Gender Equality, Human Rights, Science
For the past decade, Dauqan has burst through glass ceiling after glass ceiling with fearlessness and grace.And she did more than try. She crushed it.
Dauqan has already done so much for science — and society. When little girls in the Middle East see photos of Eqbal as a chemist — wearing a head scarf, measuring pH — they don't need to use their imagination to think: "I could be just like her. I could be a scientist."
“I joke with my Army buddies, I tell them [theory] is like the plane that gets you there,” the 36-year-old former paratrooper, who deployed to Iraq for the 2007 surge, said. “But once you jump out of the plane, everything else is different on the ground. That’s how you have to look at economics.”
Hardly any Vassar student could have arrived at this analogy until four years ago, when de la Torre and 10 other United States military veterans embarked on an experiment Vassar was leading among small, selective liberal-arts colleges: to seek out and enroll vets. In partnership with the Posse Foundation, a nonprofit with a successful track record of connecting students from underrepresented backgrounds with elite schools, Vassar enrolled its first cohort of veterans in the fall of 2013. The results of this effort became clearer in May as five of those student-veterans, including de la Torre, graduated after spending the traditional four years on campus.
In the years that followed, some peer institutions followed Vassar’s lead—Wesleyan University initiated a Posse Veterans cohort in 2014 and its first Posse veteran graduated a year early last month, while other schools, like Williams College, have partnered with Service to School to recruit veterans to their campuses. The initiative rests on the premise that liberal-arts colleges, whose educational doctrines insist on well-roundedness and inclusion, have both the resources and civic obligation to educate the almost 1.7 million post-9/11 veterans seeking college degrees.
Conservation, Science, Technology
In August 2016, the result of the Great Elephant Census, the most extensive count of a wild species ever attempted, suggested that about 350,000 African savannah elephants remain alive. This is down by 140,000 since 2007.
That most of the decline has been brought about by poaching is scarcely in doubt. Seizures of smuggled ivory, and the size of the carved-ivory market compared with the small amount of legal ivory available, confirm it. But habitat loss is important, too—and not just the conversion of bush into farmland. Roads, railways and fences, built as Africa develops, stop elephants moving around. And an elephant needs a lot of room.
One source of conflict with elephants has been competition for pasture as the herders’ populations have grown. Indeed, the reserve itself is now sometimes invaded by cowherds and their stock. But, on top of this, some pastoralists have begun to settle down. Buildings and fences are appearing on land which, though outside the reserve, is part of the local elephants’ ranges as they travel from one place to another.
Understanding elephants’ behaviour also permits it to be manipulated in ways that help reduce direct conflict between elephants and people. One such project harnesses elephants’ fear of bee swarms.
Armed with that knowledge, Dr. King and her colleague Fritz Vollrath came up with the idea of protecting farms with bee fences.
Women, Politics, Government
With a state legislature made up 40 percent of women, Nevada is second only to Vermont in terms of female representation. And that translated into a landmark session for women’s rights and health this year, even under a male Republican governor.
Nevada lawmakers just wrapped up a state legislative session that delivered a startling number of progressive victories for women: tax-free tampons, a new $500,000 family planning program, workplace accommodations for pregnant women, and mandatory insurance coverage of contraception and mammograms.
“We started with some pushback from Republicans, but by the end of the session we had broad bipartisan support on a lot of these measures,” said state Sen. Julia Ratti (D), a freshman from Sparks.
This small set of outcomes includes hospital complications that can be minimized, such as limiting the risk of patients’ acquiring pneumonia in the hospital after a stroke, treating a cold at a primary care doctor’s office or an urgent care center instead of an emergency room, and limiting avoidable hospital admissions or re-admissions by treating ongoing conditions, such as out of control diabetes, at the primary care doctor’s office.
It should be noted that these states are led by governors of both parties. These are programs that can have broad bipartisan support, in part because they not only lead to cost savings, they also lead to better medical outcomes.
There are significant savings opportunities across other states to improve outcomes and reduce waste. Rather than uniformly cutting costs and/or health care coverage, the federal government could incentivize progress by instituting programs like the ones these states have already shown can be successful. While the status of the AHCA is unclear, the need to address payment reform—especially for Medicaid—remains. How much money can be saved by improving outcomes? The Institute of Medicine estimates that between 20–30 percent of total health care spending is either wasteful or a consequence of poor outcomes.