Crowdsourcing, the act of contracting out problems to large groups rather than tapping individual experts, has solved puzzles in fields such as marketing, engineering, and computer software. But can the wisdom of crowds help cure disease?A large, multidisciplinary panel has recently selected 12 pioneering ideas for attacking type 1 diabetes, ideas selected through a crowdsourcing experiment called the “Challenge,” in which all members of the Harvard community, as well as members of the general public, were invited to answer the question: What do we not know to cure type 1 diabetes?“We wanted to ask the entire Harvard community — faculty, students, and administrators and staff of all levels and specialties — to share their ‘out of the box’ questions and proposals for this challenge, regardless of whether they had the expertise or resources to answer the question,” said Harvard Catalyst Director and Harvard Medical School (HMS) Dean for Clinical and Translational Research Lee Nadler. “We wanted the participants to apply their insights to a problem that may not have been in their academic or intellectual domain.”Among the authors of the winning ideas are a patient, an undergraduate student, an M.D./Ph.D. student, a human resources representative, and researchers who are not experts in the field.Out of 190 entries, 12 were chosen. Each of the winners, who were formally announced in a ceremony held at Harvard Medical School on Sept. 28, will receive a prize of $2,500. Working with the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Harvard Catalyst plans to solicit research proposals from within the Harvard research community on some or all or the winning questions.In a letter to the Harvard University community at the Challenge’s launch in February, Harvard President Drew Faust expressed her hope that “such broad outreach will help stimulate innovative thinking and potential new understandings and therapies,” wishing that “in the spirit of this novel project, we will continue to multiply the means to connect the remarkable people and ideas across Harvard in imaginative and powerful ways.”Apart from the potentially revolutionary submissions from the community, the Challenge, in which Harvard collaborated with InnoCentive, provides evidence that finding new and innovative ideas for tackling disease is itself an act of innovation. “The Challenge was an exercise in tapping the knowledge of the widest possible community and encouraging the formation of new teams and new forms of collaboration around a specific topic area,” said Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Eva Guinan, director of the Harvard Catalyst Linkages program and one of the Challenge’s co-leaders.According to research by Challenge co-leader Karim Lakhani, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, innovation contests like this one can help reveal and foster unexpected and novel solutions to vexing scientific problems. “Open innovation is an effective way to solve scientific problems in the business world.”The Challenge was part of an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)-funded effort by Harvard Catalyst and InnoCentive to investigate whether new approaches employed in the private sector for sparking new research directions and collaborations might be useful in the academic health care community.The winners and their ideas Anonymous: The Diabetes Triangle: A Systematic Approach to Align Diabetes Classification with Diabetes Management A new way of looking at diabetes by the numbers. Is there a better way of classifying diabetes than “type 1” and “type 2?” This winner, a patient with an uncommon form of diabetes and who wished to remain anonymous, thinks there is: A new scale — the Diabetes Triangle — that would use three simple measures to classify diabetes in a much more fine-grained, personalized way. This easy-to-use scale would help patients, and their doctors, better understand their disease and the steps they need to take to control it.Megan Blewett: Lipid Autoreactivity in Type 1 Diabetes: Clue to Etiology, Co-occurrence, and Drug Discovery Diabetes Chemistry 101. Even though diabetes medications are essentially chemicals, we don’t know much about the chemistry underlying the development of diabetes. Harvard College undergraduate chemistry major Blewett suggests that studying diabetes — and in particular how, in the context of diabetes, the immune system interacts with molecules called lipids — from a chemical perspective could yield new insights into the diabetic process and new strategies for treatment.“I first heard about the Challenge through the campuswide email sent by President Faust,” said Blewett ’11. “I was drawn to the fact that the challenge promised to create a dialogue spanning scientific disciplines and based on the merit of people’s ideas. Opportunities like this are extremely rare.Kevin Dolan: Type 1 Diabetes, Patient Maintenance and Care Keeping a constant eye on blood sugar. The current crop of implanted insulin pumps do their job by keeping constant track of the amount of glucose in the fluids that bathe our cells, a kind of proxy method for tracking blood sugar. Dolan, who works in Human Resources at HMS and who has type 1 diabetes, suggests that a new generation of pumps that sample blood sugar directly could help improve patients’ quality of life and blood sugar control, consequently bringing overall health care costs down.“Type 1 diabetes is a complicated disease that requires one to be thinking constantly about what he/she eats, what his/her exercise level has been or needs to be, what his/her blood sugar level is at, and knowing if it rising or falling,” said Dolan. “Despite all that, it is not a disease that prevents someone from being successful in whatever endeavor they choose to pursue. I felt providing the perspective to Challenge of someone who deals with type 1 diabetes on a daily basis would help researchers as they pursue improved diabetes care management and eventually a cure.”Mark Feinberg: Synergistic System Targeting for Type I Diabetes Taking a multipronged approach. Which is better: to treat the root causes of diabetes from one direction at a time, or from multiple directions at once? Feinberg favors the latter. He suggests that a better understanding of how different parts of the immune system affect the pancreas in diabetes would allow for the development of tools capable of targeting those parts simultaneously.“I had two recent ‘jolts’ that motivated me to take part in the contest,” said Feinberg, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “First, I recently had a patient with long-standing type 1 diabetes who, despite his and his doctors’ best efforts, was suffering the end-stage effects of his disease. The second was the news that a very young family member of mine had just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This prompted me to think about my own research endeavors and whether some of the things I’ve been studying could be applicable to this disease.”David Friedman: A Quiet Role for Platelets and Eosinophils in Pathogenesis of Type 1 Diabetes?Roles for other immune cells in diabetes? The discussion about immunity in type 1 diabetes usually focuses on T cells. But the immune system has many, many more components. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center nephrologist Friedman wants to know whether these other parts, including, for example, cells and proteins involved in the body’s response to allergens and parasites, might also play roles in the development of diabetes.“In thinking about the Challenge, I wanted to connect immunity and autoimmunity through the lens of genetics,” Friedman explained. “These are ideas that would generally be considered too speculative for funding through typical channels.”Jason Gaglia: In-depth Analysis of T Cell Repertoire During the Development of Type 1 Diabetes in Pancreatic Islet Infiltrating and Peripheral CD4 T Cells The T cell as a window on diabetes development. What can immune system T cells tell us about the origins of diabetes? Gaglia, an endocrinologist in the Pathology Department at HMS, suggests quite a bit. He proposes using T cells in the blood as a view into what’s going on in the pancreas of patients with diabetes. This approach could help lead to new, targeted treatments, or to ways of measuring whether treatments are working.“The Challenge gave me an opportunity to think globally about approaches to diabetes, as opposed to the niche my research has focused on,” Gaglia commented. “It has helped me explore aspects of my field and related fields that are removed from my current research.Danwei Huangfu: A Cell-Electronic Approach to Insulin Therapy Merging biology and engineering. Where should we look for the next generation of blood sugar monitors? Our own bodies. Eons of evolution have fine-tuned our beta cells to sense blood sugar levels and secrete insulin accordingly, in precisely the right amounts. Huangfu, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, proposes linking beta cells of the pancreas to an electronic insulin pump, establishing a new paradigm for diabetes control.“I am preparing to start my own laboratory, and looked at the Challenge as an opportunity to identify novel research directions,” said Huangfu. “But I realized that my own research had become more focused on the cells destroyed by diabetes than on the disease itself. Thinking through my submission has, in the end, made me more conscious of Type 1 diabetes as a disease.”Carlos Mendivil Anaya: Integral Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes Using Smart Liposomes Make “smart” treatments for diabetes. The current methods of taking diabetes medications — by mouth or by injection — allow these drugs to spread throughout the body. Mendivil Anaya, an endocrinologist from Colombia in a doctoral program at the Harvard School of Public Health, suggests using microscopic spheres (called “smart liposomes”) studded with proteins that can dial down the immune attack against the beta cells in people with type 1 diabetes to carry drugs directly to the pancreas, giving them extra targeted punch.“I have seen the trials and tribulations of many type 1 diabetes patients as they moved from childhood into adolescence and adult life,” said Mendivil Anaya. “This has made the human face of diabetes very familiar and very close to my heart.”Matthew Meyerson, Sally Kent, David Hafler, Joonil Jung, Alex Kostic, and Akinyemi I. Ojesina: Hunting for Microbial Genomes in Type 1 Diabetes by Next-Generation Sequencing A germ theory for diabetes. Viruses like to leave little bits of genetic baggage behind. This team of researchers from the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and Yale School of Medicine sought to find out whether viruses or other microbes might play some part in triggering diabetes by looking for signs of this baggage in the genes of people with diabetes.James Mulvihill: Development of a Noninvasive Blood Glucose Monitor Measuring blood sugar without the blood. For patients with diabetes, keeping close track of their blood sugar means a lifetime of painful needle pricks or an implanted glucose pump. Mulvihill, a former president and CEO of both The Forsyth Institute and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, wants to know whether it’s possible to develop a blood glucose sensor that works without actually having to break the skin.“My motivation to respond to the challenge came from my knowledge of what an important advance it would be in the care of individuals of all ages with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, if a reliable methodology to monitor blood glucose noninvasively could be developed,” Mulvihill said. “My knowledge comes from having a child who 20 years ago was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, as well as meeting thousands of individuals with type 1 diabetes and their families.”Dirk Moore: Family-based Association Studies to Identify Gene-Environment Interaction and Genomic Imprinting in Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) Probing the “nature vs. nurture” question. How do genes and environment mix in the development of diabetes? A biostatistician at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Moore believes that by re-analyzing genetic studies using new statistical techniques, it may be possible to tease apart their relative roles in ways that lead to better tools for controlling or preventing diabetes.“I have taken part in InnoCentive challenges in the past,” said Moore, “and when I saw the Challenge posting, I realized that some of the family-based population study designs that I have worked with in other fields could be applicable to important questions in type I diabetes.”Srinivas Viswanathan: Post-Gastric Bypass Nesidioblastosis as a Model for Understanding Beta-Islet Cell Neogenesis Turning up the volume on beta cell replacement. Why do beta cells undergo an explosive period of growth in the wake of gastric bypass surgery? We don’t know, but Harvard M.D./Ph.D. student Viswanathan thinks this phenomenon could provide new insights into ways of replacing lost beta cells in patients with type 1 diabetes.“I’d not considered doing any work on diabetes before, but happened to be on my surgery rotation at the time the challenge was announced, and at the time I had contact with many patients who had undergone gastric bypass procedures,” said Viswanathan. “I was intrigued by the observation that many of these patients were no longer diabetic after having the surgery, and read about this phenomenon wherein gastric bypass surgery could alter the pancreas’s insulin-producing capacity.”
For Harvard hoops, an off-court education HSAC’s current leadership shares Puopolo’s commitment to moving the field forward. Current co-president Erik Johnsson, a junior concentrating in statistics and a member of the Crimson volleyball team, recently completed a project designed to improve upon the Elo model, a widely respected player skill-level rating system often employed by statistics heavyweight fivethirtyeight.com. When perusing fivethirtyeight while watching an NBA game, Johnsson noticed that the site had “huge percent chances” for then-underperforming teams the Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans to make the playoffs, which he thought to be “a little odd.” So Johnsson read up on the site’s model, replicated it, and, to make the model more exact, added in some new variables (in short, accounting for off-season changes in team strength by making adjustments in ratings for games earlier in the current season). His findings: Over a 10-year period, his model did make “slightly better” yet “statistically significant” predictions.By working with the Elo model, Johnsson followed in the footsteps of HSAC faculty adviser and senior lecturer on statistics Mark Glickman, whose Glicko Rating System was also developed as an improvement to the Elo model. Johnsson was also able to implement ideas from a Harvard statistics course in his analysis. This spirit of learning and then teaching, especially among members of the Collective, has always been a big part of what HSAC does.“We actively encourage members to ask us for help,” said the other current co-president, Jack Schroeder, a sophomore studying government and data science who is also on the curling team, “either with the methodology behind the project, the writing process, or even just getting the data, which is often the hardest part.”Faculty adviser Rader added that he is able to maintain a largely hands-off approach in his own role thanks to mentoring from the older members in the group, who have a wealth of institutional knowledge and a stronger understanding of potential methodologies than some of their younger counterparts. He said he only steps in when he sees an opportunity to push the students further by recommending more sophisticated models that they may not be familiar with yet. Hoping for an edge in this year’s March Madness office pool? Have a longstanding argument with your friends on which team’s fans are the most loyal? Always wondered how much of a difference it makes to be able to throw the last stone in the initial curling end? You can find your answers in the work of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective (HSAC), a student-run organization dedicated to the quantitative analysis of sports strategy and management.Since its founding in 2006 under the tutelage of “Moneyball”-cited statistician and Professor Emeritus Carl Morris, HSAC has been answering a variety of sports-related questions, employing often-sophisticated statistical models to get to the bottom of longstanding debates or offer context to those eye-popping and head-scratching numbers that excite, and boggle the minds of, sports fanatics and pundits all over the world. (The collective just posted its analysis of this year’s March Madness college basketball tournament.)HSAC member projects, which range from social media posts drawn from simple fact-finding exercises to senior theses engaging complex quantitative analysis, reflect what’s current and relevant in the sports world, and they often emerge from spirited conversation during Collective meetings, which take place Tuesday nights in Winthrop House. According to HSAC faculty adviser and senior preceptor in statistics Kevin Rader, popular methodologies compare two groups (teams, leagues, player pools) or look at how things have changed over time. “Or a really extreme event happens,” he explains, “something cool happens in the Super Bowl, and a decision needed to be made. Was it the right decision? Let’s investigate that from an empirical perspective.”This past January, HSAC took to Twitter to answer a simple question many college football fans were likely pondering during Clemson’s surprising national championship drubbing of Alabama, 44–16, namely: When was the last time the Crimson Tide gave up more than 50 points in a regulation game? The answer, according to HSAC: When they lost to Sewanee 54–4 way back in 1907. The tweet received close to 250 retweets and nearly 500 likes.,When the HSAC team looks to delve deeper into a question and really engage their skills as statisticians, they’ll write about their findings on the blog, which has drawn coverage from significant mainstream media outlets like ESPN, NBC Sports, Bleacher Report, the Boston Globe, and The New Yorker, as well as major league franchises and the leagues themselves, including the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, and Orlando Magic, the National Football League, and Major League Soccer. Some popular posts over the years: “A Way-Too-Early Prediction of the NFL Season,” “Conference Bias in College Football,” and “Which Sports League Has the Most Parity?”Often, existing fan theories (“that referee hates my team” or “we never win in that stadium”) inspire HSAC members to challenge their veracity. Last February, HSAC President Emeritus Andrew Puopolo, a senior at the College and a self-professed soccer addict, sought to answer the age-old question of referee bias using the oft-maligned English soccer official Mike Dean, who is particularly reviled by supporters of the London-based Arsenal Football Club, as an entrée into a statistical analysis of referee/team-specific bias throughout the English Premier League. In short, Puopolo looked at every combination of Premier League teams and referees who managed at least 15 of their matches between the 2005–2006 and 2016–2017 seasons, comparing actual results against pregame betting odds in his quest to find bias — of which, in the end, he found “no alarming signs.” Not that an Arsenal supporter would ever be swayed by the data, even if it was culled from tens of thousands of combinations.Which is fine by Puopolo, who is the first to admit when he finds flaws in his own methodologies, and who loves the opportunity to spark conversation — on sports, but especially on statistics — in a quest to help himself and his colleagues get better. Often, HSAC analyses encourage readers to make their own decisions about the data; there isn’t always a clear-cut answer to every question. This spirit of engagement in finding new ways to look at data is what HSAC is all about. Often, existing fan theories (“that referee hates my team” or “we never win in that stadium”) inspire HSAC members to challenge their veracity. On a Southern swing, men’s basketball team meets former President Carter and visits Martin Luther King Jr.’s church and gravesite Quidditch, anyone? Inside Harvard club sports Johnsson, Schroeder, and Puopolo all foresee potential future careers in sports analytics, aspiring to follow in the footsteps of HSAC alumni such as Alec Halaby ’09, vice president of football operations and strategy for the Philadelphia Eagles; Daniel Adler ’10, HLS/HBS ’17, director of baseball operations for the Minnesota Twins; and recent grad Nathán Goldberg Crenier ’18, who is already assistant to the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. And opportunities may arise in fields outside of traditional sports venues, said Puopolo. As more and more states seek to legalize sports gambling, there will be new opportunities for machine-learning- and data-science-minded graduates to pursue careers in that field as well.The pipeline is real, and the connections to the professional major sports are active. Last semester, Puopolo set up consulting projects with teams from the National Football League and Major League Baseball, which are ongoing.“[These projects] give everyone a chance to take these skills that we talk about during meetings, and stuff people are learning at school in an academic setting,” said Schroeder, “and really apply it in a professional, business setting.”“We see this as a great way to increase membership in the club, too,” added Johnsson. “If we can convince freshmen and sophomores who like sports and statistics to come to the club, and who can then gain actual experience working for real teams, and say they have connections with [major professional sports teams], it’s a great way to get people involved and excited.” Related Snapshots of student athletes in motion The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.
Student body president Lauren Vidal and vice president Matthew Devine, both seniors, hit the ground running when they took office last April; in the earliest student Senate meetings of the year they put their initiatives surrounding Safewalk (now O’SNAP) and college readership on the agenda.By the end of September, O’SNAP was fully operational and student government had negotiated bringing the Wall Street Journal to campus.Other initiatives the administration has taken up this year include Quad Markets, Political Brew and 29 for 29, which launched this month. Vidal credited department directors and staff with much of this administration’s success.“We’ve been very fortunate; our team has been phenomenal,” Vidal said. “We’ve been able to push a lot of initiatives that we had from the get-go through the help of the administration and our directors.“We had a few big wins early on in terms of solidifying O’SNAP and the College Readership program, but we’ve picked up a few things along the way that we’ve been able to see through, and that’s been very exciting as well.”Devine echoed this sentiment in his assessment of the term so far.“The most important part of this has been our team,” Devine said. “Our department directors and their ideas, as well as the ones that we articulated way back in January when we were campaigning, have really made this semester unique, fun, just really incredible.”“I think a lot of things that we originally planned we’ve been very lucky to see through, but we’ve also understood the different steps that are going to be needed to push them forward,” he said.Vidal described the first few weeks in office as a learning experience for both herself and Devine. She said the two of them have developed a good working relationship with various branches of student government and the administration.“I think where we are right now is at a very good understanding of how our student government has worked for us and how we can build it in the next few months,” Vidal said. “We’ve learned from relationships, from administrators; we’ve learned a lot from communicating.“We’ve learned that there are some gaps in communicating through different bodies of student government, whether that be communication through Senate or CLC or even faculty senate”Vidal and Devine both cited transparency and communication as issues that they have been working on and will continue improve next semester.“There are disconnects that we are learning of, and we learned that, I think, most vividly through the 29 for 29 initiative,” Vidal said. “We really had to work hard to ensure that we were communicating through all the proper parties, and there were times when certain bodies didn’t feel like they were informed.“We learned a great deal from tha,t and we are taking steps to improve how student government communicates generally because that’s always been a lack and we understood that there have been these gaps for years.”Vidal said she and Devine had both been reaching out to different groups in order to foster better communication between different branches of student government; in particular, the two have recently been working with the Hall President’s Council (HPC).“We have opened conversation really extensively with HPC,” she said. “We’re working hand in hand with [student government department heads] to really make sure the hall presidents and the hall councils are informed, from their end on our initiatives but also through Senate.“Matt chairs Senate, and he really tries to make sure the senators are up-to-date and are providing feedback of what’s going on on campus,”The issue of transparency, while not new, has been something particularly important to this administration, Vidal said.“I think transparency has been a huge thing for us because as long as I can remember transparency has always been a goal of student government, but I think this year we’ve been fortunate in building on the foundation that was set forward by previous administration to enhance transparency, and we’ve gotten a lot of feedback,” Vidal said.According to Devine, the administration’s transparency efforts go beyond simply being open and honest and involve a more assertive approach.“I’d say it’s like an active transparency, not just not hiding anything, which obviously we don’t, but also just making sure that everything we do is known and even things that are works in progress — not even necessarily just finished projects, but things that are in development, things that are in the brainstorming stages,” he said.The result of this active transparency is more student involvement and participation in student government, Vidal said.“We’ve been able to list initiatives that we’re working on, and students have reached out and said ‘hey, I’d love to work on this,’ even just as an outsider,” she said. “They’re not affiliated with student government at all. And that’s been really exciting for us.”“That was our goal, to make sure that people would be part of the formula, not just seeing the end of the equation,” Vidal said. “We wanted to make sure that if someone saw that something we were doing was ineffective, they would be able to provide feedback and we could change that. And we’ve seen that — we’ve seen it in 29 for 29, and in O’SNAP, in College Readership, in Quad Markets — we’ve been fortunate there.”Looking back on the year, Vidal said two particular issues received more feedback than others: “campus safety and communication with the administration on major decisions that the University is making.”“So what we’ve done with that is really opened lines of communication with main building, just making sure that students are aware of what’s going on,” Vidal said. “One of the results of that will be a town hall with [University president] Fr. [John] Jenkins.”Looking forward, Vidal and Devine have several tangible goals and projects to accomplish before leaving office at the end of March.“As we’re going through our initiatives and really tailoring them to the current student body and their needs, we’ve found there are other initiatives we’ve needed to take up just in terms of the climate on campus,” Vidal said.“One of those was campus safety, which we didn’t initially think was going to be so salient in our campus now,” Vidal said. “We thought O’SNAP would be an excellent platform for campus safety, but with some of the crime recently in the South Bend area and some of the conversations we’ve had with students who are concerned with off-campus, we’ve picked up several initiatives to fully address the concerns of our peers — our constituency, really — to make sure that we’re answering their questions.“One of the things we’re doing is working on a campus safety video; that’s actually in production right now,” she said. “We’re going to release it to the student body, and it’s through recommendations from code enforcement in South Bend, conversations with local law enforcement, conversations with [the Community/Campus Advisory Coalition] to just ensure that our students are aware of the resources and make sure we’re really addressing this.”Also on the horizon for next semester is “It’s On Us,” the new sexual assault prevention campaign, Vidal said. The “One is Too Many” and “It’s On Us” campaigns both sprung from White House initiatives bearing the same names that were implemented at universities across the country.“[One Is Too Many] was brought to our campus last year, and it was a great success here,” Vidal said. “This year they’re working on ‘It’s On Us,’ and so [student government director of gender issues] Kristen [Loehle] has been in communication with some of the people in Washington, D.C. to figure out how to best bring that here and how that will look on this campus,”Devine described the new campaign and how it will differ from the previous one.“’It’s On Us’ is going to take a similar tone, but it’s also trying to build off ‘One Is Too Many,’” he said. “‘One Is Too Many’ was more of an awareness campaign, but ‘It’s On Us’ is a more actionable phrase.”While neither the focus on campus safety or ‘It’s On Us’ was originally part of the pair’s plan for their tenure, Vidal and Devine both said they were excited about the feedback they had received from their constituents and were looking forward to next semester.“We’ve come a long way from our vision that we had in the beginning … we’ve added a lot of tangibility to it,” Devine said.Tags: 29 for 29, Campus Safety, It’s On Us, Lauren Vidal, Matthew Devine, NDSP, O’SNAP, One is too many, quad markets, Student government
WNY News Now / MGN Stock Image.MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County officials have reported 19 new positive cases of COVID-19 Wednesday afternoon, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,006.Todays new cases consist of seven in Fredonia, six in Dunkirk, five in Jamestown, and one in Sinclairville. There are currently 132 active cases countrywide.There are currently six active cases among employees and 38 active cases among residents of Tanglewood Manor. 18 employees and 52 residents associated with this outbreak have since recovered.The Chautauqua County Health Department continues their investigation regarding a cluster of cases in the North County, which were the result of a private event. At least 17 cases have been linked to this event. Seven cases remain active while 10 have recovered. There are 21 hospitalizations in the county.To date, there have been 861 recoveries and 13 deaths.Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
This year’s Georgia Ag Forecast seminar in Tifton, originally scheduled for Jan. 29, has been rescheduled to Feb. 28 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. The breakfast seminar will be held at the UGA Tifton Conference Center as previously scheduled. Registration will open at 7 a.m. with breakfast being served at 7:30 a.m. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Georgia Ag Forecast seminars in Cartersville and Tifton, which were canceled because of inclement weather the last week of January, have been rescheduled. The Ag Forecast seminar in Cartersville, originally scheduled for Jan. 31, has been rescheduled for March 7 from 10 to 11:30 a.m., with lunch following. The seminar will be held at the Clarence Brown Conference Center, as originally scheduled. Registration will open at 9:30 a.m. As part of the annual Ag Forecast seminar series, UGA economists explain the factors that will influence the state’s largest industry in the coming growing season. In addition to information about commodity markets and yields, the economists link agricultural trends to the state’s economic health as a whole. Farm succession planning will also be addressed at these seminars. Macon attorney Will Thompson will serve as guest speaker for this segment and will offer advice for farmers and landowners on how to best pass land and businesses to the next generation. For information about registering for the seminars or about transferring registration from the originally scheduled seminars, visit www.georgiaagforecast.com .
National Life Group,AM Best Co has affirmed its A (Excellent) financial strength ratings for National Life Insurance Company and Life Insurance Company of the Southwest, the two insurance companies of National Life Group. In addition, the rating firm upgraded the issuer credit ratings for the two companies from ‘a’ to ‘a+.’ The two ratings evaluate different aspects of a financial services company. The traditional financial strength rating is designed to provide an opinion of a company’s ability to meet its policyholder obligations. The insurer credit rating is an opinion of the company’s ability to meet its senior obligations. ‘Taken together these two ratings send a clear message of our financial strength,’ said Mehran Assadi, president and CEO of National Life Group. ‘I am especially pleased by A.M. Best’s upgrade of our insurer credit ratings.’ In a press release announcing its decision, A.M. Best said, ‘The rating actions reflect National Life’s favorable financial performance over the last several years despite a difficult economic environment.’ ‘National Life’s ratings recognize its consistent operating performance, continued conservative risk profile and diverse distribution channels,’ said the Best press release. ‘The company also benefits from its competitive positions in the indexed universal life (UL) insurance and 403(b) indexed annuity markets, as well as its good expense management.’ Assadi said, ‘The fact that we remain strong after 163 years is no accident. Our strength as a company comes from our ability to react to today and plan for tomorrow.’
Review the National Forests in North Carolina website for updates and more information at www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nfsnc, and on Twitter at twitter.com/NFsNCarolina. Firefighters control wildfires in Cherokee County Murphy, NC, Helped out by significant rainfall this morning, firefighters have fully controlled two fires that were burning along Tatham Gap Road in Cherokee County, near Andrews, NC. The Tatham Gap Road Fire burned 32 acres on private property. The Spread Eagle Fire burned 27.5 acres on US Forest Service property on the Nantahala National Forest Tusquitee Ranger District. The fires, which were reported over the weekend, were initially estimated at 40 acres each. More accurate mapping allowed managers to refine their sizes. Approximately 10 firefighters from the US Forest Service and the North Carolina Forest Service are continuing to monitor the fire areas. While the cause of the fire is under investigation, it is suspected to be arson. If you see something, say something. If you know of someone deliberately setting fires, call 911. The public is urged to be extra vigilant with fires as we move into the spring wildfire season. Spring wildfire season typically lasts from mid-March to mid-May. Even with recent rain events, we can experience high fire danger after 2-3 days of dry conditions. N.C. Forest Service officials urge citizens to reconsider burning yard debris through the end of May, which historically marks the end of spring wildfire season in North Carolina. Consider alternatives to burning. For more information visit: https://ncforestservice.gov/news_pubs/newsdesk_2020.htm#2020327 Additionally, the National Forests are experiencing higher than usual visitation, especially an increase in dispersed camping. Consider postponing your camping trip. If you do camp, consider using cooking stoves instead of campfires. If you do use a campfire, make sure it is out and cold before leaving your campsite. Stay up to date on current national forest closures at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/currentclosures N.C. Forest Service officials urge citizens to reconsider burning yard debris through the end of May, which historically marks the end of spring wildfire season in North Carolina. Consider alternatives to burning. For more information visit: https://ncforestservice.gov/news_pubs/newsdesk_2020.htm#2020327 Updated April 1, 2020 If you know of someone deliberately setting fires, call 911. The public is urged to be extra vigilant with fires as we move into the spring wildfire season. Spring wildfire season typically lasts from mid-March to mid-May. Even with recent rain events, we can experience high fire danger after 2-3 days of dry conditions. Additionally, the National Forests are experiencing higher than usual visitation, especially an increase in dispersed camping. Consider postponing your camping trip. If you do camp, consider using cooking stoves instead of campfires. If you do use a campfire, make sure it is out and cold before leaving your campsite. Stay up to date on current national forest closures at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/currentclosures Two fires are burning along Tatham Gap Road in Cherokee County, near Andrews, NC. Firefighters are working to suppress both fires, which were reported over the weekend. The Tatham Gap Road Fire is burning on private property and is approximately 40 acres in size. The Spread Eagle Fire is burning on US Forest Service property on the Nantahala National Forest Tusquitee Ranger District and is also approximately 40 acres in size. Approximately 40 firefighters from the US Forest Service and the North Carolina Forest Service are responding. A helicopter is being used to perform water drops to slow the spread of the fire. While the cause of the fire is under investigation, it is suspected to be arson. If you see something, say something. Photo of a strong fire spreading in gusts of wind through dry grass from Getty Images
By Myriam Ortega / Diálogo March 09, 2020 For the first time in the history of Colombia’s participation in peacekeeping missions, a female Army officer deployed to North Africa. Colombian Army First Lieutenant Zuly Vannesa Lugo Varón works as a military peace observer since February in the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO, in French).The participation of 1st Lt. Lugo is a landmark for the Latin American nation, and reaffirms the Colombian Military Forces’ commitment to integrating women and ensuring equal opportunities. According to the Colombian Ministry of Defense’s latest 2020 data, women represent 9 percent of the total Armed Forces.First Lt. Lugo is the first woman of the Colombian Army to take on the duty of military peace observer in MINURSO. (Photo: Colombian Army)“Colombia is committed to working on equality issues,” Karen Pineda Mejía, a member of the Ministry of Defense’s Directorate for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, told Diálogo. “Based on the experience that the first lieutenant might gain, this will motivate those who follow her to better prepare for participating in more missions.”First Lt. Lugo, 27, who comes from a family with a military tradition, is fluent in English and trained for peacekeeping missions through the Colombian Navy’s Training Center for Peacekeeping Operations (CENCOPAZ, in Spanish). Her military background also includes advanced courses in combat, parachuting, free jump, and infiltration at high altitude.As a peace observer, the officer will participate in a mission that seeks to put an end to the conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front — the liberation movement that represents the native Sahrawi population — that dates back to the 1970s. First Lt. Lugo will deploy and conduct her observations on Moroccan soil.According to January 21, 2020 United Nations (U.N.) data, MINURSO has 186 service members, 43 of which are women. The U.N. Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy, launched in 2017, targets to reach between 15 and 35 percent for female personnel representation in all its peacekeeping missions by 2028.“Female patrol units are able to communicate better with men and women in areas of operations, have access to essential intelligence, and offer a more holistic approach to security problems,” said António Guterres, U.N. secretary-general, during a Security Council session in mid-2019.First Lt. Lugo will serve in the Western Sahara until February 2021. “I’m going with the best attitude to make a name for Colombia, the Army, and myself, because it depends on me that they continue to send more women next year ,” the officer said.
Board nominates nine for examiners September 15, 2002 Regular News Board nominates nine for examiners Nine lawyers have been nominated to the Supreme Court for three vacancies on the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.The Board of Governors last month approved the nine lawyers recommended by a special screening committee, and forwarded the names to the court, which will make the final selection. The three chosen will serve five-year terms starting November 1.Nominated were Janet W. Benke of Ocala, Alexander Caballero of Tampa, Mary Beth Cantrell of Orlando, Matthew R. Danahy of Tampa, Zala L. Foriza of Tampa, Miguel Manuel de la O of Miami, David Mesnekoff of Miami, Frank Nussbaum of Miami, and Alan F. Wagner of Tampa.
Dean Henderson. It is the name that stalks Ramsdale’s every move right now. In one sense, what came before is a complete irrelevance. In another, it strikes at the heart of the problems that Sheffield United are now facing as they seek to build on the impressive accomplishment of last season’s top-half finish, the club’s best in almost three decades.Ramsdale is not living up to the performances of his predecessor. Henderson was excellent last season, making crucial saves, keeping his team in games. His natural confidence set the tone for a team that exuded a steely mentality befitting the city.It is true that the defending in front of him was organised and there was much praise for Wilder’s setup. But when those in front of him were beaten, Henderson often was not.There was the left-handed save from Bournemouth’s Philip Billing on the opening weekend. The Abraham shot that he kept out low down to his right, managing to shovel it out of the path of Mason Mount against Chelsea. The close-range headers from Watford’s Craig Dawson and Wolves striker Raul Jimenez. The long-range shot from Spurs’ Lucas Moura.All of those efforts saved. All of those games drawn. “I think he could have done a little bit better on the first goal,” Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports. “This [second] one he seems to come a little bit and stop. I mean, it is two yards out from the line. The goalkeeper has got to do so much more. He has got to be out there. He has got to be commanding. He has got to be so much more dominant there, Ramsdale.“He is a young goalkeeper and it is certainly not easy to come in after Henderson did so well last season. It cannot have been easy for him last season at Bournemouth also. But it is high stakes, particularly in the situation that Sheffield United find themselves in.” The first goal conceded was a mishit effort by Tammy Abraham that squirmed beyond his outstretched right hand. The second was a cross from Hakim Ziyech that travelled an awful long way in the air only for Ben Chilwell to bundle into the Blades net from close range. Dean Henderson’s best saves from the 2019/20 Premier League season There was the fingertip save from Todd Cantwell and the strong palm to keep out Ryan Fraser’s powerful hit. Granit Xhaka’s thunderbolt from distance. Mario Lanzini’s free-kick for West Ham that beat the wall but not the goalkeeper. Perhaps most spectacularly of all, there was the double save from Mario Vrancic and Josip Drmic to somehow deny Norwich.Sheffield United won each of those matches by just one goal.Take out those Henderson stops and that is 15 fewer points.If that is stretching the point, the expected-goals model does provide some statistical insight that allows us to understand the true significance of Henderson’s impact last season.Based on the locations from which the shots against him were taken, the type of shots that he faced, and where on the goal they were struck, the average goalkeeper would have been expected to concede 41 goals from the shots that were faced.Instead, he let in only 33.Sheffield United would still have had a good defensive record without this remarkable overperformance but they would not have finished in the top half. Not when they were outscored by relegated Bournemouth. Being so tight at the back was the basis of it all.Ramsdale’s record, according to this same expected-goals model, is far from disastrous. He conceded 62 goals last season but the statistics suggest that he would have been expected to concede 61 anyway based on the shots faced. This season he has let in 14 but so porous has the Sheffield United defence been that he would have been expected to concede 13.He might have done better with Romain Saiss’ header for Wolves on the opening weekend, and the same could be said of Ezri Konsa’s header that crept in at the far post in the defeat to Aston Villa.And yet, the stats show that Ramsdale has not been the problem. Wilder will know that and he will demand much more from his team than they showed in conceding four against Chelsea.The problem is that nor, it seems, is he the answer, the man who is going to save them if they suffer. All the evidence suggests that he is unlikely to reproduce the heroics of Henderson.That means Sheffield United were always going to need improve ahead of him if they were to avoid a much more difficult season.The early signs are not promising. Image:Ben Chilwell bundled the ball past Ramsdale to put Chelsea ahead – Advertisement – 4:59 Wilder’s view on the second goal- Advertisement – FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Chelsea’s 4-1 win over Sheffield United. If there was some unease at Sheffield United paying £18.5m for a goalkeeper they had allowed to leave for a fraction of that fee only three years earlier, that feeling was offset by the belief in Aaron Ramsdale’s capabilities. The fear now, with Chris Wilder’s side bottom of the Premier League table, is that they needed him to be much more than just capable.Ramsdale is still waiting for his first clean sheet of the season and scrutiny is starting to come his way after his role in the 4-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.- Advertisement – 2:44 “It’s a mistake, which in an individual mistake. If Aaron doesn’t deal with it then Max should deal with it, whatever you have to do to keep the ball out of the net and we didn’t. It’s a scruffy goal from our point of view and one that should have been dealt with quite easily.” Image:Tammy Abraham’s equaliser for Chelsea was just beyond Ramsdale’s grasp – Advertisement –