Janis Tupesis honored for work in emergency medicine and education

Janis Tupesis, the Global Health Institute’s graduate medical education liaison, received the 2018 Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award from Global Emergency Medicine Academy (GEMA) of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM).

The award is GEMA’s highest honor, given to an “individual whose work serves as a beacon for future emergency physicians and who has put the needs of patients over self.”

“I have been lucky enough to be at the intersection of education, administration and global health practice,” Tupesis says. “It means a lot to have had the ability to help move the agenda of emergency care forward in a global setting and to focus on how education plays a role in health systems development.”

GEMA presents the award annually to an individual who has improved the delivery of emergent/acute care the world-over through service, leadership, mentorship and academic endeavor. To be eligible for the award the individual needs to be an active SAEM member, GEMA member and have 10 years or more of global health experience.

Tupesis, an emergency physician and former UW-Madison Emergency Medicine residency director at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, completed his residency training at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics and received his medical degree from UW-Madison.

Tupesis also works as a volunteer technical consultant at the World Health Organization’s Emergency, Trauma and Acute Care program and serves as the chairperson of the Graduate Medical Education Global Health committee at the UW-Madison Hospitals and Clinics.

During his career, Tupesis says he has focused on bilateral collaboration and partnerships, which he have led to the development of education training programs, curricula and international partnerships.

Currently, Tupesis is working to further develop graduate medical education programs in Liberia, Ethiopia and South Africa that integrate global health into their training. Tupesis emphasizes the significance of completing a residency rotation abroad and the different perspective it gives students.

To help medical students safely and effectively participate in international rotations, Tupesis helped develop “The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Health,” an online, open-access course. The three-part course gives students resources and information about what they should expect from a global health rotation, how to properly prepare for the trip and tools to prepare for their return.

Tupesis has also worked on projects focusing on the intersection of education, health systems and technology, such as creating an app designed to give doctors critical information when they need it. Thanks to a 2015 GHI Seed Grant, Tupesis and his colleagues in South Africa were able to develop the “Essential Medicine Guidance” app and introduce it in the Western Cape province in July 2016. After a month, emergency health care providers were using it regularly to access information such as what medicines are available and hospital’s clinical guidelines to manage specific conditions.

“Truthfully, the biggest achievement I have had is to have surrounded myself with family, friends and colleagues who have been so incredibly supportive of all of my projects, despite the huge commitment of time that is spent away from them,” Tupesis says. “Without them none of this would have been possible.”

By Izabela Zaluska / June 11, 2018

Hurricanes are slowing down, and that’s bad news


Some hurricanes are moving more slowly, spending increased time over land and leading to catastrophic local rainfall and flooding, according to a new study published Wednesday (June 6) in the journal Nature.

While hurricanes batter coastal regions with destructive wind speeds, study author James Kossin says the speed at which hurricanes track along their paths — their translational speed — can also play a role in the damage and devastation they cause. Their movement influences how much rain falls in a given area.

This is especially true as global temperatures increase.

“Just a 10 percent slowdown in hurricane translational speed can double the increase in rainfall totals caused by 1 degree Celsius of global warming,” says Kossin, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Center for Weather and Climate. He is based at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The study compared 68 years (1949–2016) of worldwide hurricane track and intensity data, known as best-track data, from NOAA to identify changes in translational speeds. It found that, worldwide, hurricane translational speeds have averaged a 10 percent slowdown in that time.

One recent storm highlights the potential consequences of this slowing trend. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey stalled over eastern Texas rather than dissipating over land, as hurricanes tend to do. It drenched Houston and nearby areas with as much as 50 inches of rain in one day, shattering historic records and leaving some areas under several feet of water.

How much hurricanes have slowed depends on where they occur, Kossin found. “There is regional variation in the slowdown rates when looking at the 10 percent global average across the same time frame,” he says.

The most significant slowdown, 20 percent, occurred in the Western North Pacific Region, an area that includes Southeast Asia. Nearby, in the Australian Region, Kossin identified a reduction of 15 percent. In the North Atlantic Region, which includes the U.S., Kossin found a 6 percent slowdown in the speeds at which hurricanes move.

When further isolating the analysis to hurricane speeds over land, where their impact is greatest, Kossin found that slowdown rates can be even greater. Hurricanes over land in the North Atlantic have slowed by as much as 20 percent, and those in the Western North Pacific as much as 30 percent.

Kossin attributes this, in part, to the effects of climate change, amplified by human activity. Hurricanes move from place to place based on the strength of environmental steering winds that push them along. But as the Earth’s atmosphere warms, these winds may weaken, particularly in places like the tropics, where hurricanes frequently occur, leading to slower-moving storms.

Additionally, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor, potentially increasing the amount of rain a hurricane can deliver to an area.

The study complements others that demonstrate climate change is affecting hurricane behavior.

For instance, in 2014, Kossin showed that hurricanes are reaching their maximum intensities further from the tropics, shifting toward the poles in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. These shifts can deliver hurricanes to areas — including some heavily populated coastal regions — that have not historically dealt with direct hits from storms and the devastating losses of life and property that can result.

Another study, published in April by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, used a modeling approach to look at what would happen to hurricanes under future climate projections. Using real hurricane data from 2000–2013, the researchers found future hurricanes will experience a 9 percent slowdown, higher wind speeds, and produce 24 percent more rainfall.

“The rainfalls associated with the ‘stall’ of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey in the Houston, Texas, area provided a dramatic example of the relationship between regional rainfall amounts and hurricane translation speeds,” says Kossin. “In addition to other factors affecting hurricanes, like intensification and poleward migration, these slowdowns are likely to make future storms more dangerous and costly.”

This story first appeared at news.wisc.edu.

By Erik Verbeten / June 6, 2018

UW-Madison’s UniverCity Alliance names Gavin Luter as director

UniverCity Alliance director Gavin Luter is with a student who won a “Flash Talk” prize for a presentation on affordable housing.

Gavin Luter has been named director of the UniverCity Alliance at UW-Madison, which connects students and educators with communities to solve local challenges.

The Alliance, created in the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea, organizes the UniverCity Year program, which forged partnerships between UW-Madison and the city of Monona in 2016-17, Dane County in 2017-18 and, next year, Green County. In Monona, 23 UW-Madison classes worked on 30 projects, including parks and recreation, economic development and active transportation. In Dane County, 21 classes addressed challenge from water quality to housing.

The kickoff for UniverCity Year Green County will be August 21 at the Monroe High School Performing Arts Center.

“It is so clear to me that universities and colleges should be working alongside communities to solve their most vexing issues,” Luter says. “Not only do communities have a lot to gain from faculty, staff and students, but the university also has a lot to learn from these communities. Our knowledge is incomplete without working alongside people who are closest to the issues facing them.”

The UniverCity Alliance was established by campus leaders from units including the Global Health Institute (GHI), the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the Morgridge Center for Public Service, COWS and others. Luter replaces Jason Vargo, a former GHI assistant scientist who moved to become a lead research scientist for the Climate Change and Health Equity Program at the California Department of Public Health.

“Gavin comes to the UniverCity Alliance with a lot of distinguished experience through Wisconsin Campus Compact and has excellent relations across the state, especially with other universities and colleges,” says Joel Rogers, director of UW-Madison’s COWS. “He is a boon for the UniverCity Alliance and UniverCity programs, and we are lucky to have him.”

Lori DiPrete Brown, an associate director at GHI, looks to Luter’s leadership to benefit Wisconsin communities. “Gavin’s vision for the program combines educational excellence and community impact,” she says. “With his leadership we can develop this program to make positive change for communities in Wisconsin, and to make local to global connections for a healthier more sustainable world.”

Luter most recently served as executive director of the Wisconsin Campus Compact, where he worked with universities and colleges to change institutional culture to support community-engaged policies and practices. He has published several peer-reviewed articles and served as guest editor of a peer-reviewed academic journal on community-school-university partnerships and the intersection of school reform and neighborhood development.

As part of his project work with the University at Buffalo Center for Urban Studies, Luter served as education planning director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhood initiative where he worked to secure over $16 million in commitments from 45 different philanthropic and higher education partners to create a neighborhood-linked education system.

“The UniverCity Alliance gets at the true nature of the Wisconsin Idea by working with local governments to ensure they can address issues most pressing to their citizens,” Luter says. “This is really about the university getting out of its traditional way of doing things and meeting people where they are.”

In addition to working with UW-Madison professors and students, the Alliance hopes to collaborate with other universities and colleges across the state. “The Wisconsin Idea is not only relevant to UW-Madison,” Luter says. “It’s a broader idea that colleges and universities should be more engaged in working with the community to solve issues.”

By Ann Grauvogl / May 16, 2018

In second year, UniverCity has students, faculty seeking solutions to Dane County problems

In its second year, UW–Madison’s UniverCity Year program directed 305 students and 16 faculty members across 11 departments to come up with ways to address Dane County’s housing gap, improve economic development, and protect its water quality.

On May 4, students, faculty members and the Dane County Board of Supervisors celebrated the year-long UniverCity collaboration. The program works to extend the Wisconsin Idea to the level of the classroom by pairing UW–Madison’s latest research, technology, and brainpower with local government.

“Getting two departments to do the same thing … is a miracle,” said Paul Robbins, director of the UW–Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies “Eleven is because this is a good idea.”

Students and faculty from disparate schools and departments – from Engineering and Environmental Studies to Journalism and Real Estate – filled the Lake Mendota Room of Dejope Residence Hall with poster boards detailing how best to improve their community. In all, 26 projects were completed and presented.

Students from a residential real estate development class tackled affordable housing for the Village of DeForest. Senior Austin Jansen, a real estate and finance major, presented the class’ proposal for a Section 42 tax incentive program which would encourage developers to put private investment into the development of 51 units of affordable housing.

The class did a detailed survey of the land and its resources, made a trip to the village to select an ideal spot for development, and met with city officials to determine feasibility.

“This is the one opportunity where you really get to work out into the community and look at a real site and a real development,” Jansen said. “Being able to work with city officials is really valuable too – being able to get feedback on the projects that you’re doing and see the feedback you would get if you were out in the private market doing it yourself.”

Jim LaGro, a professor of Urban and Regional Planning, said the program employs a favorite teaching style of his called “experiential learning.”

He said he’s been using experiential learning to get students working on real world problems for more than two decades. The aspect of UniverCity Year that makes it stand out, though, is that it pulls departments and schools out of their “silos” and lets them collaborate.

Last semester he taught a class on urban design that looked at the populations that need affordable housing in Dane County. Each student was asked to create a profile of a typical household in the county.

“It was very perceptive. It was very emotional in terms of the stories that students told about households that might need this kind of housing, including some personal experiences of relatives who were in those situations,” LaGro said. “It was a very moving experience for me and I think for many of the students.”

This semester he taught undergraduate classes inlandscape architecture and housing and urban design.

“In both cases I think we’re really blessed here at the University of Wisconsin in terms of having very smart students, caring students, and students who have great work ethics,” LaGro said. “That’s a real luxury when you’re a professor.”

The Dane County Board of Supervisors, with its 37 elected supervisors who create policy for the county, offered real-life situations for classes to work on. Sharon Corrigan, Chair of the Dane County Board, said the projects have created buzz among supervisors who are excited by the students’ and faculty members’ plans and geared up to implement them.

“We knew we were going to get a good product, but the process has been especially exciting too,” Corrigan said. “To have this center of thinking and learning and exploration working on our problems has been really gratifying.”

The issue underpinning all projects was equity, Corrigan said. Even projects that worked to improve the water quality of lakes, for instance, were chosen because the local government wants to ensure everyone can share in the lake equally.

“Every bit of this has been about having our community be equally successful in Dane County,” Corrigan said. “And it’s not just equity but inclusion in this process from all walks of life.”

UniverCity Year is a program within UniverCity Alliance, a broader effort bridging local government, the people of Wisconsin, and UW together in order to work on public issues.

Gavin Luter, UniverCity Alliance’s new director as of April, said UniverCity Year is a realization of the Wisconsin Idea.

“This really is the heart of the Wisconsin Idea, to make sure that local government, state government can learn from the expertise on campus,” Luter said.

Last year, students, faculty, and officials worked on problems facing the city of Monona. This upcoming year, it’s Green County’s turn.

“I’m looking forward to doing some more work next year … that might bring our different skill sets and worldviews and areas of expertise together to really do some powerful stuff,” LaGro said.

Green County, located in south central Wisconsin and known for its pastoral scenery, is politically and socially different from Dane County and offers its own unique set of pressing problems, Robbins said. But the UniverCity Year model is flexible, he added, and can move anywhere in the state.

UniverCity Alliance is currently recruiting faculty for the coming semester to work on projects like reviving the county’s downtown centers, designing safe transportation routes to school, and launching cooperatives to support farmers.

May 4 did not mark the end of the relationship between UniverCity Alliance and Dane County but was merely the beginning of a conversation, Robbins said. In the future, faculty, students, and alumni will still be able to come to the table and hash out solutions to Dane County’s most urgent concerns.

This story appeared first at news.wisc.edu.

By Parker Schorr / May 15, 2018