Idaho’s Greek System Welcomes Back Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity

By Emily Frank

MOSCOW, Idaho – After a five-year absence, the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity is recruiting men to restart their chapter at the University of Idaho.

“This fraternity is not new to campus, but is part of Idaho’s Greek history,” says Matt Kurz, Greek life advisor. “We are happy to have them back and the Phi Tau alum’s are excited to have them here.”

The Beta Gamma Chapter of Phi Kappa Tau was first established on campus Dec. 9, 1948 but left in 2007. Now, recruiters are seeking new members who exemplify the same values as their national organization. New members should be willing to lead, hard workers, positive forces, embrace once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and committed to forming a brotherhood.

Recruiters are on campus for nine weeks. In that time, they aim to train the chapter’s officers so they’ll be able to recruit on their own by fall semester, 2012. Recruitment is ongoing.

The chapter will be moving into what is now Steelhouse. Alumni are contributing to some renovations on the house. The house is smaller than those of many fraternities.

“It will have its own niche,” said Kurz. “The house holds 30, making it unique on campus.”

The Phi Kappa Tau philanthropy cause supports Hole in the Wall camps, which brighten the lives of children suffering from serious medical conditions and life-threatening illnesses. The fraternity will raise money for the camps and members may apply for summer positions at the camps.

“We look forward to contributing to each organization in some way and living the values all Greek’s stand for,” says Matt Marone, Phi Kappa Tau recruiter

State education board raises tuition at universities

The Idaho State Board of Education in a meeting today in Moscow voted to approve the amount of proposed tuition/fee increases for all of the state’s universities and colleges, according to a press release.

The following tuition/fee rates are now in effect for the 2011-2012 academic year, which starts in the fall:

University of Idaho

$5402   8.4%    $454    $5856   8.4%

Idaho State University

$5416   7.0 %   $380    $5796   7.0%

Boise State University

$5300   5.0%    $266    $5566   5.0%

Lewis-Clark State College

$4998   7.0%    $350    $5348   7.0%

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Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to Keynote 2011 Borah Symposium

by Joni Kirk

MOSCOW, Idaho – Former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his instrumental efforts in ending the decades of political violence that wracked the countries of Central America, will provide the keynote lecture at the University of Idaho’s 2011 Borah Symposium.

The symposium is scheduled for April 4-6 on the University of Idaho campus. Arias’ presentation will be held on Tuesday, April 5, at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Building Ballroom, 709 Deakin Ave. in Moscow.

As an international spokesperson for peace, his message can be summed up in a simple statement: “No nation should be secure but in liberty, rich but in compassion, nor strong but in the sense that other nations share equal fortitude.”

Arias will discuss setting the struggle for peace within a context of a rapidly changing and globalizing world. He believes that the idea of real peace in the new millennium will only be achieved by promoting human security. Arias will share the key challenges of poverty and inequality, and explain why these issues affect wealthy countries as well.

Arias was elected president in 1986. As president, he intervened against the activities of U.S.-backed Contras on Costa Rican territory. Although critical of the political system in Nicaragua, Arias concentrated on engaging Nicaragua and the other Central American states in a peace-making process. In May 1986, he met with the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua to discuss the proposals for a peaceful solution that had been worked out by the Contadora group. They did not reach full agreement, but early in 1987, Arias succeeded in calling a new meeting at which he submitted his own peace plan that departed in some respects from the Contadora plan. The accord finally approved by the five presidents in Guatemala was based on his plan.

Theogene Rudasingwa, former Rwandan ambassador to the U.S., also will speak at the symposium. He will spend a month at the university to teach a class on human security, in addition to speaking at the Borah Symposium.

As the first ambassador in post-genocide Rwanda, Rudasingwa contributed to shaping the country’s new relationship with the U.S. Prior to his service as ambassador, Rudasingwa was the secretary general of the Rwandese Patriotic Front and provided leadership to stop the genocide and save lives. He coordinated management, political, diplomatic and humanitarian activities after the signing of the Arusha Peace Agreement in 1994. He was a leading team member in the establishment of the Government of National Unity in Rwanda.

Additional details about the symposium will be available at a later date.

The Borah Symposium is sponsored by the university’s William Edgar Borah Outlawry of War Foundation, a separately endowed foundation at the University of Idaho established in 1929 to honor and continue the work of Idaho Sen. William Borah by considering the causes of war and the conditions necessary for peace in an international context.  Supported by the university’s Martin Institute, the Borah Foundation was created to advance research and teaching about the causes of conflict and peaceful resolution. For more than 60 years, the Borah Foundation has sponsored an annual program on the general theme of the causes of war and the conditions necessary for a lasting peace. In 1938, the Borah Foundation sponsored its first program, an address by Eleanor Roosevelt, a well-known advocate for peace and human rights. To commemorate her visit to the campus, she planted a Douglas fir tree which can still be seen across from the main entrance to the university’s Administration Building. Additional information is available at

NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium Receives $868,284 Grant for NASA’s Summer of Innovation

MOSCOW, Idaho – The NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium (ISGC) was chosen as one of only four states to participate in NASA’s Summer of Innovation (SOI) program. The ISGC’s proposal, Idaho, Montana and Utah – Summer of Innovation: NASA Education and STEM Programs for Underrepresented Populations, was awarded the full grant of $868,284 for the three year program.

The SOI experience will begin in June 2010. The NASA ISGC SOI program will bring NASA-centered science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education to middle schools with high populations of students from underrepresented groups.

Six ISGC teams will travel to a total of 13 locations on the tribal reservations and in areas with high Latino student populations throughout Idaho, Montana and Utah. At each location, the teams will conduct summer programs with both students and teachers. The programs will be based on the NASA themes of space exploration, aeronautics and earth science.

The SOI program will equip teachers with tools that will help enhance their STEM curricula within their classrooms. The workshops will be offered at no charge to educators, and each teacher will receive a $250 stipend and two professional development credits for participating in the three-day program.

The student portion will consist of five days where they will attend classes, conduct experiments and participate in hands-on activities based on the NASA themes. Students will build model rockets as they learn about aeronautics, work with robots and cosmology as they study space exploration, and take field trips to learn about earth science. Classes will include topics in math, chemistry, physics, electronics, computer science, geology, earth science, biology and mechanics. All classes will be offered to students at no cost and each student will receive lunch each day while participating.

“We are humbled yet excited to bring NASA to our Native American and Hispanic populations,” said Aaron Thomas, NASA ISGC director and principal investigator of the proposal. “We are looking forward to working with our junior high teachers and students throughout Idaho, Montana and Utah.”

Team leaders will congregate in Boise, Idaho, June 7-8, for the SOI kick-off event, where they will attend workshops and develop the curriculum they will be teaching throughout the summer.

The tentative Summer of Innovation schedule is as follows:

June 14-16 (Teacher) Castledale, UT

June 21-23 (Teacher) Nampa, ID

June 27-July 2 (Student) Nampa ID

June 27-July 2 (Student) Blanding, UT

June 28-30 (Teacher) Homedale, ID

July 7-9 (Teacher) Plummer, ID

July 12-14 (Teacher) Lapwai, ID

July 12-14 (Teacher) Twin Falls, ID

July 18-23 (Student) Lapwai, ID

July 18-23 (Student) Twin Falls, ID

July 25-30 (Student) Skull Valley, UT

July 25-30 (Student) Blackfoot, ID

July 26-28 (Teacher) Blackfoot, ID

August 2-6 (Student) Plummer, ID

TBD (Teacher & Student) Poison, MT

TBD (Teacher & Student) Browning, MT

For more information or to request a registration packet for the ISGC’s 2010 Summer of Innovation program, contact the ISGC directly by phone at (208) 885-6438.

Kim Barnes Wins Prestigious PEN USA Award

Professor Shared Process of Writing Award Winning Novel

MOSCOW, Idaho – PEN USA, the West Coast center for the renowned writers’ organization, International PEN, has announced the winners of its prestigious 2009 Literary Awards competition. Kim Barnes, writer and University of Idaho professor of creative writing, won in the fiction category for her second novel, “A Country Called Home.”


The PEN USA award places Barnes in good company: 2009 recipients includes Creative Nonfiction winner Steve Lopez, who won for “The Soloist,” published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, now  a movie distributed by Dreamworks and Universal Pictures; and Dustin Lance Black, who won in the screenplay category for “Milk,” which also earned an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.


A complete list of 2009 PEN USA winners is available at 

Barnes is very likely the only PEN USA winner to use her experience writing award winning fiction as an educational tool.


“I wrote ‘A Country Called Home’ while teaching at the University of Idaho with my students creating their own stories and essays right along beside me,” said Barnes. “As I submitted ‘A Country Called Home’ for publication, I shared with my fiction students the process of writing, revising and submitting a novel. I showed them every agent comment, good and bad, and each editorial rejection and, luckily, acceptance. Finally, we’re all in this together.”


“When I receive an award like this, I feel privileged to represent the Idaho community that has shaped and supported me, and honored to be a part of the community of extraordinary writers who make up the PEN USA tradition,” she said.


Her first novel, “Finding Caruso,” was published in 2003. She is currently at work on a third novel, to be published by renowned New York publishing house, Alfred A. Knopf.


Barnes previously published two memoirs: “In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country,” a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize; and in 2000, “Hungry for the World.” She also holds a 2001 Pushcart Prize for her essay, “The Ashes of August,” among other literary awards and distinctions.

 The University of Idaho’s unique MFA program is delivered by the writers and poets producing some of Idaho’s greatest contemporary literature. Much of that work has been recognized nationally and globally. MFA faculty also nurture a next generation of great writers. For more information on the program, visit

The Martin Institute Celebrates 30 Years with Forum "From Iraq to Idaho"

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the Martin Institute at the University of Idaho will host a one night event “From Iraq to Idaho” as part of the Martin Forum on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. The event will take place in the University Auditorium in the Administration Building, 851 Campus Dr. in Moscow. Admission is free.

The evening forum begins with opening remarks by University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis, followed by a panel discussion with Wisam “Sam” Abdul Aziz Al-Hormezi and Leslye Moore on their experiences with the refugee resettlement program in the U.S. The discussion will be followed by a question and answer period.

“We’re excited to highlight this linkage of international issues to the state of Idaho,” said Bill L. Smith, director of the Martin Institute and School. “It fits nicely with Boyd and Grace’s vision and is a worthy way to recognize the thirtieth anniversary.”

Al-Hormezi was a translator for U.S. Armed Forces in his native Iraq before becoming a refugee and, eventually, resettling in Boise. He earned a bachelor’s degree in standard English and a master’s degree in English and American Literature, both from the Bagdad University in Iraq. He taught “English as a Second Language” at the Salahideen University in Erbil, Iraq. He also served as a cultural adviser for Blackwater Worldwide, responsible for maintaining an open line of communication between the company and Kurdistan Regional Government, translating official documents, interpreting directly into three languages, and briefing senior level company executives about emerging situations in Iraq. Before joining Blackwater, Al-Hormezi worked as interpreter for the U.S. Army National Guard with real-time translation for the 210th Military Police Company in Bagdad.

Moore is the director of the International Rescue Committee in Boise. Since 2005, she has worked with the Project for Strengthening Organizations Assisting Refugees as an expert adviser in strategic planning and effective leadership. Moore shares her expertise with a number of refugee-run community organizations across the country. Her contributions to Project SOAR as a member of the Field Advisory Network play an integral role in the project’s success in working with ethnic-community based organizations.

The celebration coincides with a meeting that will take place earlier in the day of the Martin Institute Advisory Board and the arrival of Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.

Founded in 1979 by Boyd and Grace Martin, the Martin Institute is celebrating 30 years of advancing research and teaching into the causes of conflict and peaceful resolution. The Institute administers an interdisciplinary undergraduate major in International Studies including offering courses, speakers, and sponsors a lecture and discussion series on international topics.

Constitution Day Events Set for Sept. 17

MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho will host a full day of education and activities Thursday, Sept. 17, as part of Constitution Day.

Judge N. Randy Smith, of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, will address free press and fair trial issues at 9:30 a.m. during a Law and Mass Media class in the Teaching and Learning Center, 875 S. Line St. in Moscow. Smith also will participate in an open forum discussing the responsibilities and constitutional limits of the press versus the guarantee of a right to a fair and speedy trial. The forum is planned from 2-3:15 p.m. in the Courtroom of the Menard Law Building, 711 Rayburn St. in Moscow. Smith’s visit was arranged through the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Courts and Media Judges.

Smith currently lives in Pocatello. He was nominated to the bench by former President George W. Bush. The judge graduated from Brigham Young University with his bachelor’s degree in 1974 and received his law degree there in 1977.

A readers’ theatre performance of “A Peculiar Evil: Silencing Expression in America” will be performed by the Mirror Shakespeare Theatre, directed by Ron Hufham. The performance, compiled by Journalism and Mass Media faculty member Dinah Zeiger with third-year law student Travis Wilson, dramatizes the fight for a free press in America.

The piece has four main sections, and this year’s performance will touch only the first, which concerns the origins of the Constitution and how it was modified to include a Bill of Rights. The performance concludes with the debate that ensued when Congress passed the Sedition Act of 1798, in which Thomas Jefferson and John Madison articulate why the press must never be muzzled, especially when reporting on issues of public concern.

“I hope the audience will take away from the performance a sense of the magnitude of this document,” Zeiger said. “It was the product of a revolution in thought as well as a rebellion against the old order.

The event will take place at noon on the first floor of the University of Idaho Library, 850 Rayburn St. in Moscow.

Students and others will be able to compete for prizes during the noon hour in a Jeopardy!-like game on the Idaho Commons plaza. Visitors and students also will be able to “Write on the Wall” in response to three constitutional questions posted on a wall near the Teaching Learning Center’s west entrance to the Commons food court, 875 S. Line St. in Moscow.

A highlight of the day is a panel discussion, “Conversations on the Constitution,” set for 3:30-5 p.m. Idaho Commons Horizon and Aurora rooms. The panel will discuss Fourth Amendment guarantees regarding search and seizure, particularly whether the Constitution protects the contents of students’ pockets, purses and backpacks from searches on a college campus without a warrant.

The panel will be moderated by Maureen Laflin, University of Idaho College of Law faculty member. Panel members include Idaho District Judge John Stegner of Moscow, College of Law constitutional scholar Richard Seamon and Donald Crowley, chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs Research.

The University of Idaho Constitution Day committee members are Zeiger; Elizabeth Brandt, the James E. Rogers Distinguished Professor in the College of Law; and Crowley.

Katherine Aiken, dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, and Jeanne Christiansen, vice provost for Academic Affairs, provided grants to support the day’s activities.

Zeiger said the day’s events showcase a document that is important to all Americans.

“It is important for all citizens, not only students, to understand the significance of the Constitution, which is a testament to the functioning of a self-governing society,” Zeiger said. “The U.S. Constitution revolutionized the very notion of governance and serves as a check upon government power. It clearly states that ‘we the people’ are the ultimate authority.”

Constitution Day recognizes the event 222 years ago when delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the document they had created. Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-W.V.) inserted language into the 2005 federal spending bill that requires all educational institutions, including colleges and universities, which receive federal funds from any agency to have programming for Constitution Day. For more information about Constitution Day, visit

It’s Not Easy Being Gene Suppressed

Written by Ken Kingery

MOSCOW, Idaho – Frogs around the world are dying from a fungal pathogen perhaps because they don’t realize they are sick.

In a study conducted at the University of Idaho, scientists found that the immune system of the study’s frog species failed to respond to the chytrid fungus known as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). In fact, it appears the fungal infection actually may suppress its victim’s immune system.

The findings are reported in a paper recently published in the Public Library of Science online edition (PLoS ONE), an interactive open-access journal for the communication of all peer-reviewed scientific and medical research.

“The biggest thing we found was a surprising lack of response by the frogs,” said Erica Bree Rosenblum, assistant professor of biological sciences and lead author of the study. “If you are hit with a deadly disease, you would expect that your body would do something about it. But we found that these frogs are not turning on immune function genes the way you would expect them to.”

Bd is an ancient fungus that only recently began killing frogs around the world. It lives inside of a frog’s skin, wreaking havoc by some unknown mechanism. Previous studies have shown that once Bd is introduced to a habitat, up to 50 percent of amphibian species and 80 percent of individuals can die within one year.

Scientists do not know how or why Bd kills its host, so Rosenblum is attacking the problem through genetics.

The study examined gene expression in the skin, liver and spleen of infected frogs of the species Silurana (Xenopus) tropicalis – a species highly susceptible to Bd – both three days after exposure and shortly before death. The skin was studied to determine what mechanisms cause frogs to die, while the liver and spleen were chosen to study the immune system’s response to the fungus.

Results found that not only are the genes related to immune response in infected frogs not turning on, but those genes actually are being suppressed.

“And that is the exact opposite of what one would expect to find,” said Rosenblum.

Besides the immune system, the study also looked at the frog’s skin to determine what processes, if any, are responsible for what amounts to a skin infection killing a vertebrate. This is a rare occurrence because, after all, humans don’t die from fungal skin conditions such as ringworm. So why should a fungal skin infection cause frogs to croak?

Though the study did not find any smoking guns, it did point to some disrupted genes in the frog’s skin – an organ that is much more important to an aquatic animal’s health than a land lover’s.

Other disrupted genes seem to affect cellular detoxification, which could make the frogs susceptible to toxins created by the fungus, the natural environment, or both.

According to Rosenblum, though this study is not good news for frogs, and only encompasses one species in a controlled environment, it is an important piece of the puzzle.

“This study is not the answer, but it is a necessary first step to help us find the answer,” said Rosenblum. “The next step in finding this answer involves further research on the generality of these findings in other species and other conditions.”

The research paper can be found online at:

If You Build It: Ultrafast, Ultra-rare Instrument Will Probe Building Blocks of Life

Written by Ken Kingery

MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho soon will build – from scratch – a piece of research equipment so rare that only a few dozen exist in the entire world.

Thanks to a National Science Foundation equipment grant totaling $710,000, scientists are purchasing components to build an ultrafast infrared spectrometer. At the heart of the machine is a laser that creates bursts of light pulses one-ten-trillionth of a second long capable of probing the most fundamental characteristics of molecules.

“The individual components of the spectrometer are commercially available, but the assembled machine is not,” said Eric Brauns, professor of chemistry at the University of Idaho, who acquired the grant and will build the device over the next few years. “Putting the pieces together and making them do what we want is unique enough that there are probably less than 50 research groups using a piece of equipment like this.”

Though other scientists have constructed similar instruments, the blueprints are not set in stone, and that leaves plenty of room for improvement by incorporating new ideas and features.

The innovation comes in during a series of optical components that the laser must pass through to create high-powered pulses one-ten-trillionth of a second long; a time period so short that light travels only the width of a human hair within it. Researchers will take laser pulses from different points in this process to allow several variations of the laser to be used for a multitude of different experiments. In effect, the instrument will produce ultrafast pulses tunable from ultraviolet to mid-infrared wavelengths.

“It makes the instrument very versatile,” said Brauns, who is one of several chemistry professors at the University of Idaho already planning on using the instrument.

Tom Bitterwolf will study the ultrafast photochemistry of inorganic compounds, Peter Griffiths plans to study the interaction of mid-infrared photons with diffusely scattering media and Richard Williams will investigate homoaromatic organic compounds.

But first, Brauns must build the instrument and take the first crack at using it. Brauns plans to study the structure of RNA, the cousin of DNA responsible for making proteins.

To do this, he will heat an RNA solution with a short laser pulse – in much the same way that a microwave oven heats food but in an ultra short time frame – to cause the RNA to unfold. As the RNA returns to its original state, the new spectrometer will zap it with a series of infrared laser pulses in a matter of ten-trillionths of a second. The interactions of these pulses will generate a fourth pulse that, when observed, will reveal information about the RNA’s structure.

“Nobody has studied RNA and nucleic acids with this technique yet,” said Brauns. “It allows you to begin to characterize intermediates in the RNA folding process; something that we currently don’t have a way to do. But this is a technique that opens up that possibility.”