UC MagazineUniversity of CincinnatiUC Magazine

UC Magazine

Campus News

Searching for early clues to breast cancer

What factors put young girls at risk for later development of breast cancer? That is the question researchers from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children's Hospital hope to answer through studies at their new national Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Center. The specialized center is one of four in the United States, each funded by a seven-year, $9.6 million National Institutes of Health grant.

Signs for breast cancer

While family history and long-term hormone therapy are among known risks for breast cancer, many cases have no identifiable cause. Through the "Growing Up Female" project, the UC team will look at possible links, for example, between early onset of puberty or high body fat and a girl's chances of developing breast cancer later in life.

The grant will also fund community education efforts about the disease that kills 40,000 persons each year, making it the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women.

How to get a head start on that UC degree

Although it's not unusual for bright high school students to earn a few UC credits before they enter college, Xuefeng Lu entered UC last year with 111 credit hours -- more than half the number needed for a bachelor's degree -- and a nearly perfect 3.9 grade point average.

Xuefeng Lu photo/Peter Griga

Xuefeng Lu. Photo/Peter Griga

How did he do it? The teen qualified for Ohio's Post Secondary Enrollment Option Program through his high academic standing at Cincinnati's Withrow International School. He began with college physics in fall quarter '01, then spent spare hours and summers at UC, working on courses such as calculus, analytic geometry, chemistry, biology, economics and English.

A matriculated student in the College of Arts and Sciences since last fall, the 19-year-old has chosen a biochemistry major and hopes to enter UC's medical school. He set that goal at 17, after recovering from a health problem.

"It felt like the physicians had brought my life back," he recalls. "So I considered being a doctor, starting from that point."

This winter quarter, the UC junior (status due to credits earned) is doing undergraduate research -- "lots of math" -- for William Connick, professor of inorganic chemistry. Connick was impressed by the student's academic ability, as well as the fact that he is "a really nice kid.

"Xuefeng is remarkable, head and shoulders above anyone else," Connick says. "I've been here five years, and I have never had a student so far ahead of the rest. We are really fortunate to have someone of his caliber studying at UC."


Post Secondary Enrollment Options Program at UC

illustration/Angela Klocke

Illustration/Angela Klocke

Moms-to-be should step carefully

On average, one of every four pregnant women takes a tumble during pregnancy, a University of Cincinnati researcher has found. Kari Dunning of the Department of Environmental Health studied nearly 3,000 expectant mothers and discovered that "falls and injury during pregnancy occurred at a rate comparable to elderly persons aged 65 and older."

Not surprising, the more accident-prone and off-balance pregnant women are those who are hurrying, carrying objects or children, and crossing slippery surfaces. Dunning found that the overall fall rate, roughly 27 percent, did not change dramatically for women employed outside the home.

Suggested interventions for those who leave the home include fewer slippery floors in restaurants, less clutter for nurses and teachers to step over, and more supportive shoes for business and office workers.

Seeing justice done

Because studying law can reveal frustrating injustices in the legal system, University of Cincinnati law students frequently take the lead to see justice reinstated. Current efforts have focused on two cases.

In one instance, students were angered that a prisoner serving time for two counts of attempted murder was financially benefiting from his victim, who happened to be another UC law student. Two students researched the situation, then authored a legislative report on the case, which has been introduced into the Ohio legislature as "Trina's Law."

UC student Trina Hatchett was nearly killed when an ex-boyfriend shot her while she dined in a Hyde Park restaurant. Although her ex pleaded guilty to the criminal case, he claimed shooting in self-defense in the civil suit that Hatchett filed to recover both damages and full title to the house the two of them jointly own. In the meantime, he benefits from her house payments.

The problem in Ohio is that victims must undergo additional legal expense to reprove findings already established in criminal decisions. That is not true in federal cases and 41 other states, where original felony convictions would stand in subsequent civil cases.

The bill is still in committee.

The second student endeavor involves bringing the national Innocence Project to Ohio. Investigating wrongful conviction cases, the project has released more than 130 inmates across the country, some of whom were on death row. Statistically, Ohio had one of the largest prison populations without access to an Innocence Project.

Nineteen students began working full time on the project last summer, screening more than 250 requests from prisoners, then selecting six cases for complete investigation based upon the possibility of introducing new evidence to exonerate the prisoners, such as DNA testing or digital enhancement of old video films. During the school year, work has continued on a part-time basis for class credit.

Mark Godsey, Innocence Project faculty director, UC assistant professor and former federal prosecutor, is supervising the work along with Cincinnati city councilman John Cranley. Funded entirely through private donations, the project provides the kind of legal experience unmatched in the classroom or on most jobs available to law students.

It's "the opportunity of a lifetime," student Mike Cappel says. "What more can a person who hopes to enter the legal profession ask for but the opportunity to work for justice?"


Ohio Innocence Project at UC

Growing healthy by caring for plants

illustration/Angela Klocke

Illustration/Angela Klocke

Working with plants can soothe emotional and even physical ills. If you think that's just a load of fertilizer, take a look at the new certificate in horticulture therapy offered at the University of Cincinnati's Clermont College.

Through lectures, projects and field experience, budding therapists soak up botanical terminology, principles of floral design and the use of grow lights and adaptive tools, including wheelchair-accessible plant beds.

Offered in cooperation with UC's horticulture program, the certificate appeals to occupational therapists, recreation workers, health-care providers and social workers, according to Laurie Renz, professor of humanities and social science. "It gives them a new set of skills to bring to the work setting."

UC shapes sports landmark

The Greater Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame, which exists only on paper at present, may finally become a physical structure, thanks, in part, to the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. In January, students met with local athletes and sports enthusiasts to mull over ideas for a facility, expected to be built along the Ohio River at Sawyer Point at a cost between $200,000 and $500,000.

"At this point, the hall of fame could take any form -- a building or sculptural landforms," says James Postell, DAAP associate professor of architecture and interior design at the University of Cincinnati. He and an advanced student design team will fine-tune the concept approved by the hall of fame committee and the Cincinnati Recreation Commission.

No matter what the final design, one thing is certain. In celebrating the players, coaches, schools and organizations prominent in the area's rich basketball history, the hall of fame will have plenty of UC connections. More than 75 men and women have been inducted since its founding in 1996, including Bearcat greats Oscar Robertson, Pat Cummings and Tom Thacker.

Treatment helps hearts grow new blood vessels

Helping diseased hearts provide more alternate blood-supply routes was the goal when University of Cincinnati physicians were the first in the country to treat patients with an experimental growth factor protein. Two patients made history in November by agreeing to the procedure, hailed as a "very promising treatment for the future" by Lynne Wagoner, principal investigator, director of cardiac services at University Hospital and associate cardiology professor.

Injected directly into the patient's heart muscle, the FGF1 protein may provide an additional treatment option for individuals unable to benefit from bypass surgery, angioplasty and medications. "Some people have such severe coronary artery disease that conventional treatments aren't an option for them," Wagoner says.

The University of Cincinnati Heart and Vascular Center, in conjunction with University Hospital, is one of only four sites in the country participating in the clinical trial testing the effectiveness of FGF1. Thirty-two patients are enrolled.


UC doctors first in U.S. to test growth factor protein in heart patients

Greening up the red planet

illustration/Angela Klocke

Illustration/Angela Klocke

A team of UC students has designed an inflatable greenhouse that could one day turn astronauts into Martian carrot farmers.

At least that was the opinion of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a society of aerospace professionals, which awarded the University of Cincinnati first place in its prestigious international space design competition.

The society's 2003 challenge was for teams of undergraduates to develop plans for a greenhouse prototype on Mars that would allow astronauts visiting the red planet to grow their own food. Responding to the challenge, a team of seven UC students spent their senior year researching and developing concepts.

"The goal of the project was to design a greenhouse that would flourish for five to seven years in the dust and wind of the Martian environment," explains team leader Kate Grendell, now pursuing her master's in UC's aerospace engineering program. "Ever since the (January) Mars landing, I think all of us would love to work on this more. There is something very exciting about the thought of building our design and putting it up there."

Grendell said several things set their entry apart from the international competition, but the clinching element was that UC's students developed a way for their greenhouse to also render and reuse moisture from its plants after the growing season.

New trustee and dean

Major Bearcat fan and former University of Cincinnati faculty member Candace Kendle, Pharm '70, PharmD '72, is the newest member of the UC Board of Trustees. She was appointed by Gov. Bob Taft last fall to replace Joseph Deters, who resigned.

Kendle is UC's 2002 recipient of the William Howard Taft Medal for Notable Achievement, the College of Pharmacy's 2001 Arthur Glasser Award and Women's Studies' 1999 Distinguished Alumni Award. A successful entrepreneur, she is chair and CEO of Kendle International, a global provider of research and development services for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

Dolores Straker, former associate dean for academic affairs at the City University of New York (CUNY), is the new dean of UC's Raymond Walters College. She brings expertise in overseeing multi-million-dollar budgets, retention strategies, staff development and student academic support programs. Language education and the "empowerment of students, staff and faculty" are strong interests.

Dean Straker created policies for CUNY's educational opportunity programs, the "writing across the curriculum" initiative and freshman-year programs. She has served as a teacher, administrator, lecturer, project coordinator, consultant and published writer.

Challenging public-space boundaries

When three UC students spread out blankets to picnic in the median of Central Parkway, on the Hamilton County courthouse steps and in a metered parking spot of a heavily congested street near the courthouse, a standard response from drivers was "Oh, my god!"

Earlier in the fall term, other unconventional students from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning had traveled downtown to set up a sidewalk "living room," complete with a coffee table, lamp and TV, where they shared chips and salsa with passers-by. And another group used pre-packaged cupcakes to spell out the words "EAT ME" on a downtown sidewalk, then watched to see who followed directions.

Measuring public response was a key component in the UC Community Design Center's long-term Niehoff Studio project. Close to 30 students spent fall quarter humorously breaking social taboos regarding public space to determine how large-scale events such as Oktoberfest or Tall Stacks could draw larger crowds without creating problems.

Central Parkway

"We wondered if people would get upset with us for taking up a parking spot even though we'd fed the meter," says student Chris Pohlar. "No one really seemed to be mad, but plenty were surprised."

"Just Chillin' to Challenge the Boundaries" was the title he, Greg Snyder and Kyle Hanigosky gave to the project to explore social and cultural controls. "I was nervous at first," Snyder says. "I found that people's expectations can really control you.

"Curbside dining" took on a new meaning when students Greg Snyder and Kyle Hanigosky plopped a quarter in the parking meter to picnic downtown. They also tried out a "quieter" grassy spot in the middle of Central Parkway. In both instances, the students recorded public response to their rather eccentric behavior.

"Curbside dining" [above] took on a new meaning when students Greg Snyder and Kyle Hanigosky plopped a quarter in the parking meter to picnic downtown. They also tried out a "quieter" grassy spot [top] in the middle of Central Parkway. In both instances, the students recorded public response to their behavior.

"Multiple social controls on public space are probably more powerful than legal controls. The police were all around as we picnicked, and we didn't have a problem

"But the informal, social controls were powerful. It's the kind of controls that affect food vendors who sell from pushcarts on the street."

The students took what they learned in challenging public-space boundaries and designed creative public events for the city. Their work built on Niehoff Studio efforts that began 18 months ago to benefit inner-city neighborhoods in a variety of ways. Work will continue over the course of at least six years.

Current research is focusing on food-related issues and will ultimately grapple with such concerns as vibrant food retailers attracting residents to rundown areas, suburban superstores being adapted to inner city environs and solutions that assure low-income areas receive necessary services, explains Frank Russell, studio co-leader and Community Design Center director. H.C. Buck Niehoff, JD '72, launched the studio in 2002 with a $150,000 gift, supported by additional funding from UC and the Kroger Co.

"Eat me," pled the pre-packaged cupcakes placed on a busy downtown street by DAAP students who waited for public reactions. The passerby above accepts the invitation.

"Eat me," pled the cupcakes placed on a busy downtown street by UC students who waited for public reactions. The passerby above accepts the invitation.

As for the student experiments mentioned above, few pedestrians initially took cupcakes, but those who first dared to do so returned repeatedly. And a number of people not only sampled chips and salsa, but also sat down with the students and offered them food in return.

One conclusion from the research: To serve food at a public event, one needs to build an element of trust.

Over television airwaves

Watching University of Cincinnati basketball isn't the only way to find Bearcats on national television. Students and alumni have appeared on a variety of shows over the last six months:

Jimmy Neutron and director Mike Gasaway

Jimmy Neutron and director Mike Gasaway

  • Comedy Central -- A January episode of comedian Dave Chappelle's TV show featured Brandon Jones, CCM '03, who had just been accepted into New York's Michael Chekhov Theatre Co.
  • A&E documentary -- A special show about Pete Rose featured comments from UC archivist Kevin Grace, MA (A&S) '77, and aired on the Biography Channel in January. Grace was also interviewed on the subject by CBS radio, a San Diego outlet and a Middlebury, Vt., station.
  • CITI Bank commercial -- That national CITI Bank promo that features a big grinning man wearing a little hat and holding his infant son standing balanced in one hand is alumnus Philip Solomon, CCM '93, and his son Henry.
  • Nickelodeon -- Mike Gasaway, DAAP '93, director of "The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius," received a nomination for Best Directing in an Animated Television Production from the Annie Awards, the "most prestigious in the animation community," he says.
  • ESPN drama -- Jason Matthew Smith, CCM '96, portrayed a linebacker in ESPN's first scripted dramatic series "Playmakers," which had 11 episodes last fall. He previously appeared in episodes of "Bernie Mac," "Six Feet Under" and "ER," as well as last year's Harrison Ford movie "Hollywood Homicide" and the Nicolas Cage movie "Matchstick Men."
  • Discovery Health Channel -- Jacqueline Chapel-Hardy, DAAP '73, took on the challenge to lose 10 years in 10 weeks in the "Ten Years Younger" reality show, in which five Miami residents adapted to a rigorous exercise program, stuck to a strict diet and underwent radical skin and face treatments for five episodes in December and February.
  • CBS's Survivor: Pearl Islands -- Andrew Savage, JD '88, a Chicago attorney, and Lillian Morris, Bus '80, a Cincinnati Boy Scout leader, were both castaways in the 13-week big-time reality show last year.
  • SpikeTV -- Torie Wiggins, CCM '02, appears in the cast of the cable network's new show "Crash Test," which debuted in February.
  • National Geographic Channel -- Interviews with classics professor Getzel Cohen, assistant architecture professor Liz Riorden, and UC archaeologists Brian Rose (on campus) and Jack Davis (in Pylos, Greece, where he directs the regional archaeological project) will air on a one-hour documentary "Beyond the Movie: Troy" (starring Brad Pitt), dealing with the ancient city's myths and realities. The show will air May 7 at 9 p.m., May 8 at 1 a.m. and May 15. Troy was first excavated in the '30s by UC archaeologist Carl Blegen. For the last 15 years, work has continued under the direction of Rose in partnership with the University of Tübingen.
  • History Channel -- Research and interviews were conducted on campus for another show about the real Troy, but production details and times were unavailable at press time.
  • Aerodrome Pictures -- Digital designer Andrew Marshall, DAAP '03, does TV animations for the Los Angeles company, which produces work for ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and a variety of cable channels, including Discovery, Comedy Central, National Geographic and Sci-Fi.

Drama seniors audition in Hollywood

Having your face on the television or movie screen is more than a dream for CCM drama students; it could be a matter of survival. More and more theatrical roles require musical training, leaving few options on the boards for straight dramatic actors.

Members of the senior drama class (left to right, from the bottom): Jon Catoe, Lindsey Hall, Daniel Wisler, Susan Thompson, Ben Pitts, Jordan Delp, Jack Lazzaro, Eric Yellin, Ben Zelinski and Derek Hake.

Members of the senior drama class (left to right, from the bottom): Jon Catoe, Lindsey Hall, Daniel Wisler, Susan Thompson, Ben Pitts, Jordan Delp, Jack Lazzaro, Eric Yellin, Ben Zelinski and Derek Hake.

So to make sure an audition before a TV or film casting agent becomes a reality, the College-Conservatory of Music drama department is flying its graduating class of 11 seniors to Los Angeles this month to showcase their talents.

In New York City, CCM musical-theater students have been staging highly successful showcases for agents since 1993. Although drama students have followed suit for the last four years, they have never attained the same level of success as their musical counterparts.

The reason finally occurred to drama chair Richard Hess, MLFA (CCM) ’93. They were on the wrong coast.

"It dawned on me last year that our L.A. actors are doing much better than our New York actors," he says. Broadway is full of musicals these days, he says, and straight dramatic actors have much less work from which to choose. "But there is plenty of TV work in L.A., especially with cable TV shows."

Furthermore, taking the showcase to the West Coast not only puts CCM students in the right place, it plops them there at the right time. "Youth sells right now in Hollywood," Hess explains, "and we're coming out with 21-year-olds, which makes us fairly unique. Most schools going to L.A. are grad programs, bringing in their 27-year-olds."

One additional plus is that the showcase increases CCM's visibility. "Only a handful of BFA programs go to both coasts," Hess adds. "So I figured, let's go bicoastal and let them fight over our actors."

Modeled after the New York showcase, the first Hollywood edition Senior Showcase takes place at the Court Theatre on April 19 and 20, when seniors will present their work to agents, casting directors, studio personnel and managers four times. "I have no doubts that the talent coming from CCM will blow the socks off the L.A. industry," says Diana Uhlenbrock, a '95 CCM drama grad who has appeared with Mel Gibson in "What Women Want" and has been a regular on a number of TV series.

"The students can't believe it," Hess adds. "But it makes their life twice as complicated, not knowing which coast to locate to after graduation. As an instructor, my fear is that this will be overwhelming."

Nevertheless, the faculty, students and entire department are excited "to break new ground," as Hess puts it, "and to give our talented actors the most exposure possible."

-- D. Rieselman

Posing outside a theater in Appleton, Wis., are (from the left), Tory Ross, '02; Bill Nolte, '76; Lee Roy Reams, '64, MA '82, HonDoc '98, who has been on tour since September '02; and Joel Newsome, '89. The touring cast has been full of alumni all across the country, Reams says.

Posing outside a theater in Appleton, Wis., are (from left), Tory Ross, '02; Bill Nolte, '76; Lee Roy Reams, '64, MA '82, HonDoc '98, who has been on tour since September '02; and Joel Newsome, '89.

Cast of the Producers

New York City's emphasis on musical theater may be driving CCM drama students away from town to look for work in L.A., but the N.Y. focus certainly benefits CCM's musical theater alumni, including these four cast members of the national touring company of "The Producers."