I-Corps Advances Business Ideas

About 50 entrepreneurs from across the Riverside community gathered Tuesday, Oct. 17 to figure out the best way to advance their business ideas to the next level. The “Startups for Innovators” workshop is part of the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program. I-Corps prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the university laboratory, allowing participants to accelerate research projects toward commercialization.

Mark D. Leibowitz (right), instructor and entrepreneur-in-residence in the Office of Research and Economic Development. Standing on the left is Jay Gilberg, instructor in the Office of Research and Economic Development.iqbal pittalwala

Mark Leibowitz, UC Riverside instructor and entrepreneur-in-residence, provided pointers for the attendees on how they should proceed with their business proposals, like conducting customer discovery and market research.

Key questions need to be answered by the entrepreneur, Leibowitz said, “Who is the customer? Why do they care about it? What is the value? Why are they willing to pay for it?”

The session on Oct. 17 is only the first of several different workshops aimed at helping the entrepreneurs hone in their skills and ideas. To participate, please contact Leibowitz at: mark.leibowitz@ucr.edu

– Richard Chang

Project Narrates Stories of Substance Abuse, Recovery

Faculty, staff, and students at UCR are invited to attend a free “photovoice” exhibit on campus at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

Titled “Behind the Lens: Students Voicing Recovery,” the two-hour event at the Barn will use photography to voice the recovery experiences and needs for recovery support and management of 15 UCR students in recovery from substance abuse – all of whom are participating in the project.

Light refreshments will be served. RSVPs are requested at voicingrecovery.eventbrite.com or 951-715-2703.

“The 15 students are undergraduates, graduates, and medical students,” said Ann M. Cheney, an expert in substance abuse and an assistant professor in residence in the Department of Social Medicine and Population Health in the Center for Healthy Communities at the School of Medicine.

Cheney explained that the students were each given cameras to take photos that best capture and express how they experience being students in recovery.

The Nov. 1 event is geared toward the UCR community.  The general public can see the photovoice exhibit at 6 p.m., Friday, Nov. 3, at Back to the Grind, a coffeehouse located at 3575 University Avenue, downtown Riverside, where the photovoice exhibit will be on display until Nov. 30. Read the full story.

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– Iqbal Pittalwala

Methamphetamine Relating to Latina Women

Methamphetamine (meth) use initiation among Latina women who grew up in low-income urban neighborhoods where drug use was visible and pervasive is linked to their marginalized social positions within two key social institutions, family and the economy, a study funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and published in the Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse reports.

“We found their marginalized positions within these two institutions made them vulnerable to abuse, both sexual and physical, and neglect, resulting in psychological distress, and setting their meth use in motion,” said Ann M. Cheney, an assistant professor in residence in the Department of Social Medicine and Population Health in the Center for Healthy Communities at the School of Medicine and the paper’s first author.

An expert on substance abuse, Cheney explained that women are attracted to meth initially because it facilitates weight loss, boosts self-confidence and energy, and enhances sexual pleasure. For the study, she and her colleagues collected data for 19 Latina women, ranging in age from 18 to 39 years, in the Greater Los Angeles area. The participants were 15 years old on average when they started using meth. At the time of the study, all of them were in substance use treatment for it.  More than half of them said they experienced childhood sexual abuse, most commonly perpetrated by trusted male family members.

The researchers found that this abuse was the root cause of meth use among many but not all women in the study.

“Broader macrolevel factors and women’s marginalized positions within the family and the economy created an environment of risk for childhood sexual abuse and adverse experiences that put and kept women’s meth use in motion,” Cheney said. “Our analysis of Latina women’s meth use histories illuminates how meth use and abuse arise at the intersection of individual psychosocial forces such as sexual abuse, neglect, and psychological distress and macrolevel forces, including family and community-level drug involvement and generational economic marginalization.”

The study, which would be of particular interest to agencies that support families, substance use treatment programs, substance use researchers, and policy makers, illuminates how institutional inequalities place adolescents of color in marginal spaces and how vulnerability to abuse and neglect can result in the emotional distress and underlying feelings of invisibility, prompting initiation of substance use.

“We clearly see an intimate connection between these young Latinas’ meth use and the pain of family disarray with economic marginalization,” Cheney said.

She was joined in the study by researchers at the University of South Africa, Pretoria; UCLA; and the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. While working on this project, Cheney was a scholar in the HIV/AIDS, Substance Abuse, and Trauma Training Program at UCLA and received mentorship from UCLA’s Alison Hamilton, the lead investigator on the study.

– Iqbal Pittalwala

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