Sports stadium economics in two cities

Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium+Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena – how did these two landmarks contribute to the cities they call home is the focus of Matthew Monsour’s ARP.

You started out with a much bigger scope of studying the economic prosperity of both cities, but narrowed it down to a more digestible look at each city’s sports stadium. Walk us through your research.
Sure. I decided to focus in on three areas of interest: funding, impact on housing, and other workforce issues. I found the funding part of this very interesting, and learned that the majority of Little Caesars Arena (LCA) funding came from private sources, and the rest came from tax incremental funding, or TIF, on city buildings. As the building taxes increase, a portion will go to finance the arena, and will pay it off over 30 years, and also fund other projects. In Atlanta, they used a simple extra service tax on hotel rooms, and some private funding.

In Detroit, no housing was displaced because LCA was built on a vacant lot owned by the Illitch family, the owners of LCA. As part of the agreement, two buildings will be made into affordable housing, the Eddystone, and the United Artists Theatre Building, which will be mixed residential and office space.

Workforce was most impacted by LCA. By executive order, more than 50 percent of workers on the project had to be Detroit residents, and 30 percent of contracting firms had to be based in Detroit. More than 60 percent of the firms were located in Detroit, but only 27 percent of workers came from Detroit, so $3 million in fines were levied by the city. The fines contributed to training programs to kickstart the workforce.

Your brother and sister were also lifers at Liggett. Did they do ARPs?
My sister was the second class to do an ARP, and she focused on obesity in the U.S. I don’t know all the details, but I’m sure she still does! My brother did an internship instead.

What are your favorite Liggett classes?
American Government and the American Electoral Process were my two favorites. I’m really interested in the political process and I had a great time taking those classes last year. It was great how they lined up with the election. I’m currently in a class on the Middle East, and we’re learning about the Arab-Israeli conflict. It’s so complicated, so I’m interested to sit and learn what is going on. I really enjoy it.

What else do you like to do?
I’m a drummer, and in college, I’ll probably expand on this. I love to play golf, hang out with my family, exercise, and keep as busy as I can throughout the day. In college, I’m hoping to study business, real estate or business law…and work on music.

What benefit have you enjoyed from attending Liggett?
Liggett has helped me make connections outside the community, and encouraged me to stretch out and be independent. Liggett allows you to take that step to initiate discussions and ask questions. I like how they let you have your own voice and lead things. Having that responsibility prepares me for the coming years, and it’s great to have the trust of the faculty to do the very best you can.

Internet for the World

George Gotfredson knows how the free flow of information can impact lives. He shared insight into his research on global Internet.

Your original thoughts for your ARP focused on the high cost of college. You decided against that in favor of a focus on the impact of wireless internet on developing countries.
Yeah, the first idea involved a lot of spreadsheets. So, I switched gears. Internet is integral to our lives, and I wanted to study how giving access to those around the world will impact their education, their health, their agriculture, their everyday lives.

I focused on viable solutions to providing Internet access, and analyzed four solutions. The first is Google’s Project Loon, which involves hot air balloons with mini cell towns that beam internet down. There are a lot of challenges with scale, and little way to monetize. The second is building infrastructure, which is difficult in unstable governments where land ownership isn’t as clear cut as it is here. Also, it’s not as appropriate for rural areas. A third is Aquila and its software arm, Internet.org. Aquila is a solar-powered, lightweight aircraft that flies for 90 days and brings Internet to the areas below. Internet.org is code that people can download onto their phones and offers a basic version of the Internet, with no videos or images. Both are by Facebook. The final solution is probably the best one right now. It’s called OneWeb, and it’s a mass-produced satellite that could be launched and provide signals to user terminals. It’s being tested right now.

Wow. That’s comprehensive. How did you choose to go the tech route?
I’ve always been interested in technology and the tech that goes into these projects is important. It was great to compare the specifics of the technology, and the feasibility—who has the best solution? Will it be the most effective?

Here’s the question you are being asked a lot right now: next year?
I’m going to the University of Richmond in Virginia to study piano performance and business, and I might minor in organ performance. My life goal is to never have a boss, because I want to be the boss. I want to be an entrepreneur.

How has your experience at Liggett prepared you for your future success?
Liggett has a curriculum that can be morphed around students’ interests, especially with project-based study. Teachers give you the framework, and encourage you to dive into what you are interested in, and your learning builds on itself. In middle school, we learned the basics of how to do research, and rounded that up in eighth grade science. As freshmen, we learned about reliable sources and how to cite them. And there’s a real connection between the students and teachers; it sounds cliché, but it’s really unique. Plenty of teachers help students with their ARP, even if they aren’t the student’s teacher. Whether it’s math or engineering, they always help, and are interested and willing.

Any lifelong memories to share?
One thing I will remember is the Pleasant Lake outdoor education experience in sixth grade. As a junior you can apply to be a counselor, and you can go back as a senior. That experience is by far the most fun I’ve ever had. It’s a blast. You build relationships with counselors, and then it’s more fun going back as a counselor. It’s really, really cool.

Individualizing treatment for a rare disease

Kelly Solak shared insights into myasthenia gravis, and how a snapshot tool can help direct physicians to the best treatment.

What is myasthenia gravis and what is the focus of your research?
Myasthenia gravis is a rare neuromuscular disease which affects the muscles of the body. It’s a very rare autoimmune disease—only 20 people in 100,000 have it. It can affect a person’s arms, or legs, or torso, or their breathing, or the muscles in their eyes. It usually presents itself in women in their second and third decades of life, or in men in their seventh or eighth decades.

Because this disease is so varied and individual, there is not a straight treatment route. I’m focusing in on a “quality of life survey” that will take snapshots for two weeks to help determine the best treatment. The survey has 15 questions that you ask one or two times a day. Instead of asking something like “can you walk up the stairs?” or “can you hold a carton of milk?” it asks “how long can you walk up the stairs before becoming fatigued?” This helps create a concise treatment route for the patient. It’s very specific.

I consulted with Michal Haran, M.D., at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, Israel. She developed the original quality of life survey, and I built my project around her survey. Also Abbas Jowkar, M.D., who is in the Department of Neurology at Wayne State University School of Medicine, sponsored my research as a principal investigator. It was a long process, but I have met a lot of great people in the field. It’s difficult saying you are a high school student doing a project because they are busy, but if they are willing to take the time to help you, it’s pretty amazing.

You have personal experience with this disease.
Yes. My brother has this disease and he got it when he was 16 or 17 years old. His name is Kurt and he attended Liggett as well, and graduated in 2016. He’s 20 now.

What other topics were you also interested in pursuing for your ARP?
I’m a hockey player, so something regarding sports medicine. Women’s hockey is not as dominant as men’s, so maybe something about anatomy or sports management related to hockey. We were encouraged to choose something we are interested in but won’t get bored of. I play hockey four times a week, and add a project about hockey on top of that? This topic is definitely outside of my comfort zone.

How do you manage your time?
I prioritize. I bring work to the rink and do it with teammates. I also work as a waitress and barista at a bistro, and I love reading. I talk with the librarian who hands me new books when I come in. I read historical fiction, most are in the WWII era, I’d say.

I learned how to do correct research, find the right information, the right sources, and how to write in a scientific way. I gained confidence in reaching out to people. I also learned an appreciation for doing something different, not setting barriers, and never saying something is too big. It’s better to do something too big and reach a little farther than high school normally permits you to. In four years, you are out of high school, and on to college, and in the life after, you are more prepared. I had to start my project from scratch, and my inspiration was my brother. I also had help from my dad in approaching situations.

Research that could change lives

For her ARP, Kaelan Patel jumped into medical research that could be used to treat sickle cell anemia, and shared with us what she learned.

Your topic is currently being researched at a pretty high level: a gene therapy called CRISPR/Cas9.
Tell us about it.

It’s an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which were originally found in bacterial DNA. Bacteria used these repeats as a way to fight off infection, and doctors experimented to see if they could manipulate human DNA to fight off invading illnesses as a model after the bacterial CRISPRs. They discovered that they could create CRISPRs that could be guided to exact locations of genes by R

NA molecules to attack mutated sections of the DNA that cause life altering ailments such as sickle cell anemia (SCA). Then, the Cas9 protein in human DNA cuts the mutated section of DNA so a donor DNA template that has the corrected sequence to heal is inserted. I have decided to focus my research on SCA because it is a devastating and painful disease. Currently, patients suffering from SCA only have three options for treatment, which include a drug called hydroxyurea, blood transfusion, and bone marrow transplant.

You worked with mentors locally at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, and at UC Berkeley. What were these experiences like?
I worked both with Dr. [Michael] Callaghan from the Pediatric Hematology Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, and Dr. [Jeffrey] Corn, from UC Berkeley. Dr. Callaghan offers the perspective of using current treatments, and I had the opportunity to interview all of his patients over the summer to talk about their treatments, as well as how SCA affects their daily lives. I learned none of the patients had heard of CRISPR/Cas9. At Dr. Corn’s lab, I experienced the equipment and processes used to collect data that will prove CRISPR is safe enough to start human clinical trials. They are getting close to the numbers they need to earn approval.

What are some of the other topics you considered?
Stem cell therapy to treat disease, and also CRISPR/Cas9’s use in treating cardiovascular disease, which has environmental factors, and high efficacy rates for current treatments. SCA is a monogenic disease with few environmental factors, and no effective treatment for patients who suffer intense pain and shortened life spans.

What is the most challenging thing about presenting this topic?
There is so much to say and only one poster board and three minutes to talk! For people to comprehend the topic, I need to define a lot of material to make it understandable to someone who is learning about it for the first time.

Diving in to her ARP

We asked Emma Leonard to explain why marine mammals struggle to coexist with a military presence in their waters.

Your ARP focuses on something a lot of people know very little about: the effects of military sonar on cetaceans, specifically whales.
Yes. Sound is the most important thing in the life of whales. They use it to find food, and change diving patterns all year to find the right temperature of water for mating and birthing. When the military started using mid-frequency sonar after the Cold War, this resulted in a drastic increase in cetacean strandings. What’s happening is the whales and the sonar are interfering with each other, and whales are suffering from decompression sickness from moving up and down too quickly in the water.

You seem to have a passion for marine biology.
I do. My parents met in California, and I have family out there, and we have always visited the ocean. And it’s just so unexplored. I have a thing for outer space, too, but we know more about space than we do the oceans, which cover 75 percent of our planet. Too few people are exploring the waters, and there is so much to be explored.

What else are you passionate about?
In eighth grade, I wanted to be a fashion designer. My mom went to fashion school and worked for Levi’s, and we have bonded over fashion. I work on costume design for the fall and winter theater shows at school, and have every year since I was a freshman. I’m a visual person, a very visual learner.

How will you be presenting your ARP?
I realized my project would be more engaging if I did more than write a paper and cite my sources. I learned that it’s important to recognize that I had to make my own connections and use outside sources to shape them. I had to use my own brain. So, while I wasn’t going to build military-grade sonar, I used Arduino, with a board and wires and coding system. I was able to figure out the ping is in the 40,000 Hz. I realized people don’t know a lot about sonar, so I will do a demonstration with a meter stick to get people to understand how it works under water. I showed this at the Detroit Science Fair where I played the sound of a frequency that we can hear. I won a Naval Science Award for environmental management.

When we take the first course in ARP, people think it’s annoying, but by the end of senior year, you recognize how the experience gives you issues to really talk about, as well as research skills, citation and science writing skills, all of which will be helpful in college and the rest of my life.

What’s next for you?
I’ll be going to the University of Colorado at Boulder because they have an ecology and evolutionary biology program, plus one of the best physics programs, so I’ll minor in geophysics. Their honors program allows students to do a four-year honors thesis, so I can continue with the project I’m doing now, or choose another project to study instead.