New lab helps faculty reduce stress

first_imgWorking at a top-tier research university can be a stressful job, but now faculty and staff members at USC have a chance to relieve that stress by visiting the Stress Reduction Lab at the USC Center for Work and Family Life.The Center for Work and Family Life strives to help faculty and staff members successfully balance their work and personal lives, and the Stress Reduction Lab is their newest method of helping to create that balance.The Stress Reduction Lab features a program called emWave, which uses a type of biofeedback technology that measures heart rate through a finger or ear clip sensor plugged into a computer. That heart rate measurement gives a sense of how relaxed or stressed a person is.“It gives feedback on how your body is doing; the real value of it is that you learn specific techniques from what feedback tells you,” said Jason Sackett, employee assistance professional at the Center for Work and Family Life. “It trains you to learn how to better use stress reduction techniques.”The program itself does not reduce stress but rather gives the user feedback — based on their heart rate — on how to have more effective stress reduction techniques.A member of the center’s staff tracks the participant’s heart rate through various stress reduction activities, such as deep breathing or meditation, and helps the participant determine which method is most effective.First-time participants can go to the Stress Reduction Lab for introductory sessions, where an employee will provide tutorials to help the participant get comfortable with the program and find effective stress reduction techniques. After that, users can guide themselves through the program if they feel they have mastered the technique.Sackett said the program can be used both as a stress reliever and as a preventative measure.“One of the values of the program is that you don’t have to have stress to benefit, and it can actually be used to prevent stress from oncoming in the first place,” Sackett said.The idea of a Stress Reduction Lab arose during the summer, when the center initially started working with emWave, Sackett said. The center wanted to develop a proactive program available to anyone looking to improve their stress reduction strategies.“We wanted to offer something that is more universally accepted,” Sackett said. “People have resistance to going to counseling programs, so we wanted to offer another program in which people don’t have to deal with the resistance.”The center officially launched the emWave program in November and began advertising it to faculty and staff members this month.So far, Sackett said he has helped an average of six people a week and other members of the centers staff have also helped staff members.Some faculty members, though they have not tried the program yet, said it was something they might do.“I’ve never tried it but it sounds like something I would consider,” said Felipe Martinez, assistant director of Norman Topping Student Aid Fund. “It’s important to be able to achieve work/life balance, so something that will help manage stress is very beneficial.”Chris Mattson, director of the Structured Curriculum Program, said he thinks using the emWave could be beneficial.“It seems interesting — anything to help relieve stress is a good thing, especially when it doesn’t cause more stress,” Mattson said.USC currently operates two emWave programs at the USC University Park Campus, one at the USC Health Sciences Campus and one portable emWave. Sackett said that if the program seems to show improvement among the users — and it has so far — the Center will purchase more emWave programs.“We had the idea to expand wellness services at USC, and we saw this as just another way to preserve wellness,” Sackett said.last_img read more

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Petition calls on USC to become “sanctuary campus”

first_imgTrevor Sochocki | Daily TrojanOnline organizer · Billy Vela, director of El Centro Chicano, is one of the authors of a letter that asks USC administrators to declare the University a “sanctuary campus” for undocumented students, staff and their families.An online letter asking USC administrators to declare USC a “sanctuary campus” for undocumented students, staff and family members has garnered nearly 3,500 signatures. The letter, which was addressed to President C. L. Max Nikias, Provost Michael Quick and Vice President of Student Affairs Ainsley Carry, follows numerous declarations by President-elect Donald Trump stating that he plans to deport millions of undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States.The authors of the document include professors George Sanchez, Jody Agius Vallejo, Manuel Pastor and Oliver Mayer and El Centro Chicano Director Billy Vela. “Immigrants and their children are a vital part of society,” the letter stated. “[Trump’s] policies will break up families, devastate communities, and have lasting consequences on the civic vitality and economic growth of our city, region, state and nation.”The authors wrote that by becoming a sanctuary campus, USC will follow Mayor Eric Garcetti’s statement that Los Angeles will remain a sanctuary city in the case that the president-elect and his cabinet carry out deportations. Noha Ayoub, a sophomore majoring in law, history and culture, said that she signed the petition because she views it as a protection of human rights.“The right to an education and political amnesty is a human right that should not be contingent on a vote,” Ayoub said. “I firmly believe that people have a right to move freely in order to ensure their own safety even if that movement isn’t always ‘legal.’”In a sanctuary city, there are policies in place that prevent law enforcement from prosecuting undocumented immigrants. The Los Angeles Times reported that in 1979, Los Angeles became the first city in the U.S. to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.The letter stipulates that by declaring itself a “sanctuary campus,” USC would not allow authorities to enter campus and would not report the immigration status of its students, staff and their families if asked to provide that information.Quick wrote in an email to the Daily Trojan that USC values diversity among its students, faculty and staff, but did not state whether the University would accept the requests listed in the letter.“We will continue to be guided by our Principles of Community, which affirms USC as a safe and compassionate place representing a rich diversity of beliefs, identities and experiences,” Quick wrote. “To that end, I want to assure the USC community that we will continue to uphold current law and University policies. We will consider any future changes with our community’s best interests at the forefront.”Antoinette Bailey, a freshman majoring in Middle East studies and global studies, said she signed the letter because of the impact it would bear on undocumented students’ education.“We’re in college, and there’s already so much we have to worry about: our grades, extracurriculars, careers, student loans — the list could go on and on,” Bailey said. “The last thing students need is to be burdened by fear of deportation when they have already long established themselves in this country.”The letter concluded by quoting an email that Quick sent to the student body following the outcome of the presidential election. Quick stated that “all of us are responsible for creating a university community of inclusion, equity, and justice,” and the organizers of the letter said that this call to action can be honored by declaring USC a sanctuary campus. Lynn Wang, a junior majoring in environmental studies, said that the petition’s existence is progress within itself.“At the very minimum, this has started some discussion regarding this topic,” Wang said. “I hope that this letter starts conversation about the resources available to undocumented students.”last_img read more

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Encapsulating biomedical micromotors in traditional pill form

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Sep 5 2018Using tiny micromotors to diagnose and treat disease in the human body could soon be a reality. But keeping these devices intact as they travel through the body remains a hurdle. Now in a study appearing in ACS Nano, scientists report that they have found a way to encapsulate micromotors into pills. The pill’s coating protects the devices as they traverse the digestive system prior to releasing their drug cargo.About the width of a human hair, micromotors are self-propelled microscopic robots designed to perform a host of biomedical tasks. In previous research, Joseph Wang, Liangfang Zhang and colleagues used micromotors coated with an antibiotic to treat ulcers in laboratory mice. They found that this approach produced better results than just taking the drugs by themselves. However, the researchers noted that body fluids, such as gastric acid and intestinal fluids, can compromise the effectiveness of micromotors and trigger early release of their payloads. In addition, when taken orally in fluid, some of the micromotors can get trapped in the esophagus. To overcome these issues, Wang and Zhang sought to develop a way to protect and carry these devices into the stomach without compromising their mobility or effectiveness.The researchers created a pill composed of a pair of sugars — lactose and maltose — that encapsulated tens of thousands of micromotors made of a magnesium/titanium dioxide core loaded with a fluorescent dye cargo. These sugars were chosen because they are easy to mold into tablet, can disintegrate when needed and are nontoxic. When given to laboratory mice, these pills improved the release and retention of the micromotors in the stomach compared to those encapsulated in silica-based tablets or in a liquid solution. The researchers concluded that encapsulating micromotors in traditional pill form improves their ability to deliver medicines to specific targets without diminishing their mobility or performance.Source: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/presspacs/2018/acs-presspac-september-5-2018/a-pill-for-delivering-biomedical-micromotors.htmllast_img read more

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