ASU researcher earns prestigious caregiving award

November 7, 2013

November is National Caregivers Month, a time to acknowledge the important role family and friends play in caring for their ailing and elderly family members.

Aptly timed, the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving recently named David W. Coon, associate vice provost and professor in the College of Nursing & Health Innovation at Arizona State University, and his fellow experts the recipients of the 2013 Rosalynn Carter Leadership in Caregiving Award. This is the highest award given in the caregiving field. The award recognized research advancements by the CarePRO Partnership, a group-based skill-building intervention for family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Former first lady Rosalynn Carter presented the award to Coon and his associates at a recent gala. David Coon, PhD receives the Rosalynn Carter Leadership Award Download Full Image

“We are honored to be recognized by the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving on behalf of CarePRO, its participants and all the family caregivers who give so much to care for their loved ones,” Coon said.  

Program supports ‘hidden patients’

“Caregivers are often hidden patients, constantly attending to their loved one’s needs without attending to their own,” Coon said. “CarePRO aims to enhance the quality of life for both caregivers and their care recipients by teaching caregivers stress management and behavior management skills.”

Coon says more than 800 caregivers have participated in CarePRO across Arizona and Nevada with project findings showing significant reductions in participant depressive symptoms; decreases in distress associated with care recipient memory and behavior problems; as well as increases in their use of positive coping strategies, among other positive health-related outcomes.

Findings also showed over 95 percent of CarePRO participants said they benefitted from the program with increased understanding of memory loss and its effects on people, gained greater confidence in dealing with their loved one's problems and developed an enhanced ability to provide care.

“The sheer number of caregivers that have received support through this CarePRO partnership is just amazing,” Laura Baurer, director of national initiatives for the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, said. “Each partner has helped lay the groundwork to ensure the program will continue so that even more caregivers can receive this vital assistance.”

Arming professionals with tools to provide compassionate care

“CarePRO has become an important tool with which we can continue to provide the best care and support for our caregivers,” Jacob Harmon, regional director for the Alzheimer’s Association Chapter in Northern Nevada, said.  “Dr. Coon’s expertise and empathy has not only helped countless caregivers provide more comprehensive and compassionate care to their loved ones living with dementia, but also helped our staff become even more thoughtful care partners themselves.”

“CarePRO has been a tremendous gift, certainly for the caregiver participants, but also for the chapter itself,” Deborah Schaus, executive director of the Desert Southwest Chapter, said. “It is inspiring for staff to be out in the community, say at a conference, and have a former participant stand up and start talking publicly about how CarePRO changed his life.”

About the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving and CarePRO

The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving is an advocacy, education, research and service organization. The Leadership in Caregiving Award recognizes leadership in implementing innovative partnerships between community agencies and caregiving researchers that bridge the gap between science and practice. Johnson & Johnson sponsored the award with a $20,000 stipend and a statuette designed by renowned sculptor Frank Eliscu, designer of the Heisman Trophy.  

The CarePRO Partnership includes Coon, the Desert Southwest and Northern Nevada chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association, the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Division of Aging & Adult Services, several Area Agencies on Aging in Arizona, the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, and the Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division. CarePRO, which stands for Care Partners Reaching Out, is part of a nationwide effort to provide evidence-based skills to caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Coon, who is one of the nation’s leading experts on caregiver interventions, designed the program based on research he conducted with colleagues while he was at Stanford University.  

Family caregivers interested in CarePRO should contact the Desert Southwest Chapter at (602) 528-0545 or the Northern Nevada Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association at (775) 786-8061 for ongoing CarePRO groups.

Math duo wins back-to-back titles at CryptoRally

November 7, 2013

ASU seniors Zahra Hussaini and Patrick Murray defended their CryptoRally championship title, Nov. 2, on the Tempe campus, leaving the other teams far behind. Both are dual majors in math and physics, and credited their pre-competition preparation for giving them the edge in the annual code-breaking competition, hosted by the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.

“Both Thursday and Friday evenings we spent reviewing the different kinds of ciphers that might be included and programming our calculators,” said Hussaini. Calculators are allowed, but no computers or smartphones, according to the CryptoRally rules. CryptoRally Back to Back Champions Zahra Hussaini and Patrick Murray Download Full Image

Murray conceded that this year’s ciphers were a bit more challenging than last year’s. “We were glad we had our (calculator) programs ready, which helped with some of them. But there were a couple that we really had to spend some time on.” Murray and Hussaini finished the rally in just over two hours, well ahead of the next closest team.

Twenty-nine teams competed in the third annual competition. Coming in second place was the team of junior Gene Silva and senior Louis Wilson, who also placed last year. Finishing third were seniors Grant Marshall and Daniel Howe.

For the first time, this year’s competition included a "junior" division for middle school students who had been studying cryptography and practicing their deciphering skills. Eight middle school teams competed. Susanna Fishel, associate professor of mathematics, led a before-school club at a local middle school to help get the kids interested in cryptography.

Fishel was thrilled with how the young pre-teens performed at their first rally. “We wanted to show middle school students some mathematics they wouldn't ordinarily see until some time in college: modular arithmetic and inverse functions, for example. They did beautifully on the math part. All the kids had a great time.”

The CryptoRally is designed by Nancy Childress, associate director, who teaches cryptography. The School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences has hosted the CryptoRally event for the past three years.

Cryptography, the science of making and breaking codes and ciphers, is an important field of study today, according to Childress. “Cryptography helps to protect personal, financial, proprietary and defense-related information. Among many other things, it is used in internet commerce and in communication devices, such as mobile phones and cable boxes. Modern cryptology relies on ideas from number theory, abstract algebra and discrete mathematics. A good background in these subjects is essential for anyone who wants to understand how modern cryptosystems work.”

After the rally competition, an enthusiastic audience of students and faculty attended the featured lecture delivered by Lawrence Washington of the University of Maryland. In Cannonballs, Donuts, and Secrets: An Introduction to Elliptic Curve Cryptography, Washington described how elliptic curves have become very important in cryptography.

The CryptoRally event included a student poster session, which was judged by featured lecturer Lawrence Washington and Andrew Bremner, professor of mathematics. The author of the winning poster was Miles Laff, a dual mathematics and computer science major, who studied Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange.

The event was again sponsored by Apriva, a secure mobile communications company based in Scottsdale, Ariz. Chris Spinella, CEO of Apriva, is an ASU alumnus and says he completely supports these types of events. “As a local businessman, I rely on the intellectual capital ASU provides for attracting talented employees. Twenty-seven percent of my employees have attended ASU and we do a lot of work with the U.S. intelligence community in the area of sending classified data which, of course, involves cryptography. The CryptoRally is a great way for our company to support the work ASU is conducting in cryptography and help ensure that the next generation of ASU-trained mathematicians and scientists are well prepared to successfully enter this rapidly growing field.”

Rhonda Olson

Manager of Marketing and Communication, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences