Prof. travels to Iraq to teach

first_imgA Notre Dame political science professor had the unique opportunity last month to teach students about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in a place where such terms are foreign and difficult to grasp.Professor Vincent Muñoz traveled to the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani (AUI-S) to teach students about the principles behind the United States Constitution and Declaration of Independence.“The ideas were new and not familiar. They really wanted to know what it means to have the right to life, the right to liberty,” Muñoz said. AUI-S, a private university, opened in 2007 and offers an American-style liberal arts education. All classes are taught in English.Muñoz met AUI-S Provost John Agresto last November after the Notre Dame professor gave a lecture about the Constitution in Philadelphia. Agresto later invited Muñoz to teach students about American democracy in a workshop setting at AUI-S.Muñoz left for Iraq on March 25 and returned on April 5, traveling 30 hours each way. Notre Dame’s Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts (ISLA) funded the trip.“I definitely want to thank Agustin Fuentes, director of the ISLA,” Muñoz said.On a typical day, Muñoz did some of his own work in the morning, ate lunch with faculty in the afternoon, met with his class and held informal conversations with students after class.“I taught for five days, but the total trip was 10 days,” Muñoz said. “I taught a 75 minute class which tended to go to 90 minutes. Anyone could come, and more students came every day.”Muñoz said the students arrived at each seminar class well prepared and with many questions.“The first day we did the Declaration of Independence and [discussed] what the purpose of government is. The second day we did the Federalist Number 10. [We then] spent two days on religious freedom and one day on constitutional design,” Muñoz said. “Students were so engaged because Iraq just wrote a constitution.”Muñoz said most students looked to America as the ideal democratic society.“[We discussed that] liberal democracy has its advantages and disadvantages,” he said. “They are so enamored with the idea of democracy, to have someone talk about the disadvantages of democracy was new to them.”Muñoz said some female students worried about the abuses of freedom. These students were concerned too much freedom could lead to an increased prevalence of abortions and pornography.Toward the end of his stay in Iraq, Muñoz gave a lecture open to the entire university titled “Constitutional Democracy and Religious Freedom.”“In the lecture I did a comparison between the Iraqi and American constitutions,” Muñoz said. “Islam is the established religion in the Iraqi constitution. I compared that to how we don’t have an official religion in America. Students thought it would be impossible not to have an established religion [In Iraq].”Muñoz said students were surprised a separation of church and state is not considered anti-religious. They also struggled to comprehend the idea of a limited government.“They had not seen the arguments for these ideas before,” Muñoz said.Muñoz said his class felt “in many ways, just like a seminar at Notre Dame.”But he said teaching students who are so unfamiliar with concepts like freedom of speech and freedom of religion — concepts most Americans do not think twice about — was refreshing.“[The trip] reminded me why I love to teach these things, because the students were so hungry to learn and the ideas were so new to them,” Muñoz said. “The eagerness of the students was infectious — they desire so much to live as a stable democracy like America.”last_img read more

Nanoscale biosensors

first_imgBy Cat HolmesUniversity of GeorgiaDiabetics who must frequently monitor their blood sugar levels can take heart. University of Georgia research engineers are developing tiny sensors that could eliminate the need for all those finger sticks.”There are lots of problems with the current technology (for measuring blood sugar),” said Guigen Zhang, one of three main researchers on the UGA project. “It’s not particularly accurate or stable, and it’s especially hard for children.”Zhang and his colleagues, bioengineer William Kisaalita and physicist Yiping Zhao, are working to create the first generation of nanoscale biosensors, funded by a four-year, $1 million National Science Foundation grant.Nanotechnology is the study and design of nanoscale systems — literally, measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter.”The idea is to create devices that can be imbedded in the body to monitor conditions — in this case, glucose for diabetes,” said Zhang, a bioengineer in the UGA department of biological and agricultural engineering.”But the application potential for this nanotechnology is very broad,” he said. “We can imagine adapting it for food safety, to monitor the environment (and for) biodefense.”Nanoscale structuresSo, how does one go about making anything, much less a functional structure, on such a small scale?That task, for this project, falls principally to Zhao, who uses a technology called glancing angle deposition (GLAD) to create nanostructures. With GLAD, substances like metal or silicon are heated until they vaporize and are then manipulated to create structures.”The unique part is that these are well-controlled structures, not random,” Zhang said. “The GLAD technology is not new. But using it to make nanostructured devices is relatively new, and using it as we are is very, very new.”Nanoscale problemsHowever, before the scientists start work on the structures, they must first address two basic problems that occur with any biosensor, large or small.One, biofouling, occurs when the sensor mechanism gets blocked. Just as dust particles can interfere with satellite reception, molecules, often proteins, can mar the surface of a nanoscale biosensor.When this happens, “it blocks the reaction of the sensor,” Zhang said, “and interferes with the sensor’s ability to track signals.”The other critical issue is long-term calibration. Sensor devices must be calibrated regularly, in the same way bathroom scales must regularly be adjusted back to zero.Solving the problem of how to recalibrate minute, implanted nanodevices will have broad applications for the whole of nanotechnology, particularly nanobiotechnology, Zhang said.Nanobiosensors will provide more accurate readings, he said, because many tiny sensors are better than one larger one and increase the sensitivity of the sensing.Nanotechnology futuresAlmost 17 million people in the United States have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Many must monitor their glucose level several times each day. And each time they must draw blood from a finger, hand or arm.Helen Brittain, 54, has been sticking her finger five or six times a day for almost 20 years.”You have to get used to it, but I’d rather not have to do it,” she said. “I spend a lot of energy keeping myself balanced.”Creating more accurate and convenient measuring systems will have a “huge social impact,” Zhang said.”We’re excited at many levels by this project,” Zhang said. “By harnessing interdisciplinary expertise through the UGA Faculty of Engineering, we’ve not only brought federal dollars to Georgia but we have the opportunity to play a significant role in very cutting-edge technology.”(Cat Holmes is a news editor for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)last_img read more

Woman who tried to smuggle drugs into prison for lover remanded

first_imgThe lover of a prisoner, who is on remand for murder, was slapped with a possession of narcotics for the purpose of trafficking charge and made her first appearance in court on Thursday.Twenty-nine-year-old, Wondika Sandiford appeared before Magistrate Zorina Ally-Seepaul at the Wales Magistrate’s Court, West Bank Demerara (WBD), without an attorney and pled not guilty to the charge.It was alleged that on Wednesday at about 13:00h, the 29-year-old female visited the Wales Police Station, West Bank Demerara (WBD), where prisoners were being held.According to the prosecution’s case, the woman approached police officers there and handed a rank a pair of black sneakers requesting that the policeman ensure that her boyfriend, Alexander La Cruz, receives the footwear.However, during the initial examination of the footwear, the rank became suspicious since the soles of each sneaker appeared out of place.He then proceeded to examine the items further which led to the discovery of a compressed plastic wrapper with 360 grams of cannabis in the form of leaves, seeds and stem in the inner sole of each sneaker.The 29-year-old female was immediately notified about the discovery and began to behave in a disorderly manner inside of the police station.However, the ranks continued with their investigation and weighed the narcotic in her presence before taking her into police custody.Magistrate Ally-Seepaul remanded the woman to prison. The case will continue on November 14, 2019.last_img read more