An occasional report from around campus that recognizes that UCLA is a school with a world-class reputation for research and innovation and whose people make real impact on the real world:
This week’s post opens not with headlines, but with a couple of examples of UCLA in the community. With the World Cup in full swing (in full kick?) I thought we’d take a look at how UCLA is assisting teachers who use the sport of soccer to engage students in academic subjects. I also have a story about UCLA student volunteers pitching in to furnish homes for those who need assistance. Then, there is a look at research into the affects of anesthesia on the brain, attempts to identify factories spewing toxins and the link between alcohol and suicide.
Lessons from the soccer field
L.A. teachers learn how to use soccer to engage students in academic subjects.
While fans from around the world keep their focus on Brazil where teams from 32 nations are battling it out for the World Cup, Rita Santos-Oyama, a second-grade teacher at Catskill Elementary School in Carson, is watching the games for more than just soccer action: She’s looking for lesson plans.
For Santos-Oyama and other Los Angeles primary and secondary who participated in a special two-day seminar organized recently by the UCLA Latin American Institute, soccer is more than just a global game of strategic kicks and national pride. It’s an instructional pathway to teaching politics, economics and globalization.
Funded by a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education and cosponsored by the UCLA Center for Brazilian Studies, the seminar "Soccer in Latin America" provided K-12 teachers with an opportunity to hear from leading soccer scholars, read up on the history of the sport and take a guided tour of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s exhibition "Fútbol: The Beautiful Game."
Santos-Oyama, an avid soccer fan and native of Brazil who has been teaching for 27 years, admitted that she was initially skeptical about how much material she would actually be able to take back to her classroom from a seminar focused on one sport. Yet, she was quickly impressed with the numerous ways she could creatively incorporate information into her second-grade curriculum.
In fact, after she took the seminar, students at her elementary school finished a six-week school-wide project that required them to research and learn about the history of the game and the countries participating in the FIFA World Cup games. They also analyzed math-related questions about soccer that were posted in school hallways.
UCLA student volunteers furnish hope by furnishing homes
As you travel around Westwood’s North Village this time of year, you can’t help but notice discarded couches, tables, mini-fridges and other bulky household items left behind by UCLA students who moved out.
As residents of the neighborhood, it didn’t take students Amir Hakimi and his friends Sam Asanad and Kian Asanad long to identify a problem.
"Seeing all of this senseless waste frustrated us because a lot of the furniture is really good quality," said Hakimi, a neuroscience major who will begin his senior year this fall. "We thought it was a shame that it was just being wasted and thrown onto the streets when something good could be made out of it."
Their organization, Furnish the Homeless, which was founded in 2012, curbs the dumping by scheduling pickups of discarded items from students and others who live within a five-mile radius of UCLA. From there, student volunteers deliver these items to formerly homeless Angelenos who are living in transitional housing throughout the city. Drives are held at the end of spring, fall and winter quarters, with spring being the busiest season.
"These are people who need help," said Hakimi. "We’re all on this earth together, and we should all be helping each other."
To date, the volunteers have helped furnish 29 homes with more than 145 donated items.
"Our ultimate goal is that people won’t even think about dumping their furniture onto the streets anymore," said Hakimi, adding that his group is working with students at UC Berkeley and UC Irvine to establish chapters of Furnish the Homeless on those campuses. "The second they want to get rid of an item, they’ll think of Furnish the Homeless, and we’ll be there. We’ll be there to collect those items and give them to individuals who could really use them. "
Study examines how brain 'reboots' itself to consciousness after anesthesia
One of the great mysteries of anesthesia is how patients can be temporarily rendered completely unresponsive during surgery and then wake up again, with all their memories and skills intact.
A new study by Dr. Andrew Hudson, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and colleagues provides important clues about the processes used by structurally normal brains to navigate from unconsciousness back to consciousness. Their findings are currently available in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Previous research has shown that the anesthetized brain is not "silent" under surgical levels of anesthesia but experiences certain patterns of activity, and it spontaneously changes its activity patterns over time, Hudson said.
For the current study, the research team recorded the brain’s electrical activity in a rodent model that had been administered the inhaled anesthesia isoflurane by placing electrodes in several brain areas associated with arousal and consciousness. They then slowly decreased the amount of anesthesia, as is done with patients in the operating room, monitoring how the electrical activity in the brain changed and looking for common activity patterns across all the study subjects.
The researchers found that the brain activity occurred in discrete clumps, or clusters, and that the brain did not jump between all of the clusters uniformly.
Is that factory near you spewing toxins? UCLA students create website to tell you
At eam of seven UCLA environmental science students has created a website that shows how emissions from local factories are impacting air quality in Los Angeles County.
Cal EcoMaps, launched this month, features an interactive map with detailed information about 172 facilities representing the top four emitting industries — petroleum, primary metals, fabricated metals and chemical production.
The website, created as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory University Challenge, will help residents of the Los Angeles Basin access information related to factory-produced toxic emissions. It will also benefit industrial facility operators, giving them a better sense of their environmental impact, how their sites compare to others and how they might improve their records.
"We wanted to target these four industries because they account for 89 percent of the total toxic releases in L.A. County," said student Leanna Huynh. Primary metals, she said, account for 38 percent of emissions, while petroleum accounts for 31 percent, fabricated metals make up 15 percent, and chemical producers are responsible for 5 percent.
UCLA Luskin study finds acute alcohol misuse among suicidal people
Research documents the role of heavy drinking in suicide attempts
One-third of all suicides in the U.S. involve acute use of alcohol before the fatal attempt, according to a study led by UCLA social welfare professor Mark Kaplan. The researchers say the findings underscore the need to link suicide prevention and alcohol-control strategies.
The study is the first to compare alcohol use among those who committed suicide with that of a nationally representative survey of non-suicidal adults in the United States. Its purpose was to provide estimates of the relative risk of suicide associated with drinking and heavy drinking occasions.
The report was published online June 12 by the Annals of Epidemiology.
The researchers found that alcohol was detected in nearly 36 percent of men and 28 percent of women who committed suicide. Additionally, a blood alcohol content at or above .08 grams per deciliter — considered legally intoxicated in many states — was a potent risk factor for suicide across the age spectrum, and that people who committed suicide were four to 20 times more likely than others to have engaged in heavy drinking at any point in their lives. High levels of alcohol consumption were also associated with the methods of suicide that are most likely to be fatal, such as shooting and hanging.
"The key finding is that the data showed alcohol misuse is common among people who are suicidal," said Kaplan, a faculty member at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. "Those who drank, drank heavily in the hour before taking their lives. Fewer than half of those who were alcohol positive at the time of death had a history of alcohol-related problems."