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PBS series State of Tomorrow™ examines Texas' challenges, innovative solutions

AUSTIN-An unprecedented partnership among higher education, a documentary production company and public television is launching a series that examines some of the most exciting work being done by researchers and academics in public higher education to address major challenges facing Texans today.

Through the personal stories of cancer patients, hurricane survivors, farmers and teachers, and interviews with researchers, scientists, and doctors, the documentary television series State of Tomorrow™ depicts global issues and solutions on a human scale.

The wide-ranging series explores major challenges in areas including public health, homeland security, energy policy, economic development and education, and highlights new research in biosafety, nanotechnology, and proton therapy. Every topic is illuminated through thought-provoking interviews and arresting visuals.

The series is co-produced by the University of Texas Foundation and Alpheus Media Inc. in partnership with public television station KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, and is paid for with private funding from sponsors including AT&T Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp., and IBC Bank, among others.

State of Tomorrow will air on all 13 PBS stations in Texas, covering 95 percent of the state. The show will launch in most markets beginning in April.

Faculty from Texas A&M, Texas State, Texas Tech, University of Houston, University of North Texas and University of Texas university systems are featured in the series, representing a collaboration among Texas' public higher education groups that is thought to be unprecedented.

"The University of Texas System is so proud to be part of this important series, and my esteemed colleagues from other Texas public university systems and institutions feel the same way," said UT System Chancellor Mark G. Yudof.

"Public higher education offers solutions to many of the major challenges facing Texas, and it is important for Texans to know that whether or not they ever set foot on our campuses, we work to ensure that they are the beneficiaries of education's service to society," Yudof said.

"The Texas A&M System is pleased to be a partner in this groundbreaking television series that tells the story of how public higher education in Texas is improving people's lives," said A&M Chancellor Michael D. McKinney. "Innovations in science, agriculture and engineering developed by our universities and agencies enrich the lives of all Texans and add tremendous economic value to our state and nation," McKinney said.

"Most people have no idea of the kinds of research happening on university campuses every day," said Mat Hames, Alpheus Media founder and director of the series. "Throughout the series, we'll meet people facing some of the biggest challenges of the 21st century, hear their incredible stories, and meet the innovators in public higher education exploring solutions."

Each of the 13 half-hour episodes of State of Tomorrow™ addresses advances made possible by higher education in technology, medicine, health, economic development, and education. Highlights include:

21st Century Cancer Care

Dr. Ritsuko Komaki, a Japanese American oncologist who experienced the devastating effects of the atomic bomb, is interviewed about proton therapy. This innovative form of cancer treatment sends a concentrated beam of radiation to cancer cells while avoiding damage to surrounding tissue. Dr. Komaki was the driving force behind proton therapy at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, one of only six proton therapy centers in the world. A 16-year-old patient undergoing the treatment as the last hope for saving her leg also tells her story.

Tornado Alley

On May 11, 1970, a tornado swept through Lubbock, killing 26 people, injuring more than 500 people and causing more than $500 million in property damage. In the wake of this disaster, Texas Tech University founded the Wind Science and Engineering Center to mitigate the damage from future tornados. Professors Kishor Mehta and Ernst Kiesling demonstrate the destructive power of wind and talk about how professionals are being trained to design buildings to withstand severe windstorms and minimize damage and loss of life from nature's deadliest type of storm.

Homeland Security

In various labs at Texas A&M University in College Station, scientists are exploring ways to neutralize nerve gas, kill toxins in the food supply in the event of a contamination, and stave off terrorist attacks on animal herds. Dr. Dave McIntyre, director of the Department of Integrative Homeland Security at Texas A&M, discusses how the research will help to reduce the loss of life in a terrorist attack.

Preserve and Protect

The health of our state depends on having enough clean water. But ever-increasing demand and a supply under siege pose major challenges to the water ecosystem in Texas. The segment includes interviews with Andy Sansom, professor at Texas State University in San Marcos, who has dedicated himself to water source preservation, and with Don Ethridge, professor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, who offers economic and agricultural-related insights about water issues. Important water sites across Texas are highlighted, along with conservation and educational programs.

Skeletons in the Closet

Techniques used by forensic anthropologists to gain important information from human remains yields clues that can solve crimes. The University of North Texas in Denton has one of the most advanced forensic labs in the state, and professors from the anthropology department have contributed to helping with numerous murder cases. Specific cases that have been solved with forensic evidence are discussed by Dr. Harrell Gill-King, along with higher education's role in the future of forensic science. The University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth and Dr. Art Eisenberg's groundbreaking forensic work are also featured.

Shadow of a Doubt

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has 150,000 inmates incarcerated. Even if the system is 99.9 percent accurate, this means there are still 150 innocent people in prison. Innocence clinics are being formed within public higher education institutions across the United States in the wake of scientific advancements in DNA evidence. David Dow of the University of Houston School of Law founded the Texas Innocence Project, in which law students work to determine the innocence of inmates on death row. William P. Allison, president of the Texas Center for Actual Innocence at the University of Texas School of Law, is also featured.

 

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About The University of Texas Foundation

The University of Texas Foundation is a nonprofit corporation established in 1967 to accept and manage gifts in support of the UT System and its institutions. The Foundation functions independently under its own Board of Directors and pursues its own investment policies in the management of its portfolios.

About Alpheus Media

Alpheus Media, Inc. is an independent film production company based in Austin, Texas, whose work has aired on PBS and the Discovery Channel. Since 1999, Alpheus has been involved in every facet of film production, from concept to writing, production and post-production. In addition to producing award-winning documentaries like Last Best Hope and Making More, Alpheus has a client roster that includes AMD, Emory University, Capital Sports and Entertainment, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. For more information, go to www.alpheusmedia.com.

About KLRU

KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, reflects, celebrates and inspires Central Texas through creative excellence, community engagement and lifelong learning. Although primarily a television station providing locally produced and quality national programming, KLRU is also a nonprofit organization helping to build a stronger community through five areas of focus - KLRU Presents, KLRU Explores, KLRU Creates, KLRU Connects and KLRU Educates. For more information go to www.klru.org.