation for setting up the scholarship fund is the same as what drove him to become a leader for the city school district. “Because I was a very mobile student who came to school carrying a bunch of stuff that no child should have to take on, I can identify with our students.”   Oct 28, 2021

  • The Kansas City Star Reports on UMKC Research

    Kansas City leaders consider declaring a climate emergency. Here’s what it would mean
    A research group led by the University of Missouri-Kansas City will collect data this summer in an effort to find out who suffers the most in Kansas City’s heat. Read more. (subscription may be required) Oct 27, 2021

  • Davin Watne On New Exhibition

    Charting a new course, plug artist collaborative opens a gallery in the former Agnes Avenue police building, where it joins a complex of artist stu...
    “plug has a really great reputation for showing contemporary art in Kansas City,” said Davin Watne, who teaches art classes at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and runs the UMKC Gallery of Art. “Who better to move into that space? It’s not as large square footage-wise as what they had before, but it’s got a much higher ceiling. It’s a unique kind of space that they can have a lot of control over.” Read more. Oct 27, 2021

  • KCUR Taps UMKC Professor Emeritus

    Kansas City rocks! Take a geological journey across the region
    Richard Gentile, professor emeritus from UMKC, explains this history in a recorded series of lectures on local geology from Linda Hall Library in early 2020. Read more. Oct 27, 2021

  • MSN News Interviews Jay Portnoy

    FDA advisers vote to authorize the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11
    “Our kids are going to be dealing with this virus for many years to come,” said Jay Portnoy, professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. “Getting the vaccine is just the first step that they’re going to take towards being able to protect themselves.” Read the full article. Oct 26, 2021

  • Community Leaders Discuss Problems Affecting Kansas City, St. Louis Youth

    UniverCities Exchange is a continuing collaborative of UMKC and UMSL.
    Academic and community leaders from Kansas City and St. Louis met virtually on Oct. 13 to discuss issues local adolescents have faced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The session was conducted through UniverCities Exchange, an ongoing collaborative project between UMKC and UMSL. In this installment, the panel discussed how Missouri youth are adjusting to the complexity of nearly two years of life in the era of COVID-19. Between March and May of 2020, the United States saw a nearly 25% increase in appointments for children ages 5-11 experiencing a mental health emergency, and a 31% increase for children ages 12-17. This year, those numbers have climbed an additional 15%. The panel discussed how Missouri youth are adjusting to the complexity of nearly two years of life in the era of COVID-19. Steve Kraske, host of KCUR's Up to Date and UMKC journalism professor, served as moderator. Panelists included: Nora Peterman, UMKC Assistant Professor of Education Erika Gibbs, Dean of Primary School, Citizens of the World Charter School, Kansas City Dr. Jerry Dunn, Executive Director, Children's Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis Dr. Tyler Smith, Fellowship Program Director, Divison of General Academic Pediatrics, Children's Mercy Kansas City Rachel Taube, Project Director for Mental Health First Aid, Missouri Institute of Mental Health Here are some highlights of the panel's conversation regarding the problems youth in Kansas City and St. Louis fae and how our communities are addressing them. Please note: This conversation features content that some may find upsetting- including conversations on abuse and suicide. We encourage those who need help for themselves or a loved one to seek it out. The UM System assists in providing free Mental Health First Aid training and, for those in crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. "The pandemic has certainly had an impact on the mental health of the generation that is moving into and through adolescence right now. As we look at statistics, they are documenting only the surge in mental health emergencies. But what we have to keep in mind is those health emergencies really represent only the tip of the iceberg and that we have a far greater proportion of our youth who are underneath that tip of the iceberg, whose functioning and overall well-being has been significantly impacted." -Jerry Dunn "Online spaces and online communities have become even more meaningful and significant in the daily lives of adolescents than ever before. Whether we're talking about TikTok, gaming websites, fandom communities, these are all spaces online where adolescents are engaged in this constant process of figuring out who they are, can audition different identities and make connections with other people who can help them figure it out." -Nora Peterman "We have to look at what's happening currently in our society. In addition to young people dealing with a pandemic, there was also a heightened awareness of racial and social injustice and reckoning. There were young people who were seeing on a TV screen, a gentleman literally dying before their eyes and that is very traumatizing and traumatic for young people to have to experience." -Tyler Smith  "We really try to make sure that we emphasize self-care, make sure that they have support throughout the day whenever they need things, bathroom breaks, because the burnout is real. There's been an extreme amount of pressure." -Erika Gibbs "There are lots of ways to help. We know that oftentimes when adolescents experience mental health challenges, they talk to their peers, but we also know that they go to family members and friends. So it's important for lots of folks to be able to respond." -Rachel Taube UniverCities Exchange gathers community leaders and academic experts to discuss problems and possible solutions to issues affecting the Kansas City and St. Louis metro areas. The project began in fall 2020 with a discussion of health disparities during the COVID pandemic. The goal of these conversations is to foster a connection for future collaboration across Missouri. Watch the full UniverCities Exchange discussion below: Oct 26, 2021

  • Engineering Student Thrives Through Vehicle Design Opportunity

    Layton Streck has a drive to succeed
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Layton StreckAnticipated graduation year: May 2023UMKC degree program: Mechanical EngineeringHometown: Pilot Grove, Mo. Why did you choose UMKC? UMKC has so much to offer. Being located in the heart of Kansas City, surrounded by multiple businesses where I could make connections, I saw myself reaching my fullest potential. Why did you choose your field of study? Mechanical engineering was a pretty perfect choice. I had always enjoyed being around cars and machines since I was young. I loved working with my hands and understanding how and why things were built. The field is broad enough that I can explore different avenues, whether it is manufacturing, power, HVAC, you name it. What are the challenges of the program? The whole program is a challenge! I am constantly studying and figuring out how to balance sleep and other things, but most of the time studying wins. What are the benefits of the program? Through this program I have learned the value of collaboration. In engineering it requires a team effort of everyone’s input and ideas to see which is best. I have learned time management, as well as that one bad grade won’t hurt me for the rest of my life. "Through this program I have learned the value of collaboration."- Layton Streck How has your college program inspired you? It has inspired me to understand more of what I can achieve. Though it is tough in the moment, I have grown a lot as an individual. What other extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? I am heavily involved in Baja SAE, an intercollegiate design series run by the Society of Automotive Engineers. It is a competition where teams of students from universities design, build and then compete with small off-road racing vehicles. It has given me the opportunity to get hands on engineering experience during my education. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? Being in college has taught me there are great benefits that come with hard work, whether that is with the Baja Buggy competition, grades or health. I have learned that things go right when you put in effort. Who do you admire most at UMKC and why? I admire the older Baja members because they create relationships with the new members by helping with latest ideas and designs. And at some points they help with classes if needed, too. It creates a mentoring environment and helps each member be the best they can be. You can usually point out our older members by their choice of hairstyle - the timeless mullet. "I hope I will be able see everything that I learn from the time and experience at UMKC in my day-to-day work life." What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? I hope I will be able to take everything that I learn from my time and experiences at UMKC into my day-to-day work life. The biggest skills UMKC has helped me develop are my communication skills and teamwork mentality. What is one word that best describes you and why? Productive. I like to constantly be doing something to help move the project along. Even though sometimes that means not sitting on an idea all the way through, at least I have something to show. My Baja teammates would agree. More About Layton What’s your favorite social media channel and why? Instagram is my favorite. It gives me a chance to connect with other Baja teams worldwide and see how they tackle common engineering challenges and on events outside the competition that are put on by SAE. What’s your favorite spot to eat in Kansas City? If I had to pick one spot it would be Parlor in the Crossroads art district, just because it houses many different places to eat in the same building. Where’s your favorite spot to hang out in Kansas City? My favorite spot is Westport. It gives a chance to meet with others easily and sometimes network with new sponsors for the team and potential members. What’s your favorite spot on campus? My favorite spot is the Baja shop in the brand-new Plaster Engineering building. I spend most of my free time there, as well as socialize with my friends from class. Oct 25, 2021

  • Cardiovascular Business Reports on Study by Resident

    Scenes from the pandemic: Telehealth a perfect fit for treating heart failure
    “Heart failure is a particularly important disease for which to examine the impact of telehealth, as it is a chronic condition necessitating continual assessment of symptoms, health status and medication adjustment,” wrote lead author Yasser Sammour, MD, a cardiology resident at the University of Missouri Kansas City, and colleagues. “Moreover, patients with HF are a particularly vulnerable population for complications related to COVID-19 infection, including critical illness and mortality.” Read more. Oct 22, 2021

  • Faculty Earn Promotion and Tenure Appointments

    Chancellor cites ‘remarkable level of academic achievement’
    UMKC celebrated the promotion and tenure of more than 30 members of its faculty Oct. 21 at a gala reception set against the city’s glittering skyline at the On Broadway event space. “Each year, this promotion and tenure event is a celebration of achievement. Today, however, we are recognizing and celebrating a remarkable level of academic achievement,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “The operational and financial challenges posed by the pandemic came in tandem with enormous disruption in our personal lives.” He added that in the midst of those challenges, faculty also played a key role in the development and launch of the UMKC Forward initiative. “Making your way through all that, in one piece, is a bragging point all by itself. But remember – in the midst of all those challenges, you have successfully pursued the path of professional growth and achievement that resulted in the promotions, and granting of tenure, that we celebrate tonight,” the chancellor said. “Think about that, as you stand here this evening, in October of 2021, and look back over the past several years at what you have achieved through this unique moment in history. Be proud. UMKC is proud of you. I am proud of you. You have proven yourselves to be truly exceptional.” The event was set outdoors for the comfort and safety of the faculty members and their guests in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. The event also was focused solely on promotion and tenure. Other faculty awards and honors – such as new Curators’ Distinguished Professors, and Trustees’, Governor’s and Chancellor’s awards for research, teaching, mentoring, community engagement and commitment to diversity and inclusion – will be presented at a separate event in the spring semester. “Our goal was an event that would be smaller, but still very special, as all of you deserve,” said Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jenny Lundgren. “I hope that comes through loud and clear.” The promotion and tenure process at UMKC involves a lengthy and rigorous review of academic performance in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service. Each of the academics recognized at the celebration has demonstrated to their peers and to the administration that they have met high standards for sustained contributions and outstanding performance. UMKC 2021 Promotion and Tenure Ekaterina Strekalova-Hughes, School of Education, tenure with promotion to associate professor Megan Hart, School of Computing & Engineering, tenure with promotion to associate professor Sue Lasiter, School of Nursing and Health Studies, tenure   Joah Williams, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Alison DeSimone, Conservatory, tenure with promotion to associate professor LaVerne Berkel, School of Education, promotion to professor Mike O'Connor, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, promotion to professor Viviana Grieco, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor Shannon Jackson, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor Baek-Young Choi, School of Computing & Engineering, promotion to professor Xiaobo Chen, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, promotion to professor Elizabeth Vonnahme,  College of Arts and Sciences,  promotion to professor Jennifer Huberman, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor Kym Bennett, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor Jacob Marszalek, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor Toya Like, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor Jasmine Abdel-Khalik, School of Law, promotion to professor Del Wright, School of Law, promotion to professor Dan McIntosh, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor Gary Abbott, Conservatory, promotion to professor Lance Godley, School of Dentistry, promotion to associate clinical professor Michael Murphy, School of Dentistry, promotion to associate clinical professor Lynn Friesen, School of Dentistry, promotion to research professor Heather Lyons-Burney, School of Pharmacy,             promotion to associate clinical professor Lisa Cillessen, School of Pharmacy, promotion to associate clinical professor Kendall Guthrie, School of Pharmacy, promotion to associate clinical professor Steven Kraske, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to teaching professor Crystal Doss, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to teaching professor Rebecca Davis, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to teaching professor Mitchell Brian, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to teaching professor Kelley Martin, University Libraries, promotion to librarian III Danielle Merrick, School of Law, promotion to clinical professor Rachael Allen, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, promotion to associate teaching professor Aaron Reed, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, promotion to teaching professor   Oct 22, 2021

  • Missouri Poet Laureate is a UMKC Graduate

    Maryfrances Wagner shares excitement about her prestigious nomination
    Roos do amazing things, including earning one of the highest literary honors in the state. Maryfrances Wagner, a UMKC alumna, was appointed to the position by Missouri Governor Michael Parson in July of 2021. The blue and gold roots with Wagner go deep. After graduating with her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UMKC, Wagner taught English for most of her career, including here at the university. During that time, she earned both local and state recognitions for Excellence in Teaching. In 2002, she became the English Coordinator for the High School College Partnership, a dual credit program, at UMKC. During those years, Wagner served on the composition committee, coordinated in-service programs on campus, wrote the composition handbook, and mentored thirty UMKC English teachers. In addition, she is co-editor of the literary magazine I-70 Review and has served as President of The Writers Place where over the years, she has sponsored literary-based events throughout the community to include a number of programs that brought together poetry, music, and dance through improvisation.  She has also served as Secretary on the Board of Directors for Kansas City Creates, which sponsors the annual Fringe Festival. Wagner is teaming up with fellow UMKC alums to create opportunities for current students exploring literary career fields at her alma matter “In 1988, my husband [Greg Field, MA from UMKC] and I, along with Robert Stewart (MA from UMKC), established the Crystal Field Scholarship fund, a scholarship that goes to a UMKC creative writing student, and we still oversee that as well as have an annual scholarship reading as a fundraiser where professional writers help support emerging student writers.” Her journey as a poet, however, began long before her time at UMKC.  She says, “When I was a child, my mother used to write little poems. She’d put them in our lunch bags, our suitcases, my brother’s duffel bag or on our pillows when we’d accomplished something significant. My father also wrote little poems in cards he gave to my mother.” In eighth grade, a teacher assigned students to write about a particular topic, and her parents suggested she write a poem instead of an essay. That was her first foray in the art, and that passion would continue into her college years where she took creative writing classes to learn more about the craft. Wagner says, “For the longest time I only showed my poems to friends, but my creative writing teachers encouraged me to try sending some poems out for publication, and after that, I kept on taking classes.” She went on to publish nine collections of poetry, the latest The Immigrants’ New Camera. In 2020 she served as Missouri Individual Artist of the Year, the only writer to have received that award. In 2021, Wagner was nominated and appointed to serve as Missouri’s Poet Laureate  “I have always been a strong advocate for the writing community,” Wagner said. “This role will give me the opportunity to help promote other Missouri writers. It will give me the opportunity to try to reach out there to people less familiar with poetry or even to people who think they don’t like poetry, and hopefully, after the pandemic is over, I’ll be able to do more workshops, readings and events around the state.” Wagner is Missouri’s sixth poet laureate. Her two-year term started July 1 and runs through June 2023. You can read and hear Wagner’s work in a variety of places. She’s hosting a series of podcasts with other Missourian poets. You can also purchase her collections on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or visit her on her website. Oct 22, 2021

  • UMKC Alum Works to Promote Breast Cancer Awareness, Diversify Field

    Dr. Amy Patel leads KC area Breast Care Center while mentoring students at alma matter
    Growing up in Chillicothe, Missouri, a town of fewer than 10,000 people, Amy Patel didn’t see many physicians that looked like her. “There was only one primary care woman physician in my hometown and there weren’t any women who looked like me, a woman of color. From a young age I realized there was such a need for women practicing specialized care, but especially for women of color,” Patel said. That observation sparked a fire and passion in Patel that has continued to grow. Patel went on to study medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and graduated from the school’s six-year medical program. During medical school she completed a rotation with a breast radiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, which was a turning point in her decision to specialize in breast cancer radiology. After completing a breast imaging fellowship at Washington University, Patel began her professional career in Boston, and even found time to work as a faculty member at Harvard. But eventually, Patel felt called to return to Missouri. “I always wanted to come back to the Midwest to assume a leadership position where I could make a difference and make an impact,” Patel explained. In July of 2018 Patel was named medical director of the Breast Imaging Center at Liberty Hospital. Since her arrival she’s helped grow the program, adding an additional breast imaging specialist, starting a plastic surgery program and partnering with the UMKC School of Medicine to launch a Breast Radiology elective course. Patel teaches the course, which involves a rotation designed to introduce medical students to a range of screening and diagnostic breast imaging modalities to multidisciplinary care. She hopes this course will help others, especially women and minorities, become more interested in the profession. “The percentages of women entering the radiology field have remained around 27% a year, and those numbers for underrepresented minorities are even lower. Right now, there are so many opportunities for students and I’m hopeful in the future, we will start to see growth in the percentages that have remained stagnant for many years,” Patel said. In addition to helping launch the new rotation, Patel says one of the initiatives she’s most excited about is a newly launched genetics program within Liberty Hospital. “Knowing your family history is very important because that could potentially warrant genetic consultation and then possible testing. That is why it's so important for a hospital system to have a genetics program and that's why we’ve worked really hard to have one here,” she adds. While familial genetic indicators may be out of our control, Patel says everyone can proactively take steps to lower their risk of breast cancer. “A healthy diet is important, maintaining a body mass index that is within recommended limits is key because we know obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer. Moderate alcohol consumption and not smoking are also important ways to lower your risk,” Patel said. Regular screenings are also key in the fight against breast cancer. Patel says screening rates among women plummeted into the single digits during the pandemic due to the pause of routine screenings in Spring and early Summer of 2020 under advisement of the CDC. While the numbers have started to rebound, they’re still down about 13% compared to pre-pandemic. “I always wanted to come back to the Midwest to assume a leadership position where I could make a difference and make an impact." — Amy Patel   “We are particularly worried about women of color, who tend to be the ones with more barriers when it comes to access and education. If screening rates don’t pick back up, we are worried that disparity could widen even further so it's really going to take the entire breast cancer community to come together and encourage patients of all backgrounds to get screened,” Patel said. Patel says October is a good time to get screened and encourage friends and family to do so as well. “Breast Cancer Awareness Month is not just about raising money for research; the awareness component is equally as important, and I love to see specialists coming together and encouraging others to go and get your mammogram.”  Oct 22, 2021

  • Charles Ives Symposium At UMKC Opens Thursday, Oct. 21

    Kansas Public Radio reports on this three-day festival of the music
    Hear Cooper McGuire and Alicia Willard perform Charles Ives’ ‘General Booth Enters into Heaven’ followed by a chat with UMKC Conservatory professor of music theory and composition David Thurmaier and piano professor Thomas Rosenkranz, who will do one of the Concord Sonatas. Read more. Oct 21, 2021

  • UMKC Research Confirms Project Lead The Way Impact

    STEM curriculum offered in 163 Missouri school districts
    A new study of Project Lead The Way, a curriculum which focuses on increasing students’ exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, shows the program has significant impact in encouraging students’ long-term interest in STEM education and careers. A new study of Project Lead The Way, a high school curriculum which focuses on increasing students’ exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, shows the program has significant impact in encouraging students’ long-term interest in STEM education. The research team, led by Eric Camburn, Ph.D.,  Sherman Family Foundation Endowed Chair and director of the Urban Education Research Center, and Karin Chang, Ph.D., associate director and associate research professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studied the potential impact of the Project Lead The Way curriculum on two cohorts of Missouri high school students. Camburn and Chang conducted the study in collaboration with researchers from St.Louis University and the University of Missouri-Columbia. Their research revealed that students who took Project Lead The Way (PLTW) classes were more likely to take dual college-credit courses in high school, graduate from high school, enroll in college and declare a STEM major upon initial enrollment than students who did not. “We found that taking Project Lead The Way courses help students successfully graduate from high school and go on to postsecondary education,” Camburn says. “And students in historically underserved groups appear to have benefitted even more on important outcomes.” While the initial program implementation was focused on a few schools, implementation in recent years has grown substantially. In 2005, Missouri launched the PLTW program in 10 districts and 16 schools. The program is now offered in 384 schools in 163 districts across the state and is in elementary, middle and high schools. “We found that taking Project Lead the Way courses helps students successfully graduate from high school and go on to postsecondary education.” — Eric Camburn, Ph.D. Camburn and his team estimate that approximately 17 percent of Missouri high schools have an active program. The team’s research included more than 145,000 first-time ninth graders, 13 percent of whom had enrolled in at least one PLTW course. Kenny Rodrequez, superintendent of schools for the Grandview C-4 School District, has extensive experience with Project Lead The Way as a teacher and administrator. He was instrumental in expanding the curriculum into more classrooms in his district. “I had previous experience with the curriculum before I came to Grandview,” he says. “I knew how good it was. I could see that we needed to expand the program.” Rodriguez has facilitated expanding the curriculum from Pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade. He thinks it’s successful in engaging students for a number of reasons. “Number one, it’s a very defined curriculum. The lessons are mapped out in a way that teachers are able to support students at a high level. But it also provides flexibility, so they can incorporate different components at the right time.” He says he’s seen both new and veteran teachers have positive experiences. “It’s a great package. Veteran teachers have the flexibility they need, but there is a clear path for new teachers, too.” Rodriguez says students often respond to the PLTW curriculum because it has a connection to the real world. “Four years ago, I heard a group of fourth graders talking about what would happen if we had a global outbreak of [a virus.] I wish I could go back to that class and say, ‘Did you ever think that could actually happen in the real world?’” Rodriguez was not surprised to learn the outcomes of the research on PLTW curriculum. “There’s so much community support around this work. We can reach out and get immediate help. Teachers are so busy. That is important.” Camburn says Rodriguez’s experience is not unique. “We believe a reasonable implication of these preliminary findings is that widespread implementation of the program in the state is likely to help more Missouri high school students make the transition to secondary education, including college, trade and vocational schools,” Camburn says. The Urban Education Research Center (UERC) is a research and evaluation center within the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education. The center works collaboratively within the School of Education, across the university and in conjunction with local partners and communities to create reliable, usable knowledge about education in urban areas. “The Urban Education Research Center is uniquely qualified to provide exemplary research on the impact of this curriculum on student outcomes,” Carolyn Barber, interim dean, School of Education. “Dr. Camburn has devoted three decades to research on school improvement, leadership and inequalities in educational opportunity. Ultimately, we hope this knowledge promotes excellence in schooling and opportunities for residents of the Kansas City metropolitan area as well as communities across the state of Missouri.”     Oct 21, 2021

  • Media Outlets Interview Larry D. Wigger

    Supply chain shortages could get worse before they get better
    For decades, manufacturers have mostly had quick and ready access to the things they need to assemble products that people use every day. When things are running smoothly, it usually takes about three weeks to receive what they need. Now, according to UMKC professor Larry D. Wigger, Jr., the average wait time for manufacturers is 92 days. Why Supply Chain Bottlenecks Are Keeping Home Prices Sky High - Supply chain shortages could get worse before they get better - KCUR ‘What do we tell our customers?’: Labor shortage, material delays hamper home construction - Columbia Missourian Oct 20, 2021

  • Columbia Missourian Includes UMKC's Role In NextGen

    UM System opens NextGen, and supporters 'can't wait for the discoveries'
    Roy Blunt has been called “a champion of public higher education” for spearheading a medical student education program that raised more than $25 million for MU and the University of Missouri-Kansas City focusing on doctor shortages across Missouri. Read more. Oct 19, 2021

  • School of Pharmacy Welcomes New Neurology Researcher

    For Xiangming Zha, more labs are better than one
    For Associate Professor Xiangming Zha, expanding his network for collaboration is a critical consideration for his moving to UMKC. “It’s hard for one lab to get everything done,” said Zha. “When you build up that network, your research gains more opportunities.” That network has included a decade-long collaboration with Dr. Xiangping Chu at the UMKC School of Medicine. Now he is expanding his network to include the UMKC School of Pharmacy, where he’s joined the faculty, continuing his research focused on brain function with a general interest in neuroscience. The crux of his research centers around the study of pH – a scale used to specify acidity – in the brain that contributes to neuron function and ischemic brain injury. More recently, he has started to look at the role of pH in cerebral vascular function. In 2004, while in his post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Iowa, he saw an opportunity in this area-of-study because of field is less explored. Prior to UMKC, he was at the University of South Alabama (USA) School of Medicine. “At USA, I was fortunate to work with a group of excellent collaborators,” said Zha. “The good thing about moving from medicine to pharmacy is that I still maintain all the previous connections. At the same time, it allows me to build new connections and thus explore new directions of research.” That’s what has him excited about his move to UMKC School of Pharmacy. The move has additional benefits as he can lean on the school’s pharmacology and pharmaceutical researchers. He has been studying the acid-sensing ion channels and acid-sensitive GPCRs. According to Zha, there are few viable pharmaceutical options to activate or inhibit these acid receptors in the brain. “There are a couple of pharmaceutical compounds available but none are ideal and that’s the challenging part,” said Zha. “If we have a more specific compound which can turn on and off the receptors, we may be able to better understand these acids.” Unlocking that aspect of the research could help understand the duality of the acidity levels in the brain. Too much acid is rarely a good thing but there is recent research data that shows there may be some protective effect. To target the benefits of the acid, Zha needs to know more about the receptor and signaling involved, which aren’t well-defined yet. These challenges have kept his research interest for the entirety of his career. Zha admits that research lives on grant funding and previous research is a key to successful funding. “One important part for that to happen, is having good people,”said Zha. Students and fellows interested in participating in his research efforts are encouraged to contact him. Oct 19, 2021

  • UMKC Pharmacy Students Bringing Awareness, Vaccines to Battle Flu

    Springfield campus students, faculty are taking up a flu shot challenge
    Flu season is in full swing and college students living in a campus environment that combines close living quarters with communal dining facilities and large classrooms can be particularly at risk. That’s why UMKC School of Pharmacy students at the school’s Springfield campus are partnering with Missouri State University Magers Health and Wellness to sponsor the “Bear the Band-Aid” flu shot challenge. The campaign is meant to raise an awareness of the importance of receiving an annual flu vaccine, said Paul Gubbins, Pharm.D., associate dean for the UMKC School of Pharmacy at Missouri State University. “We started the Bear the Band-Aid campaign in September 2016 in an attempt to increase the vaccination rates on the MSU campus,” Gubbins said. “Our effort was based on a 2016 report by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases that noted influenza vaccination rates are typically very low on college campuses.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 8 percent of Americans will get sick from the flu virus each year. That means more than 26 million people developing flu symptoms. Outreach efforts by Springfield pharmacy students included an article in a Missouri State campus newsletter where they noted that while most college students recognize the risk of flu to the very young or old, they often underestimate their own risk. Gubbins said the initiative has met with mixed results. While a study has shown the vaccination rate on the Springfield campus to be higher than the reported rate on college campuses across the nation, there is still a need to increase awareness of the need to receive the vaccine. At the same time, among those who have been vaccinated previously, the campus campaign has created a greater awareness, Gubbins said. “We feel it augments everything that MSU already does to make the influenza vaccine easily accessible to its students,” Gubbins said. As of early October, nearly 2,000 employees and students on the Springfield campus had received the vaccine. In addition to the awareness campaign, the campus pharmacy students are also active in delivering influenza vaccinations to those in Springfield and Greene County. Throughout a given flu season, Gubbins said his students will administer as many as 700 to 900 influenza vaccines throughout the community. In Kansas City, UMKC pharmacy students have been active in administering vaccines at the university’s flu vaccine clinics in September and October. Pharmacy students from UMKC’s three campuses in Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield also collaborate with pharmacies, clinics and organizations throughout Missouri each year to typically provide nearly 3,000 flu shots to patients throughout the state. The regional American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists organization honored the UMKC School of Pharmacy in 2019 with an Operation Immunization chapter award. It recognized the extraordinary contributions pharmacists provide to improving vaccination rates in their communities. The UMKC chapter also received the national recognition in 2012. Oct 19, 2021

  • We Shall Rise

    UMKC Dance brings work and art to the community
    Science is the focus of the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health building in Columbia. But thanks to UMKC, the arts will play a significant role in the Oct. 19 grand opening event. Kim Kimminau, Ph.D., a program lead for NextGen Precision Health, asked DeeAnna Hiett, chair and associate professor of Dance at the UMKC Conservatory to choreograph an original dance for the opening celebration. The NextGen Building will be an anchoring facility for the NextGen Precision Health initiative, which will harness the power of the four universities in the UM System, MU Health Care, MU Extension and external partners to bring together cutting-edge research, technologies, and treatments to transform health care and save lives. Hiett’s inspiration for the NextGen dance came from her perspective on the resilience of the human body and spirit, “We shall rise from the ashes.” The video starts somber and gets more intense throughout. In the beginning, the audience will see the dancer come from a low place in her life, struggling as she thinks back in time. Scenes will show the dancer wistfully looking out a window and walking down a busy street, oblivious to her surroundings and those around her. As the video ends, the audience watches the dancer come back to herself with a sense of encouragement to survive, creating a triumphant feeling for the audience. “I’m hoping to give the sense of hope,” Hiett said. Everyone, regardless of their profession or place in life, overcomes struggles. And without science and doctors, Hiett said dancers couldn’t do what they do. “They keep us in operation. We’re honored, humbled and flattered to share our art with science.” The performance Hiett choreographed for the NextGen opening is short – under four minutes. It’s an original piece with one dancer at the center of the performance. It includes nine dancers; seven are UMKC students and two are from the Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, where Hiett is artistic director. The dancers include Ashlan Zay, senior, lead dancer; Ivyana Robinson, senior; Ashleah England, senior; Lauren Jespersen, senior; Alexa Glomp, senior; Elizabeth Lollar, sophomore; and Lecia Sims, junior. Wylliams Henry Contemporary Dance Company dancers are John Swapshire, UMKC Conservatory alumnus; and Jeremy Hanson. The project came together quickly after Hiett accepted the invitation. She put the call out for volunteers, which was before the fall semester started. She said the first week of school was challenging because they rehearsed for two hours a day in the week leading up to the recording on Sept. 4. Four hours later, the video was shot and ready for editing and final production. Videography was provided by Ryan Bruce and Jeremy Hanson. Video editing was provided by Caroline Dahm, UMKC Conservatory adjunct professor of dance and Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company executive assistant and company member. This isn’t the first time Hiett has said yes to creating an original dance for another discipline or for a community project. The UMKC Dance Department also collaborates with the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering and UMKC Health Sciences District schools. UMKC Dance students and faculty even created a celebration video for the Kansas City Chiefs’ return to the Super Bowl in 2021. They do these projects because Hiett, faculty and students are passionate about their craft. It’s their work. It’s their art. “We take art and dance to the community,” Hiett said. “We love to dance, and we love to share it. So, any opportunity we have to get out in the community, of course we want to.” Oct 19, 2021

  • MedicineNet Reports On UMKC Professor's Study

    State Spending on Poverty Really Pays Off for Kids: Study
    “Child abuse and neglect is a public health crisis, and it needs a public health response to be prevented. Pathways toward addressing poverty is one of the cornerstones, I believe, for preventing child abuse and neglect,” said lead author Dr. Henry Puls, from the pediatrics department at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, and associate professor, pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Read more. Oct 18, 2021

  • KCTV Interviews Russell Melchert

    Canceled Southwest flight forces local couple to improvise
    UMKC’s Russell Melchert, dean of the School of Pharmacy, was featured on KCTV 5 for his remarkable story about his trip home from Texas this weekend — which involved a UHaul truck instead of his scheduled Southwest flight. Read more and watch the newscast. Oct 18, 2021

  • UMKC Students, Professor Design Ideas for KC Streetcar Extension

    Students' plans could be incorporated in the new UMKC stop
    A UMKC professor and several students had the opportunity to contribute ideas for the new KC Streetcar stop at the Volker campus. Bill Yord, an adjunct instructor for the School of Computing and Engineering, also serves as Senior Project Manager with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) and utility manager with the KC Streetcar South Extension. He is also a UMKC alumni (B.S. '01, M.S. '09). Yord reached out to Streetcar stakeholders about UMKC senior students assisting with designs for the Streetcar's south terminus at UMKC, which is part of the ongoing KC Streetcar South Extension project. The extension project, which has gone through planning and design by city officials since 2017 and will soon be under construction, will cover more than 30 city blocks and will extend the existing 2.2-mile 'Starter Line' to the UMKC Volker Campus, providing an exciting new access opportunity for the campus. The UMKC Streetcar stop will be at 51st Street and Brookside Boulevard, near the former location of the Oak Place Apartments. "I was looking at the Streetcar construction and thinking, 'We have to bring the students in on this and I called the KCATA and asked, 'Would you all be interested in involving a UMKC senior design project for the Streetcar?'" Yord said. "I got a call back in about five minutes and the answer was an overwhelming yes." For the senior project, students were asked to study pre-existing blueprints of the UMKC Streetcar stop and come up with design concepts for the project. "We were looking at everything: roadway design, station platform design, passenger amenities, utilities, grading and drainage," Yord said. "We would all get together and look at the designs and say 'What can we incorporate"? How can we make it better?' Then we would give those plans to the stakeholders and they would come back with suggestions and we would say, 'Okay, now how can we make this more robust?' and it went on and on from there." Jordan Salt, a student who worked on the project, said he would walk past the stop site every day on his way to campus to "trigger" thoughts on how to do things differently. "Knowing that this project was going to potentially contribute to a major infrastructure project made it one of the most interesting projects in my college career," Salt said. "The project's proximity to where I study and live inspired me." Bayley Brooks, who also worked on the project, said one of the biggest things she learned while working on the project was how many people are involved in designs for city projects. "For the Streetcar project we met with people from UMKC, KCATA, city officials, the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, the Federal Transit Authority, the Kansas City Utilities Department, I mean the list just goes on and on," Brooks said. "I enjoyed getting the chance to brainstorm creative ideas for the Streetcar stop with the group." At the end of the semester, the students presented their preliminary design plans to a large group of stakeholders who were heavily involved in the extension. Brooks said her favorite design concept submitted was putting a kangaroo fountain at the UMKC stop.  "We are the city of fountains after all!" Brooks said. "I ride the Streetcar all the time, so I'll be so proud to see some of our design ideas hopefully used in the stop." Final plans for the UMKC stop are not completed, so it's too soon to tell how much of a role the students' designs will play in the final product, but Yord said he has no doubt that some of the students' design work will be implemented. "I can confidently say that our students had a hand in making the (UMKC stop) a better place for our students, our faculty and the community to come in and come out of the university," Yord said. The extension project, and the opening of the new UMKC Streetcar stop, is projected to be completed sometime in 2025. Those interested in hearing more about the extension can attend the Kansas City Streetcar extension webinar from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 22. The event is being hosted by the SCE Alumni Association and the SCE Alumni Relations Office. The webinar will feature a moderated panel of professionals working on the streetcar extension, including Yord.  Other panelists include Tom Gerend, Executive Director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority; Cindy Moses, Regional Engineer for the Federal Transit Administration; Jason Waldron, Transportation Director for the Public Works Department for the City of Kansas City; and Nick Stadem, Project Manager with HDR, a design and construction company. For more information on the event and to register, click here. Oct 18, 2021

  • Flatland Talks to UMKC Center for Neighborhoods

    Rent is going up so fast, it’s not just pricing out residents — It’s hurting Kansas City
    Erin Royals at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Center for Neighborhoods was quoted for this story. Read more. Oct 17, 2021

  • UMKC Sees Increase In Undergraduate Applications For Nursing

    Local news outlets report on the pandemic's effect on applications to nursing schools
    The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Sciences saw undergraduate applications jump by 10% since the pandemic. “They were seeing agony in their communities, in cities and they wanted to help,” Interim Dean Joy Roberts said. Read the news: Kansas City-Area Universities See Increase In Undergraduate Applications For Nursing Amid Pandemic - KSHB UMKC Credits COVID For Rise In Nursing School Applications - KCTV More Applying For Nursing Programs In Kansas City During The COVID-19 Pandemic - KMBC Oct 15, 2021

  • UMKC Innovation Center In the News

    Meet six newly funded companies helping get KC’s economy ‘back on track’ with Digital Sandbox
    Digital Sandbox KC announced on Wednesday its third-quarter roster of companies earning funding, selecting solutions in parenting ed-tech, esports, business intelligence and more, said Jill Meyer, senior director of the Technology Venture Studio at the UMKC Innovation Center. Read the article. Oct 14, 2021

  • Steve Kraske Weighs In

    KMBC Reports: Paper publishes story exposing MO education website vulnerabilities
    The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported a story on how they found a way into a secure part of the state’s education department website. After alerting the state, the story published by the paper said, “The newspaper delayed publishing this story to give the department time to protect teachers’ private information.” Governor Parson disagreed. UMKC journalism professor Steve Kraske said he believes the paper did everything it could to avoid an issue. Read more and watch the newscast. Oct 14, 2021

  • School of Computing and Engineering Recognizes STEM Supporters in KC

    Kauffman, Sunderland foundations among this year's Vanguard Award winners
    Kansas City donors, alumni and organizations were highlighted at the 2021 UMKC School of Computing and Engineering Vanguard Awards in October. The annual award program is an opportunity to spotlight those who help expand STEM education and outreach in Kansas City. "Our vision is to become a valued regional school of science, engineering and technology with signature professionally based education, research and community programs. I believe these award recipients are the embodiment of this vision," said Kevin Truman, dean of the school.  This year the school recognized four honorees (as well as last year's winners who could not accept their awards in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic) in the categories of SCE Young Alumni Award, SCE Supporter Award, STEM Outreach Partner and Organization of the Year. Photo by Brandon Parigo 2021 Vanguard Award Recipients Young Alumni Award: Riddhiman Das, BS '12, MS '19, TripleBlind. In 2019, Das started his own company, TripleBlind. The company's mission is to build cryptographically powered 'cyber' privacy without reliance on any given legal system. Currently, they are working on building an application programming interface that will enable bulletproof privacy as a service. Before starting TripleBlind, Das worked in Corporate Venture Capital and M&A for Ant Financial. In this role, he sourced deals in Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, IoT Computing. Ant Financial is the financial services member of the Alibaba Group, which purchased SCE technology-based EyeVerify, now known as ZOLOZ. Prior to working for Ant Financial, Das was a product architect at EyeVerify. SCE Supporter of the Year: The Sunderland Foundation The Sunderland Foundation has been a strong supporter of UMKC and SCE capital project, providing one of the lead gifts for the new Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center and renovations within Flarsheim Hall. Outreach Partner of the Year: Kauffman Foundation The Kauffman Foundation is a longtime support of UMKC and the SCE, helping fund the free enterprise portion of the Plaster Center, SCE's KC STEM Alliance, student teams and more. Organization of the Year: Black & Veatch Black & Veatch is the largest engineering firm in the Kansas City area. It is a global engineering procurement, construction and consulting company that specializes in infrastructure development in power, oil, gas, water, telecommunications, government, mining, data centers, smart cities and bank and finance markets. The company's support for SCE is broad and includes a major gift for the new Plaster Center, additional philanthropic support for scholarships and student teams, providing internships and hiring students and adjunct faculty for specialty areas. Oct 13, 2021

  • KMBC Covers UMKC Our Healthy KC Eastside

    Community group pushing to vaccinate more people on Kansas City's eastside
    “We want people to feel welcomed, we want them to feel like they’re in an environment that they know, they trust, they frequent often,” said Jannette Berkley-Patton, a professor at the UMKC School of Medicine. Read more and watch the newscast. Oct 12, 2021

  • UMKC School of Medicine: 50 Years of Excellence in Medical Education

    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine is kicking off the observance of its 50th anniversary.
    Fifty years ago, the University of Missouri-Kansas City launched a bold experiment in educating the medical leaders of the future. After years of planning, more than $8.8 million in federal funding and a charter class of 18 students, the doors of the UMKC School of Medicine opened in 1971. Fifty years later, that bold experiment is a cornerstone of Kansas City’s medical community. This month, the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine is kicking off its yearlong observance of the 50th anniversary. A new logo, a special website and many special events will highlight the celebration. Among the key events: A series of distinguished guest lectures, including: Nov. 5: Roger Bush, M.D., from University of California-San Francisco, speaking on rural health inequities. Nov. 17-19: Silvio Inzucchi, M.D., from Yale, sharing research linking type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and cardiovascular complications. Dec. 2: Harriet Washington, medical ethicist and Shearing Fellow at the Black Mountain Institute, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, speaking on medical apartheid. Dec. 9: Kenneth Churchwell, M.D., from Boston Children’s Hospital, speaking on pediatric critical care (Noback-Burton Lecture). Feb. 11: Geeta Swamy, M.D., from Duke University, speaking on maternal vaccines, COVID pregnant women, preterm delivery interventions. Special signage around the SOM campus and 50th-anniversary themed touches for Match Day, Commencement and other signature academic occasions. A Gold Jubilee 50th anniversary gala, set for June 4, 2022, at the Loews Hotel in downtown Kansas City. Today as in the past, UMKC’s School of Medicine is making a difference the health and wellbeing of Kansas City communities and beyond. Long known for its innovative research, humanities-focused education and unique medical programs – namely the accelerated BA/MD program where students enter medical school straight from high school and complete their degrees in six years – UMKC continues to graduate future leaders in health care. The school has been instrumental in founding Kansas City’s UMKC Health Sciences District, where it continues to play a primary role. “This is an exciting time for the UMKC School of Medicine, as we celebrate half a century of history and traditions,” said Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., ’78, dean of the medical school. “As our nation’s health care profession has evolved, so has the School of Medicine. We are bringing new technologies and innovations to the forefront that continue to solidify our standing as a leader in today’s medical education.” Since 1971, nearly 4,000 physicians and health care professionals across the United States have received their degrees from the School of Medicine. Through the years, additional programs added include master’s degrees in anesthesia, physician assistant, health professions education and bioinformatics, and graduate certificates in research and health professions education. In January 2021, the school opened its second campus in St. Joseph, Missouri, with a focus on rural medicine. But it is the school’s MD programs and its docent system of learning – where faculty physicians combine the best of apprenticeship instruction with small-group teaching, mentoring, peer coaching and other techniques – that have withstood the test of time and continue to position the school as a trendsetter in medical education. “Fifty years speaks to the longevity of the school, not to mention we have many physician leaders across the country that are graduates,” said School of Medicine alumni association president Ralph Wuebker, M.D., ’94. “There is no doubt that UMKC is a top medical school!” Marjorie Sirridge, M.D., one of the three founding docents and later dean of the medical school, once reflected on the early days: “I remember being tired a lot and sometimes discouraged when it seemed that we just couldn’t get it all done. But, mostly I remember the challenge and the excitement of being part of a new adventure in medical education.” Indeed, it’s been an exciting adventure the past 50 years – and the next several months will celebrate the past, present and future of UMKC School of Medicine. Join us. Oct 07, 2021

  • First-Generation UMKC Student Forges Her Own Path

    Hannah Leyva will not allow other’s expectations to define her
    Hannah LeyvaAnticipated graduation year: UndeterminedUMKC degree program: University College (undecided/exploratory)Hometown: Kansas City, Kansas Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Hannah Leyva started her UMKC journey in 2020. A first-generation Honors Program college student, she felt a lot of pressure to go down a specific path: a biology major on a pre-medicine track. “I came to UMKC with a set plan in mind, but it was not a reflection of my strengths or interests,” Leyva said. “My previous career goals were based around others’ expectations of me and not what I expected from myself.” This year, Leyva is slowing down and attending the university as an undecided major. It allows her to explore her interests and ensure that her career will be one of her own making. However, this path has its fair share of struggles as well. “The overall challenge of being undecided on your major has to do with the generalized stigma of not having your entire life planned out,” Leyva said. “The entire notion of knowing who you are and what you want to do straight out of high school is rather daunting. I think that part of going to school is learning that there is more than one way to achieve your goals, and that success is not exclusively found in a traditional path.” "The University College is helping me determine my career goals and academic interests based on what suits me and not anyone else." - Hannah Leyva The path less traveled is not a path one has to travel alone. Leyva has found support from students with similar life experiences as a member of the Latinx Student Union (LSU) executive board. She hopes to continue this connection by establishing a book club through the LSU. “We are made up of first-generation students and are passionate about making a better future not only for ourselves and our families but for our community,” she said. “Listening to them talk about their stories and the obstacles they have overcome to get where they are today, reminds me that I am not alone and to keep going.” Leyva says she has also gotten similar support from faculty and staff at UMKC as well. “Choosing to be in the University College is helping me determine my career goals and academic interests based on what suits me and not anyone else,” Leyva said. “The team there is specialized to work with students who are uncertain about their majors and or careers. So, it is really refreshing consulting someone who actually knows how to help you.” "I chose UMKC for the small community feel of the campus." While she is not completely sure what her future holds, Leyva knows she is better off with this opportunity to go to school. She is a KC Scholar and a Hispanic Development Fund Scholarship recipient, which she says are a huge part of her success here at UMKC. Beyond that, she says her family and their cultural background have helped shape who she is today “My parents are immigrants, and they have always motivated me to do well in school,” she said. “The value of education for me is immeasurable, and I really am doing this for my family,  who has not had the opportunity or privilege of pursuing higher education.” More about Hannah: Why did you choose UMKC? I chose UMKC for the small community feel of the campus. It is a lot more common to run into someone you know, which really made me feel more at home. I also chose UMKC for the affordability. I was fortunate enough to receive a few scholarships through the university which made UMKC more accessible. What is one word that best describes you and why? I would consider myself a caring person. Much of the work I have done is in the social realm, not because I am extroverted, but because I find happiness in helping others. What’s your favorite social media channel? I’m not sure if I have a favorite, but I do spend a lot of time scrolling through TikTok (like a true Gen Z kid). What’s your favorite spot to eat in Kansas City? I love Friend’s Sushi on 39th, and it’s close to a lot of cute shops so you can walk around and make a day out of it. What’s your favorite spot on campus? My favorite spot to hang out on campus is patio on the top floor of the Student Union. It has a really great view of the Nelson, and it’s a great place to hang out with friends or take a break from studying indoors. Oct 07, 2021

  • KCUR Highlights Gallery of Art Exhibit

    A local's guide to Native American cultural sites around Kansas City
    The UMKC Gallery of Art is currently hosting an exhibition by Gregg Deal. “Yadooa Hookwu (I Will Speak Now)” explores “Indigenous identity through multiple forms of expression.” Deal (Paiute Tribe of Pyramid Lake) is a multi-disciplinary artist who addresses race relations, American history and Indian stereotypes in his work. Read more. Oct 06, 2021

  • National Media Tap Mary Anne Jackson

    Could anti-vaxxers fuel a spike in childhood diseases?
    Mary Anne Jackson, dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and a former member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee and the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases spoke with Newsweek about the potential for anti-vaccine rhetoric to spur an increase in vaccine-preventable disease in children. Read the news: Anti-Vaxxers Could Fuel Spike in Childhood Diseases: 'It Will Be Horrific' - Newsweek Anti-Vaxxers Could Fuel Spike in Childhood Diseases: 'It Will Be Horrific' - MSN Oct 06, 2021

  • CNN Reports On Jacqueline Rifkin's Research

    Why we label ordinary objects as too special to use
    UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management associate professor Jacqueline Rifkin wrote about her research on what she calls the specialness spiral- the accumulation of things without using or getting rid of them. Read more. Additional news coverage: “Specialness Spirals” - How Non-Consumption Can Drive Clutter - BYUradio Oct 06, 2021

  • Critical Conversations: The Role of Antiracism Work and Healing in Museums

    UMKC hosts discussion about the role museums play in telling the story of people of color
    Art directors from across the Kansas City area participated in a virtual panel discussion on, "The Role of Antiracism Work and Healing in Museums." The Sept. 9 was the ninth in the Critical Conversations series of panel discussions addressing systemic racism, sponsored by the UMKC Divison of Diversity and Inclusion. It was the first of the 2021-22 school year. The museum-oriented discussion was in collaboration with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  UMKC people are taking thoughtful action on campus and in our community to ensure lasting and comprehensive changes through Roos Advocate for Community Change, a campus-wide effort announced in June 2020. Critical Conversations are part of that initiative. The goal of each discussion is to enlighten, educate and explore the causes and potential cures for racism. Attendance to the discussions is free. Panelists for the session include: Gary O'Bannon (moderator), executive in-resident, UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management Rashida Phillips, executive director of the American Jazz Museum of Art Julian Zugazagoitia, director and CEO of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Arts Glenn North, executive director of the Bruce R. Watkins Heritage Center Matthew Naylor, president and CEO of the National World War I Museum and Memorial Anna Marie Tutera, director of the Kansas City Museum Excerpts from the conversation are below. To view the complete recording of the conversation, click here. Anti-racism and how it's discussed in the museum field Tutera: We are defining anti-racism as a conscious decision and commitment to fight against racism on every level and on every aspect. Institutionally, we are looking at policies and procedures and practices within the museum that have contributed to racism, caused it and perpetuated it. Lack of diversity among museum staff and board members Tutera: You cannot have an all-white or majority-white staff or an all-white or majority white board and make any significant change. You cannot serve a diverse community without looking internally first. You can't commit to anti-racism until you take a deep dive into your own history of staffing and history of board leadership. Zugazagoitia: If people do not see themselves in museums, then museums will become irreverent. Naylor: Having a board that argues for us to be an institution for all is important. A board that wants to give a voice to the LGTBQ community, African American, Indian American, the place of women, raising those issues allows those issues to be express to the public. Board leadership, if it's an expression of the DNA of the organization, even though there is still is a gap and we are still not where we ought to be, can still make a world of difference. Holding people accountable Phillips: We really have to get back to people-to-people, really deep dialogue. This is not only a space for worship and entertainment, but it's a space where we come together. It is the kitchen and we've got to realize that there's some beautiful responsibility and energy in going into a museum and seeing an exhibition and enjoying the takeaway from that. It's deeper than that. Support needed in museums North: Sometimes it's hard to have partnerships. Sometimes it boils down to personality differences and complicated histories between organizations and it's difficult. Sometimes when you don't have the right intention things can get diluted.   Oct 06, 2021

  • KMBC Interviews UMKC Medical Student

    Kansas City doctors explain why it might be time for some to get a Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot
    Local Kansas City metro area hospitals are starting to give Pfizer booster shots to those that want them. UMKC medical student Geethanjali Rajagopal says most of her patients are in the ICU with COVID-19. She says it’s what prompted her to get her booster shot Tuesday. Read more and watch the newscast. Oct 05, 2021

  • UMKC’s E-Scholars Program Creates Powerful Impact

    KCINNO reports on successful E-Scholars innovations
    E-Scholars is an accelerator program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City that’s tailored for early-stage ventures. Most program participants are at the idea stage and need guidance in launching. Others are looking for a systematic growth plan. Since the first class in spring 2011, about 300 ventures have completed the program, including RFP360, Lending Standard, Integrated Roadways and Strange Days Brewing. Read more. Oct 05, 2021

  • Associate Professor of Economics Weighs-in On The U.S. Debt

    From Bloomberg: The Real Cost of U.S. Debt Is Nearer the Floor Than the Ceiling
    As lawmakers fight over whether to raise the debt ceiling, UMKC associate professor of economics Scott Fullwiler explains how government borrowing costs relate to policy rates. Read the article from Bloomberg. This story also ran on Yahoo Finance. Oct 04, 2021

  • Avanzando, Support and Resource Program for Latinx Students, Celebrates 10th Year

    Launched in 2011, the program currently serves 150 students
    Avanzando, a support and resource program for Latinx students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, will celebrate its 10-year anniversary this year. A decade ago, many Latinx students at UMKC felt they lacked a sense of belonging on campus and personal relationships with role models in the professional world for them to emulate. As a result, Avanzando was born. "There was a clear need to support the growing Latinx student population, not only academically but also professionally, after graduation," said Alberto Villamandos, one of the founding mentors for the program. "We knew a membership program with Latinx and Hispanic faculty and the KC community was the way to go. Representation matters, and feeling that there are people who understand what you are going through as an undergraduate student, and who you can share your achievements with, was, and still is, critical." The program began as a partnership between the UMKC Divison of Diversity and Inclusion and the Hispanic Development Fund. In 2017, the program transitioned to the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, where it has expanded from only serving Hispanic Development Fund scholars, to any Latinx students interested in being served through the program. Avanzando works to communicate to Latinx students that there is a place carved out for them at UMKC through supporting, mentoring resources and connections to help them do well in school, graduate and find success in their careers. Goals of the program include increasing student retention, improving graduation rates and assisting in successful transitions of students into graduate school and/or career positions. An Avanzando student reads from a 'career development guide' at a meeting in 2012. Photo by Brandon Parigo. "The program started with 27 original members," said Ivan Ramirez, coordinator for the UMKC Multicultural Student Affairs Department and the Avanzado program. "In 2016, we had grown to 73 scholars, and then it grew to its biggest size of 260. Right now, we are at 150 scholars and we serve them just as well as we were serving the original 27." Avanzando mentors are volunteers from UMKC faculty and staff, as well as community members with no ties to the university. Students are matched to mentors based on common goals and career interests and meet regularly with mentors throughout their time at UMKC. Mentors offer students academic support, promote their cultural identity development and enhance access to resources and networks in the professional world. "There is a wide range of mentors. We have lawyers, CEOs, doctors, dentists," Ramirez said.  "I think it's important for (students) to have somebody to talk with that looks like them, that has been through what they are going through. I am a first-generation (college graduate), so when they come talk to me and tell me their stories, I can relate to them, I've been in their shoes. That's what being a mentor is, it's so valuable to have someone that looks like you say, 'hey I've been there, I get it." Villamandos said he feels proud of the success that Avanzando has seen over the years. He said that he is still in contact with many of the original members of the program as well as students he has mentored over the years. "We are a family. That tells you how meaningful this program is to mentors and mentees alike," Villamandos said. "The academic and professional support has been proven, with great retention rates and so many students who went into grad school and great jobs." Oct 04, 2021

  • UMKC Welcomes Public to $32 Million High-Tech Research Center

    Local media cover the opening of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center
    Several media outlets covered the grand opening of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, a $32 million, 57,800-square-foot high-tech research center. Coverage included: KMBC KOLR Fox4KC Startland News   Oct 01, 2021

  • Truman Medical Centers Changes Name To University Health

    Local media cover the name change for Truman Medical Centers
    Hospital leadership feel the name change will help patients, community members and others understand the unique partnership University Health has with the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Stories appeared in these news outlets: Rebranding Truman Med - Flatland Kansas City’s Truman Medical Center Changes Its Name. Here’s Why, and What It Means (subscription required) - The Kansas City Star Truman Medical Centers Drops the 'Truman' After 50 Years and Rebrands As University Health - KCUR Truman Medical Centers Changes Name To University Health - KSHB Truman Medical Centers Goes All-in On University Health Brand - Kansas City Business Journal Truman Medical Centers/University Health Announces New Name, Is Now University Health - KCTV5 Truman Medical Centers Changes Name To University Health - Fox4KC Oct 01, 2021

  • Keeping Soldiers Safe

    Video game technology reimagined for the real-life battlefield
    We’ve all seen the dangers of war, whether it be in the news, movies or in video games where we get to virtually immerse ourselves in simulated military operations. With various combinations of the A and B and X and O buttons, we strategize actions, move in on targets and eliminate opponents. In our increasingly digital world, one UMKC professor is exploring how to maximize the virtual experience to serve real-life military operations. Associate Professor Zhu Li, a renowned artificial reality and virtual reality (AVR) research expert, is helping to bring virtual warfare into reality using the new AVR space located in the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center. It’s only fitting that as a war history buff – he can identify nearly every WWII aircraft – Li would be working with the United States Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force to develop a 3D technology to give soldiers a new set of eyes on the battlefield. Using point cloud compression and communication — a way of compressing and transmitting volumetric visual data to present the real world in 3D — soldiers will be able to literally see the enemy from a mile away. “The idea is to virtualize special forces in warfare because soldiers get air dropped into hostile-raging situations,” Li says. “Normally there’s no way to tell what they’re getting into, but with this new equipment soldiers don’t have to risk their own life. They send an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, with 360 cameras and 3D sensors, and the soldier can navigate the cameras and find the target based on information transmitted back.” To enable this, the drones need 3D sensing, information capture and compressions and communication to present it back to a different device in real time. It’s the same kind of technology used in military[1]themed video games — goggles included — but reconfigured for real-life scenarios. “It’s like they’ll have virtual eyes and ears in the battlefield. … They can be anywhere on the battlefield and have precise 3D information about the situations, buildings, vehicles, people, everything,” says Li, comparing it to Google Maps’ street view with added 3D elements. Having a 360-degree view gives soldiers the freedom to navigate the virtual world and be able to walk around and scope out what’s ahead. “Number one, it’s safer and, two, it’s more effective because human eyes and perceptions are limited. With this new technology, you can see much further and identify you targets much easier. You have more accurate positioning,” Li says. He’s still doing the algorithm research, so it will be another three to five years before it’s sent off to produce a prototype. But, Li says, the state-of-the-art 3D and AR/VR technology in the Plaster Free Center will enable him to take this research even further. Sep 30, 2021

  • Expanding into Aerospace

    New lab spaces give students hands-on training
    As excitement surrounding the opening of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center has ramped up, so has excitement surrounding the expanded education and research opportunities it provides. Among the building’s most eye-catching features is the three-story Motion Capture Lab and Flight Simulation Lab, reflecting the School of Computing and Engineering’s expansion into aerospace engineering. Through his work with unmanned aircraft technology, Associate Professor Travis Fields noticed that many high-level contracts, grants and research initiatives were leaning toward airspace. He also noticed that students required more hands-on experiences in rigorous, interdisciplinary fields like mechatronics, an intersection of electronic, electrical and mechanical engineering systems. Together, Fields and Assistant Professor Mujahid Abdulrahim are partnering to charter the Master of Aerospace Engineering program at UMKC. “The courses Travis pioneered are things we would love our students to know, like system modification and guidance laws for aircraft — classes that address the research needs and lay the foundation for aerospace curriculum,” says Abdulrahim, who’s been flight-testing aircraft for 21 years. “Anytime students are tasked with designing something new or have a specific desire to go into aerospace, we’re teaching the philosophy behind it.” Whether students need to understand how to develop new things or have a specific desire to go into aerospace engineering, Fields and Abdulrahim agree that aircraft can be a great jumping-off point for other areas of engineering. And while both professors admit their obsession is with with aircraft, students will also learn to integrate cars for those who want to go into automotive testing and performance assessment. “There is a responsibility on you as an engineer to do good work. It’s not just optimizing the most efficient system possible, it’s also about the holistic design approach that aerospace engineering promotes,” says Abdulrahim. That’s where the new Flight Simulation Lab comes in. The lab allows students to do complex and relevant tests in safe and accessible ways, teaching them all the things Abdulrahim says he wishes someone would’ve told him when he started out. The new space will help provide the workforce development training students really need. Sep 30, 2021

  • A Space Just for Students

    New collaboration area allows for peer-to-peer prototyping and a superior student teams workshop
    Engineering is a collaborative process, and at the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, collaboration is a cornerstone of the student experience. In fact, in the undergraduate capstone course Senior Design, students are challenged with taking a real-world engineering problem through the entire design process alongside a group of their peers. Thanks to the School’s close proximity to industry, faculty are able to partner with local businesses to actually “hire” these small groups. For years, students from Senior Design have crouched in empty classrooms or gathered inside their garages to work — until now. The Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center features a new space on the first floor just for students: the Black & Veatch Student Collaboration Studio. With large workspaces and access to state-of-the-art 3D printers, students will be able to collaborate much more effectively. For the first time ever, they can test their prototypes in a dedicated environment. “These projects are really the first time the students get to work on a ‘real-world’ engineering problem, just like they will be doing in a few months after graduation,” says Assistant Dean Katherine Bloemker. “They are required to take their ideas from the concept phase through to the detail design phase and, most importantly, to the prototyping and testing phase.” Classroom requirements aren’t the only thing to draw students to the first floor. Adjacent to the collaboration space is the Burns & McDonnell Student Teams’ Fabrication Shop, another hub for students to work together — designing and building for engineering competitions such as the concrete canoe, big beam challenge and, of course, our signature Baja Racing Team. According to Baja Racing Vice President and Frame Lead Clayton Morgan, “Having access to this new space really changes the game in terms of our ability to compete.” The laser jet cutter, paint booth, drill press, horizontal band saw and other tools located in the student space have saved the team both time and money. Where they previously would have sent a frame to be fabricated by an external vendor, now they can manually bend, cut and notch the tubes together — allowing them to really experience bringing their designs to life. Morgan, who is a junior in the mechanical engineering program, says he chose UMKC in part because the Baja Racing program was highlighted during his campus visit. He “saw the team was pretty prominent in the School and that year ranked 11th out of 116 teams nationwide, a sign that they’re top tier.” In addition to Baja Racing, Morgan credits UMKC’s close proximity to industry with his choice to study here — both aspects of the school only enhanced by these new collaboration hubs. Sep 30, 2021

  • Investing in Future Talent

    Two-story Structural Lab helps prepare Kansas City’s next generation of civil engineers
    There’s no denying Kansas City is a hub for civil engineers. With international industry leaders such as Burns and McDonnell and Black and Veatch headquartered locally, Kansas City maintains a uniquely high demand for new recruits trained in the field. So even before the plans for the new Plaster Center began to take shape, SCE leadership knew it was critical to provide students with a state-of-the-art structural lab. Today, the UMKC Structural Lab occupies the west wing of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center. This two-story facility is designed to test full-size structural components like highway beams. “It is always a benefit for structural engineers to see how their designs are constructed in reality,” says John Kevern, Ph.D, chair of the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering. “This hands-on experience provides a level of practicality that we haven’t been able to offer before and will improve the quality of all civil engineering students.” In addition to preparing graduates for competitive jobs here in Kansas City and beyond, the Structural Lab will allow faculty to propose projects using non-traditional materials and analysis techniques because they now have a testbed for validation and verification. By the numbers:  The two-story crane can support up to 20 tons. Beams up to 53-feet can be unloaded and tested. Sep 30, 2021

  • From SCE to Switzerland

    Research experiences at UMKC lead mechanical engineering graduate to pursue Ph.D. in bone biomechanics
    With the opening of the new Plaster Center, even more students will have the opportunity to engage with leading-edge research. We recently caught up with one School of Computing and Engineering alumnus who knows just how valuable these experiences can be in guiding your career. Elliott Goff (B.S. ’13, M.S. ’16) spent the first six years of his higher education experience at SCE and now finds himself exploring medical technology research across the Atlantic at ETH Zürich, a research university in Switzerland. Elliott Goff Tell us more about what you’re up to in your current position. I’m a Ph.D. candidate and researcher within the field of bone biomechanics. I investigate bone cell (osteocyte) shapes and relate them to disease (idiopathic osteoporosis). Our collaborators sent us roughly 100 human bone biopsies; I developed a method to prepare, 3D-image and analyze the osteocytes within each biopsy to create a database of roughly 25 million cell geometries. Then I do some big data processing and compare elements between healthy (control) biopsies and diseased biopsies. The ultimate goal of this project is to use cell geometry to classify disease severity. How did you find yourself exploring this topic? I won a DAAD Rise Germany fellowship my junior year to spend the summer researching mouse osteocytes in Berlin at the Charité University Hospital. I clearly remember my first day: My supervisor gave me some background reading that turned out to be research studies published by Lynda Bonewald (Ph.D.), a UMKC professor at the time. Between that summer research experience and learning about the UMKC connection, I knew I would pursue the field of bone biomechanics. How did your undergraduate and graduate research experiences at SCE prepare you for your work now? During my sophomore year, I joined two UMKC faculty members — Amber Rath-Stern, Ph.D., and Matt Stern, Ph.D. — on a biomedical engineering research project about the mechanical stiffness of tissue scaffolds. This is where I first learned about biomedical engineering and became enamored with the intersection of mechanical engineering and biology. This experience led to subsequent projects at UMKC with Greg King (Ph.D.) in his gait lab and Lynda Bonewald in her osteocyte lab. While earning my master’s at UMKC, Dr. Bonewald introduced me to my current mentor at ETH Zürich. And UMKC’s international academics director, Linna Place (Ph.D.), helped me draft the grant application that provided the funds to send me to Switzerland. What’s next? I plan to graduate this year with my Ph.D. and am currently on the hunt for a position in the medical technology field. Research has been my passion for the last decade, and I look forward to bridging the gap between the laboratory and solutions to real-world problems. Sep 30, 2021

  • Strengthening STEM Workforce Preparation Through Undergraduate Research

    Navy grant will help UMKC develop better tools to help students from diverse backgrounds find success
    A workforce development program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, designed to bring more students from diverse backgrounds into science and technology careers, is one of 12 national Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) Education and Workforce Programs to receive funding from the Office of Naval Research. The grant will help faculty expand their capacity to provide students from diverse backgrounds meaningful research and workforce experiences in STEM degree programs. “Equity-Forward Workforce Development Pipeline for Naval STEM Superiority” is led by Daniel H. McIntosh, Ph.D., department chair and professor of Physics and Astronomy in the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. The $758,000 three-year grant will be used to implement and evaluate a new educational pathway framework to onboard, train and provide undergraduate research experiences to interested sophomore and incoming transfer students in one of four active research areas at UMKC that are aligned with Navy STEM priorities: cybersecurity, unmanned aerial systems, radio frequency simulations, and remote sensing. The Navy funding will support the development of competency-based research skills training courses, provide financial aid for historically underserved students, and offer paid internships for summer research experiences in any of the four research areas. These pathways will provide STEM-interested students with 15 weeks of data analytics and technical skills training tailored to one of the four Naval STEM areas; faculty-mentored research experiences; internship programming through UMKC Career Services; and exposure to Naval STEM opportunities and careers. The UMKC team is a partnership of faculty and staff with expertise in a variety of areas including STEM education and research, engineering, computer science, urban education and career services to provide complete workforce preparation. The team includes McIntosh; Travis Fields, Ph.D. associate professor, UMKC School of Computing and Engineering (SCE); Zhu Li, Ph.D., associate professor, UMKC SCE; Farid Nait-Abdelssalam, Ph.D., professor, UMKC SCE; Roy Allen, Ph.D., lead mechanical engineer, UMKC Missouri Institute for Defense and Energy (MIDE); Kaylan Durbhakula, Ph.D., assistant research professor, MIDE; Karin Chang, associate director of the Urban Education Research Center within the UMKC School of Education; Alexis Petri, Ed.D., senior director of faculty support in the  UMKC Provost’s Office; Tess Surprenant, interim director of the UMKC Career Center; and Audrey Lester, assistant director of the Undergraduate Research office. The program is designed to benefit STEM-minded students from all backgrounds by giving them the inclusive experiences, intentional encouragements and skill development necessary to succeed in college and beyond.   “This project focuses on equity to overcome historical barriers for underrepresented and underserved students and utilizes high-impact engagement practices to support the success of all students who are interested in research training and experiences,” McIntosh said. He believes that university educators must do more than provide students from diverse backgrounds access to opportunities. “To broaden student success, we must encourage inclusive engagement in their learning and workforce skill development,” he said. “The outcome will not only be vast improvements in equity but a thriving educational system that helps all students achieve their full potential.” Recruitment for these courses will begin Fall 2021. Coursework will begin Spring 2022. Sep 30, 2021

  • KSHB Covers Partnership Between Kansas City Fire Department, UMKC School of Medicine

    Kansas City-area fire departments offer incentives to address paramedic shortage
    The Kansas City Fire Department has taken a proactive approach to attracting candidates by partnering with UMKC School of Medicine's paramedic and EMT program to bring in new candidates. KCFD is also paying for classes for current employees who go through the program. Read more. Sep 29, 2021

  • The Hawk Eye Interviews Ken Novak

    Des Moines, other cities saw a record homicide surge in 2020, a year marked by protest and COVID
    "To be fair and clear, we're going to be unpacking whatever the hell happened in 2020 for the rest of my career, for sure," said Kenneth Novak, a criminal justice expert and professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more. Sep 29, 2021

  • KCUR: Visit Warko Observatory

    Where to find the best rooftop views in Kansas City
    You don’t have to ride Liberty Memorial's antique elevator to get the perspective you crave; many other spots around town offer equally uplifting views, such as the Warko Observatory at UMKC. Read more. Sep 29, 2021

  • Associate Professor Whitney Terrell on Literary Hub

    Talking to Maya Angelou’s son about the new award named in her honor
    Novelist Whitney Terrell, an associate professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, oversaw the creation of the award with Phong Nguyen, an English professor and director of creative writing at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Carrie Coogan, the Kansas City Public Library’s deputy director for public affairs and community engagement. Read more. Sep 29, 2021

  • Reining in Software Trojan Horses

    Deep learning research identifies cybersecurity risks
    What’s the easiest way for hackers or spies to penetrate a secured computer network? Have the network managers open the door and invite them in. Almost all networks purchase basic software from third-party creators. The bad guys have figured out that the third parties present an opportunity for them to penetrate software-supplier systems and hide malware inside the software to be purchased. The software becomes a digital Trojan horse, carrying attackers inside the network’s walls. That was the strategy behind a huge espionage campaign, first revealed in December 2020, that compromised several major U.S. government agencies, including the Justice Department and the Treasury, as well as private companies including Google and Microsoft. It has been described as one of the largest and most successful digital espionage cases in history. That’s where Professor Dianxiang Xu comes in. In the SS&C Data Analytics, Cybersecurity and High Performance Computing Facility of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, Xu is using deep learning models, a specialized area of artificial intelligence (AI), to help combat the emerging threat. The goal is to use static code analysis of computer programs to find potential defects and security vulnerabilities. The work is funded by a National Science Foundation grant. “Software vulnerability is a major source of cybersecurity risks. It is very difficult to identify vulnerabilities in software code as software has significantly increased in both size and complexity,” Xu says. “Finding software vulnerabilities is analogous to ‘searching for a needle in a haystack.’ Recent advances in deep learning can be promising for predicting software vulnerabilities.” Spies and hackers aren’t the only bad guys Xu is working to combat. He is also studying ways to use AI to collect and process digital evidence for presentation to juries in court. Xu is basing his network security work on a deep learning model known as The Transformer. “Finding software vulnerabilities is analogous to ‘searching for a needle in a haystack.’ Recent advances in deep learning can be promising for predicting software vulnerabilities.” - Dianxiang Xu, Ph.D. “The Transformer is a deep learning model introduced in 2017, used primarily in the field of natural language processing, or NLP,” he says. “It has enabled training on larger datasets than was possible before it was introduced. The pretrained transformer systems such as BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) have achieved state-of-the-art performance on a number of NLP tasks.” “Considering the similarity and difference between natural languages and programming languages, we expect the transformer systems can be pretrained with a large amount of computer code so as to improve various program understanding tasks, such as detection of vulnerabilities in source code.” So, how vital is the anti-spyware research underway by computer scientists such as Xu? In an article for The New Yorker, Sue Halpern wrote: “The simple truth is that cyber defense is hard, and in a country like the United States, where so much of our critical infrastructure is privately owned, it’s even harder. Every router, every software program, every industrial controller may inadvertently offer a way for malicious actors to enter and compromise a network.” Inside the Plaster Center, Xu can be found chipping away at those many cyber threats, one model at a time.   Sep 29, 2021

  • UMKC Trustees Recognize Critical Partners

    Response to COVID-19 crisis and STEM programming drive innovation, receive support through trustees awards
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Board of Trustees announced the 2021 UMKC Trustees Engagement Awards recognizing community partners and their outstanding support to the university and the community. This year the Trustee Engagement Awards Committee recognized two recipients for both the Community Partnership Award and the Leo E. Morton Community Service Award as no awards were presented in 2020.  The Community Partnership Award recognizes ongoing and indispensable partnerships that strengthen UMKC. The recipients’ support is essential to the university’s success and is also a critical component in fulfilling the university’s urban-serving mission of education and research that enhances the quality of life in the region. Truman Medical Center and Evergy, Inc. received this year’s awards. Truman Medical Center (TMC), a longtime, critical partner of the university, took a swift and entrepreneurial approach to community care in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Programming included mobile testing units that went to churches, community centers and gathering places. TMC provided immediate and ongoing public education in conjunction with neighborhood partners, including the Negro Leagues Museum and the Kansas City Public Library, in both English and Spanish. “The leadership that Truman Medical Centers and their Community Health Strategies and Innovation team showed community leaders and members during the pandemic through mobile testing and health education were critical in how our communities responded to the pandemic,” says Rev. John Miles, president of the Metropolitan Kansas City Baptist Ministers Union. Evergy’s support of UMKC is broad and deep, including schools and programs across campus. They have supported the School of Computing and Engineering (SCE) through scholarship funding and a $500,000 pledge for the Evergy Renewable Energy Lab and Roof Deck in the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center. The company’s support of the KC STEM Alliance, a K-12 STEM initiative housed within SCE, furthers the mission of building the STEM talent pipeline. “Evergy recruits associates as classroom speakers, mentors, volunteers and judges for a variety of events throughout the year in Kansas City,” Martha McCabe, executive director of KC STEM Alliance, says. “They are committed to reaching a broad range of students and actively recruit a diverse pool of volunteers in efforts to connect with all students.” The Leo E. Morton Community Service Award recognizes a group or entity within UMKC for outstanding work that embodies the university’s mission as an urban-serving university. The recipients’ contributions ensure UMKC remains embedded in the fabric of the community through innovative services, programs and projects that strengthen and enhance the quality of life in the region and serve the citizens of Kansas City. This year’s awardees are the UMKC School of Law Child and Family Law Program and Cameron Lindsey, PharmD, interim chair of the division of pharmacy practice and administration at the UMKC School of Pharmacy. The UMKC School of Law Child and Family Law Program spans three decades of innovative services and programs that strengthen the relationship between the university and the community. The Child and Family Services Clinic provides free legal services for parents, relatives and custodians who need help obtaining clear and reliable custody orders for children who have a history of being abused or neglected. The process of seeking an Order of Protection is time-consuming and challenging, and when COVID shut down courthouses in spring 2020, the problem became more acute. Last year, the school’s Self-Help Clinic worked with the Kansas courts to develop an online portal for those seeking orders protecting them from abuse and stalking. The result is an online protection order portal which is now in place across the state of Kansas. “While I know this project was but one small part of the many ways in which the Child and Family Law Program provides innovative, justice-driven education and community engagement throughout our region, it is special,” Keven O'Grady, Johnson County Kansas District Court judge, says. “We hope that the portal can be a model for courts across the country.” Cameron Lindsey, PharmD, interim chair of the division of pharmacy practice and administration at the UMKC School of Pharmacy, is a dedicated community volunteer, securing close to $9 million in donated medications for the Shared Care Free Health Clinic of Jackson County. During the COVID pandemic, Lindsey became authorized to provide vaccines at the university and has been holding weekly clinics, as well as working with other organizations to ensure they have adequate staffing for community events. “Dr. Lindsey cares deeply for others, the students she mentors and the stewardship of our institution,” Sheri Gormley, chief of staff office of the chancellor. “She fosters a culture of care and service as a leader at the School of Pharmacy and in all she does at UMKC.” The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Sep 29, 2021

  • UMKC Unveils Innovation Studio

    Startland News reports on the opening of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center
    “We have never had a facility like this — with the diversity of equipment and the availability to get involved,” said Christina Davis, director of the studio for the School of Computing and Engineering at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “Anyone walking through the building can see exactly what research is being done. And to invite students to participate and collaborate, that is what makes this building special.” Read more. Sep 28, 2021

  • Sunscreen Recommended

    In the Plaster Center, even the roof is optimized for groundbreaking research
    Most days, Assistant Professor Sarvenaz Sobhansarbandi, Ph.D., keeps her eyes on the sky. Sobhansarbandi has spent her career studying solar energy. Her research focuses on a type of solar thermal collector called an evacuated tube collector (ETC). More specifically, she is interested in how this type of collector can make water heating systems more efficient. The Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center includes two unique spaces for Sobhansarbandi and her students: the Evergy Advanced Renewable/Thermal Energy (ART-E) Lab and the accompanying Evergy Renewable Energy Roof Deck. Since the completion of the Plaster Center, Sobhansarbandi and her students have spent much of their time on the roof and the lab, working to learn more about ETCs and how we can best utilize them. How is the Plaster Center enhancing your research with ETCs and solar water heating? The Evergy Renewable Energy Roof Deck was designed for maximum solar gain exposure. It uses local, easily configurable, leading-edge technology to test both small- and large-scale ETC solar water heating systems. The space will also allow us to get baseline results for Kansas City weather conditions and optimize the system’s functionality to achieve higher efficiency. A low-voltage conduit connects the roof to the lab below, allowing us to monitor the system and data connection devices. Outside of the Renewable Energy Research Lab, the new 3D printing lab and Innovation Studio will allow us to fabricate prototypes in-house and move them straight upstairs for testing. Are you working with any new technologies in your new spaces? The 5,000-square-foot roof deck gives us plenty of space for a new full-scale solar water heating system. In the future, we plan to integrate photovoltaic arrays and a weather station to track comprehensive, real-time conditions. Currently, we are able to monitor solar radiation intensity using Pyranometers on the roof, connected directly to the lab space. How have your students responded to the new research lab? My graduate and undergraduate students are very excited as the new lab gives them the opportunity to perform research in an even more well-equipped environment. Here are some of their individual reactions: “Moving into this new lab is great as we now have a more sophisticated facility to do hands-on experimental research.” “It’s wonderful to have more space to work on our research and collaborate comfortably.” “The new lab is equipped with high-tech devices and a big glass window, which makes it a more visually and thermally comfortable place to monitor the technology.” “The new facilities have given me the opportunity to pursue my research in avenues that I previously thought were impossible.” Does the new space enhance your teaching? Absolutely! My mechanical engineering students get to see some real-world applications of heat transfer in action in our solar water heating system setup, as well as all of the instrumentation used to monitor the equipment and collect data for our research. My colleagues are also able to show examples of material analysis using the Thermogravimetric Analyzer and Differential Scanning Calorimeter in our lab. On top of all that, it’s a great excuse to take students outside for fresh air and sunshine to look at cool technology and the view of downtown KC! How does your new lab compare to those of schools across the country? Having 1,000-square-feet of interior space and direct access to the roof deck is a distinct feature. The dedicated space to perform field testing gives us the potential to cross-validate our simulation modeling results without the need for travel to other available research sites. In addition, the high-end video conferencing technology has been a huge benefit when collaborating with other researchers and staying connected. What is the next step in your research? Next steps include experimental investigation of modified large scale ETCs by applying preliminary findings from small scale analysis with the goal of efficiency enhancement. Additionally, development of control systems to automate and optimize the system functionality are being studied.   Sep 28, 2021

  • Electromagnetic Medicine

    Using high-powered electric pulses to treat cancer in a 3D world
    Ahmed Hassan, Ph.D., has long been fascinated by electromagnetics and how electrical impulses can affect the smallest of particles, particularly those with complex shapes. Inside the Advanced Power, Electronics and Electromagnetics Lab at the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, the associate professor is focused on how to use high-powered electrical pulses to treat cancer cells. Scientists have for some time explored the use of electrical pulses to deliver drugs and gene therapies into biological cells. But where most of those studies have looked at cells in a two-dimensional realm, Hassan is taking things a step further. “At UMKC, we are one of the first groups to study how the three-dimensional shape of actual cells, grown in realistic 3D environments, affects their electrical response,” Hassan says. “It’s only by looking at the full 3D structure that you can predict how the cell will behave when it’s excited by an electrical stimulus.” Through their research, Hassan and his graduate research assistant Somen Baidya have shown that the outer shape of a cell plays a significant role in how it will react to an electrical stimulus. With help from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where their scientists have been able to determine and reconstruct the exact 3D shape of cells, Hassan and Baidya now have thousands of cells shapes to work with, including cancer cells. Precision to the One-Trillionth Degree Armed with an array of computers to create computational models and simulations, Hassan is working with multiple computational techniques that can be used to calculate the response of those complex, three-dimensional cancer cells to electrical impulses. Electroporation is a technique in which an electrical field is applied to a cell in order to increase the permeability of the cell membrane. This allows chemicals such as therapeutic drugs or even DNA to easily be inserted into the cell. The technique offers potential advantages over other therapeutic methods of cancer treatments because of its noninvasiveness and lack of toxicity for noncancerous cells, as well as the possibility of being used in combination with other therapies. The selectivity of the electroporation technique also makes it safer than other techniques that cannot differentiate between healthy and cancerous cells. "If you want to kill cancer cells, then you apply a strong enough electrical stimulus to break down the cell membrane completely. We’re trying to figure out the optimum pulse that will give us the correct response." — Ahmed Hassan, Ph.D. Variations in the rate of supraelectroporation used to pierce the cell membrane and penetrate the cell’s internal organelles can guide the selective targeting of desired cells with specific shapes. The current goal, Hassan says, is to determine how to calculate — with a high degree of accuracy and efficiency — the necessary voltage and precise location of these electrical pulses on the cell’s membrane to achieve the desired effect. Electrical pulses are delivered at very high amplitudes for extremely short durations of time — from nanoseconds, which are one-billionth of a second, to picoseconds, which are one-trillionth of a second. In some instances, the goal is to create a tiny hole in the cell membrane, just large enough to deliver the material inside the cell without harming it. “If the holes become too large, the cells might die,” Hassan says. “In some cases, that’s desired. If you want to kill cancer cells, then you apply a strong enough electrical stimulus to break down the cell membrane completely. We’re trying to figure out the optimum pulse that will give us the correct response.” Once the computational techniques are developed, the next step will be to develop a machine learning (ML) platform that uses cell information to predict the precise excitation characteristics necessary to achieve the correct effect on the cell. Ultimately, Hassan says, the new Plaster Center Power Lab will give him the capability to develop a novel, tunable, high-voltage pulser that can generate the desired electric surge needed as predicted by the ML platform. It will be designed to generate necessary short-time pulses of nanosecond or picosecond duration with high peak amplitude optimized for each cell shape. From Medicine to the Moon Once developed, this ML technology could be used to treat other types of cells, for instance, isolating and treating or modifying immune cells. Moreover, different electrical signals can be used to selectively move and isolate specific cells from a collection of cells. “It’s like applying a magnet to the cell. That will start attracting the cell differently based on its shape,” he says. Hassan is currently working on the first two aspects of the project to get preliminary data, then working on funding to start building the hardware. “We’ve been working on this for three years,” he says. “An optimistic timeframe is that we’re halfway there to finishing the engineering aspects before we can take it to the medical researchers and ask them to help us with the actual biological tests.” A member of the UMKC faculty since 2015, Hassan serves as director of the Multidisciplinary Multiscale Electromagnetics Lab. Before coming to UMKC, he began studying nanostructures with extremely complex shapes as a postdoctoral researcher at NIST. There he developed a large library of computational codes to study their response to electromagnetic stimulus. “When I came to UMKC, I was using this library of computer codes that I had developed as an electrical engineer to study complex shapes with a wide range of applications,” Hassan says. “One application was to study biological cells with complex shapes.” Another is looking at the electrical properties of sand and rock particles from the moon. Working with his collaborators at NIST, Hassan was able to obtain the three-dimensional shapes of sand particles obtained during the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. “We’re trying to calculate the electrical response of those sand particles as another exciting application of using electromagnetic radiation to understand the physics of complex shaped particles,” he says. Sep 28, 2021

  • Now That's Clean

    Plaster Center's contamination-free area has specs that get rid of the specks
    When working with bio-and nanomaterials, success can hinge on keeping dust and other impurities out of the process. So for Assistant Professor Zahra Niroobakhsh and her colleagues, it was good news that the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center would include a top-notch clean room. “In the past I’ve had to use facilities in Lawrence, Kansas, for some work or order materials from elsewhere to start experiments, which can be very expensive,” says Niroobakhsh, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering. “But now we have the 3D bioprinters … and the Clean Room, to be able to make everything right here.” APPLICATIONS ACROSS CAMPUS For Niroobakhsh, “everything” covers a wide range of research interests and applications. She frequently works with other departments and schools, including chemistry, dentistry, medicine and pharmacy. Clean Room experiments often involve designing and printing soft nanomaterials, which exist in a state between solid and liquid, then studying how they react and interact in different situations. Because the materials can be designed molecule by molecule, Niroobakhsh and her team can produce the tiny building blocks for all sorts of collaborative research and applications. In petroleum engineering, for example, the aim can be to improve emulsions used in oil spill cleanup, or to enhance the substances used to recover more oil from a well. In pharmaceuticals, experiments can seek more stable and effective ways to deliver drugs or coat a microchip with a material that can detect virus or disease. And in medicine, the building blocks for cells can be tweaked depending on what is being studied. Our new printer will allow us to inject six different liquids simultaneously and to switch materials during the print. It also has much higher resolution and other capabilities. We’re very excited!” —  Zahra Niroobaksh, Ph.D. Niroobakhsh’s team has worked with Peter Koulen, a professor in the UMKC School of Medicine who has led several groundbreaking research projects at the school’s Vision Research Center. “Tissues for different parts of the body have different mechanical properties,” Niroobakhsh says. “We can ‘tune’ the biomaterials we are printing so they will produce cells with the properties needed in Dr. Koulen’s work for different parts of the eye.” As versatile as Niroobakhsh’s work has been already, she’s looking forward to the much more advanced 3D printers available to her in the new Clean Room. “One of my graduate students built a 3D printer we use,” she says, reflecting the school’s can-do approach. “But our new printer will allow us to inject six different liquids simultaneously and to switch materials during the print. It also has much higher resolution and other capabilities. We’re very excited!” EMBRACING NEW POSSIBILITIES Niroobakhsh is used to change and progress. When she joined the faculty in 2018, she brought international experience to the school, having earned her doctorate in materials science and engineering at Penn State, her master’s degree in Germany and her bachelor’s degree in Iran. She also set right to work establishing her lab, including procuring the right equipment for her work. Niroobakhsh says her rheometer, which measures the flow of most materials, is the only one in the area. One of her closest collaborators, Stefan Lohfeld, also joined UMKC in 2018 as an assistant professor at the School of Dentistry. They teach the Introduction to Biomaterials course together, using a textbook co-written by UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal. They both also utilize bioprinters in their research, and lean on each other for support and perspective. Their printers use different processes, and they often talk about which might be better for a particular task or experiment. “My printer at SCE uses light to solidify liquid polymers layer by layer to build a device,” Lohfeld says. That Continuous Digital Light Process, or cDLP, “is faster as it manufactures a full layer at a time. This is useful for larger constructs and could be important in mass production. But my printer can’t use multiple materials at once, unlike Dr. Niroobakhsh’s new highend machine.” Lohfeld has a master’s in production engineering with a focus on materials sciences and his doctorate in materials sciences. He is, essentially, an engineer that works in the School of Dentistry. That works out well, because Sarah Dallas and others at the dental school are leaders in bone-muscle tissue research, and Lohfeld is expert at printing scaffolds on which research cells can grow for tissue engineering. Lohfeld says the Plaster Center “really gives us access to technologies we haven’t had before, which allows us to expand our research on materials and their processing.” Besides the research possibilities, Niroobakhsh is eager to have her students see what’s possible from a well-equipped clean room. “I’m not sure yet how much access there would be for a whole class,” she says. “But the Clean Room’s walls are glass, so we will be able to show students what is being done and explain the processes. … The new facilities will have so many benefits for us.” Sep 28, 2021

  • UMKC Student Receives Scholarship

    The Oklahoman reports on scholarship awardees
    The Heritage Hall Alumni Association recently recognized Genesis Franks as its 2021 Alumni Scholarship recipient. Franks, a 2020 graduate of Heritage Hall, is a sophomore at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. Read more. Sep 27, 2021

  • The Kansas City Star Taps Antonio Byrd

    Kansas City-area schools face racist incidents as critical race theory debate continues
    Antonio Byrd, an English professor at UMKC who studies Black literacy, described critical race theory as a way to illuminate the role of racism in a society that doesn’t tend to think racism is a major problem. By considering the impact of racism, Byrd said, steps can be taken to fix it. Read more. (subscription required) Sep 27, 2021

  • Collide and Create

    New innovation studio brings together UMKC and the community
    Dean Kevin Truman has vision. As he walks through the halls and labs of the UMKC Innovation Studio in the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, he sees progress, growth and untold opportunity. “This is a place for entrepreneurs to come, collide and create,” he says. “It’s digital to physical.” While the machines are quiet and the few students in the building work independently and masked, Truman’s eyes are alight with the certain creation of new products, new processes and new collaborations that will not only build UMKC and the school, but also the community. “We hope to see art students from the Kansas City Art Institute, K-12 students interested in science, technology, engineering and math, or enthusiasts of the virtual reality world.” While providing some familiar components, the Innovation Studio is different than traditional makers’ spaces. For example, the space provides access to new technologies for rapid prototyping using the 3D printing lab. “The makers’ spaces in town do a great job serving their market, but we are focused on entrepreneurship,” Truman says. “We can provide services to companies, researchers and the community. It may be someone building one model, but if they need to make 20 prototypes to make sure they’ve gotten it right, we can also accommodate that.” The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a major partner and funder in the Innovation Studio. They consider the programs and spaces for students, faculty, staff and the community as critical to the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. “Our grant to UMKC helps build on the university’s strong foundation of student and community-facing entrepreneurship support programs,” says Melissa Roberts Chapman, senior program officer at the Kauffman Foundation. “That includes the Innovation Studio. We are excited to work together to see how entrepreneurship can help remake our regional economy to become more equitable, more vibrant and more innovative.” Students will also have the opportunity to take advantage of the labs in the Innovation Studio and will be able to work at cost. In order to maintain state-of-the-art capabilities, community members will be charged reasonable fees. The center will maintain a staff for assistance, training and maintenance, and there will be a shop manager to help with 3D printing. “Our 3D printing facility is one of the top five in the country,” Truman says. “Someone could send a graphics package here and a technician can use the company’s files to create what they need. The machine can create product composed of metals including titanium, machine grade steel or copper. We’d track the materials used, pack and ship it to them. It couldn’t be easier.” The Augmented and Virtual Reality (AVR) lab will have the very latest technology. Professionals and enthusiasts can use the AVR Training Lab to experience the newest augmented and virtual reality technology. The AVR Showroom can accommodate meetings, product development and training. Visitors, whether they are enthusiasts or professionals, can experience the latest virtual reality technology as well as learn the latest 3D design and development software. “We will be a hub of information,” Truman says. “We have relationships with others and are excited to share resources. We are not an island. We are here to create community.” Sep 27, 2021

  • Record Number of New Students Joining the Honors Program

    Students combine academic rigor with community service
    A record number of new students across disciplines have committed themselves to academic excellence, while also serving their communities, by enrolling in the UMKC Honors Program. This year, 471 students are enrolled in the prestigious Honors Program. The program, formerly known as the Honors College, provides a multitude of services to our campus community. “The Honors Program invites and includes new and continuing students from all programs and all disciplines across the university,” said Henrietta Wood, Ph.D., one of two full-time Honors Program faculty. “We offer honors versions of general education courses, and we supply a number of courses to help students accrue the credits they need to graduate with honors.” Gayle Levy, Ph.D., is the Director of the Honors Program. She serves as an advisor to students, especially when they are writing their Senior Honors Thesis. She also works with faculty on how to get involved with the Honors Program or, more specifically, if they are interested in teaching an honors class. Stephen Christ is the other full-time faculty member, teaching innovative and engaging courses. He’s also actively engaged in mentorship of honors program students on an individual level and organizationally as the faculty advisor to the Honors Student Association. The program also offers the Roo Honors Academy for local high school students, as well as the Roos@Noon Speaker Series presentations that anyone in the university community can attend. It’s that wide university impact that inspired Sean Purdue, a senior honors student in civil engineering, to become an Honors Ambassador. “That's what I really like about the Honors Program,” Purdue said. “I love civil engineering, but I don't want just civil engineering friends. I want friends from all the different majors, and that’s been a huge benefit of the program.” These benefits extend well past a student’s college career into their professional careers. Alaina Shine, ‘15, brought the skills she learned into her career as a pediatric resident physician in Seattle. “Often in the hospital I am challenged with problems where there is no ‘right’ answer,” Shine said. “A large portion of my job as a physician is teaching patients and their families about their medical illnesses and conditions. I lean upon skills I began learning as an Honors Program student to incorporate ideas from my multidisciplinary team to develop a solution for our patients and their families.” This interdisciplinary approach does not stop with the students or alumni. Jess Magaña, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, serves as a faculty mentor for honors students. “One of the very best parts of teaching is getting to know the students, getting to know their specific journeys and helping them take that next step,” Magaña said. “Being an Honors Program mentor is a really great way to do that, and it's especially good for getting to know students who are not in your school.” Faculty mentors assist students through a variety of informal meetings to check up on the students’ progress, academic and otherwise. If you are interested in becoming a faculty mentor, reach out to Margo Gamache, Director of Student Services for the Honors Program at “We're not just academic people,” Purdue said. “We still like having social events and friends, and it can be hard to balance. I think most faculty have had that same experience. Having someone to help us navigate that is so beneficial.” That benefit spreads to the university as a whole. Many Honors students are highly motivated, and they balance academic excellence with serving both UMKC and the wider Kansas City community. Most of the Student Government officers are honors students. Honors students volunteer to lead clubs for youngsters at the Kauffman School and have communicated with residents of a senior living facility. In the Honors Social Action class, students have promoted campus recycling, mental health awareness, and recognition of commuter students. “I'm constantly impressed with how involved Honors Program students are and how much they're willing to do to affect their own lives and the lives of other students at UMKC,” Magaña said. “They're super involved, and they're all just such great people to get to know.” Sep 27, 2021

  • From The New York Times: Can a Mantra Make You Run Faster?

    Olympic medalist Courtney Frerichs has no doubt
    This is a story about Courtney Frerichs, who turned in one of the surprise performances of the Tokyo Olympics. But really it is a story about mantras, because who Frerichs is and what she managed to accomplish this summer are all about the words she has been repeating to herself for years. She attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more. (subscription may be required) Sep 26, 2021

  • Stressed? Help and Healthy Resources Are Available

    An interview with the UMKC counseling director about coping with school, life and COVID-19
    The strain of managing school combined with the personal and global effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic may be unavoidable. But there are resources available to help manage stress and anxiety. Arnie Abels, Ph.D., director of Counseling, Health, Testing and Disability Services at UMKC, suggests strengthening your assets may help you manage your emotional needs. “One thing to remember is that every experience is individual,” Abels said. “People may need to figure out how to get enough sleep, the best way to exercise and create a routine. Others’ primary concerns may be financial as they try to find jobs and possibly change living situations. All of this is valid. Each of us needs to understand that all of these things are important and manage our own individual emotional needs.” “One thing to remember is that every experience is individual.” - Arnie Abels  He notes that returning students may be feeling completely differently than freshmen. “For college students who are on campus for the first time, adjusting to everything new can be exciting and challenging,” Abels said. “Returning students may be frustrated and disappointed that campus life is still disrupted.” Abels cautions about turning to substances for relief. “First, smoking cigarettes or cannabis creates vulnerability in your lungs, which we all need to avoid,” he said. “We don’t judge, but we want to encourage people to make healthy choices. There’s nothing wrong with having a drink – if you’re of legal age – but drinking to excess can create difficult situations with difficult consequences, especially if you are using it to avoid feelings.” There are healthier ways to deal with stress. “Getting enough sleep is very important,” Abels said. “One of the things that may help with this is regular exercise. Eating healthy will feel better. But not everything needs to be productive. Along with online exercise videos, Swinney Rec is offering a video-gaming competition. That could be a great escape as well.” Abels encourages people to take the opportunity to see how we can grow and become better individually and as a group. “Personally, I’ve written letters to the people I care about. It’s a creative process for me and it allows me to let people know in a way that may be out of the ordinary and may be more special than an email or text.” Mental Health Resources Personal counseling Counseling Services provides several opportunities for students. Walk-in crisis hours for any student weekdays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Most group meetings are available on-line and counseling appointments are telehealth as well. Mind Body Connection will be reopening with limited services as soon as student staff workers are hired. Movement Matters Fitness classes available on campus, Instagram stories and Esports including PS4 and X-Box Fifa and Madden Help at Your Fingertips The Sanvello app provides on-demand help for stress, anxiety and depression, including videos for coping with COVID-19. Additional Resources Roos for Mental Health has additional resources, including the recordings of their topical lunch-n-learns. Disability Services is open from 8:30 a.m. to  5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but the office is encouraging virtual visits. To set up an Accommodations Plan or address questions about accommodated exams or notetaking, details are available on the site. The Employee Assistance Program has a wide range of resources related to both work and life, including tools for coping with COVID-19. The Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK.) Sep 24, 2021

  • Conservatory Faculty Receive Accolades in KC Independent Article

    Dancing Into A New Era: Local Company Marks 30 Years of the Best Contemporary American Choreography
    Most of Wylliams/Henry’s dancers are UMKC Conservatory-trained, which means they have worked directly with dancers, teachers and choreographers who have served as key figures in both the company and the Conservatory. Some of the individuals include Mary Pat Henry, who formed the company a generation ago with the late dancer-choreographer Leni Wylliams when both were on the UMKC Conservatory faculty; DeeAnna Hiett, co-artistic director and UMKC Conservatory dance division chair; Paula Weber, former company member and retired UMKC dance professor; and Caroline Dahm, executive assistant and UMKC Conservatory faculty member. Read more. Sep 23, 2021

  • UMKC Welcomes Public to $32 Million High-Tech Research Center

    Features 11 state-of-the-art research labs
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City unveiled its new $32 million high-tech research center to hundreds of guests on Oct. 1. The five-story, 57,800 square-foot Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center features 11 state-of-the-art research labs. It is the largest privately-funded capital project in UMKC history, with more than 25 donors. "The Plaster Center has all but ensured that UMKC will remain the #1 ranked school for computing and engineering in Kansas City for years to come," said Kevin Truman, Dean of the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, which will oversee the multi-purpose facility. The labs within the Plaster Center contain a 3D printing lab and fabrication studio to build prototypes, high-performance computing and analytics equipment and software, an FAA-approved flight simulator, a two-story drone flight-testing bay and $3 million of augmented and virtual reality equipment. A group of guests receives a tour of the Innovation Studio inside the Plaster Center. Photo by Brandon Parigo The labs aren't just for UMKC faculty and students — the facility is also a community hub where people from across the university, city and region can come together to discuss, design, build and innovate while propelling economic activity in the region through free enterprise. "This center will be open to all of ours students. In addition to the students at the School of Computing and Engineering, who make their home here, students of entrepreneurship at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management will be able to build custom prototypes in conjunction with our engineering students," UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal said. "The Plaster Center is a resource for our community. From independent makers to entrepreneurs and innovators, our lab spaces are available for them to experiment and explore new technology, new innovations in materials and breakthroughs in application and design." Some of the technology within the labs is not available anywhere else in Kansas City, allowing UMKC to remain state of the art in research and education while helping community partners do the same. "We are excited to play a part in the cutting-edge research and prototyping at UMKC and in Kansas City," Truman said. The Plaster Center, on the corner of Rockhill Road and East 51st Street, is named after Robert W. Plaster, founder of Empire Gas Corporation, which was one of the nation's largest retail LP gas distributors. "This accomplishment would not be possible without the support of the Robert W. Plaster Foundation," Truman said. Dean Kevin Truman and Stephen Plaster, Chairman and President of the Robert W. Plaster Foundation. Photo by Brandon Parigo A Missourian, Plaster started Empire Gas in Lebanon, Missouri and sold the business in 1996. He then went on to found Evergreen Investments, LLC, an investment company that owns several businesses. The Robert W. Plaster Foundation, a major donor to the center, is also located in Lebanon. "The Plaster Foundation is thrilled to have contributed to the new Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center at UMKC," said Jason Hannasch, Associated Executive Director of the Plaster Foundation. "The Plaster Center labs house advancements in computing and engineering technology that will help students, faculty and community members completed advanced research in their chosen field." Sep 23, 2021

  • UMKC and School of Medicine Supporting KC Marathon

    Registration is now open for KC's largest racing event
    UMKC and the School of Medicine are proud sponsors of the Oct. 16 Garmin KC Marathon – the largest race event in Kansas City and a significant community tradition. This year’s race has something for everyone: a full- and half-marathon, as well as a 10k and 5k, plus many volunteer opportunities. Sep 23, 2021

  • Jacob Wagner on KCUR

    Kansas City's Overlooked Housing Stock
    Jacob Wagner, director of Urban Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was a guest on Up to Date. Listen to the podcast. Sep 22, 2021

  • Vaccination Incentives Await for Students, Faculty and Staff

    How would you use an extra $500?
    Twenty UMKC students have already won big prizes for uploading their vaccine information – ten free parking passes for a full year (value $338), and ten $500 Visa gift cards. Twenty more of the same prizes will be awarded on Oct. 15. Twenty faculty and staff have also won prizes, and have the same upcoming opportunity. All you have to do to be entered to win is voluntarily upload your vaccination information. Here is the link for students; faculty and staff should use the COVID Vaccine Uploader in myHR. Already fully vaccinated? Just snap a photo of your vaccination card and upload. Not vaccinated yet? No problem. UMKC offers free vaccinations by appointment through our partners at Truman Medical Centers/University Health. Register online or call (816) 404-CARE (2273) and press option 1. We are also planning another on-campus walk-in vaccination clinic for the near future, and additional incentives. Watch for more information coming soon. Student winners so far include: Free parking for one year: Atheer Alsalhi, Vanessa Anne Frank, Zachary Braunschneider, Nicholas Jakubowski, Rafia Siddiquea, Randi Entrekin, Nicholas Hartwig, Nicholas Putnam, Danielle Everly, Kassandra Estrada $500 Visa gift card: Samantha Fisher, Jill Wenger, Mary Signorino, Rachael Huffmaster, Revanth Muthyam, Ashley Appleberry, Kassandra Munoz-Valencia, Aidan Payne, Caitlin Ayala, Blake Setzer Employee winners so far include: Free parking for one year: Brittany Bummer, Justin Guggenmos, Julie Dawn Kohlhart, Jennet Irene Miller, Kyle James Pate, Kathleen M. Spears. $500 Visa gift card: Brenda Lee Bethman, Daniel Mani Cherian, Michele Rene Logue, Johanna E. Nilsson, Elizabeth Ann Savidge, Meghan Sholy-Wells, Kimali A. West. Sep 22, 2021

  • Former Student Government President Shares Resources for Mental Health

    Brandon Henderson stepped back from opportunity with positive results
    Brandon Henderson stepped away from his role as UMKC Student Government Association president to focus on his mental health in 2020. Nearly a year later, he thinks it was the best decision. In hindsight, does stepping away from SGA seem like the right decision? I am very glad that I stepped down as SGA president, and I have absolutely no regrets doing so. It gave me the space I needed to get healthier and get my academics back on track. I am 100% certain that I wouldn't have made the Dean's List last semester if I hadn't stepped down. Have the lessons you learned during that challenging time stuck with you? I learned last year that I'm not Superman, and I have to prioritize taking care of myself if I want to help others, too. Now that I've gotten healthier, I'm getting more involved in my community again. But in the back of my mind, I know that I must be very intentional about how much time I allocate to my extracurricular activities. What coping mechanisms did you adopt last year that are still helping? Something I learned last year was the importance of keeping an accurate calendar. Not only does it help me remember things, but I can visually see where I'm budgeting my time to things other than myself. That helps me avoid overextending myself. If someone were feeling overwhelmed, what resources would you recommend to them? I highly recommend scheduling a visit with UMKC's Counseling Services. Even if you think you don't need it, or that it won't work for you, if you're feeling any signs of burnout just try to visit with a counselor at least twice. Often people don't want to talk about personal issues with their friends, but everyone needs someone to vent to. If you don't have that someone, then I highly recommend you go visit Counseling Services and find that someone!  You’re finishing up your degree this semester. How does that feel?  It feels equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking, but nevertheless I am ready to cross the finish line. I've been a college student for the last four years, so it will be quite an adjustment to transition out of that. I'm looking forward to seeing what this new phase of my life has in store for me. Sep 22, 2021

  • From Provincetown Banner: Felicia Hardison Londré

    How can I learn about Tennessee Williams?
    The 16th annual Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival is scheduled for Sept. 23-26. Felicia Hardison Londré, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Theatre Emerita at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is a Tennessee Williams Institute scholar and will participate in this year’s symposium. Read more. Sep 21, 2021

  • KC Magazine Mentions UMKC Heat Mapping Study

    No, Kansas City will not escape climate change unscathed
    An August study by UMKC and the Office of Environmental Quality aims to map the neighborhoods most vulnerable to the heat island effect. The resulting data will guide solutions in the plan. Read more. Sep 21, 2021

  • CBS News Taps Yvonne Lindgren

    Justice Department faces familiar hurdles in battle against Texas abortion law
    “They are trying to take this argument and pull it up to the 30,000-foot level and really address how this law in Texas challenges fundamentally what they described as the national compact,” Yvonne Lindgren, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more.  Sep 20, 2021

  • KC Independent Covers Crescendo

    Nov. 12 is the date for UMKC Conservatory Crescendo Gala 2021
    The evening, which will be held at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, will be a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the event. Read more. Sep 20, 2021

  • How Sally Williams Harnesses the Power of New Products For Founders

    From Startland News
    Sally Williams is the technical development and commercialization consultant at the Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more. Sep 20, 2021

  • National Jurist Prelaw Ranks UMKC School of Law

    Guardians of child and family law
    The UMKC Family Law program was awarded an A+ rating (one of only six schools nationally to get this top grade) and was featured in this issue (page 30, link below). UMKC alumni were also the highlight of the ranking as one of the top 45 schools in the country for the percentages of grads (13%) named as Super Lawyers and Rising Stars (page 16). UMKC was the only law school serving the Kansas City region to be named to this list. Read more. Sep 20, 2021

  • UMKC Professor Answers Insurance Questions

    WalletHub reports on best car insurance companies in Missouri
    UMKC Professor Larry Wigger answers insurance questions. Read more. Sep 20, 2021

  • UMKC Student Engineering Team Wins First at National Competition

    Competitors design, build and test a concrete beam
    A team from the University of Missouri-Kansas City has won first place in a national-level student engineering design competition. The Precast/Prestressed Concerte Institute announced on Monday that a UMKC team had placed first in their 2021 Big Beam Competition. The competition, now in its 21st year, teaches college students important structural engineering skills in an applied learning environment. Teams of students with a faculty advisor design, build and test a 20-foot, precast, prestressed concrete beam. Entries are judged on a variety of criteria, including the beam's performance in stress tests. The tests simulate real-life conditions structural building and infrastructure components must endure to ensure safety, as well as the quality of their analysis, reports and overview of their project. The winning UMKC team included two students, Jose Luis Ramirez and Juan Carlos Plasencia Chinchay, and Ganesh Thiagarajan, Ph.D., professor of civil & mechanical engineering, faculty advisor for the team. Plasencia Chinchay said the team was very happy with how things turned out and thanked Thiagarajan for encouraging them to participate. "It is a great experience just to participate in this outstanding competition," Thiagarajan said. "I have coaxed and encouraged students to participate in it just for the learning experience alone, which itself adds so much to the overall prestressed concrete knowledge of students." In addition to the first-place team, UMKC had a second team place in the top 10. Students Nick Shifflett, Logan Chamberlin, Christopher Bryan and Cristobal Hernandez placed seventh. Sep 17, 2021

  • New Program Supports School of Medicine’s Latinx Students

    Latinos in Medicine provides mentoring, encouragement to help students succeed in medical school and as physicians
    A new organization at the UMKC School of Medicine is designed to support and encourage Latinx students to help them succeed in medical school and as physicians. Raquel McCommon, coordinator of strategic initiatives in the school’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, said Latinx students are paired with physician mentors who can meet with and help the students through the challenges of life as an underrepresented minority in medical school and beyond. Latinos in Medicine, established a year ago, gives the students the opportunity to meet and see successful Latinx physicians. “That in itself is supportive, motivating and inspiring,” McCommon said. “It’s a way of making them feel a sense of belonging, connected, that they have people who are looking out for them, who understand where they’re coming from to help them have better success.” McCommon said most of the students participating in the program are also involved in the school’s STAHR (Students Training in Academia, Health and Research) program. Supported by a grant from the United States Health Resources and Services Administration, that program also helps prepare students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering health care programs. However, McCommon said, the STAHR program currently does not have any Hispanic mentors for students. “What we were hearing from our Latinx students was ‘we need mentors and we need mentors that look like us,’” she said. “Part of the challenge is finding physicians who come from the same background and experiences as our Latinx students.” As a result, School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., reached out to Liset Olarte, M.D., a pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, where Jackson is also on staff. Olarte leads the hospital’s Latinx Employee Resource Group, which includes several Hispanic physicians. Olarte and her colleagues agreed to serve as physician mentors for the School of Medicine’s Latinos in Medicine program, which also partners with UMKC’s Avanzando program for Hispanic students campus wide. “Not all of our students are going to go into pediatrics, but this is a stepping stone,” McCommon said. “Here is a physician that does look like you, who might speak the same language as you, that might have experienced a similar background or struggles as you.” Ten students actively participate in the program, which is open to all Latinx students at the School of Medicine. In addition to one-on-one mentoring, the plan is for the Latinos in Medicine students to meet at least twice a year, including a welcoming program at the beginning of the school year. McCommon said the broader goal is to offer more group meeting opportunities such as in-person study sessions where students and mentors can come together in an informal setting. “Often students feel intimidated. There’s a level of hesitancy or reluctance,” McCommon said. “We want them to have what they need when they need it, not when it’s too late.” Sep 17, 2021

  • KCINNO Highlights UMKC Innovation Center, KC Digital Drive Project

    Comeback KC Ventures aims to turn pandemic-related ideas into healthy startups
    KC Digital Drive and the UMKC Innovation Center are searching for at least 20 fellows for Comeback KC Ventures, with the goal of creating at least 10 new businesses, 30 new jobs and $5 million in follow-up funding. Read more. Sep 16, 2021

  • MBA Class Provides Consultant Services to Real-World Firms

    Students and urban small businesses both benefit from program
    In most cases, the pricy services of a professional business consultant are beyond the reach of small businesses. A unique partnership between the UMKC Bloch School of Management and AltCap, however, is bringing valuable consulting services to local entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities. MBA students in a new Bloch class formed teams that functioned like consulting firms and spent a semester working with small business clients of AltCap, a community development financial institution set up to increase the flow of capital to communities and businesses not adequately served by mainstream financial institutions. The clients, participants of AltCap’s NeXt Stage KC business development program, received relevant, actionable recommendations for growth. The students, meanwhile, gained real world experience working as a consulting team. The Business Consulting class concept was developed by Bloch School Dean Brian Klaas. The class was taught by Tony Mendes, Managing Director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Ellen Junger, chief marketing officer at Helzberg Diamonds. Student Dominika Luszcz was part of a team that worked with Parrish & Sons Construction,  an excavating and grading contractor. The students developed a strategic plan for Parrish & Sons with recommendations in areas such as market differentiation, branding, website, social media and development of mission and vision statements. “I was always very interested in consulting and always wanted to learn how the consulting business should be conducted,” Luszcz said. “By working firsthand with a real enterprise, I was able to experience and learn authentic business issues, questions that need to be asked to make the best possible decisions, and dive into a completely new industry.” “As an international student from Poland, I found it fascinating to learn how business is conducted in the USA from every aspect including human resources, marketing, sales, research and development, supply chain management and finally strategic planning to increase revenue and expand sustainable growth.” Parrish & Sons founder and CEO Fahteema Parrish said the student team delivered genuine value. “They brought a fresh set of eyes and ideas on different ways we can improve on our media and marketing displays. They worked diligently and were persistent with getting any information they needed from me,” Parrish said. “I was very impressed with their final presentation.” Zach Lieberman is one of the students who worked with Integrity Capital Management, a firm that works with both rental property owners and tenants to expand affordable rental housing options in the urban core. “There were several different companies that were introduced to us at the beginning of the class. I gravitated towards my selected company because I saw the passion the owners had in their industry,” Lieberman said. “This organization is squarely focused on a small niche to rehab, restore and rent properties in Kansas City. There is an extreme shortage of livable houses in this area and this organization is attempting to turn this blighted and often forgotten area into an oasis of livable space.” Terrell Jolly, founder of Integrity Capital Management, had high praise for the student consultants. “We were blown away with the initial presentation. We were not expecting so much detail,” Jolly said. “Not only did the team present us with missed opportunities but also with solutions that would meet our needs and budget. They also created a timeline of implementations and steps needed to incorporate. I liked the versatility each of the students brought to the table. They worked well as a team that really helped with implementation strategies.” Luszcz said the team approach was the best part of the experience. “I met a wonderful group of students who became my partners during the class, but also friends who provided a lot of significant expertise to help me become more aware of the professional business environment. The whole class really felt like I was a part of a well-known and respected consulting company.” Lieberman agreed. “Nobody knows everything. A network of people can provide information and insight to help grow an organization. We took the owner’s passion and developed measurable next steps to help his organization grow.” Sep 16, 2021

  • Graduate Writing Initiative Adds Dedicated Staffer

    The initiative supports student writing in a multitude of ways
    Starting graduate school is a huge step. Unlike most undergraduate programs, students will write proposals, dissertations, theses. How can one prepare for such a large shift in writing style? UMKC graduate students can turn to the Graduate Writing Initiative. This grassroots effort was initially proposed by graduate students at the university who desired support with a very new style of writing. Demand for this resource became so high, the university has added a full-time academic staff position to the initiative. Marcus Meade, Ph.D., is the university’s first Graduate Writing Specialist. Meade, originally from the Kansas City area, graduated with a degree in journalism from Northwest Missouri State University before going on to achieve a master’s and doctoral degree in English. He was previously on the faculty of the University of Virginia before joining the UMKC Graduate Writing Initiative. “I was interested in the opportunity to work with students outside the classroom, setting outside writing support that didn't involve grades,” Meade said. “I found that was more holistic and more supportive. I get to focus on graduate writers, who I think are a particularly underserved population.” Through the initiative, one-on-one counseling is available, as well as larger workshops. Students can connect with their peers for mentorship opportunities. The Writing Studio also offers blocks of time for students to have a quiet space to write, uninterrupted. This is a very important service for students who are juggling careers and families on top of their studies. “All the research in supporting graduate students shows that the thing most students need is the ability to carve out time to write,” Meade said. “So, we try and create that for them. We can help them work that into their schedules. They can develop good writing habits, which includes protecting their own writing time.” This somewhat unique service is available to all UMKC graduate students, across any discipline. Meade hopes students continue to utilize this resource so it can keep growing, supporting even more students through graduation. “You’re not born with the ability to write a personal statement, or whatever you need to write,” Meade said. “We have a method for teaching them about that genre, understanding its conventions, practicing within it and tweaking them if they need to. We’re here to help them move into those new genres and find success in them.” Learn more about the Graduate Writing Initiative and the services they provide. The UMKC Writing Studio, The School of Graduate Studies, UMKC Libraries and faculty, staff and graduate writers from departments across campus collaborate to provide these resources. Sep 16, 2021

  • UMKC Professor, Health Equity Institute Director In the Kansas City Business Journal

    Berkley-Patton brings health care and healthy activity to underserved populations
    Jannette Berkley-Patton, a UMKC professor and director of the University’s Health Equity Institute, is actively working to improve the health of African Americans in Kansas City using a unique strategy centered around building trust within communities and fully engaging them in the efforts. Read more. Sep 15, 2021

  • Kansas City Business Journal Features Assistant Professor Mujahid Abdulrahim

    UMKC professor uses his passion for flying to help pilots and passengers get home safely
    Assistant Professor Mujahid Abdulrahim at the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering powers his research by using computers to model aircraft movement. Read more. Sep 15, 2021

  • Kansas City Business Journal: UMKC Alumna Is Driven To Succeed

    How one KC entrepreneur is taking her venture concept to the next level
    Jonaie Johnson is wired for success. A recent University of Missouri-Kansas City graduate, Johnson is a natural leader who thrives on challenges and puts her ambition into action. Read the full article. Sep 15, 2021

  • UMKC Professor James O’Keefe In The New York Times

    How much exercise do we need to live longer?
    “The very active group, people doing 10-plus hours of activity a week, lost about a third of the mortality benefits,” compared to people exercising for 2.6 to 4.5 hours a week, said Dr. James O’Keefe, a professor of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and director of preventive cardiology at the St. Luke’s Mid America Hear Institute, who was an author on the study. Read more. (subscription may be required) Sep 15, 2021

  • Behind the Scenes of UMKC's New RoosDo Commerical

    What ends up as a 60-second spot involved months of planning, entire day of shooting
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City debuted a new commercial this month showcasing university people creating real change through excellence in learning, research and service. The commercial is a part of the university's new branding and marketing campaign, with the theme RoosDo. The campaign is designed to showcase UMKC people, driven by inclusion, excellence and strong community connections, putting ambition into action. It took months of planning to produce the 60-second commercial, according to Kim West, chief marketing strategist for the UMKC Divison of Strategic Marketing and Communications. "We had many meetings and discussions to meticulously plan how best to showcase all the amazing things we do at UMKC," West said. "While much of this is really fun and exciting to think about, this is serious thought behind each and every shot you see." Here's a look behind the scenes: The day began with shooting at the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center. Photo by Brandon Parigo.  Crews shot a number of students working on projects at the Plaster Center. Photo by Brandon Parigo. The commercial was produced by Trozzolo Communications Group, based in Kansas City. Photo by Brandon Parigo. Assistant Professor Mujahid Abdulrahim's flight simulator was also featured. Photo by Brandon Parigo. It was then time to film a children's music class over at the Conservatory. Photo by Brandon Parigo. Johnson and Interplay were among the final shots of the day. Photo by Brandon Parigo. Crews wrapped for the day at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Photo by Brandon Parigo Sep 15, 2021

  • KCINNO Announces UMKC Grant

    UMKC gets $300K research grant to study racial barriers for Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs
    A $300,000, three-year grant recently was given to the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Center for Neighborhoods to support community-focused research analyzing barriers Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs face in Kansas City. Read more. Sep 14, 2021

  • KSHB Highlights 'The Tempest'

    Students in the Division of Theater at UMKC return to in-person productions
    The show goes on for students in the Division of Theater at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, who are back performing in front of an audience starting this Thursday. Read more and watch the newscast. Sep 14, 2021

  • UMKC Hosts Roo Talks

    Alumni share their expertise on new series
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Alumni Association is launching a new town hall-style series called Roo Talks. Roo Talks is a quarterly webinar speaker series presented by the UMKC Alumni Association. The talks will help alumni, and the UMKC community, become better informed on important topics and more aware of the great work our alumni are doing. The speaker series will be held free on Zoom as a webinar to allow alumni and individuals anywhere to attend. “We are excited to launch this new speaker series and highlight our outstanding alumni,” said Kaitlin Woody, interim managing director of Alumni Relations. “The idea of Roo Talks came from wanting to highlight our outstanding alumni and all the different fields they are working in and have an event that was accessible to alumni where they are.” Topics chosen will appeal to a national audience and will feature outstanding UMKC alumni. The first Roo Talk will focus on the impact of the pandemic on performing arts, particularly live theatre. Roo Talks Series First session, Sept. 27: When the Lights Went Out On Broadway. The free Zoom town hall will be at 4 p.m. Advance registration is required. Theatres around the country went dark in March of 2020, but that did not deter UMKC Conservatory alumni from creating great performances. The first Roo Talks discussion with be with UMKC Theatre alumni. You will find out what they have been doing since the pandemic began and how things have changed for them and the industry. Panelists include Charlie Corcoran (MFA, '01), Rocco Disanti (MFA, '08), James Yaegashi (MFA, '98), Donnie Keshawarz (MFA, '98) and Kate R. Mincer (MFA '08). For more information on Roo Talks, contact Woody at Sep 14, 2021

  • KCUR: Toya Like Collaborates On Exhibition

    Kemper Museum uses contemporary art to connect two centuries of Missouri’s history
    Paul Gutierrez, director of visitor experience and public programming at the Kansas City Museum, embraced the process. He worked to identify themes with Toya Like, associate professor and interim chair of Race, Ethnic and Gender Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more from KCUR. Sep 13, 2021

  • Jacqueline Rifkin's Research Is Focus of News Coverage

    Clutter…How and Why We Accumulate “Stuff”
    Why do people never open up that bottle of wine for special occasions? Or that outfit hangs in the closet and never gets worn? We all have those items around the house we just can’t seem to part with. It’s known as clutter and Jacqueline Rifkin, assistant professor at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, asked herself how this accumulation begins.  A psychologist explains why you buy things you don't need — and how to stop - Inverse Psychological ‘Specialness Spirals’ Can Make Ordinary Items Feel Like Treasures – And May Explain How Clutter Accumulates - The Conversation Clutter…How and Why We Accumulate “Stuff” - Missourinet Sep 13, 2021

  • RoosDo: UMKC Launches New Campaign to Highlight Success Stories

    Alumni, faculty and students driving real community change to be showcased on TV, billboards, social media and more
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has launched a new branding and marketing campaign to demonstrate how UMKC people are powering our community by making discoveries, serving others and challenging the status quo. The campaign theme is RoosDo, and the content is designed to showcase UMKC people creating real change by delivering excellence in learning, research and service. The campaign demonstrates that UMKC is the place where excellence meets action. UMKC faculty, staff, students and alumni who are making things happen in the real world will be featured in a new TV commercial, on billboards in high traffic areas, print advertisements and digital advertising. The university will be employing both paid advertisements and boosted posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube, including partnerships with diverse media outlets such as Kansas City Hispanic News, The Call, Dos Mundos and The Kansas City Globe. TV commercial placements include spots during an upcoming Kansas City Chiefs game broadcast. The campaign will also involve a landing page on the UMKC website and branded water bottles, notebooks, pins and clothing. The goal of this campaign is to engage the community by sharing stories of people connected to the city’s largest higher education institution and promote what’s possible with an education from UMKC. The campaign, launched in September, has been produced by Trozzolo Communications Group and the university’s Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications. Their work included engagement with the UMKC Trustees Brand Enhancement committee as well. “Over the years, we have been very successful in raising awareness of the key role that UMKC plays in our community in vital areas such as workforce development, community engagement and bringing tens of millions of federal research dollars into our community,” said Anne Hartung Spenner, vice chancellor for Strategic Marketing and Communications. “With this campaign, we are taking our efforts to the next level by demonstrating what our RoosDo, the depth and breadth of our impact as Kansas City’s university.” “When people see that game-changing innovation, medical breakthrough or social program that improves the community and say — I wonder who did that?  We want them to realize there’s a good chance a UMKC Roo did, because RoosDo,” Spenner added. With an alumni network of more than 135,000 graduates, spanning all 50 states and more than 60 countries, UMKC is educating future leaders and change makers. From local business owners to national government leaders, UMKC student stories will now be celebrated on a larger scale through this campaign. Sep 13, 2021

  • KCUR Features Study By Political Science Professors

    Crowded Homes Drove People To Break Social Distancing Rules
    The strain of living in crowded households may have been a large factor in breaking social distancing rules and putting health at risk during the pandemic, according to a study involving two University of Missouri-Kansas City researchers. Read the article from KCUR. Sep 12, 2021

  • UMKC Professor, Student Among Team Spearheading Historic Research on Apollo Moon Particles

    The research analyzes how moon dust particle shapes reflect light
    A UMKC professor and student are among a team of researchers that have recently published a historic scientific paper measuring the exact shape of 25 dust participles collected from the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. Research by Ahmed Hassan, Ph.D., associate professor of computing and engineer at UMKC, and Somen Baidya, Ph.D., will allow scientists to get one step closer to understanding why and how the moon reflects light. "Our collaborates measured the 3D shapes of each sample," Hassan said. "We can look at those samples and calculate the electromagnetic properties like optical properties, or how they reflect light. By observing the light, we are able to get a better understanding of the optical characteristics of the moon as a whole." The immediate practical application is satellite navigation, which can involve optical images of the moon. Longer-term, understanding properties of the dust will play a key role in creating a habitable living space for long-duration moon missions. The research team also includes scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and the Space Science Institute. The team's new research method both measures and computationally analyzes how the moon dust particle shapes scatter in the light. The procedure involved stirring the particles into epoxy, which was then dropped over the outside of a tiny straw and mounted on the heads of pins, before being inserted into a special X-ray microscope capable of measuring the 3D shapes of each of the samples. Hassan said the team sends him images of those samples to calculate the electromagnetic properties, such as how much they reflect light. "We observe the light to be able to better understand the optical characteristics of the element," he said. Hassan said the research has been a great way to help students relate to research they are working on. "My main area of research is electromagnetic radiation. I love this field and I'm extremely passionate about it, but sometimes it's hard for students to relate to it because most electromagnetic radiation is invisible. You don't see microwaves or infrared rays reflected from things. This is a great way to correlate electromagnetics with a practical, real-life application that almost everyone is excited about." Baidya, whose primary research for his Ph.D. (which he received this summer) involved studying human cells, said begin involved in the particle research helped expand his understanding of cell makeup. "This research helped my previous studies about cell shapes," Baidya said. "It was a fantastic experience. I feel very lucky to have been able to work on this and contribute." Research on the lunar particles is ongoing, and Hassan said the team has yet to scratch the surface of all the information they want to know. Now that the team has learned the shape of the particles, they are looking into developing ways to calculate the "mechanical and hydrodynamic properties of the dust." "That means if this lunar sand gets into certain fluids, in the future when we maybe have settlements and astronauts there for a longer period of time, how can you filter them? How can you apply electric techniques to filter the lunar dust from the air?" Hassan said. "This is less than one percent of the particles that we have processed and it's only one set of characteristics that we have calculated. We're hoping to compute and study many, many more characteristics." Scientific research aside, both Baidya and Hassan said simply being able to work with the moon particles has been "fantastic." "All of us growing up have those dreams of becoming an astronaut or doing something space-related," Hassan said. "So seeing those samples, it's hard to describe the feeling of seeing those samples and knowing they are from outer space. It's really, really interesting." Sep 10, 2021

  • UMKC Receives $300K to Study Urban Entrepreneurship

    Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation supports Center for Neighborhoods three-year research project
    The Center for Neighborhoods at UMKC received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to study the opportunities and challenges that Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs face starting new businesses in urban neighborhoods in Kansas City. “Entrepreneurs and local businesses face a challenging environment for starting new or sustaining businesses in Black and Hispanic communities,” Dina Newman, director of the Center for Neighborhoods, says. “They encounter barriers such as lack of access to capital, inconsistent financing and pre-existing economic challenges related to redlining. We were honored to be invited by the Kauffman Foundation to apply for this funding.” The Kauffman Foundation grant will support a community-focused research process that will examine the place-based challenges that entrepreneurs face due to a legacy of racially biased development restrictions. In addition, the Center will develop new knowledge about entrepreneurship opportunities for Black and Hispanic business owners. “While we know that these entrepreneurs face race-based challenges, what is not as clear is how these challenges are compounded by the perception of their business locations by outside interests, especially financial institutions,” Jacob Wagner, associate professor and director of Urban Planning + Design says. “This study will allow us to research that impact.” The Center will work with neighborhood and community networks to build relationships with Hispanic and Black entrepreneurs and develop a baseline analysis of the place-based challenges they face. The second year of the grant will build on the first with a series of Asset Walks, an interactive and collaborative process in which the research team and local leaders will gather information from local entrepreneurs through informal meetings. The results of the information from the Asset Walks combined with the baseline analysis will provide data for the center to understand which barriers to successful entrepreneurship are individualized, locational or systemic and which are a combination of these components. The results of the study will not be purely academic, but a road map to success in rebuilding urban neighborhoods. “We expect that this research will result in the development of new programs, workshops and training that will strengthen the ability of neighborhood organizations to be catalysts for escalating business development in the urban core,” Newman says. “While we know that these entrepreneurs face race-based challenges, what is not as clear is how these challenges are compounded by the perception of their business locations by outside interests, especially financial institutions. This study will allow us to research that impact.” — Jacob Wagner The Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Mo., that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility and prosperity. The Center for Neighborhoods is one of six recipients of funding from this community-engaged research request for proposal. “We’re excited to support community engagement in the research process through this grant portfolio,” says Chhaya Kolavalli, senior program officer, Knowledge Creation & Research, Entrepreneurship. “These six projects aim to build equitable, collaborative, solution-driven initiatives between communities and researchers with the potential to advance inclusive prosperity through entrepreneurship.”   The Kauffman Foundation anticipates that findings from this project will provide practical insights and knowledge for communities, entrepreneur support organizations, ecosystem stakeholders, policymakers, researchers and philanthropy into how to develop equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems.   Sep 10, 2021

  • School of Medicine Alumna Recalls 9/11

    Local media interview Stephanee Evers
    UMKC School of Medicine alumna Stephanee Evers worked on a FEMA urban search and rescue team at ground zero. She now works as an emergency medicine physician at Olathe Health. Read the full story and watch the newscast. Evers was also mentioned in these news stories: Olathe ER doctor reflects on 9/11 recovery efforts at ground zero - Yahoo News 9/11 first responder from Olathe looks back before the 20th anniversary this Saturday - KMBC     Sep 09, 2021

  • Ken Novak Comments on Gun Culture

    The Kansas City Star reports on Missouri gun culture
    “We might think that a kid with a gun is irrational behavior, but in a lot of ways it is actually rational behavior,” said Ken Novak, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In a culture where “there are so many guns out there, a kid knows they are at risk of becoming a victim of gun violence, so they carry a gun too.” And so it goes. Read the full story. The Kansas City Star article was picked up by these news outlets: MSN Yahoo News Sep 08, 2021

  • KCTV5 Interviews UMKC Law Professor

    Can private club in Blue Springs use masking exemption?
    UMKC Law Professor Allen Rostron said loopholes like this one tend not to stand up in court. If this scenario ends up in front of a judge, he said a major factor to the case will be proving Rae’s is in fact a private club. Read more. Sep 07, 2021

  • AUPD Professor Weighs-in for KC Star

    Will a pilot program in the infrastructure bill help reshape Kansas City’s inner-loop?
    Jacob Wagner, the director of urban studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said that while the northern and southern parts of the downtown loop merit attention, they are not the roads that left the most damage. Read more. Sep 07, 2021

  • Millions in Research Funding Awarded to Computing and Engineering Faculty

    Research ranges from flight simulation to the breakdown of plastics
    Between January 2020 and June 2021, faculty from the School of Computing and Engineering have been awarded $7,549,732 in research funding. Megan Hart, Ph.D., assistant professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, was awarded $262,821 from the Department of Defense for work on unique ways to break down polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are substances utilized for their water and stain repellant properties. "From non-stick coatings, like inside of microwave popcorn bags, to your rain repellent gear and beyond, polyfluoroalkyl substances touch almost every aspect of our lives from food, to water, to air," Hart said. Unlike other hazardous materials, most polyfluoroalkyl substances do not break down using normal water and wastewater treatment techniques, which means that as the substances later break down in soil or water, they can cause harm to humans and animals. "Our research seeks to invent new and unique methods for completely destroying polyfluoroalkyl substances in the water, as well as investigate how they transform over time in soil," Hart said. Assistant Professor Mujahid Abdulrahim, Ph.D., was awarded a combined total of $204,995 over the last year for research on virtually modeling aircraft movement by computer. His goal is to take auto-pilot functionality to new heights without taking flying away from pilots. He wants to make their safety net stronger through developing a computer algorithm that would interpret the actual performance of an aircraft in flight compared to predetermined models on how it should be performing. "I don't want to replace pilots with a computers," Abdulrahim said. "I love the idea of preserving everything that makes airplanes fun to fly, but I also love the idea of coming home to my children after every time I take to the air." Below is a complete list of research funding awarded over the last year and a half. Civil and Mechanical Engineering: $396,899 to John Kevern for KC Urban Renewal Engineering fellows. $600,000 to John Kevern for supplement KC Urban Renewal Engineering fellows $24,998 to Amirfarhang Mehdizadeh for Indian Creek Flood assessment. $13,500 to Antonios Stylianou for the development of computational tools for pre-op planning of periacetabular osteotomies. $188,000 to Travis Fields for graduate fellowships for students engaged in NASA-relevant disciplines. $57,128 to Travis Fields for material processing and automation (partnership with Institute for Material Processing). $33,000 to ZhiQiang Chen for guidelines for response planning, assessment and rapid restoration of service of bridges after extreme events. $110,000 to Zahra Niroobakhsh for tuning the viscoelastic properties of enhanced oil recovery relevant bijels. $60,000 to John Kevern for evaluating the impact of anti-icing solutions on concrete durability. $40,000 to John Kevern for evaluation of non-traditional sidewalk options for reduced long-term cost and improved public accessibility. $262,821 to Megan Hart for validation of UV/TiO2 activated alkaline media for destruction of PFAS in concentrated liquid waste systems. $129,995 to Mujahid Abdulrahim for modeling and simulation architecture to improve research. $60,000 to Mujahid Abdulrahim for FLEXI-Fly: Field-Reconfigurable, Mission-Adaptive eVTOL. $22,500 to Zahra Niroobakshsh and Kun Cheng for 3D printing of next-generation therapeutic microneedles using rapid self-association of surface-active peptide drugs. $30,000 to Ceki Halmen for justifying corrosion durability of reinforced concrete, comparable critical chloride threshold for various reinforcement types. $40,500 to Ceki Halem for the development of instructor resources for the Contractor's Guide to Quality Concrete Construction (fourth edition). $19,900 to Deb Chatterjee for signal and radiating systems design and modeling for app. $15,000 to Mujahid Abdulrahim for UAV-UGV cargo drop. $57,500 to Ceki Halmen for standard critical chloride threshold test variability due to material sources. $129,835 to Thiagarajan Ganesh for load and resistance factor rating methodology recommendations for Missouri bridges. Computer Science and Electrical Engineering: $305,800 to Yugyung Lee for CUE Ethics: Experiential Learning: Bridging Digital Divides in Undergraduate Education of Data Science. $44,200 to Yugyung Lee for supplement: CUE Ethics: Experiential Learning: Bridging Digital Divides in Undergraduate Education of Data Science. $20,000 to Yugyung Lee for supplement #2: CUE Ethics: Experiential Learning: Bridging Digital Divides in Undergraduate Education of Data Science. $18,000 to Baek-Young Choi for Technology Education for Women in Transition: Broadening Participation Through Innovations. $301,413 to Faisal Khan for estimating remaining life and availability of power semiconductor devices using sympathetic string phenomena, dynamic safe operating area theory and ultrasound resonators. $50,000 to Zhu Li for membership renewal for NSF Center for Big Learning. $150,000 to Yugyung Lee for Smart and Connected Communities Planning Grant: Early Community Intervention for Neighborhood Revitalization Using Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies. $73,000 to Dianxiang Xu for modeling clinical notes with deep learning transformers.  $42,763 to Yugyung Lee and Brent Never for early community intervention for neighborhood revitalization using AI and emerging technologies. $22,500 to Yugyung Lee, Brent Never and Wang Ye for Communities in Action: Sustainable Science in Cyberinfrastructure. $90,000 to Dianxiang Xu for EAGER: SaTC-EDU: Exploring Visualized and Explainable AI to Improve Students' Learning Experience in Digital Forensics Education at MSCI and HBCUs. $15,000 to Yugyung Lee for gamifying cybersecurity to eliminate alert fatigue. $96,058 to Dianxiang Xu for GenCyber Summer Camps at UMKC. $50,000 to Zhu Li for membership fee for NSF Center for Big Learning. $25,000 to Yugyung Lee for membership to NSF Center for Big Learning. $25,000 to Zhu Li for membership fee for NSF Center for Big Learning. $88,490 to Yugyung Lee for Our Healthy KC Eastside: A community-wide COVID-19 vaccination and health services project to address health inequities. $50,000 to Zhu Li for membership fee for NSF Center for Big Learning. Sep 07, 2021

  • KSHB Interviews Bill Black

    UMKC economics professor says work-life balance contributes to lack of labor
    UMKC associate professor Bill Black disputes the claim that enhanced unemployment benefits are to blame for a worker shortage. Read more. Sep 06, 2021

  • Carl Allen Steps Into Lead Role at UMKC

    KCUR: Meet Carl Allen
    After Bobby Watson's long tenure, Carl Allen is the newly-appointed William D. and Mary Grant Endowed Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more. Sep 03, 2021

  • UMKC to Offer New Bachelor's Degree for Transfer Students

    Bachelor of Applied Science helps those with Associates Degrees advance their skills and job prospects
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will offer a new degree — Bachelor of Applied Science — starting fall 2022. The University of Missouri System Board of Curators approved the proposed degree unanimously on Thursday. The Bachelor of Applied Science degree is designed for students who have completed an Associate in Applied Science degree. Beth Vonnahme, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Arts and Science, said those associate degree credits do not easily transfer to many four-year degree programs, which means students wishing to return to higher education for career advancement must often start near the beginning of a four-year program. "The new degree program allows students to use up to 60 hours of their associate degree credits toward the new bachelor's degree, enabling them to enter the workforce with a bachelor's degree in two years. This saves them valuable time and financial resources," Vonnahme said. The new degree curriculum will combine core skills employers are looking for in future employees, such as critical thinking, communications, ethics, teamwork and complex problem-solving skills, with expertise in high-demand fields including business, organizational leadership, healthcare management, data analytics, digital media and digital humanities. "This degree program will grow the pool of potential applicants with the technical experience and key competencies employers need for their workforce," Vonnahme said. "This innovative degree program presents a major opportunity to recruit new students, provides a high-quality educational experience to students who are currently underserved and equips the region's workforce with in-demand education and skills." Sep 02, 2021

  • Gary O’Bannon Weighs-in On The Future of Work

    Flatland interviews UMKC professor
    Gary O’Bannon, HR management professor at UMKC, gave insight on the new job market in the face of a pandemic. Read more. Sep 01, 2021

  • Alum Has Vivid Memories of 9/11

    UMKC grad served as lead pharmacist, caring for responders at Ground Zero
    Twenty years later, the horrifying events of 9/11 are etched in David Bates’ memory. Bates (B.S./R.Ph. ’93) recently thumbed through a large scrapbook on a desk at his home in Gallup, New Mexico. As the UMKC School of Pharmacy alumnus reminisced about the role he played as lead pharmacist for the emergency response teams at Ground Zero during the early days of the recovery effort, he stopped and pulled out a sheet of paper. “Look at this,” Bates said. “I still have a copy of my deployment orders.” Then a member of the United States Public Health Service in Tsaile, Arizona, Bates was back at UMKC on a recruiting trip for the service when news broke that terrorists had struck in New York City. “By the time I got to campus, things were getting strange,” he said. Finally able to connect by phone with his superiors at the emergency response headquarters, Bates was told to immediately return home to Arizona and await further orders. A week later, when grounded flights were finally restored in the U.S., Bates received the order to report to New York. His assignment would be to requisition supplies and establish a pharmacy in support of the five treatment sites set up for response teams near Ground Zero. “When I got there the pile was still carrying temperatures of 1,200 degrees in places and was still burning big time. All that stuff was still being released in the air. You didn’t know what you were breathing. The ash in the air was everywhere. When you looked and saw the debris fields, they were seven stories high. That was very hard for me." — David Bates Two years earlier, as a member of a disaster response team based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bates had deployed to Fort Dix Army Base in New Jersey as part of Operation Provide Refuge. During that tour, he provided pharmaceutical care for refugees entering the United States from war-torn Kosovo. “That was my big break because I was working with emergency response people,” Bates said. The experience paved the way for his call to New York in response to 9/11. A military veteran, Bates served as a medic and pharmacy technician with the U.S. Air Force before deciding at age 40 to return to school at UMKC. After earning his pharmacy degree, he joined the U.S. Public Service Corps and fulfilled his desire to work with emergency disaster teams. Nothing he had experienced before compared to what lay before him when he arrived at Ground Zero. Bates looked at the devastation from the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. “When I got there the pile was still carrying temperatures of 1,200 degrees in places and was still burning big time,” he said. “All that stuff was still being released in the air. You didn’t know what you were breathing. The ash in the air was everywhere. When you looked and saw the debris fields, they were seven stories high. That was very hard for me.” Bates established sick call units for responders who had forgotten or run out of their medications for chronic ailments. That was in addition to locating and requisitioning medical supplies to establish a pharmacy that could support the on-site medical clinics, which were seeing 400 to 500 volunteers, military and disaster responders a day. Many of those, Bates said, were soon becoming ill with respiratory issues because of the large amounts of toxic dust in the air. As of June 2021, the World Trade Center Health Program reported more than 3,500 deaths of responders attributed to a variety of illnesses associated with the aftermath of the 9/11 attack. Things became so intense at one point that the chief of U.S. Army medical corps came to Bates one morning with a special request. Cyanide gas was escaping into the air and he needed cyanide antidote kits, stat. Bates quickly called a pharmaceutical provider, AmerisourceBergan, and explained his problem. That afternoon, Bates had the kits in hand. “When the chief medical officer came back and I gave him the kits his response was, ‘I don’t even have the protocols written up for those yet.’ I said, ‘Well you’ve got ’em when you need ’em,’” Bates said. “That made me feel good because it surprised everybody.” What particularly caught Bates’ attention during his time in New York was the enormous outpouring of support from the American people who wanted to help in some way. “There was a tremendous response from Americans,” Bates said. “They sent us all kinds of stuff from their (medicine cabinets). Individuals, companies were all sending things they had and we had to go through all of that and see what was good, what was expired, what hadn’t expired, and see whether we could use it.” In addition, many New York hospitals and other providers had immediately set up small clinics along the city streets. When the federal government took over the recovery efforts, the clinics were abandoned and most everything, including medical supplies, was left behind. It was Bates’ job to confiscate and sort through all of those medications, many of them controlled substances.  “During chaos, things happen,” he said. “It was total chaos at that point. We were just trying to bring a little organization back to the world.” Nearly 10 days after arriving at Ground Zero, Bates had set up and organized a pharmacy on site from scratch for the next wave of responders. Bates then went home to finish up some year-end paperwork before taking a well-deserved vacation to a Florida beach with his wife and family. Now retired from the Public Health Service, Bates is a contract pharmacist working with the Winslow Indian Health Center providing care for the Navajo Indian Nation. His career has sent him on 19 deployments to disaster sites across the country. He says watching the recent U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan “works on you a little bit because you know what started this whole Afghan response from the military action was right where we were on 9/11.” And it’s those events surrounding 9/11 that still stand out as a defining moment in his life. “It helped me be more caring about people who are really in need,” he said. “I got involved in emergency response and kept taking it to a deeper and deeper level. I saw it as a way of helping people who were in desperate need of help. And these people were.” Sep 01, 2021

  • Critical Conversations Series Continues

    The Division of Diversity and Inclusion will continue to host a series addressing systemic racism in the U.S.
    The Critical Conversations series will continue this year. The series is part of the thoughtful action our community is taking to ensure lasting and comprehensive reform through Roos Advocate for Community Change, a campus-wide effort announced in June 2020 following the death of George Floyd. Last year’s panel discussions were in a Zoom town hall format and featured UMKC faculty, staff, students and volunteer leaders who represent the topic being discussed. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the sessions will remain virtual until further notice. Each discussion aims to enlighten, educate, and explore the causes and potential cures for racism. Further, the university will strive to share actionable steps that can be used to improve racial interactions in the broader community. For more information, please email Upcoming Session: The next session of Critical Conversations has not yet been announced. Check back here for the latest updates on the series. Critical Conversations Series: Tenth Session, Nov. 16: COVID, Vaccinations and (Mis)Information in Communities of Color Panelists included: Qiana Thomason, President and CEO of Health Forward Foundation; Dr. Liset Olarte, Divison of Infectious Disease at Children's Mercy Hospital Kansas City; Jannette Berkely-Patton, professor at UMKC Biomedical/Health Informatics and Frank Thompson, interim Director of Health at the Kansas City Health Department. Gary O'Bannon, executive in-house residence, UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management, was the moderator. Ninth Session, Sept. 9: The Role of Antiracism Work and Healing in Museums Panelists included: Rashida Phillips, executive director, American Jazz Museum; Julian Zugazahoitia, director and CEO, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Glenn North, executive director, Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center; Matthew Naylor, president and CEO, National World War 1 Museum and Memorial; and Anna Marie Tutera, director, Kansas City Museum. Gary O'Bannon, executive-in-resident, UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management, was the moderator. Critical Conversations from 2020-21: To see a complete list of the first eight sessions, click here. Aug 31, 2021

  • Public Health Graduates Help a City Get its Health Department Rolling Again

    City of Independence, UMKC help each other as importance of community programs grows
    When the city of Independence, Missouri, wanted to re-institute its Health Department, two recent graduates of the School of Nursing and Health Studies — and an adjunct professor — were there to help.  The process showed the value of the university to its government and community partners, and it gave the graduates full-time jobs in their field of public health. Halie Smith-Griffin, who graduated magna cum laude from the public health program, began helping Independence restore its Health Department during her senior year as her capstone project. And when the city had an opening for a public health specialist, she was a natural for the job. “I chose public health because I wanted to explore more upstream methods to improve the public’s health rather than focusing my efforts on them once they already made it to the hospital,” said Smith-Griffin, an Independence native. “I’m re-establishing community-based programs since the Health Department just re-opened a few months ago after being shut down for a few years.” Another public health graduate, Conner Berens, is from nearby Lee’s Summit and was a familiar face around Independence government. “I have volunteered for the City of Independence Office of Emergency Preparedness since I was a sophomore in high school,” he said. So when there was an opening for a public health response planner, he jumped at the chance. Berens had hoped to find a job relating to public health or emergency management right out of school, and he said UMKC prepared him to do just that. “The public health program put me into the real world, teaching me the principles of research, how to deal with the unexpected, how to develop a health program, and how to be a kind, effective and professional public health practitioner.” Besides their passion for public health and the lessons and experiences gained at UMKC, Smith-Griffin and Berens graduated at an opportune time, when Independence was re-establishing its Health Department. In 2018, Independence chose to stop some department functions that were duplicated by Jackson County, such as those related to vital records and vaccinations, and shifted other functions to different city departments. But with the onset of the pandemic, it made sense for the city of around 125,000 residents to have its own Health Department again. One longtime city administrator tasked with reinstituting the department, Mike Jackson, is an adjunct faculty member with UMKC’s public health program. Jackson has worked for the city about 20 years, holding various posts in environmental health and public works. “So I know about various funding sources, and what the Health Department looked like before and how its functions were reorganized,” he said. Jackson also knew UMKC could be a great resource. “Around 2014 when the nursing school was putting its public health program together, I was asked to design the environmental health course. And then I was asked to teach it,” he said. “For a project in my class, Conner interned with our emergency preparedness and fire department.” Jackson also told Smith-Griffin, whose senior project he had supervised, about the job opening she eventually filled. “But then I got out of the away, removed myself from the hiring process,” Jackson said. “It was her turn to shine, and I didn’t want anyone thinking she didn’t deserve the job.” The re-established Health Department was officially recognized by the state late last year, and Jackson, Smith-Griffin and Berens are busy getting all its functions coordinated and running again. “I am working on two grants right now,” said Smith-Griffin, who has a small child and great interest in child and maternal health. “One is focused on maternal child health and the other is focused specifically on child health.” The Technology, Marketing and Media in Health course, taught by Assistant Professor Dipti Subramaniam, Ph.D., is helping Smith-Griffin create promotional material for the maternal health grant. And she said her Health Program Management class, taught by Assistant Professor Matthew Chrisman, Ph.D., has helped her set up her grants. “I have had to find out who my target population is for my grant, a significant problem they have, and an intervention that could improve their health,” Smith-Griffin said. “I have had to write SMART goals and objectives,” SMART standing for Specific, Measurable, Assignable (or Achievable or Attainable), Realistic (or Relevant) and Time-related (or Time-bound). Berens is working with COVID-19 surveillance and epidemiology, and with updating emergency response plans. “Future tasks include developing plans and partnerships to prepare for public health disasters such as environmental crises, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, bioterrorism and other events that result in a mass medical surge or immediate threat to public health,” he said. During school, Berens also volunteered for the Medical Reserve Corps of Kansas City in response to COVID-19. He said volunteering was a great supplement to his coursework, and he encourages current students to sign up for medical and non-medical opportunities at For his part, Jackson has been busy restarting Health Department functions that had reverted to the county, such as vaccine clinics and disease tracking and tracing, and reintegrating other functions that the city retained, such as restaurant health inspections. “I know a student can’t always parlay volunteering or an internship into a fulltime job,” Jackson said, “but Conner and Halie showed us what they could do and really shined. That reflects well on them and on UMKC.”     Aug 30, 2021

  • Political Science Professor Puts Redistricting into Perspective

    Kansas City Star taps Greg Vonnahme for article about Rep. Emanuel Cleaver
    Greg Vonnahme, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was interviewed for this story. Read more. (subscription required) Aug 27, 2021

  • What is ISIS-K?

    Rebecca Best offers expertise to media
    Rebecca Best, an associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said ISIS-K stands to undermine the Taliban and the United States with its attack. What Is ISIS-K? A Look at the Group Responsible for Afghanistan Terror Attack - KMIZ The Revolt of Islamic State-Khorasan - Political Violence at a Glance  Aug 27, 2021

  • Roo Welcome Activities Launch the College Experience for New Students

    UMKC students kick off Fall 2021 semester
    It started with moving in to a new campus or off-campus home. It ended with an upbeat ceremony introducing traditions and an official launch of college life. Also in the mix were meetups, brunches, impromptu introductions and organized frivolity, dancing, a pool party, a mechanical bull, soccer with pregame tailgate party and more.  Roo Welcome is the annual rite of passage for new students at UMKC. It involves informal academic preparations, sessions on managing finances, men’s and women’s soccer games and plenty of fun activities. In concludes with Convocation, where new students are welcomed by the Chancellor and Provost, learn the alma mater and fight song and put on their UMKC pins. Here’s a look at scenes from Roo Welcome 2021. It takes a cartload to turn a Residence Hall room into a home Gotta have that favorite pillow The journey begins with a single step Summer scene at Scofield Hall Welcome to Convocation Pre-Convocation games Summer sunshine on the quad KC Roo demonstrating leadership A tailgate feast Game time! Attention to detail matters Catch a wave Headed to the Student Union . . . . . . for a caffeine break Our newest campus icon, the bronze Roo by sculptor Tom Corbin Late Night with the Greeks drew a nighttime crowd Letting the music move you Can he hold on? Sunset over the soccer field Aug 27, 2021

  • History of Johnson County Creek Leads To Possible Name Change

    Diane Mutti-Burke weighs-in
    Diane Mutti-Burke, a professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was interviewed by local media about the re-naming of the creek. Read the news coverage: Controversial Name, History of Johnson County Creek Leads To Possible Name Change - KSHB “Negro Creek” In Johnson County Likely Renamed After Finding Link To Racial Violence - KCTV5 Aug 26, 2021

  • Three Questions with a National Security Expert

    2011 Alumna of the Year Cynthia Watson wraps up career at National War College
    Cynthia Watson (B.A. ’78), the UMKC 2011 Alumna of the Year, has announced her pending retirement after three decades of service at the National War College, where she served as a professor of National Security Strategy, chair of the Department of Security Studies and then dean of Faculty and Academic Programs. As a world-renowned authority on security policy analysis, Watson has directly impacted U.S. foreign policy in everything from civilian-military relations to national security issues. Her students, according to the college, have been “future leaders of the Armed Forces, Department of State and other civilian agencies” being groomed for high-level policy, command and staff responsibilities. As she prepares for retirement in December, Watson corresponded with her alma mater by email to share reflections on her career and thoughts on current affairs: Looking back over your career as an educator and scholar, what would you consider to be the highlights and/or most significant accomplishments? I am proud to show that a UMKC education offered me the privilege of working and studying contemporary issues in several settings around the country. I am especially proud of my three and a half years as Dean of Faculty and Academic Programs, out of 29 overall years, at the National War College where we bring together such a diverse array of students who tackle extraordinarily important yet often intractable problems for the U.S. and our partner nations. I will continue this as Interim Provost of the National Defense University until December 2021. In your view, what is the most significant national security challenge the U.S. must address? We must address our internal divisions in my personal analysis. People overseas no longer see us as a beacon on the hill.  Compromise is NOT a dirty word but is what made us uniquely successful for two hundred years. By no longer doing that, we are allowing our adversaries to rip us apart which will prevent us from sustaining the power of this nation in many ways. What are your favorite memories of your days as a UMKC undergraduate? I have such fond memories of friends who I lost track of over the decades but with whom I have connected on social media. They are awesome people who have gone out to do such marvelous things across the country and in their fields. Aug 26, 2021

  • The Coterie Plans Season

    KC Applauds shares performance details with UMKC Theatre students
    Mobile Molièr: UMKC Theatre’s MFA actors bring their riotous romp of a touring show to local schools, performing some of Molière’s most famous and hilarious scenes. Read more. Aug 25, 2021

  • By Keeping KC Up To Date, Steve Kraske’s Journalism Legacy Is Still Being Written

    The Pitch profiles Steve Kraske
    Steve Kraske is a professor in the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. He is also the host of KCUR's Up to Date. Read the article. Aug 25, 2021

  • Betty Rae’s Debuts New UMKC-inspired Flavor, ‘Roo Blue Swirl’

    Kansas City Media Reports on Roo Blue Swirl
    Betty Rae’s Ice Cream is now scooping “Roo Blue Swirl” in homage to the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Owner Alec Rodgers is a UMKC alum, and said the new mix was a collaborative effort with the university. Read the news coverage: Betty Rae’s Debuts New UMKC-inspired Flavor, ‘Roo Blue Swirl’ - KSHB Iconic KC Ice Cream Shop Debuts New Flavor In Honor of Local University - KCTV5 Aug 25, 2021

  • Center for Neighborhoods Director Leads KC Neighborhood Vaccine Efforts

    Our Healthy KC Eastside interviews Dina Newman
    Dina Newman, director of the UMKC Center for Neighborhoods, discusses the organization's role in Our Healthy KC Eastside, a large-scale, community-based partnership addressing vaccine hesitance and health inequities in vulnerable portions of Jackson County, Mo. Read the full article. Aug 25, 2021

  • The Evolution of KC Roo

    A hop back through time for a look at the mascot’s changing style
    In 1936, the students at the newly-established University of Kansas City were looking for a mascot that would embody the spirit of their school. The three-year-old university had yet to establish an athletics program, but the debate team was about to begin competing with other universities.  “So, this idea came about that we needed to have a mascot for the university,” said Chris Wolff, the manager of the UMKC Bookstore and a UMKC historian. At the time, the city of Kansas City was abuzz, eagerly anticipating some very exciting news. Across town at the Kansas City Zoo, Jigger the kangaroo, who had arrived just one year before, was pregnant and the whole town was awaiting news of her little one’s arrival. With all the excitement of the joey’s debut, the students were inspired and chose the kangaroo as the new mascot of the debate team. After all, it rhymed with KCU, the colloquial term used by the community for the university, and they knew the unique selection would stand out.  At first, the adoption of the kangaroo mascot was a student-led effort. After the debate team signed on, the yearbook did too, using the kangaroo as part of the front cover. The kangaroo  mascot was nearly lost forever though, when in 1937 the yearbook dropped the kangaroo as its mascot. Not everyone was happy about the change. John Chaney, the president of the KCU Student Council, started the Kangaroo Party of the University of Kansas City with the platform to adopt the kangaroo as the university’s official mascot. In the fall of 1937, Kasey Kangaroo was born. Throughout the years, Kasey has taken on many forms, both from student-created depictions, to official university marketing. Here is a look back at some of the most recognizable iterations. The Disney Roo - 1938 In the early years of the kangaroo mascot, the depiction of the mascot was left to students, with help from a local celebrity. Fresh off his 1937 hit Snow White, KC native and famous animator Walt Disney responded to a request from KCU students to illustrate the cover of the March 1938 edition of the student-published humor magazine, The Kangaroo. Nearly a century later, it’s still perhaps the most well-known version of the KC Roo. Student Roos 1938 - 1968 Over the next couple of decades, students created their own version of KC Roo for various purposes. Some were based on Disney’s version, others were completely unique creations. The First Official Kasey - 1963 For more than 25 years after the kangaroo became the official KCU mascot, KCU did not use a depiction of a Roo in an official capacity. That changed shortly before KCU joined the University of Missouri System and became the University of Missouri–Kansas City, when the university unveiled its first Roo. It was also the first time Kasey is depicted with a pouch, making her a female. When the university merged with the Missouri system, Kasey got a slight makeover to reflect the change. Return of the Student Roos - 1970s-1980s UMKC introduced an athletics program in 1968, but throughout the 70s and early 80s, the university usage of the Roo image declined. Students filled in the gap with their own illustrations of KC Roo playing various sports. The Flying  Roo - 1987 In 1987, UMKC joined the top competition group within the NCAA, Division I. As part of the change, the Roo was updated to be more suitable to athletic competitions. The Boxing Roo - 2005 In the early 2000s, KC Roo tested a tougher look. The Hopping Roo - 2009 In 2009, the second version of the running Roo was unveiled. Fighting Roo - 2019 Today, the Roo takes on a more modern look. Now known as KC Roo, the image you see across campus and at athletic events these days was introduced in 2019. Through the years, KC Roo has been met with both praise and criticism, but there was only one time since her official adoption that she truly faced the threat of extinction. When the university joined the NCAA Division I, there was a referendum to choose a mascot. Students voted to keep the Roo. Asked why he believes KC Roo has stood the test of time, Wolff says his theory goes back to the early years.  “The connection to Walt Disney. That holds weight in people’s minds, gives it historical heft.” Aug 24, 2021

  • Viral Video of US Marine’s Kindness To Kids in Kabul Sparks Emotional Reaction for Local Marine

    KCTV5 interviews School of Law student
    Bryce Graskemper, UMKC School of Law student, was interviewed for this story. Read the story and watch the newscast. Aug 23, 2021

  • Heart of America Shakespeare Festival Teams Up with UMKC for The Tempest

    IN Kansas City magazine highlights UMKC Theatre, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival collaboration
    The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is teaming up with UMKC Theatre to present The Tempest in the UMKC Spencer Theatre. Read more. Aug 23, 2021

  • Interim Dean Combines Athleticism and Artistry for New Photography Collection

    Kati Toivanen featured by KC Independent
    KC Independent featured Kati Toivanen, interim dean of the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. Read the full article. Aug 23, 2021

  • Why is Arrowhead the World’s Loudest Stadium? Design Is Only Part of the Answer

    UMKC Theatre professor weighs-in
    When more than 76,000 voices are at a fever pitch, the sound builds and begins moving in sheets, says Tom Mardikes, a University of Missouri-Kansas City professor of sound design. Read The Kansas City Star article. (subscription required) Aug 22, 2021

  • Berkley Establishes Literacy Award for Educators

    Focus on kindergarten through third grade literacy has long-term impact
    Moved by the ramifications of children’s inability to read at grade level by third grade, Kansas City civic leader and dedicated education donor, Bert Berkley, has established an endowed fund of $50,000 to support the Bert Berkley Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Literacy at UMKC. The fund will provide scholarships to individuals and awards to teachers, school administrators and organizations within the field of childhood literacy, and specifically phonics, to encourage and recognize progress in this area. The UMKC School of Education will recognize recipients at the Urban Education Forum. Berkley is committed to early childhood education and the scientific approaches to the study of literacy, including the use of phonics. “I’ve had a particular focus on the importance of reading skills,” Berkley says. “We have many challenges in reading at grade level here in Kansas City as well as nationally. The School of Education at UMKC does an outstanding job of training teachers for the urban classroom. My motivation for the creation of this endowment is that my late wife, Joan, and I have always believed that the power of education is what provides opportunity for young people.” Recipients of the award will demonstrate long-term dedication to teaching reading to students in kindergarten through third grade, achieve significant progress in student reading levels and make effective use of research-based instruction methodologies of teaching reading including the use of phonics. “Bert has been tireless in his support of literacy for children in early education,” Carolyn Barber, interim dean of the School of Education says. “In creating this award, the UMKC School of Education joins with Bert in recognizing outstanding achievement in the field of early childhood literacy.” Establishing strong reading skills by third grade is a determining factor in long-term academic success. “An abundance of research has affirmed the critical importance of early reading achievement,” Nora Peterman, assistant professor of language and literacy, says. “Third-grade reading proficiency is one of the most powerful predictors of a child's continued academic success and of graduating from high school. Educational equity can only be realized when all students have access to excellent, effective literacy instruction in schools.” Berkley is a previous recipient of the Hugh J. Zimmer Award for Excellence in Urban Education. The award recognizes urban educators and urban education supporters from the region who are following the example of passion and commitment to urban young people and their communities set by former UMKC Trustee and UMKC Foundation board member Hugh Zimmer. The Zimmer Award is also announced at the Urban Education Forum. “We are fortunate that the UMKC School of Education has such a stalwart supporter in Bert Berkley,” Mauli Agrawal, chancellor of UMKC says. “His impact on the quality of education in Kansas City is immeasurable. We are honored that he has established this critically important award at UMKC.” A former chair of the UMKC Board of Trustees and recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal, Berkley is the founder of the Local Investment Commission (LINC) , which has nothing to do with stocks and bonds, but everything to do with investing in children and families. LINC provides social services to those in need, including thousands of children. He is a decorated veteran of World War II and Korea, graduated from both Duke University and Harvard Business School and served on many local and national boards. Aug 20, 2021

  • Mental Health on Campus: University Counselors Seeing Fewer Clients, But More Often

    Flatland interviews Arnold Abels
    Arnold Abels, Ph.D., director and clinical coordinator of the UMKC Counseling Center, was interviewed. He said a decrease in clients at UMKC is partially due to licensing that only allows them to serve residents of Missouri or Kansas. Read the full article. Aug 19, 2021

  • As COVID Booster Shots Become Available, Here’s What Kansas And Missouri Residents Should Know

    Mary Anne Jackson shares insights with media
    Real-world studies that show declines in immunity among vaccinated people make clear the need for additional protection, according to Mary Anne Jackson, infectious disease specialist and dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Read the article. More news coverage for Mary Anne Jackson Kansas City Health Experts Question Claims In Northland Parents' Lawsuit Over Mask Mandates - KCUR Vaccinated And Confused In Kansas City? How To Decide Whether An Activity Is Safe - KCUR   Aug 18, 2021

  • Kangaroo Pantry Steps Up to Meet Increased Need

    The pantry ensures no Roo goes without, especially during the pandemic
    The UMKC Kangaroo Pantry has expanded its reach to help more Roos in need as the pandemic has left more hungry. During the 2019-2020 school year, the pantry distributed 9,873 pounds of food. Last school year, their output more than doubled, as they distributed 22,140 pounds. "This is different than anything we've seen. We're seeing more students than we have probably seen in a very long time," Taylor Blackmon, basic needs coordinator said. The pantry has been able to meet the increased need through things like donations and partnerships with companies and organizations such as Hiland Dairy, Whole Foods and Harvesters Community Food Network. Anthony Maly, senior program manager, said financial donations and partnerships have been extremely important to the pantry over the last couple of years. "We really couldn't operate without that financial assistance," Maly said. Opened in 2015, the Kangaroo Pantry provides food assistance for all Roos in need, including students, faculty and staff. Because of donations, within the last year the pantry has seen some new additions, like a refrigerator and freezer that houses fresh produce, meats and free Hiland Dairy products. The pantry has also expanded its offerings to include items such as feminine hygiene products, dog food and baby formula. "We believe that no Roos should go without, and that includes hygiene products, laundry detergent, whatever students, faculty or staff might need to meet their most basic needs. We want to make sure that we can provide that," Maly said. How to receive assistance from the Kangaroo Food Pantry: If you are a UMKC student, faculty or staff member who needs assistance, bring your university ID to the pantry to shop during the pantry's open house hours. Masks or face coverings are required regardless of vaccination status. All Roos are eligible to pick roughly 20 food items per week, but fresh produce does not count toward those 20 items.  While the pantry does place a limit on items, Blackmon said they are willing to work with those who may have increased need for additional items. "We do have some people who are utilizing this service that are shopping for their families and not just going back to their dorm rooms. In those cases, especially if there are children involved, your items won't be counted," Blackmon said. "We believe that no Roos should go without." — Anthony Maly Locations and hours: The Kangaroo Food Pantry's main location can be found at 4825 Troost, Room 103. It's open Tuesday 1:30-5:30 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 1-5 p.m. and Sunday 3-6 p.m. If you are unable to make any of those hours, Blackmon said appointments can be set up. The main location features a "full client choice model" which means individuals can walk the aisles and 'shop' for the items they want, instead of simply picking up pre-packaged bags of items. In addition to the main campus, and due to increased need, the Kangaroo Food Pantry has also launched two satellite locations. One is in the Health Science District, on the first floor (Room 1-402) of the School of Medicine. It's open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. for students to pick up pre-packaged bags of items. The second satellite pantry is in the UMKC Student Union on the 2nd floor near Jazzman's. The pantry is "shelf-style," meaning students walking by can quickly grab whatever they like without having to "check out," or pre-order. Blackmon said all of the locations are meant to encourage everyone to take advantage of the resources the Kangaroo Food Pantry offers. "This is here for you. There is no stigma here," Blackmon said. How to support the Kangaroo Food Pantry: While the pantry does accept donated non-perishable food, monetary donations are encouraged, as the pantry can stretch a dollar further through partnerships than the average grocery store shopper. If you would like to make a financial contribution, click here. Those interested in volunteering to work at the pantry can sign up here. Another way to support the Kangaroo Pantry is to participate in the upcoming UMKC Virtual 5K which runs from Sept. 25- October 3. Registration is $25 and all proceeds support the pantry. Aug 18, 2021

  • UMKC Professor Calls on Community to Help Understand Climate Change Effects

    Volunteers from across the metro helped collect data for a national research project
    Dozens of volunteers took their marks across Kansas City on a hot, August day. Their mission: Take an hour-long drive to find out more about how heat is distributed throughout the city. Kansas City is one of about a dozen cities taking part in a nationwide research project funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The goal is to create a map indicating where there are pockets of land that are warmer than surrounding areas. Researchers call these areas urban heat islands. UMKC Earth and Environmental Sciences professor Fengpeng Sun, Ph.D. is leading the Kansas City cohort of the experiment. He said while most people are familiar with how greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming, they should also be aware of how land use and land cover change has impacted temperatures. “You think about the Kansas City area compared to 30 years ago. We have more buildings. We have more concrete and more asphalt, we have less trees, less soil,” said Sun. “We want to utilize this project to showcase how the temperature has been distributed across our community.” For the study, volunteers mount a sensor on their cars, which records the air temperature, air humidity and GPS location every second. Then they drive an 80-square-mile loop mapped out in advance. After that, the data is sent back to NOAA, which combines it with satellite data to produce a map that shows where the heat islands are located. The volunteers included UMKC students and faculty, community members and employees of UMKC community partners and the city of Kansas City. Amanda Mercier is an environmental science major. After volunteering for environmental projects around the world for several years, she decided to pursue a degree with hopes to make a larger impact. She said she was eager for a chance to work with Sun and to contribute to research. “As soon as they were letting people back on campus, I think I was one of the first people to sign up for this,” said Mercier. NOAA is expected to return the data in about two or three months. After that, Sun said the research his team collected can be used in a variety of ways to help mitigate the issue of heat islands in Kansas City, from comparing his data to social impact data to helping inform city government decisions. “They are the policy makers. Hopefully my voice, the results that we get, can be heard by them,” said Sun. “It’s very important for them to develop some kind of adaptation strategy and also mitigation strategy. Make sure that your city, that your area is going to be sustainable and, most importantly, it’s going to be resilient enough in a warming world.” It could also help project partner and local non-profit Bridging the Gap with its Master Urban Forest Plan that the city adopted in 2020. “We will eventually be able to see, through this data, where we might want to concentrate more of our tree planting efforts,” said Kristin Riott, the non-profit’s executive director. Most importantly, Sun said, he wants the community to be engaged and to see the results. It is why he invited community volunteers to help collect the data. He even arranged the routes to go by recognizable Kansas City landmarks so that once the results from the research were published, they would be more relatable to the public. “It can give people more of an impression about the data,” said Sun. “Climate change is not something really far away from us. It’s happening. It’s happening in our neighborhood. And we know that we are experiencing more and more heat days, and this is exactly what we want to convey to people. It can happen anywhere. The impact could be different, but it can happen everywhere.”   The data collection led by Sun came just days before the United Nations released an urgent report warning that climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying; and exactly a week before NOAA announced new data showing July 2021 as the hottest month ever recorded on earth. “We all need to do this together, we’re running out of time,” said Mercier. Aug 16, 2021

  • Hunting for Hot Spots in Kansas City’s Climate

    Fengpeng Sun's research is the focus of media coverage
    The project in this article is coordinated by Fengpeng Sun, a climate scientist and assistant professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The project gathered tens of thousands of data points in one day. The Kansas City effort is part of a larger nationwide campaign to map urban pockets where temperatures can be nearly 10 degrees higher than outlying areas. Hunting for Hot Spots in Kansas City’s Climate - Flatland City Dwellers Swelter In Heat Islands as High Temps Hit Neighborhoods Unequally - National Catholic Reporter  Kansas City Suffers from Severe Urban Heat. Research Now Underway Might Help Leaders Address It. - Kansas Reflector Aug 13, 2021

  • Two Conservatory Students Highlighted

    The Independent covers upcoming music composition contest
    UMKC Conservatory doctoral student Yunfei Li is among the six Kansas City performing artists selected this summer as winners of the Charlotte Street Foundation’s first annual New Music Composition Competition. Each will produce a brand-new work to be performed by the locally-based Ensemble Mother Russia Industries at a concert on Oct. 2. Tim Harte, the first UMKC Conservatory student admitted with the computer as his “instrument,” formed Ensemble Mother Russia Industries in 2008 as a non-traditional performance ensemble. The Foundation chose Harte to spearhead the process and the performance. Read more. Aug 12, 2021

  • KCUR: New Jackson County Jail Will Push Out Over 100 Mobile Home Residents

    Associate Professor Jacob Wagner weighs in
    Mobile home parks are difficult to find in Kansas City. University of Missouri-Kansas City Associate Professor Jacob Wagner says mobile home parks make up just around 1% of living spaces in the city. Wagner, who teaches Urban Planning and Design, says that mobile homeowners stand to lose a lot in this deal. Read more from KCUR. Aug 12, 2021

  • Ken Novak Comments on KC Homicides

    Novak tells Toriano Porter that Kansas City is on pace to ‘be one of the deadliest’
    Toriano Porter, Kansas City Star reporter, talked to Ken Novak, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at UMKC, for this column. Read the full article. (subscription required) Aug 12, 2021

  • Investigating Criminal Justice Careers

    Students work with community in new field exploration course
    Field experience in the community in your chosen profession is a hallmark of a UMKC education. Thus summer, criminal justice and criminology students worked in a wide range of outreach programs connected to the justice system. Each week brought them to a different community service in the Kansas City area, including law enforcement outreach, addiction recovery and underserved youth, where they could see first-hand how their careers could make an impact. This unique field exploration course was spearheaded by professor and internship coordinator Misty Campbell. “I wanted to provide an opportunity for students to see what everyday tasks are for those working within the justice system and the various roles one can play within different positions,” Campbell said. “Students were able to engage with a fundraising event, community policing, data collection, strategic planning, observe a facilitated training on trauma and learn about the core tenants of a multi-service agency. My goal was to provide a deeper exploration of careers and professional tasks associated within the diversity of justice-oriented professions.” Psychology, criminal justice and honors program student Leah Maass completed the course with a better idea on where she wanted her career to go. “I knew I wanted to work as a paralegal but after spending time at each site, I realized I could also explore a different route while still working with legislation,” Maass said. “This class was an amazing opportunity to immerse myself in the community.”  Leah Maass (second from left) and Jahvon Parker (fourth from left) with their classmates on site at Synergy Criminal justice student Jahvon Parker is ready to graduate at the end of this next semester. The course hasn’t altered his career plans, but he had other reasons to participate. “I knew Misty was a great teacher, so I had to enroll,” Parker said. “I learned a lot of valuable lessons that will benefit me throughout my entire life. It was so real and humbling.” The course served as a true win-win situation: students got first-hand experiences to serve them in their lives and careers and community members benefitted from the students’ work as well. “My hope is that our course showcased to our community partners the various levels of engagement and support our students, and the department, can provide them,” Campbell said. “I also wanted to encourage students to think about how they can support agencies with volunteer and internship roles they’ve not considered before. Our partners are doing phenomenal work, and I want them to feel the tremendous value and respect we hold for them. Part of that, to me, is about showing up and asking how we can serve with them.” Learn more about the criminal justice and criminology department, and the courses they offer, on their website. Aug 12, 2021

  • What a Department of Justice Investigation Would Mean for the Kansas City Police Department

    The Kansas City Beacon interviews Ken Novak
    Ken Novak, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said investigations will likely pick up speed under the Biden administration. Read the full article. KCUR picked this story up on Aug. 18. Aug 11, 2021

  • The Return of Study Abroad

    Chronicle of Higher Education interviews UMKC Honors student Nikita Joshi
    UMKC Honors student Nikita Joshi received the 2021 Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, a competitive award for a diverse group of student leaders to attend a four-week summer study abroad program focused on leadership, intercultural communication and social justice. She was part of the group of students at Queen’s University Belfast who were interviewed for this story. Read the full article. Aug 11, 2021

  • Teen Vogue Interviews UMKC Student

    Mahreen Ansari explains why College Democrats of Missouri cut ties with College Democrats of America
    Mahreen Ansari, University of Missouri-Kansas City student and president of the UMKC College Democrats, was interviewed. She also served as communications director of the College Democrats of Missouri. Read more. Aug 11, 2021

  • Hop in to Betty Rae’s for New UMKC Flavor

    Shop’s new sensation is Roo Blue!
    A new partnership with a favorite local business is proving a sweet success. Betty Rae’s, a local ice cream shop, has created a UMKC-inspired flavor dubbed the Roo Blue Swirl. The shop’s owner, Alec Rodgers, graduated from the Henry W. Bloch School of Management in 2020. Rodgers himself placed the brand new sign in the ice cream case. “Less than two years after graduation, I’m already a small business owner. That’s the kind of impact UMKC has and what Roo Blue Swirl really represents,” Rodgers said “We’re honored to be partnering with UMKC to create something for the university community, making their campus experience even more enjoyable.” “UMKC’s continued involvement with small businesses and the overall community in Kansas City encourages students and alumni to engage with local businesses in effective partnerships.” The Roo Blue Swirl is blueberry and lemon ice cream with crumble cookie mixed in. Elora Thomas, director of admissions at UMKC, was thinking of a sweet treat she could offer new students when inspiration struck. “I love Betty Rae’s ice cream!” Thomas said. “So, when I saw that Alec, the new owner, was a UMKC alum, it made me even more excited to support this local business. I reached out to Alec and suggested the idea of a UMKC-themed flavor. He also saw the potential, not only with incoming and current students, but with staff, faculty and alumni as well. UMKC is such a community gem, and this is a great opportunity to reveal that while also giving back to Kansas City.” Rodgers gives Chancellor Agrawal the first scoop of Roo Blue Swirl. Of course, the most important question is what flavor would do this great university justice? “The Roo Blue Swirl combines lemon and blueberry with a buttery crumble throughout.” Rodgers shares. “The flavor is delicious and embodies the great colors of UMKC.” This delectable treat is exclusively available at the Waldo location, close to the Volker campus. Aug 11, 2021

  • How To Start a Small Business in Kansas City

    Kansas City Star highlights UMKC Innovation Center’s entrepreneur hotline
    From April to October, the University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center’s entrepreneur hotline had a 176% increase in calls asking for assistance, according to the UMKC Innovation Center Impact Report. Of those calls, the center reported a 367% increase in the number of people who reported starting a business. Read the full article. (subscription required) Aug 10, 2021

  • Grappling With Dark Agonies Amid Natural Beauty During Missouri’s Bicentennial

    Flatland interviews UMKC History professor
    “Missouri was born in the midst of controversy about slavery and its extension into the West,” said Diane Mutti Burke, a professor of History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, who served as a consultant on, “Struggle for Statehood,” a traveling exhibit that is scheduled to be installed in Lee’s Summit in September. Read the full article. Mutti Burke was also interviewed by KCUR about Missouri's Bicentennial. Aug 10, 2021

  • Will A Robot Be Taking Your Job?

    You might be safe if you have the right skills, according to new Bloch School research.
    Will a robot be replacing you at your job? It will depend on what skills you have, according to Bryan Hong, professor of entrepreneurship and management at the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management.  According to new research conducted by Hong and his coauthors, adding robots to an enterprise increases demand for jobs requiring a bachelor's degree or higher, as well as jobs requiring no postsecondary education. But those with a vocational education or a community college education, as well as managerial roles, weren't so lucky. This conclusion was reached after studying five years of data on businesses in the Canadian economy. Their research is among the first of its kind to show how robots are changing employment, the structure of organizations and other aspects of the workplace. "A lot of people are already getting the sense that this is a new trend, and our data shows that investments in robotics are really taking off," Hong said. "This is a trend that's only going to continue." Hong breaks down the research for us on what it means and how it will affect the future of employment. The main question is, are robots taking our jobs? That's a tough question to answer with a simple 'yes' or 'no.' It's complicated. What we found is there are very different answers depending on who you are inside the company when the robots come in. If you are someone with a bachelor's degree or above, which is one measure of workers with relatively high skills, we see an increase in the number of employees. There's also an increase in what we might call "unskilled" employees or those who have no postsecondary education, doing roles that require very little training. But if you are in a class of jobs that require a vocational degree, like tradespeople who have gone to a two-year college or gotten a certificate, these jobs are being eliminated by the robots. We also see a significant decline in managers. Let's start with the groups that are experiencing increases in employment. Why is there an increase in the group with college degrees and "unskilled workers"? When you buy robots, you need people who have the skills to work with them. For example, robots may have to programmed or you might need to do a lot more design work if robots are producing many different types of products than the factory used to produce. That requires people with the skills to do those things. The increase in unskilled workers is a different story. It turns out that robots aren't good at doing all physical labor tasks — the technology has its limitations. So for these types of tasks, such as loading trucks with inventory, humans are still needed because the robots can't do them well. But these aren't jobs that require a lot of education or training and are also not likely to pay high wages. Why are workers with a community college or vocational education being negatively impacted? The type of work robots are capable of is often what humans with vocational degrees do. For example, it could be welding a passenger door onto the body of a car. Now imagine a robotic arm that will repeatedly do that task, over and over again. That robot can do that same task flawlessly thousands of times a day. Robots can do that, and they don't get tired. They also don't unionize and don't raise the same safety issues that using humans might. So, you can see why a company would look at that and think it's compelling. If I am one of those workers, should I be nervous about these findings? Yes, it's a cause for concern. The issue is that robots increasingly do what these workers can do, and in many cases, do it better. This is also part of a larger story many people have already heard, but not about robots specifically. Many people who lose these jobs are unlikely to move on to higher-paying jobs so often the best-case scenario is that their wages will decline if they are able to find a new job. This raises a much broader set of questions about the increasing inequality we see in our society, and robots may at least be partly responsible for it. What's going on with managers? As of today, robots don't manage people. So we think the reason we see fewer managers speaks to the question of 'what do managers really do.' When we think of managers in companies, we usually think of someone who supervises workers every day. They keep an eye on things and make sure that employees are getting the work done. If you imagine a manager on a factory floor, maybe they also deal with whatever problems come up each day. Now, if we replace over half of the employees with robots on an assembly line, do you need as many managers to make sure that people are doing their jobs? Probably not. But it's also not this simple. One could imagine that the increase in jobs requiring at least a bachelor's degree and unskilled jobs would require more managers to oversee them, but it's clear that even if that is true, the total need for managers still decreases. That might suggest that managing each type of worker requires a different type of management. But that's something that needs more research for us to understand better. What does this mean for the future of some of these jobs? Companies invest in technology because it improves their profitability. If it is more profitable to use robots instead of humans for certain tasks, companies will ultimately move in that direction. If we look at the results of our story, it's clear there are some types of workers who will be negatively affected. We need to think about how to address that as a society. Aug 10, 2021

  • Vaccinations Required in Health Care Settings

    Faculty, staff, volunteers and students included
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is now requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all faculty, staff and students who work in clinical settings and have direct contact with patients as part of their UMKC work or training. Students and employees must meet the requirement by Oct. 1, according to a campus letter sent August 10. UMKC students, faculty and staff play a significant role in providing healthcare to greater Kansas City and the state of Missouri. The requirement affects faculty, staff, volunteers and students of the schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing and Health Studies. In addition, the requirement applies to faculty and students in masters and doctoral training programs in Psychology, Counseling, Counseling Psychology and the School of Social Work engaged in external field education and clinical practica or clinical intervention studies. UMKC faculty, staff, volunteers, and students with patient contact at the University Health Center, UMKC Counseling Center and the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinics are also subject to the requirement. UMKC officials said the vaccination requirement is necessary because COVID has entered a new phase, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisories that the Delta variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants, driving higher infection and death rates and putting significant strain on healthcare resources. The university is offering students and employees the opportunity to apply for medical or religious exemptions to the requirement. For all other UMKC students, employees and visitors, masks will continue to be required in classrooms, laboratories, libraries, meeting rooms and other public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status. Individuals who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will continue to be required to wear masks at all times while on campus, indoors or outdoors. Aug 10, 2021

  • Prizes Now Available as Vaccination Incentives

    Students, employees can win free parking, $500 gift cards
    UMKC is now offering a series of prize drawings as an incentive for students, faculty and staff to become vaccinated against COVID-19. Prizes include free annual parking passes and $500 Visa gift cards. Separate drawings will be conducted for students and employees. To be eligible for the drawings, students and employees must upload an image of their vaccination card to a UMKC database. Students can upload their images by signing in to Pathway. Employees should use the vaccine uploader link available through MyHR. Even if you have previously uploaded vaccination information elsewhere, you must use these links to be eligible for the drawings. Two student drawings and two employee drawings have been scheduled. Each of the four drawings will offer 10 free annual parking passes and 10 $500 Visa gift cards. The first student and employee drawings will take place Sept. 1, and the second pair of drawings on Oct. 15. To be eligible for the first drawing, you must upload your vaccination card before Sept. 1. Those who upload vaccination cards between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15 will be eligible for the second drawing. Aug 10, 2021

  • Urban Heat Island Research Aims To Spotlight Disparities and Solutions

    Energy News Network features Fengpeng Sun's research
    A coalition of partners led by University of Missouri-Kansas City researcher Fengpeng Sun gathered the measurements and will now create a map combining tens of thousands of temperature and humidity measurements with a satellite map, allowing them to quickly learn the conditions in a given location. Read the full article. Aug 09, 2021

  • UMKC to Serve as Backbone for $10M National STEM Education Initiative for Students with Disabilities

    The university will work hand-in-hand will Auburn University, as well as other colleges across the country, to research ways to increase STEM degre...
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will backbone a $10 million research effort from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education among students with disabilities. Auburn University will lead the five-year project while UMKC will "backbone," or guide vision, strategy, support aligned activities, establish shared measurement practices and support the implementation of research, according to the NSF. As the backbone, UMKC will host the portal and website for the project, as well as lead data collection. Alexis Petri, Ed.D., senior director of faculty support at UMKC, said she has already begun working with Overtoun Jenda, Ph.D., whose office at Auburn will be chairing the initiative, to delineate what aspects of the project will be led by UMKC and which by Auburn.  The project's funding will be used to conduct research related to enhancing workforce development opportunities for people with disabilities. Students involved in the research will receive benefits including peer and faculty mentoring, research opportunities and financial support to track which efforts work best to increase the number of students with disabilities entering college and completing a degree in a STEM-related field. Overall, the research project will target three objectives, two focused on students and the other on institutions: Increase the number of students with disabilities completing degrees in STEM. Facilitate the transition of students with disabilities from degree completion into the STEM workforce. Enhance communication among institutions of higher education, industry, government and local communities. The project will encompass 27 universities, with five "hub-leading institutions." Those institutions include UMKC (Midwest Hub), Northern Arizona University (Mountain Hub), Ohio State University (Northeastern Hub), the University of Hawaii-Manoa (Islands Hub) and the University of Washington (West Coast Hub).  The Midwest Hub will initially consist of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Little Priest Tribal College and Wichita State. At least five other colleges and universities are slated to be added within the next year, Petri said. In addition to being the backbone of the organization, UMKC will also undertake a research project with the help of $2.4 million of the grant, which will be distributed over the course of the next five years. UMKC's research will look at student success across critical junctures such as access, entry, progress, completion and transition.  "The idea is to help students have momentum moving across critical junctures like from graduation to employment. Those are times when students are likely to face challenges or barriers to their goals," Petri said. "Knowledge gleaned from the study will be available to (other research institutions) for mid-course adjustments and ultimately to discover how well-known interventions like mentoring, applied in combination with other success programs, lead to innovations that improve degree completion for students with disabilities STEM majors." Research chairs at UMKC will include Jacob Marszalek, Ph.D., professor and Director of Applied Cognitive Brain and Brain Science, Yugyung Lee, Ph.D., professor of computer science, Fengpeng Sun, Ph.D., professor and climate scientist, and Ye Wang, Ph.D., communications professor. The grant began on Aug. 1 and will last until July 31, 2026. Research is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2022. The award is part of the NSF INCLUDES initiative which invests in programs that address diversity, inclusion and participation challenges in STEM at a national scale. The initiative is one of five INCLUDES awards given by the NSF this year. Aug 06, 2021

  • Program Aims To Increase Diversity in KC Urban Education

    Dos Mundos highlights UMKC Institute for Urban Education
    A program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education is working to increase the number of diverse and “exemplary” teachers in urban schools across the Kansas City area. Called the Institute for Urban Education, the cohort model program prepares students to teach in Kansas City urban schools. Read the full article. Aug 05, 2021

  • KCUR And Kansas News Service Partners Win More Than A Dozen 2021 KAB Awards

    KCUR reporters receive awards
    Reporters from KCUR and across the collaborative Kansas News Service received numerous awards in the 2021 Station Awards for Excellence in Broadcasting, conducted annually by the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. KCUR is a service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the full article. Aug 04, 2021

  • Prescription for Faulty Communication in Operating Rooms: Be Explicit, Not Polite

    UMKC professor's research is featured
    Research by a University of Kansas linguist and University of Missouri-Kansas City physicians pointed to the potential medical harm of ambiguous communication in operating rooms that also complicated the training of surgeons. “We make the point in the paper that surgery is too precise to not use precise language,” said Gary Sutkin, a professor at the UMKC School of Medicine. Read more. This story was picked up by The Missouri Independent. Aug 04, 2021

  • UMKC Alum Courtney Frerichs Becomes Second U.S. Woman To Medal in Olympic Steeplechase

    Local, national media celebrate Courtney Frerichs
    Courtney Frerichs, UMKC alumna, won silver in the Olympic women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final Wednesday at the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo, finishing in a season-best 9 minutes, 4.79 seconds to become just the second American woman to finish on the podium in the event at the Games. This story was covered by The Kansas City, Star (subscription required), KMBC, KSHB, KCUR and Fox4KC. More headlines: Why Olympic Silver Medalist Courtney Frerichs Felt She Won Even Before Starting Race - The Kansas City Star, picked up by Yahoo News. Aug 04, 2021

  • First Gen UMKC Student Doubles Down

    Krithika Selvarajoo takes challenges in stride
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Krithika Selvarajoo (Krit)Anticipated graduation year: 2021UMKC degree program: B.A. in English and Chemistry; Honors ProgramHometown: Singapore   Why did you choose UMKC? Coming from a city, I knew I wanted a college experience where I would be able to explore a new city during my down time. I thought Kansas City was the perfect place for me to have that experience and smoothly transition to college. Also, I loved the diversity that UMKC offers and knew it would provide me with endless opportunities to meet new people. Why did you choose your field of study? I've always been passionate about both the arts and sciences, which led me to pursue degrees in English and chemistry. Instead of being dichotomies, I knew the fields of English and chemistry would complement, if not overlap, each other and provide me with an education that would help me continue to develop into a well-rounded individual. What are the benefits of the program? Both degrees have allowed me to explore the intersection between science and literature while developing skills that pertain to both of those fields. For example, I've learned the importance of paying close attention to details with both lab data and literary prose. How has your college program inspired you? I've been inspired to pave my own path for my future self. I was initially hesitant on majoring in two subjects. But after my first semester as a double major student, I realized I have never been happier. From that moment, I knew the importance of paving my own path. Everyone's journey is different in their own way. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? I've learned that stepping out of your comfort zone is important to grow as an individual. During my sophomore year, none of the student organizations at the time caught my interest. Rather than not being involved, I decided to start a Her Campus chapter here at UMKC. It was out of my comfort zone, especially since I had to build an organization from the ground up and go through various interviews and edit tests with Her Campus Media, but I am glad I took a leap of faith. Creating a community that empowers women on campus while providing them an outlet to express their voices has been such a fulfilling experience. It allows me to not only grow as a leader, but as an individual as well. "My experience at UMKC significantly improved when I started to put myself out there and meet new people." — Krit Selvarajoo Are you a first-generation college student? If so, what does that mean to you? Yes, it is something I am proud of. Being the first one in my family to attend college comes with its own challenges. It can be isolating not having someone in my family to talk to about these challenges, but that's what friends are for! Who/What do you admire most at UMKC and why? I love the diversity that UMKC offers. Different experiences and backgrounds add so much more life to campus, and I feel like I always end up learning something new when I meet someone. Do you have any scholarships? What do they mean to you? Yes, I was nominated by the English Department to receive the Chancellor's Non-Resident Award, which covers a portion of my tuition. Receiving this award motivated me to do better and make not just myself proud, but the English Department proud as well. This summer, I also received the Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity (SUROP) Award, and I received a tuition award and funding for the research I currently conduct with Dr. [Mohammad] Rafiee. The SUROP grant allowed me to gain immense research experience, particularly related to electrochemistry, and I know that the skills I've learned will be useful in the future. What other extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? As campus correspondent for Her Campus at UMKC, I get to oversee the chapter and write and edit articles. This has provided me a creative outlet during stressful semesters. I contribute to bi-weekly newsletters for Students for Justice, where I serve as the current events chair. I was Press Secretary for the Student Government Association which significantly enhanced my college experience. "Both my degrees have allowed me to explore the intersection between science and literature while developing skills pertaining to both of those fields."  Creating content such as what classes to take at UMKC to educate oneself on BIPOC culture has taught me the importance of social advocacy. Writing various student newsletters, some with campus updates,  has deepened my love for UMKC and the opportunities it offers to all students. I have worked at the Writing Studio as a consultant for over two years, which has allowed me to meet a diverse group of students. Since writing consists of elements of vulnerability, I ensure that I create a safe space for writers by establishing connections with them. Establishing relationships with students as I watch them grow as writers and individuals has been the most fulfilling part of the job. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? The importance of establishing relationships and connecting with new people. My experience at UMKC significantly improved when I started to put myself out there and meet new people. There's always something to learn about each person you meet. I hope my professional career provides me with the platform to build relationships with others. Aug 04, 2021

  • Bloch Professor Breaks Down Clutter and How it Accumulates

    Jacqueline Rifkin explains the ordinary in the extraordinary
    Have you ever wondered why you have so many notebooks you’ve never used? Or candles you’ve never lit? Or clothes that you don’t wear? And you can’t seem to part with any of these items?   This phenomenon is known as clutter, an overabundance of possessions. Jacqueline Rifkin, assistant professor at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, asked herself how this accumulation begins in the first place. “I had a t-shirt that I had bought at a standard retail chain,” Rifkin said. “But in my mind I would wear it on a date night. I would wear it on a job interview. I would wear it to a rehearsal dinner. It was an ordinary t-shirt, but it became this thing that I needed to protect for the perfect occasion—just because I hadn’t worn it previously. I talked to different people, and this resonated with them, too. They said ‘I have a bottle of wine from Trader Joe's, but I've just never opened it. It's been years,’ or ‘I have this cologne that I got for free as an add-on with another purchase, but I haven't touched it because nothing seems special enough.’” Rifkin had this same conversation with her co-author, Jonah Berger of the University of Pennsylvania, and they decided to get to the bottom of why we avoid using ordinary things, treating them as if they are too special to use. Through the six studies, the two found that forgoing using an item makes it seem more special, particularly when someone believes that they were waiting for a later occasion. As the item starts to feel more special, we want to use it less. As time goes on without the item being used, specialness increases further, which leads to even less usage—which Rifkin calls a “specialness spiral.” The item becomes less likely to be used in ordinary occasions, and more likely to be saved for a narrower set of extraordinary occasions. While that may seem harmless, Rifkin shares how holding onto these items and generating clutter can become a maladaptive behavior. “There's been plenty of research suggesting that clutter can be bad for our well-being,” Rifkin said. “It can mess with our ability to get work done. It can mess with our social relationships, and that can cause chronic stress. When it comes to that bottle of wine or the t-shirt, that special situation you are waiting for may never come. Worst case scenario is saving that bottle of wine for so long, it turns into vinegar, or saving the shirt for so long, it goes out of style. You don't even get to enjoy it.” Fortunately, there is a way out. Rifkin suggests the easiest is this: use your stuff.  “One thing that we talked about is pre-committing to usage occasions,” Rifkin said. “If I buy a nice t-shirt, I’ll tell myself ‘I'm going to wear it this weekend.’ Setting a specific occasion or a ‘first possible occasion’ kind of commitment can break the specialness spiral. Hopefully, we’re harnessing the knowledge that can help us avoid clutter accumulation, avoid wasting time and money on possessions, and allow ourselves to actually use these things. Wearing that shirt after a few iterations of deciding not to can feel really good.” Learn more about Rifkin’s findings on how clutter accumulates by reading her article in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research. Aug 04, 2021

  • Sherman and Sunderland Gifts Amplify Education Program Success

    Foundation support accelerates Institute for Urban Education growth, progress
    Despite the challenges of the last year, the University of Missouri-Kansas City Institute for Urban Education (IUE) in the School of Education is successfully affecting student success and teacher retention through its programming in urban schools, thanks in part to significant and steady support from major donors. “We have very high expectations and high levels of support for our students,” Jennifer Waddell, Ph. D., director, Institute for Urban Education and Sprint Foundation Endowed Professor in Urban Education says. “Major gifts from the Sherman Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation – who also have high expectations in a very positive way – demonstrate their belief in the program, which is very reaffirming.” The Sherman Family Foundation has been a longtime, consistent supporter and advocate of IUE. While there are many organizations that work toward advancing education and bolstering oppo