University of Arizona researchers are making waves in 2021 – and the year is only halfway over.
Whether it’s transforming the campus into a high-capacity COVID-19 vaccination site or casting mirrors that will help astronomers peer into the deepest corners of the universe, UArizona scientists and scholars have left a lasting impact on the world this year.
Here are some of the university’s top stories of 2021 so far:
For more than six months, the University of Arizona served as a point of distribution for COVID-19 vaccinations, administering nearly a quarter of a million doses. UArizona began in January as the designated distribution point for the Phase 1B priority subpopulation of teachers and child care workers before shifting into a high-capacity state vaccination site serving southern Arizona in February. (The Associated Press, The Washington Post, USA Today)
After nearly five years in space, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is on its way back to Earth with an abundance of rocks and dust from near-Earth asteroid Bennu. (The New York Times, CNN, International Business Times)
Dogs may have earned the title “man’s best friend” because of how good they are at interacting with people. Those social skills may be present shortly after birth rather than learned, a study by University of Arizona researchers suggests. (BBC, NBC News, AFP France)
Underneath the stands of Arizona Stadium, engineers with UArizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab manufacture the world’s largest and most lightweight telescope mirrors. At the center of the process is a giant spinning furnace, the only one of its kind. (NPR’s Science Friday, Engadget, Axios)
University of Arizona researcher Jekan Thanga is taking scientific inspiration from an unlikely source: the biblical tale of Noah’s Ark. Rather than two of every animal, however, his solar-powered ark on the moon would store cryogenically frozen seed, spore, sperm and egg samples from 6.7 million Earth species. (CBS News, CNN, Daily Mail)
A team of astronomers led by the University of Arizona has observed the most distant quasar to date. Fully formed just 670 million years after the Big Bang and powered by the earliest known supermassive black hole, the quasar provides insight into the formation of massive galaxies in the early universe. (USA Today, CBS News, CNN)
Data from the AZ HEROES study show COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections, and when breakthrough infections do occur, the level of infection and impact of the disease are significantly reduced. (CNN, Fox News, Reuters)
NASA has tasked Amy Mainzer, an expert in infrared astronomy at the University of Arizona, with leading NEO Surveyor, a mission to find, track and characterize yet unseen asteroids and comets that may pose a threat to Earth. (CNN, LiveScience, iHeartRadio)
A study published in Nature Astronomy concludes that known geochemical processes can’t explain the levels of methane measured by the Cassini spacecraft on Saturn’s icy moon. (The Week, Digital Journal, Big Think)
Studying the genomes of modern humans from 26 worldwide populations, researchers discovered the genetic “footprint” of an ancient coronavirus outbreak. Studies like this one could help identify viruses that have caused epidemics in the distant past and may do so in the future. (The New York Times, Smithsonian, Business Insider)