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Portrait of Brandon Caserta.

Family honors sailor's life and legacy of helping others with ASU scholarship

One day, years ago, Patrick and Teri Caserta checked the lunch money account they had set up for their son, Brandon, at his elementary school.They were surprised to see the account had far less money than they thought it should. So, they questioned Brandon about it.“We asked him if he was eating two lunches or anything like that,” Teri Caserta said. “He said he wasn’t, but that he noticed kids that didn’t bring a lunch or didn’t have a lunch, and he would buy them lunch. And he asked if that was OK, or if he should stop.“We’re like, ‘No, you do what you want to. You just have to let us know that you’re using it so we can fund it.’”That legacy of giving and helping others is one reason the Casertas have started an annual scholarship at Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions in honor of Brandon, who died by suicide on June 25, 2018, while he was a member of the Navy. Video of Creating an ASU legacy: Arizona State University (ASU) Video by Ken Fagan/ASU NewsThe Brandon Caserta Memorial Scholarship, worth $1,000 annually, will go to a student in the College of Health Solutions who has a demonstrated interest in the military, said Paola Gale, assistant director of development for the college with the ASU Foundation. It’s also the first scholarship open to any student in the College of Health Solutions.“That’s significant,” Gale said. “We might have a student looking at medical studies or another field and see that there’s no scholarship for that program. Our scholarship coordinator was delighted that this is really the first scholarship that is open to all (College of Health Solutions) students.”The $1,000 scholarship is only the beginning. Patrick Caserta said they are donating one-third of their estate to ASU after their death, an amount significant enough that it will pay for a four-year education for several students.“Their estate gift to fund the Brandon Caserta Memorial Scholarship, the first scholarship at the College of Health Solutions that is open to any of our majors, along with supporting active military and veteran health initiatives at (the college), will make a difference for many years to come,” said Deborah Helitzer, dean of the College of Health Solutions. “The Casertas' gift will allow (College of Health Solutions) students, faculty and staff to continue and expand on our current efforts in support of better health for our nation’s military and veterans.”Patrick Caserta said he and Teri decided to contribute a portion of their estate in part because he was a student in the College of Health Solutions from 2009 to 2014.“I always wanted to give back more than I have,” Patrick said. “I liked going to school there a lot. It was very enjoyable. It was rough, don’t get me wrong. There were times I was upset because it was hard. But the professors that I dealt with were awesome.“The other thing is, unfortunately, we don’t have anybody to really leave anything to. So it made all the sense in the world.”Ask the Casertas about Brandon and they’ll tell you he was the “kindest, nicest person you’ll ever meet,” a boy who loved Legos and an athlete who excelled in karate and swimming and played football at Liberty High School in Peoria.“He wasn’t like me. I’m a little rough around the edges,” Patrick Caserta said. “I’m not going to tell you everybody liked him immediately, but he’d grow on them. He just liked people.”Patrick Caserta said Brandon’s desire to help others followed him to the Navy. If he finished his work, he’d help others do their work and then ask for more. But Patrick said Brandon was bullied, harassed and hazed while serving with the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28 in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was transferred after he collapsed during Navy SEAL training.His suicide prompted the Casertas to contact U.S. Sens. Mark Kelly and Seth Moulton, who subsequently wrote the Brandon Act, which went into law in December of 2021. The Brandon Act is designed to protect service members who experience mental health emergencies and reduce the stigma around reporting. The bill allows service members to seek mental health treatment and requires a mental health evaluation as soon as a service member self-reports.In addition, Patrick and Teri created the Brandon Caserta Foundation, whose mission is to provide assistance, guidance, education and resources to active-duty service members, veterans and their families.As it turns out, that’s what Brandon was doing in the final days and weeks of his life. When the Casertas got Brandon’s cellphone back after his suicide, they checked his text messages and discovered he was counseling and helping other members of the Navy who were struggling with their mental health.“We feel his legacy was saving lives,” Patrick said. “That's what the Brandon Act is about and that's how we want to preserve his legacy, with our foundation and the scholarship.”]]>
Portrait of ASU alum Justin Wolter.

ASU alum finds success in neuroscience

A long and winding road led Arizona State University alumnus Justin Wolter to a career that he is truly passionate about. In his own words, “You never really know where science and life are going to lead you.” Wolter’s first job out of college made him miserable. When he was 28 years old, his wife, Melissa, a graduate of ASU’s Master of Architecture program, encouraged him to make the difficult decision to go back to school. With her and their young child in tow, Wolter joined ASU’s School of Life Sciences to pursue a PhD in molecular and cellular biology. Wolter, who was older than most of the graduate students in his classes, was desperate to gain lab experience in a field that was completely new to him. Kenro Kusumi, who is now dean of natural sciences at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was one of those faculty who took a chance on Wolter. “Justin had that spark of enthusiasm about biology that made us want to have him at ASU. I had the pleasure of collaborating with Justin later on a research project focused on regeneration, and his efforts were critical for that publication,” said Kusumi.“After many months of harassing Kenro, saying, ‘Please let me work in your lab!’ he gave me the first shot that I needed to get me off the ground,” said Wolter.That first shot was covering the weekend shift of keeping cells alive in tissue cultures — a time slot that other students were not eager to take on. But that work prepared Wolter for his next lab experience with Marco Mangone, whom Kusumi connected him with. Mangone was a new faculty member at ASU in need of graduate students to pursue research on gene regulation in roundworms and human cells. “What got me excited about Marco’s lab was thinking about how these genes are the same in worms and in humans, why they stayed the same during the long evolutionary journey between worms and humans, and how you can use one to understand the other,” he said.While there, Wolter’s love and curiosity for science fueled his research endeavors.“If I had to choose just one word to describe Justin, it would be ‘passionate,’” said Mangone. “He is very excited about science and speaks about it constantly. During his five years in my lab, he routinely stopped by my office, outlining experiments and potential models that he conceived the day before, based either on a manuscript he read or on results produced by his last experiments.”In recognition of his scientific achievements and promise of success, Wolter was awarded the Maher Alumni Scholarship, which supports graduate student work on cancer research. He received the scholarship four times in a row. “As somebody that was raising a family through graduate school, it was really instrumental and crucial to have the Mahers’ support, from a financial standpoint, but also just the motivation that comes along with somebody saying that what you do is important.”Then vs. now: Justin Wolter's daughter Adelyn helping in the lab. When Wolter was pursuing his PhD and working in Marco Mangone's lab, his daughter would often join him. Now she and her brother Jude still enjoy accompanying Wolter and experiencing research in a lab. Photos courtesy Justin WolterSeveral other faculty members helped Wolter succeed. Manfred Laubichler and Jane Maienschein instilled in him a love of evolution and the history of science. Jason Newbern, whom Wolter took a class from in his last semester at ASU, solidified his love for neuroscience and his desire to pursue his own neuroscience research.Wolter received his PhD in 2016. Even as a nontraditional student raising a family while managing his studies, he was able to complete his PhD almost one semester early.He then completed his postdoctoral research at the University of North Carolina, where he investigated how human genetic variation influences disease outcomes — work that intersected with his cancer research at ASU. “I came to UNC to study neurodevelopment and how the brain develops, and it turns out that a lot of neurodevelopmental diseases have features in common with cancer,” he said. “For example, a lot of kids with autism have macrocephaly, so enlarged brains, and several genes that are implicated in autism are also well-known tumor suppressors or oncogenes, which are mutated or hyperactivated in cancer.”Wolter and his team at UNC found a way to take individual human cell lines and identify how genetically diverse cells respond differently to clinically relevant treatments.Now, Wolter has accepted a tenure-track faculty position in the Department of Medical Genetics at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Together, his postdoctoral research on autism and graduate studies on cancer have motivated the research that he will pursue at his new lab at UW-Madison.“I'm sticking with neuroscience but have chosen to focus on the brain overgrowth aspect of autism, and that was directly related to the support of the Maher family and them keeping me focused on cancer. So at the end of the day, these two parts of my training in graduate school and my postdoc have really come together in a unique way.”Wolter also credits his family for helping him pursue his dream. “My family has been a huge part of the journey. I started graduate school with one daughter. I had two more kids in graduate school and I've had a fourth one during my postdoc,” he said.“Far from slowing me down, I really feel they have helped me stay focused and motivated.”“I have a picture of my daughter when she came in on a weekend to ‘help’ me in Marco’s lab. Now she needs bigger gloves, but her and her brother Jude still help me in the lab, and Adelyn wants to do a PhD. I’ve had a blast dragging my family on this crazy ride with me.”Wolter, his wife and four kids look forward to settling in Wisconsin near family and where Wolter can continue to pursue the research that he loves. He signed his acceptance letter for his latest role at UW-Madison using the same pen his ASU mentors gave him when he successfully defended his dissertation six years ago.]]>
Illustration of clean hydrogen particles.

Regional network advances to full proposal for developing Southwest hydrogen hub

The Southwest Clean Hydrogen Innovation Network (SHINe) is submitting a full proposal for the development of a desert Southwest clean hydrogen hub. This comes following the network’s submission of a concept paper in November 2022 and encouragement from the U.S. Department of Energy in December 2022.SHINe is one of 33 applicants encouraged to move forward in the proposal process, chosen from an original 79. The U.S. DOE plans to fund six to 10 regional hubs.The full proposal will seek federal funding to support crucial clean hydrogen-focused initiatives. DOE funding would facilitate a successful regional hub that would create an ecosystem to economically produce, store, transport and use clean hydrogen, and provide many economic, environmental and community benefits.SHINe’s coordinated efforts to create and support innovative energy solutions, as well as build a workforce to support the transition to clean energy in the Southwest, are key to achieving energy diversity, flexibility and justice, and a reliable, resilient and sustainable energy ecosystem.“We’ve brought together a diverse, collaborative and supportive team from industry, government, utilities, universities, local communities, tribes and more. An unprecedented level of collaboration and integration is crucial to ensuring our success. Our broad-based consortium is poised to assemble the resources, talent, projects and infrastructure needed for SHINe to launch a new clean hydrogen industry that will bring economic, environmental and energy justice benefits to the region,” said Ellen Stechel, executive director for the Center for an Arizona Carbon-Neutral Economy. The center is housed within the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at Arizona State University.SHINe includes more than 40 member organizations with expertise and current operations throughout the region, including cities, clean energy companies, gas-producing companies, nonprofit organizations, transit companies, universities, utilities and others. The network has the support of both Nevada and Arizona Governors’ Offices, and U.S. senators.The network is working to support the DOE’s vision of a regional clean hydrogen hub that provides clean energy and feedstocks for hard-to-abate carbon emissions in the mobility, mining, industrial and electricity sectors while maintaining a reliable and resilient energy system. Also, SHINe aims to have a substantial positive impact across the southwestern region through workforce development, environmental and economic justice efforts and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.“Organized labor such as the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers plays a critical role in Arizona’s hydrogen economy and energy transition to lower carbon emissions," said Jacob Evenson, business manager at Boilermakers Local 627. "When customers pay a utility bill, they’re supporting local rural communities, and good-paying jobs for hard-working Arizonans. Community local workforce agreements keep our ratepayer dollars in Arizona’s economy and ensure that we aren’t exporting our dollars to out-of-state entities that don’t abide by the same labor standards, offer the same worker benefits or pay prevailing market wages. Proposed projects with these standards should be the highest priority.” Nevada and Arizona have a unique energy ecosystem, with geological resources and transportation routes that support favorable conditions for a clean hydrogen market. These include strategic access to critical transportation routes for energy delivery; the geological resources to support storage of large volumes of salt deposits at low cost; and pre-existing infrastructure and pipelines for integration with other renewables.These attributes provide the region with an opportunity to meet energy demand and export to larger markets via major interstates, rail and pipelines.“Arizona’s modern transportation network and strategic southwest location, as well as our number-one manufacturing growth rate, demonstrate our ideal positioning to pioneer a clean hydrogen ecosystem,” said Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners across the region to advance clean energy solutions.”Beyond dynamic energy innovation, the cornerstone of SHINe’s clean hydrogen hub strategy focuses on developing responsible energy infrastructure for communities most in need, offering disadvantaged communities opportunities to participate in planning, decision-making and implementation through a robust community benefits plan, ensuring all stakeholders have a voice in the clean energy transition.The DOE is expected to select awardees this summer. For more information, visit the Southwest Clean Hydrogen Innovation Network.]]>
Savannah Tallino stands in a lab wearing a lab coat and gear.

Travel grants open up a world of opportunities for student researchers

Successful scientists don’t spend all of their time in the lab conducting experiments — a crucial part of being a scientist is also attending scientific conferences.These events provide researchers with the opportunity to collaborate on projects and learn from each other, as well as learn about the latest scientific discoveries in their field.For students pursuing scientific careers, conferences can provide tremendous opportunities to grow as young professionals.“Traveling to scientific meetings and engaging with others in the field builds a network as students prepare for postdoctoral positions and jobs,” says Stephen Munk, deputy director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. “Students also have the chance to discuss the work of others and learn what others are doing and why it is important. Presenting one’s work and getting feedback is a critical part of development as a scientist.”Unfortunately, traveling to a conference in another city, state or even country is out of reach for many college students. According to the American Psychological Association, more than a third of college students in the United States cannot afford stable housing and abundant food, never mind professional travel.More than 400 students engage in research at the Biodesign Institute. The Biodesign Travel Fund awards Student Travel Grants that allow selected students to attend scientific conferences pertinent to their research. Students are able to present and learn more about their research area as well as meet and network with other scientists in their field.“Some of us aren't able to go to conferences unless we're able to find external funding,” says Savannah Tallino, a student in the School of Life Sciences Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience.With the help of a Student Travel Grant, Tallino was able to attend the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego, California.“Going to conferences like this is one of the best ways to meet new people who are in the same field as you and exchange ideas, and also forge new relationships that you can leverage later on, so that you can apply for grants together or email each other when you're having trouble with a technique that the other lab has specialized in,” she says.By attending the conference, Tallino was able to gain valuable insight on how to progress as an advanced researcher in her field and continue to pursue her goals.“I had the ability to meet with people in my field, people whose papers I had read and really admired, interact with them and learn from them,” she says.Sofia Rocha, a microbiology PhD student who works as a graduate assistant in the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics, will be attending the American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Portland, Oregon.Rocha says the meeting will be important “to help with any troubleshooting that we may have with our own personal projects by learning other insights from other protocols that they might have that we're not used to.”Since it was created in 2011, The Biodesign Travel Fund has helped nearly 100 students like Tallino and Rocha attend scientific conferences from Seattle to Switzerland.The Biodesign Travel Fund relies on support from generous donors. Learn more about how you can help provide life-changing opportunities for ASU student researchers.Written by Logan Alvarado]]>
Two men hold a sign that reads "Sun Devil Giving Day."

ASU community to celebrate 9th annual Sun Devil Giving Day

Arizona State University supporters worldwide will exercise their generosity on March 16 for the ninth annual Sun Devil Giving Day, a 24-hour universitywide day of giving.Sun Devil Giving Day encourages supporters to give to the people, programs and causes they care about at ASU, fostering a culture of philanthropy within the ASU community. Whether it be to advance ASU’s goals for inclusion, student success, discovery or local and global impact, Sun Devil Giving Day is an opportunity for donors to fuel some of ASU’s most impactful initiatives.Sun Devil Giving Day is ASU’s single largest day for donors to express their generosity and help make the world a better place, said Bill Kavan, vice president of engagement and outreach at the ASU Foundation for A New American University.                          “Every gift is a building block in the long tradition of philanthropy, which helps to advance education and knowledge. The first gift to ASU was the land that the campus still sits on today, and while the university has changed over the years, philanthropy remains fundamental to supporting student success and improving society,” Kavan said.  Last Sun Devil Giving Day, the ASU community donated over 4,300 gifts and raised over $880,000. This year’s goal is to inspire over 1,000 new donors and over 4,500 gifts.“Success to me is having someone find a way to support their personal passions through ASU. No matter one’s passion, there’s a way to have a positive impact in partnership with ASU and other donors,” Kavan said.The impact of generosityPrivate philanthropic support is critical to ASU’s success and has a real and lasting impact.For Madeline Hall, a sophomore biomedical sciences major, private support from the ASU Women and Philanthropy Scholarship enables her to focus on her studies and pursue her passion for public service.  “I was thrilled to receive a scholarship. It allowed me to focus more on making the most of my collegiate experience. And I was especially honored to have the ASU Women and Philanthropy Scholarship because it recognizes community service, which is something I'm passionate about,” Hall said.An aspiring physician, Hall volunteers with the Refugee Education and Clinic Team, or REACT, a partnership between ASU and the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine that works to bridge the health care gap within Maricopa County’s refugee community.At a clinic on the West campus, she helps volunteers provide primary care and steer people into long-term or established care.“When refugees come to the U.S., they’ve been through all of these experiences I can’t even begin to imagine, and I’m glad I can contribute in some way,” Hall said.Devin Dye, a 2019 ASU graduate and a development officer at the ASU Foundation, who raises support for the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, saw the impact of scholarship support during his undergraduate and graduate years.Dye remembers the first time he truly understood the impact of generosity as a child. He recounts how a stranger approached his grandfather in a parking lot for help.“And my grandfather, without hesitation, opened his wallet and helped that person out with what he could at the time,” Dye said. “Just a simple act of kindness being so powerful. It's something I'll always remember. And that generosity just has stayed with me forever.”Whether it’s students, staff, faculty, alumni, parents or the wider community, everyone is encouraged to participate in the Sun Devil Giving spirit to connect with their values and giving passions.Matching fundsMany donors will provide matching gifts to select funds on Sun Devil Giving Day.For example, the Next Generation Council, ASU alumni working to uphold principles of the ASU Charter, will match gifts up to $50 made by any ASU graduate of the last 20 years on Sun Devil Giving Day until the funds are exhausted and reach $10,000.Students can get involved in Sun Devil Giving Day too, by voting through Sun Devil Rewards on the ASU Mobile App for their favorite cause areas, including ASU Counseling Services, Pitchfork Pantry, the ASU Family Student Crisis Fund and Project Humanities.Connect with your giving passionsSun Devil Giving Day encourages supporters to connect with the cause they care about at ASU. Donors will be able to find funds that support these, and other, initiatives at the university:Protecting the planet.Serving the community.Advancing student access and success.Creating equity in higher education.Conducting research for the public good.Get involvedThere are many ways to participate in Sun Devil Giving Day:Donate to an initiative you care about in any area of ASU at the conversation and spread the word on social media with #SunDevilGiving.Follow ASU Foundation on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.Vote, if you are a student, to give to a cause you care about through Sun Devil Rewards on the ASU Mobile App.Double your impact by giving to a fund that is being matched.Top photo courtesy ASU Enterprise Partners]]>
Exterior shot of ASU building with a sign that reads "Fulton Center" and palm trees.

ASU’s endowment reaches $1.39B and top 100 list for fiscal year 2022

The Arizona State University endowment outperformed many of its peers during fiscal year 2022 and reached the industry’s list of top 100 endowments by size for the first time.The endowment, which is managed by the ASU Foundation for A New American University, rose 17 spots to No. 99 during fiscal year 2022 out of 689 institutions in the National Association of College and University Business Officers-TIAA Study of Endowments annual study. ASU ranked ahead of the following PAC-12 schools: University of Arizona Foundation (No. 115), Oregon State University Foundation (No. 167), Washington State University (No. 117) and University of Utah (No. 104).A combination of strong investment returns and increased philanthropy bolstered the endowment’s market value from $1.25 billion to $1.39 billion at the end of fiscal year 2022, which ended June 30, 2022. According to the survey results, the 2.4% investment return for fiscal year 2022 places ASU's endowment in the top decile of peer institutions with endowments of $1 billion or more.“We've made several strategic enhancements to our investment approach in recent years, including building on internal investment resources, capitalizing on proprietary investment opportunities, enhancing our partnership with BlackRock and strengthening the alignment of our investments with the mission of ASU,” said Jeff Mindlin, chief investment officer for the ASU Foundation. “We saw strong outcomes from our innovative, sustainable approach in areas such as renewable power, clean tech and education technology.”More than 100 new endowed funds were added to the ASU endowment in support of students, faculty and other programs. The ASU endowment is made up of more than 2,300 endowed funds that are restricted to a specific use or distribution schedule and are permanent gifts that are invested as a pooled fund to provide long-term financial support to ASU for scholarships and fellowships, professorships and chairs, research, athletics and other enrichment activities.“As a public enterprise, Arizona State University looks to its visionary and dedicated philanthropic network to help support its growth and success,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Through the incredible confidence and generosity of donors at all levels, ASU has seen unprecedented investments during the past six months, and our community is deeply appreciative and inspired to keep this momentum.”]]>
Two people storyboarding ideas on a whiteboard in a meeting room.

New ASU design aspiration emphasizes values in innovation

Innovation is thriving at Arizona State University, not only in research labs but in course design, student support, sustainability and community partnerships.All of that ground-breaking work is guided by the ASU Charter, with a mission to be inclusive and accountable, and also by eight design aspirations, which are institutional goals to help the university achieve excellence.Now, ASU is adding a ninth design aspiration called Principled Innovation, which is the ability to create change guided by values and ethical understanding. It’s a way to integrate intentionality into all decisions to be as inclusive as possible. It means always considering, “Who will benefit?” and “Who needs to be included?”This new design aspiration states: “ASU places character and values at the center of decisions and actions.”ASU President Michael Crow said that Principled Innovation is important because innovation moves very fast at the university.“The notion is, how do we be more intentional in our decision-making processes? How do we think about the impact we’re having as an institution?” he said in a video address to the university community.“Because the things we are doing are creating waves of innovation, waves of change across society.“We need to make sure that all of our practices, and all that we do, can help us to develop practical wisdom and practical outcomes. … The outcome here is to be more intentional, more equitable in our decisions and in the systems that are designed for societal flourishing.”Crow said that the concept of Principled Innovation is not new at ASU.“We’re already doing this, but we have not had the opportunity to lay this down as a formal design aspiration,” he said.The original eight design aspirations are:Leverage Our Place: ASU embraces its cultural, socioeconomic and physical setting.Transform Society: ASU catalyzes social change by being connected to social needs.Value Entrepreneurship: ASU uses its knowledge and encourages innovation.Conduct Use-Inspired Research: ASU research has purpose and impact.Enable Student Success: ASU is committed to the success of each unique student.Fuse Intellectual Disciplines: ASU creates knowledge by transcending academic disciplines.Be Socially Embedded: ASU connects with communities through mutually beneficial partnerships.Engage Globally: ASU engages with people and issues locally, nationally and internationally. Video of Evolving aspirations of a New American University: Arizona State University (ASU) Video by Ken Fagan/ASU NewsSo why add the ninth design aspiration now?Crow explained:“We live in a very complex moment in time and space. We live in a moment where our democracy and all things about it have been put into dynamic stress in the last few years. We live in a moment where the rate of change is accelerating.“We believe that all that we do can make certain that our democracy prevails, that the core aspects of our democracy prevail, that the core aspects of our charter are attained and that this design aspiration — practice principled innovation — is one way to do this.”Principled Innovation will be rolled out across the ASU community this year and will likely look different in every unit. The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has spent the past six years doing the hard work of creating a practical roadmap for the entire college to embrace the mindset.Principled Innovation has become a core value of the college, according to Carole Basile, dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.“There are thousands of decisions made every day in school and many of them are made expeditiously,” she said.“We wanted a way that educators as individuals could think differently about the decisions they make, with kids in particular. And that had to start with our faculty and the decisions we make with our students.”One tangible change in the college was in student services, which previously operated as a group of advisors who each had a caseload of students. A more intentional consideration revealed that students needed a different kind of support system. Now, teams of advisors work with groups of students, along with staff who specialize in areas such as financial literacy, career services, mental health and academic support. An emergency fund was created for students who needed a few hundred dollars to keep them on track.Cristy Guleserian, director of Principled Innovation for the Mary Lou Teachers College, said that paying attention to the entire student, not just academic progress, is vital for learning.“If we don’t focus on meeting people where they’re at as humans and really making sure we understand their needs and perspective, the capacity to learn is blocked. They’ll be distracted.“So (Principled Innovation) isn’t just a thing but who we are and how we approach our work.”“This is about humanity and flourishing,” Basile said.“How do we help build people up? All of that doesn’t happen without making judicious decisions to enable it.”Building on the work of Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Principled Innovation practices will start expanding across the university, starting with teams in the ASU Preparatory Academies, the Office of the Provost, Educational Outreach and Student Services, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Dreamscape Learn, W. P. Carey School of Business and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.“All across campus, every unit is trying to impact some part of society. They’re trying to make some major difference,” Basile said.“These principles and practices apply no matter what you’re trying to do and no matter who you’re trying to serve, but this is where we really start to think about, ‘We can but should we?’”Ted Cross, executive director in the Office of University Affairs who will work to advance the new design aspiration across the university, added that “more than ever, it is important to highlight ASU’s culture of Principled Innovation. Doing so will advance our work in purposeful and thoughtful ways.”Top photo by Chloe Merriweather/Arizona State University]]>
Headshot of Jane L. Morris smiling at the camera with mountain scenery in the background.

ASU urban management grad student fellowship named for respected city executive Jane L. Morris

A two-year program for Arizona State University graduate students seeking careers in local government administration named for former Phoenix City Manager Marvin Andrews today honors another accomplished municipal executive as well.Thanks to a gift from the family of the late Jane Louise Morris, one of the fellows selected each year for the two-year Marvin Andrews Fellowship in Urban Management will be designated as the Jane L. Morris Fellow.The first Morris Fellow will be recruited during the 2023 spring semester to join the other graduate students participating in the 2023–25 Andrews program. The deadline for interested students to apply is March 3.Professor Shannon Portillo, director of the ASU School of Public Affairs (SPA) that is home to the Andrews program, said the fellowship pays tribute to Morris’ longtime role in local government.“Jane Morris made incredible contributions throughout her career as deputy city manager of the city of Phoenix and executive director of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. We are honored that her family is paying tribute to her legacy by creating the Jane L. Morris Fellow as part of the prestigious Marvin Andrews Fellows in Urban Management program,” Portillo said. “We are deeply appreciative of the family’s support of future public service professionals and honored to prepare students to continue Jane’s legacy of public service.”Bryan Raines, a retired Mesa assistant city manager and husband of the late Jane Morris, said his family is grateful for the opportunity to pay tribute to her long legacy of service through the fellowship."As a family, we are excited that this contribution will help strengthen the fellowship program and provide opportunities for deserving students while honoring Jane for all her efforts as a public administrator and ASU Master of Public Administration alumna," Raines said.Morris, who died in 2016 at age 57, had followed in her father’s footsteps. Bob Morris was city manager of Glencoe, Illinois, for 31 years. Jane’s career spanned more than three decades of service to local government that included more than 25 years with the city of Phoenix and concluded by serving for many years as executive director and CEO of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Initially, after his wife’s death, Raines began working with the Arizona City/County Management Association’s (ACMA's) Women Leading Government (WLG) initiative to establish the Jane L. Morris Scholarship. The scholarship continues to provide funding for Arizona women working in local governments to attend ACMA and WLG professional development conferences.Morris’ family decided last fall to provide the gift to the ASU Foundation for a New American University to fund the fellowship and honor her memory after meeting with ACMA members and ASU staff who were involved in forming the Andrews program.Raines met with retired Mesa City Manager Mike Hutchinson, retired Chandler City Manager Lloyd Harrell, retired Gilbert Town Manager George Pettit, retired Mesa Assistant City Manager Kari Kent, as well as with the following ASU faculty members: Dean and President’s Professor Cynthia Lietz from the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, Portillo and Cynthia Seelhammer, an SPA professor of practice who coordinates the Andrews program and is a former city and county manager.The ASU program is named for Andrews, who served for 13 years as city manager of Phoenix, the largest council-manager government in the United States and considered by many to be the “best-run” U.S. city. In 1986, City and State Magazine named him the best city manager in the United States. He retired in 1990 and remained active in city affairs for 10 more years. Andrews died in 2004 at age 75.]]>
Portrait of Ibram X. Kendi.

Ibram X. Kendi to deliver annual lecture on race relations at ASU

Ibram X. Kendi, a New York Times bestselling author and professor at Boston University, will be the featured speaker at the 2023 A. Wade Smith and Elsie Moore Memorial Lecture on Race Relations.The author of highly acclaimed books including “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, Kendi has produced five No. 1 New York Times bestsellers, including his two latest books, “How to Raise an Antiracist” and the picture book “Goodnight Racism.”Kendi is also the founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News racial justice contributor.The New York City native earned a degree in journalism and started his career interning for sports sections of several newspapers. While in college, Kendi’s interest in engaging with racial justice work increased.Kendi added a second major in African American studies and graduated in 2004.He later earned his master's degree in African American studies and began teaching as a visiting professor at several American universities as well as delivering speeches throughout the country.Kendi was also named one of TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020 and was awarded a 2021 MacArthur Fellowship, popularly known as the Genius Grant.“In 2020, Arizona State University President Michael Crow committed the university to increase the support of The College’s annual A. Wade Smith Lecture series,” said Patrick Kenney, dean of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Since the lecture was established over two decades ago, this event has welcomed a distinguished guest to our ASU community to discuss important issues of race and society. We are pleased for the opportunity to welcome Ibram X. Kendi as this year’s featured speaker.”About the A. Wade Smith and Elsie Moore Memorial Lecture on Race RelationsThe A. Wade Smith and Elsie Moore Memorial Lecture on Race Relations was created in 1995 to perpetuate Smith’s tireless efforts to improve race relations across ASU campuses and within the greater community.It is among 25 engagements ASU has pledged to support in the enhancement of the lived and Iearning experiences of Black students, staff and faculty through the LIFT initiative — itself inspired by ASU’s objectives and aspirations to transform society, enable student success and engage globally. The A. Wade Smith and Elsie Moore Memorial Lecture is the only endowed lecture at any college or university with a rich 20-year history featuring renowned scholarly experts on race relations.Upon Moore's passing in 2022, the lecture was renamed in her honor for her devotion to ASU as a beloved faculty member and pioneer in diversity, equity and inclusion. Both Smith and Moore devoted their lives to the idea of racial parity. The lecture will be held in Armstrong Hall 101 at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 13.]]>
Four broadcast  journalists stand around a news desk talking

Can a journalist be trustworthy without being 'objective'?

At a time when trustworthy news is more important than ever, and when most people say they want news that is unbiased, the traditional notion of journalistic objectivity is under attack from journalists and news consumers alike.A new report by two veteran journalists charts a path forward for newsrooms to produce fair, accurate and reliable news in the evolving culture of the modern newsroom. Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post, and Andrew Heyward, former president of CBS News, now faculty members at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, have co-authored a report called “Beyond Objectivity: Producing Trustworthy News in Today’s Newsrooms.” Cronkite School doctoral students Rian Bosse, Stephen Kilar and Kristina Vera-Phillips and undergraduate student Autriya Maneshni also contributed to the report.The report examines some of the factors that have eroded trust in the news media, including newsroom downsizing, cable news blurring news and opinion, politicians accusing mainstream media of producing fake news, and an increase in misinformation and disinformation exacerbated by social media. It also explains why many journalists today reject the traditional notion of “objective” news reporting. Heyward and Downie argue that, while the term may have lost its relevance, newsrooms can restore trust in their reporting by following a “playbook” of recommendations in the report.“For the general public, this is a critical time in terms of what kind of information you get, and where you’re getting it from and how it’s being produced. It’s hard for people to know what to believe,” said Downie, Weil Family Professor of Journalism at the Cronkite School. “We have concluded that it’s very important for mainstream news media to evolve in the ways we recommend to produce the best possible trustworthy news for the public.”Downie and Heyward and their team interviewed more than 75 news leaders, journalists and other experts before developing a set of six guidelines for producing trustworthy news. “Beyond Objectivity” offers the following guiding principles: move beyond accuracy to truth; unlock the real power of diversity, inclusion and identity; create a credible policy for journalists’ social media and political activities; focus on essential original reporting; show your work as an integral part of the journalism process; and develop a set of core values for the newsroom to live by.“If we’ve done our job, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. If a newsroom does all of these things, it’s transformative,” said Heyward, senior research professor at the Cronkite School. “Even if it’s not a revolution, it’s a significant evolution. It’s going to require a new generation of leadership that embraces these principles.”Some newsrooms are already focusing on diversifying their staffs and the communities they cover, but Heyward says more can be done.“There’s a focus on diversity. We’re recommending a greater, sharper, more intense focus, which actually treats diversity not just as a statistical or moral imperative, even though it’s both of those things, but as a way to unlock new riches from your own team,” Heyward said. “The idea is not to bring a bunch of people in and sand them down, so they all fit a preconceived mold, but rather bring them in and use their diverse talents and perspectives to enrich your journalism and service to a more diverse public.”The report will be distributed to journalism schools, news organizations and journalism associations, and it will be available on the Knight-Cronkite News Lab website as a resource.The Cronkite School will also create a series of workshops that will apply the report’s findings to the work and culture of individual newsrooms — part of what the authors hope becomes a continuing conversation about journalism’s core values that helps preserve and strengthen the public’s trust in reliable reporting.The report may become a living document that is updated periodically to address issues that arise in the media, Heyward said, citing as an example the debate that sprang up in newsrooms over how to cover the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.The Stanton Foundation awarded the Cronkite School a $150,000 grant to research the concept of journalistic objectivity in today’s newsrooms. Frank Stanton is widely regarded as one of the television industry’s founding fathers and served as president of CBS for nearly 30 years. The Stanton Foundation played no role in the development or dissemination of the report, and the contents are entirely an independent product of ASU.]]>
Kenja Hassan poses with her arms crossed for a headshot

ASU Foundation names 2023 senior fellow to increase diversity, inclusion in philanthropy

Kenja Hassan has been named the 2023 senior fellow of the Arizona State University Foundation for A New American University, a role created to increase diversity and inclusion opportunities in philanthropy while also expanding university leadership and faculty involvement.“Following the inauguration of the position, and the success that came with it, we are happy to announce the naming of Kenja Hassan as this year’s senior fellow with the ASU Foundation,” said Suzanne Rinker, vice president of enterprise development at the ASU Foundation. “It is exciting to see the progress from last year continue, and the foundation is looking forward to aiding in her objectives for the role.”Hassan began her relationship with ASU in 1997 as a graduate student and became a full-time employee in 2001. Today, she serves as the assistant vice president of cultural relations in the Office of Government and Community Engagement. Hassan is the second senior fellow at the ASU Foundation.“I am very excited — a little bit nervous — I don’t have a strong background in fundraising or philanthropy, so this is a learning opportunity for me,” Hassan said. “I was really inspired by my experience working with the foundation on Black Philanthropy Month last year. I experienced a lot of genuine caring from the foundation, and if the experience had not been so positive, I am not sure I would be here today.”After previous work with the foundation, Hassan hopes to utilize the groundwork laid last year by the inaugural senior fellow as a springboard to move forward in strengthening the connection between the foundation and leadership members of the university.“A good amount of what I want to do with my term this year is to institutionalize things Kimberly Scott got started last year, particularly Black Philanthropy Month,” Hassan said, referring to the inaugural senior fellow. “The other is to help the foundation continue the momentum for inclusive philanthropy, and one avenue to do that is to explore other heritage months and other heritage-based programming at ASU to coincide with philanthropic activities”Hassan plans to expand on the work Scott did with the introduction of Black Philanthropy Month and wants to highlight programs that are specific to different cultural and historical groups. Her focus is on using the fellowship as an opportunity to bring attention to other existing heritage celebrations while expanding attendance and contributions in support of those programs.Hassan will focus on expanding support for and awareness of the LIFT Initiative. LIFT (Listen, Invest, Facilitate, Teach) was conceived as a universitywide effort to implement 25 action items designed to increase growth and opportunities for Black faculty, staff and students at ASU.“A primary part of my effort will be to help institutionalize fundraising efforts for the LIFT Initiative. There are 25 different action items within this initiative, and some of them are in need of financial support. My hope is that over the course of this year, I can help the foundation understand the different components of LIFT and how the foundation can fundraise for these action items in the future,” Hassan said.Hassan is working with Christine Buzinde, the provost fellow for LIFT, to create a stronger network between the foundation and the executives behind the LIFT action items. She feels that a healthy relationship between the two is essential in properly executing the goals of the LIFT projects.Additionally, Hassan wants to alter the narrative surrounding philanthropy in the ASU community toward inclusivity and cultivate a mindset that encourages everyone to give back. Part of this goal is to evolve what it means to be a philanthropist and work toward finding creative ways of participating in giving beyond monetary donations.“For over a decade, I have been a part of an Arizona-based effort to increase people of color participating in philanthropic giving at the Arizona Community Foundation. There are people that consider themselves givers but not philanthropists because they are not donating $500,000, but they are giving $500 or $50 or even just $5,” Hassan said.Hassan’s goal is to help everyone feel welcome to give back to their community, and this fellowship is a platform for her to grow the meaning of philanthropy.Written by Richard Canas]]>
Spines of books, one of which reads: Shakespeare.

Shakespeare's First Folio celebrates 400th anniversary

William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616. Seven years later he was immortalized.This year marks the 400th anniversary of the First Folio, the published collection of 36 of Shakespeare’s plays. The folio, titled, “Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies,” comprises 18 plays that had never been published before, including "Antony and Cleopatra," "As You Like It," "All’s Well That Ends Well," "Macbeth," "Twelfth Night" and "The Taming of the Shrew."Those who treasure Shakespeare’s words say the folio cemented him as the world’s greatest playwright.“I don’t think Shakespeare would be, you know, 'the Bard' if his friends had not gotten this done after his death as a tribute to him,” said Ayanna Thompson, director of Arizona State University’s Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and a member of the board of trustees of the Royal Shakespeare Company. That Shakespeare’s works remain relevant and treasured today is not only a testament to his talent but the foresight of two friends who decided his plays needed a permanent home.Before the folio was published, Shakespeare’s plays were published in quartos — small, one-play books made by folding sheets of paper twice. Think of them as easily disposable paperbacks. In the 1600s, quartos were easily lost or misplaced.But after Shakespeare’s death, colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell asked a London printing shop to publish Shakespeare’s works in the folio.“Most people would say that this would be the first push to kind of canonize him in a particular way,” said Brandi Adams, an assistant professor in ASU’s Department of English who has had articles and reviews published in the journal Shakespeare. "He was one of the first authors to have a collection of this kind."Thompson said the folio helped Shakespeare gain prominence after the English Civil War, from 1642 to 1651."Theaters closed during the Civil War and when they finally re-opened in the 1660s, they didn't have a lot of new playwrights working," Thompson said. "So they could turn to the folio and start putting on plays right away. That helped propel his legacy."One of the interesting tidibts about the folio is that no two copies are the same because they were all produced on hand presses with multiple compositors who had different spelling habits and levels of competence. Only 235 copies remain, but that's not unusual for publications from that time, Adams said."When people tell you there are only 235 copies, that's not rare," Adams added. "There are a lot of books of which we only have one copy."They may not be rare, but they are valuable: In October 2020, a copy sold by Mills College at Christie’s Auction House sold for $9.98 million.Beyond the folio’s historical backdrop and value lies a question: Why are Shakespeare’s works still relevant today?Thompson said Shakespeare touched on universal themes that transcend time and space. Young love ("Romeo and Juliet"), tragedy ("King Lear" and "Macbeth"), romantic comedy and class conflict ("Twelfth Night"), politics ("Julius Caesar"), life and, of course, death.Shakespeare, however, wasn’t the only author who wrote about such things. What separated him from other writers, according to Jonathan Bate, a Foundation Professor of environmental humanities at ASU and a renowned Shakespeare critic, is that his works were respected enough to perform in the king’s court but also randy enough to appeal to commoners on the streets of London.“Why has he endured in the way that others haven’t?” said Bate, who is helping PBS put together a 90-minute documentary on the folio that will air later this year. “I think it’s partly because of the sheer variety of his plays. There were other writers who were very good at tragedy, but not good at comedy. Some were very good at comedy and not so good at tragedy.“He sort of covers all the different types of theater work and a huge variety of human characters and human behavior. And he does this thing of mixing heroes, leaders, politicians, aristocrats and royalty with ordinary people, giving you the ordinary person’s perspective. He’s so good on the conflict that anybody in life has.”Bate noted that the night before King Charles I was executed, he was reading Shakespeare, and that ordinary citizens were also drawn to Shakespeare’s dirty jokes or double entendre.“Whenever there were Christmas festivities at the court or a visiting diplomat or entourage were being entertained and the queen wanted to showcase the best drama of the age, it was Shakespeare,” Bate said. “But at the same time, actors are performing Shakespeare on the streets of the South Bank in London, adjacent to the brothels and the bear-baiting pits. They would get everything in those plays. Sex and violence, there’s a hell of a lot of that. (The play) "Titus Andronicus" was fantastically popular at the time and it involves beheadings. It’s kind of like the 'Game of Thrones.' There’s even a scene in which a mother is made to eat her own two children who have been baked in a pie. You can see how the audiences on the streets would love that.”It's notable that Thompson, a learned scholar, said "Titus Andronicus" is her favorite play because it’s “whackadoodle.”“A lot of his plays have these big kind of uniting themes that we can all agree on,” Thompson said. “So I would say he’s pretty firmly on the pedestal.”Top photo courtesy iStock]]>
Center director John Carlson, wearing a navy suit and red tie, speaks at a forum regarding politics and religion

ASU center director reflects on the state of religion and conflict

In his inaugural address, Arizona State University President Michael Crow acknowledged “religion’s enormous role in conflict and public affairs around the world” and called for the creation of a center to address “the urgent need” to understand the impact of religion “in areas as diverse as foreign policy, international law, teaching and learning in our schools, science and technology research and application, news coverage and political ideology.” Now entering its 20th year, ASU's Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict continues to fulfill this mission by producing transformative research and education and by fostering exchange and collaboration that, together, expand knowledge of the religious dynamics of conflict and peace.In recognition of the anniversary, the center’s director, John Carlson, associate professor of religious studies in ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, talks about the unit’s important work and its continuing relevance today.Question: In 2007, you wrote an article titled “How Shall We Study Religion and Conflict? Challenges and Opportunities in the Early Twenty-first Century.” In it you assert that the study of religion and conflict in a global era requires an interdisciplinary approach, incorporating a variety of methodologies from disciplines across the humanities and social sciences. Based on what you wrote then, and given the issues we are facing today, how has your thinking and approach evolved?Answer: ASU is a university that prides itself on interdisciplinary thinking, and I believe we've continued to show the importance of that by drawing into the center’s research by many colleagues across the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, engineering and other disciplines. That has not changed since the early 2000s.What has evolved is how we approach the concept of conflict. Many people tend to think about conflict, especially in conjunction with religion, as a problem — often a violent one — in need of a fix or solution. To begin with, not all conflict is violent. But even when it is, problematic forms of violence provide important occasions for reflection, for innovation, for reform and for transformation. Beneath every form or instance of violence are much deeper conflicts and issues that warrant investigation and require subtler forms of understanding.I think it is also important to acknowledge that conflict itself can be constructive. There is no time in the history of human civilization that progress, innovation, reform and change occur without conflict. … What all of us — policymakers, practitioners, journalists, students and citizens — need to understand better is how religion shapes conflict and how it might also be part of a story of human progress.Q: Among its projects, the center has focused on countering violent religious extremism. What lessons have been learned in this area, and can they be applied to the rise of nationalism in the United States?A: There was a lot of focus on countering violent extremism in the years after 9/11. One of the things that we in the center sought to understand was how discourses and movements within Muslim societies already worked to counter violent extremism.This approach also applies to growing forms of extremism in the United States and the role that religion plays, particularly Christian Nationalism. Some forms of Christian Nationalism do not pose a violent threat to the government or to other Americans. It is imperative we recognize that. But, as we saw during the Jan. 6 insurrection, there are dangerous elements we need to understand better, including the presence of Christian Nationalist viewpoints found in different militia groups. Their numbers are rising in the U.S., and that’s a real concern.Democracy in America has always thrived when we've been able to preserve a healthy tension between the political and religious lives of its citizens. Figures like Martin Luther King remind us that religious ideals can inspire and guide us to improve our national politics. But we also need to resist elevating partisan fealty to a level of devotion that should be reserved for ultimate religious and ethical concerns.Q: While the center’s founding in 2003 was animated by the events of 9/11 and a newfound sense of public urgency about the role of religion in conflict, scholars were keenly aware that trends begun well before 9/11 were unleashing dynamics where diverse traditions — religious and secular — were increasingly likely to collide. Can you elaborate on how these dynamics have evolved in the last 20 years, and why it still matters to contemporary publics?A: Let me begin by saying that it's important to remember that the history of religion, or any individual tradition, is itself a history of conflict. As well, whenever we try to understand our own time, we need to appreciate what's distinctive about it as well as what's continuous with the past.It's vital not to resort to a kind of presentism, where the only thing that matters is what's happening now — as if it is unprecedented or unrelated to the past. … One of the things that we really want to do at the Center is to give people enough understanding of the past so that they understand how it has shaped the moment we're in now. That said, the center was born and took form in an era of intense globalization — one defined by unprecedented global trade, the influence of global technologies, the rise of global institutions and even appeals to “global citizenship.” This era was also defined by exigent global problems and threats — from terrorism and piracy to climate change and mass migration.One of the challenges that we're facing today that is new, though not unprecedented, is the resurgence of nationalism, and the ways in which religion is a force in that. In many ways, nationalism is part of an intense backlash against globalization. Interestingly, though, the rise of nationalism is itself a global phenomenon that one sees not just in the U.S., but all over the world, including places like the U.K., Turkey, the Philippines, China, India and Russia. Religion plays a role in many of the nationalist movements we are seeing today, as well as in the divisions they are creating.One of the projects we are involved with now is called the Recovering Truth project, which brings these questions of religions and the secular together in a new way. What forms of truth-seeking do we find in religions? How are these compatible with democracy? Democracy as a unique form of government depends on a shared public world in which we pursue truths in common. How do we nurture that shared world, the trust in one another on which it depends and the institutions it sustains? These are the questions we are working on today — at home and abroad — in our Recovering Truth project, our Peace Studies program, and our Religion and Science and Spirituality and Public Life initiatives.The center kicked off its 20th anniversary schedule of events with a lecture by Carlson on Jan. 19, titled “The Future of Religion and Conflict.”]]>
Group of people silhouetted against a sunset, each making the ASU pitchfork symbol with their hands.

ASU United Way campaign open through Jan. 31

At a time when the pandemic devastated communities across the state, Arizona State University’s long-standing partnership with Valley of the Sun United Way empowers Sun Devils to support one another through the "Mighty Change" employee giving campaign. Open through Jan. 31, the campaign offers ASU faculty and staff a meaningful way to engage and give back to fellow Arizonans who may have experienced or are currently experiencing hunger and homelessness, causes that the United Way has championed since 1925. In addition, the organization works to ensure that all families and children throughout Maricopa County have equitable access to quality education, health care and career development.To continue and honor that legacy of giving, this year’s ASU United Way campaign goal is to raise $700,000. Funds can be directed in a variety of ways, giving employees an option to support a 501(c)(3) organizations of their choice or to give back to fellow Sun Devils. Dale Larsen, director of community relations and engagement within Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, says community and public service are values shared by all Sun Devils.  For the past eight years, Larsen has chaired the ASU United Way campaign on behalf of Watts College.“ASU’s support of United Way is a family supporting a family,” he says. “The fact that United Way represents so many agencies that are our partners, collaborators and friends — along with our college’s students, faculty and staff — speaks volumes of why the United Way campaign is integral to ASU.” In addition to monetary donations, Larson says other ways to engage with the campaign include participating in events like “Giving-Grams” or other college-specific fundraisers. The campaign's secondary goal is to garner 100% participation, which means employees can support the campaign without a monetary donation by completing an ePledge online. Larsen also recommends volunteering in any capacity with United Way during the campaign, or year-round, as it strengthens messaging and participation numbers.“This year, I especially love the fact that our dean, Cynthia Lietz, is one of two honorary co-chairs for ASU United Way,” he says. “Having our dean author passionate and supportive communications to our faculty and staff members has served as an added strength to our campaign.” Christine Wilkinson, senior vice president and secretary of the university, and president and CEO of the ASU Alumni Association, said contributing to the campaign in any way truly embodies what it means to be socially embedded and to drive real, positive change for the Sun Devil community.“The ASU United Way campaign is the single comprehensive effort to reach and assist the communities in which we live, and is one of the central tenets of the charter,” Wilkinson says. “We are all part of those communities, and in contributing to the United Way, we are contributing to the health and well-being of neighbors, friends and our own families.”Ways to contribute and participateGive:Online ePledge: Use your ASURITE ID and password to sign in.Paper: Print and fill out the ASU United Way pledge form and return to: ASU United Way, Attn: Patty Rosciano, Mail Code: 1304Volunteer:Check out volunteer opportunities in Phoenix.Learn:Learn more about these programs in a series of community solution videos.]]>
NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences rocket launches into the sky.

Study of California groundwater prompts a wake-up call for Arizona

A team of scientists that pioneered methods to observe changes in global groundwater stores over the past two decades using a specialized NASA satellite mission has made a surprising discovery about the aquifers that supply California’s Central Valley region.Despite the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act adopted in 2014 to prevent overpumping and stabilize the aquifers, the groundwater depletion rate has accelerated to a point where groundwater could disappear over the next several decades. The act gives the state’s local groundwater management districts until 2042 to reach sustainability goals.Renowned water scientist Jay Famiglietti is the lead researcher of a scientific team that published a paper in Nature Communications in December 2022 that details their analysis.Famiglietti has a blunt message: “All around the world, we have been kicking the can down the road for a long time on effectively managing groundwater. Now we are at the end of the road, and it’s a dead end." Famiglietti is a professor with the Arizona State University School of Sustainability in the College of Global Futures, a unit of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory.Famiglietti joined ASU in January to assist in developing the new Arizona Water Innovation Initiative, established through a $40 million investment by the state of Arizona.Among the world’s most productive agricultural areas, California’s Central Valley grows most of the produce consumed across North America. To do that, it relies heavily on aquifers — as much as 100% during droughts. While groundwater has been disappearing from the region for almost a century, the increasing rate of drawdown in recent years is completely unsustainable, Famiglietti said.“If that water disappears, so does food production. That means less produce, higher prices, shortages and other shocks to food systems,” said Famiglietti, previously the Canada 150 Research Chair in Hydrology and Remote Sensing at the University of Saskatchewan and executive director of USask’s Global Institute for Water Security.“My fear is that if we wait 20 years to bring these aquifers to sustainability, there may not be anything left,” he said. “Speeding up the implementation period may be worth considering, because there appears to be a rush to pump as much as possible before the hammer comes down.”ASU Professor Jay FamigliettiHis team analyzed nearly two decades of data collected by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellite and the GRACE Follow-On satellite. Their research shows groundwater losses during 2019 to 2021 — the driest three-year period in California’s history — were 31% faster than in two previous drought periods of 2006 to 2011 and 2011 to 2017. This rate is also nearly five times greater than the long-term average rate of depletion since 1962.Deep groundwater took millions of years to accumulate, Famiglietti said, and the current scale and pace of the depletion means that recharging the supply is virtually impossible.“We talk about managed aquifer recharge and replenishing some of these aquifers. But that’s a small amount of water, and it’s close to the surface. This is industrial scale mining of groundwater, with virtually no chance on human time scales to replace the losses.”The impacts of depletion extend far beyond food production, he said. A big issue is the subsidence, or sinking of the ground, which can potentially affect about one-quarter of the Central Valley.Water for desert cities, including in major U.S. cities such as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tucson, Arizona, and Salt Lake City, will be also scarcer, he said.As groundwater disappears, there is ecological damage as wetlands are drained and streams run dry. And as water tables fall, costs increase to dig deeper wells and pump groundwater higher, creating affordability problems for people who need to access the water. Additionally, the poorer quality of deep water makes its treatment expensive.Groundwater losses combining the USGS’s Central Valley Hydrologic Model and the GRACE/FO estimates since 1962. The black line represents the overall groundwater depletion from 1962 to 2021, calculated by combining the CVHM and GRACE estimates.What’s happening in the Central Valley is also happening in the Lower Colorado Basin, the southern part of the High Plains Ogallala Aquifer, the Middle East, India and Bangladesh, and several other major food-producing regions around the world, he said.This depletion of groundwater should be a wake-up call for Arizona, where groundwater constitutes 40% of the state’s water supply and contributes 43% to its GDP.  Yet, outside of the state’s 5 Active Management Areas, groundwater is largely unregulated.“Arizona is at a crossroads with its groundwater use,” said Famiglietti. “The management decisions it makes today, including how to allocate groundwater for cities, agriculture, industry and the environment, will largely determine its vitality over the next century.“An important first step will be to carefully measure how much groundwater we actually have in Arizona and how much we are using, so that we can balance that with declining surface water availability from the Colorado River. We need to be able to support innovation and food production, but we need to do it for centuries, not just for a few decades.”Sarath Peiris with the University of Sasketchewan contributed to this article.]]>
Tourists fill a Hawaiian beach.

New study reveals tourists love Hawaiian coral reefs just a little too much

Coral reefs are vibrant ecosystems for marine life and provide vital environmental benefits for humanity, such as storm wave mitigation, bountiful fish stocks and ocean-based livelihoods. They are also a global attraction for tourists, drawing millions of visitors every year and billions of dollars in tourism revenue.However, reef ecosystems are also as fragile as they are beautiful. Coral reefs are swiftly and steadily declining due to the combined effects of global warming and local human stressors. A new study by Arizona State University and Princeton University provides insights into the local impacts of tourist visitation on live coral cover, as well as the draw reefs can have for coastal visitation.The study, published Jan. 9 in the journal Nature Sustainability, provides novel evidence that live coral reef cover is both an attraction for and victim of tourists at a large scale, raising complex trade-offs between environment and the economy.Even though tourism revenue is a boon to the economy and can benefit reef preservation efforts, when unmanaged, increased tourism also negatively impacts the health of coral reefs directly, both through tourism-related development and pollution, as well as on-reef activities such as swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling.“We took the world's first live coral maps and combined them with the power of social media and data analytics to derive wholly new information on the interaction between people and reefs,” said Greg Asner, co-author on the study and director of the ASU Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory.“The results were astonishing to see at such a large geographic scale and yet also corroborative at the local scales in which some communities have voiced significant concern about coral reef tourism,” Asner said.“Coastal tourism is a multibillion-dollar industry and will increasingly feature in the future use of marine resources,” said Bing Lin, a doctoral student at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs and lead author of the study. “It is only through an adequate understanding of tourism’s large-scale impacts on reef ecosystems that we can appropriately pinpoint pathways to make it more sustainable."The research team created unique, high-resolution datasets collected at the archipelago scale across the state of Hawaii, a prime coastal tourism hotspot. To determine coastal visitation rates, Lin web-scraped hundreds of thousands of Instagram posts to quantify both on-reef and overall coastal visitation. To quantify live coral cover, the authors used a high-resolution airborne mapping and a machine learning procedure to map the seafloor, a method developed by Asner and colleagues. Lin then obtained additional information from the Ocean Tipping Points project and the Hawaii Statewide GIS Program on various metrics of site accessibility, human activity and water conditions to determine the relationship between tourist visitation and live coral cover across hundreds of coastal sites in Hawaii.ASU researchers used high-resolution airborne mapping and a machine learning procedure to map the Hawaiian sea floor. This image shows the ASU Global Airborne Observatory in action. Photo by ASUThey found that high-quality coral reefs are popular tourist sites for both overall and on-reef specific visitation. At the most highly visited sites, coral reefs were also doubly at risk from tourism. They are indirectly impacted by the elevated pollution and infrastructure development it brings and directly impacted by on-reef visitation and the physical damages accrued through recreating tourists.These findings provide new insights into the role of local human activities in impacting coral reef health, a finding only possible through the high-resolution, meter-scale mapping methods used in this study.“Whether it's through our airborne program in regions like Hawaii or via our global reef monitoring program, we are constantly reminded that negative local-scale impacts are outpacing climate change-related impacts on coral reefs,” Asner said. “Local stressors to the world’s reefs are often overshadowed by the large, looming threat of global climate change and subsequent coral bleaching. However, our research underscores the importance of localized stressors in also contributing to coral decline,” Lin said.This study also highlights the importance of both strong reef-protecting policies and coral restoration measures, especially at popular tourist sites across Hawaii and beyond. Higher rates of on-reef visitation occur when there is better reef quality, site accessibility and water quality. This suggests that potential synergies also exist in promoting stronger coastal management practices that can simultaneously improve both reef quality and revenues generated from tourism.This study was supported through funding from the High Meadows Foundation and the Lenfest Ocean Program of The Pew Charitable Trusts.Keely Swan with Princeton University contributed to this article.]]>
Sophia Godinez pictured smiling with arms and one leg raised in front of a dirt path surrounded by trees.

ASU students explore culture, politics in Israel through Caravan for Democracy

For several Arizona State University students, winter break this year entails something more than putting up sparkly decorations, hanging out with family and sharing traditional meals.Ten students have been selected to participate in the Caravan for Democracy Student Mission to Israel, a student leadership program sponsored by the Jewish National Fund-USA with support from the Boruchin Center. They are travelling for 10 days — Dec. 27–Jan. 6 — in Israel, where they will explore the Jewish and democratic country through meetings with political, cultural and community leaders from diverse backgrounds and faiths.The Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement, housed in Barrett, The Honors College at ASU, served as a liaison with the Jewish National Fund-USA to help identify program candidates and assist them in the application process.The students who were selected through this initiative include Rishon Dev Netala, Sophia Godinez, Jackson Reese, Ava Steckel and Acacia Wastchak. Additionally, Barrett students Josephine Deignan and Caroline Pernat were accepted independently, as were ASU students Adelaide Randall and Justin Skinner, bringing the grand total of ASU students selected for the 2024 cohort to 10.“Barrett was invited by the Jewish National Fund-USA to nominate several students for this program,” said Kyle Mox, associate dean for national scholarships and director of the Office of National Scholarships Advisement. “This new initiative was set into motion through the generosity of donors, who value the program and stepped in to subsidize a number of awards to help support the personal development of Barrett students.”Participants were selected through a competitive application and interview process. The Jewish National Fund-USA covers roundtrip transportation from New York to Israel, accommodations, most meals and all excursions.“These sorts of cultural immersion programs are incredibly valuable, in terms of personal development,” Mox said. “This program is designed for students who have little previous experience with Israel, or international travel at all, and it should be a transformative experience for them.”Before they embarked on the trip, students shared their thoughts about being selected for the program.Godinez, a sophomore from San Antonio, Texas, majoring in disability studies and minoring in mathematics, said she planned to approach the trip with an open mind and an eye toward learning more about Israeli culture.“As a young Mexican-American woman, I value the program’s mission of cross-cultural learning and interactions because I have experienced the frustration of people assuming they know a culture without actually experiencing the culture. I am looking forward to experiencing Israeli culture and the social, economic and political atmosphere in order to be more cognizant of the world around me,” she said.Godinez also hopes to add to her knowledge in the disability studies sphere.“My dream is to be an occupational therapist for children or adults with disabilities. During the application process, I discovered that President Isaac Herzog of Israel hosted the first Global Accessibility and Inclusion Leaders’ Conference in Israel. This struck me and I continued to research disability in Israel, which led me to realize that I could learn much about what accessibility looks like in another country with different social norms and cultural practices,” she said.Ava SteckelSteckel, is a second-year student from Boise, Idaho, working on a bachelor’s degree in innovation in society with a minor in Spanish linguistics and a certificate in cross-sector leadership. This will be the third study abroad experience for Steckel, who, as a high school student, spent six weeks in Okinawa, Japan, and seven months in Seville, Spain. She also worked in Italy last summer.She said the Caravan for Democracy program will give her more valuable international exposure.“I hope to get firsthand knowledge about the dynamics and conflicts in Israel, and engage in critical and meaningful discussions. I hope to get more experience talking about hard topics, and gain diplomacy skills for the future. And, I want to learn more about Israeli culture,” Steckel said.She added, “I hope to either work in an international nonprofit, or as a Foreign Service Officer through the Department of State. Wherever I end up, more international experience will help me succeed, and Caravan for Democracy will give me valuable perspectives and exposure that I may not get otherwise."I believe that you can't make a difference for people you don't know, so I am eager to learn more about my role in global changemaking through this program."Acacia WastchakWastchak, a Phoenix native, is a third-year majoring in international trade with a minor in French. She plays alto saxophone in the Sun Devil Marching Band and, in addition to English, speaks Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese. She is also learning German.“I'm very interested in foreign relations and policy and have always wanted to go to the Middle East, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I also look for any opportunity to travel since it's my absolute favorite thing to do,” she said, adding that she hopes to learn about Israel from political, personal and business perspectives.“I would like to either join the U.S. Foreign Service to eventually become a U.S. ambassador or work as a regional manager in Europe for an international company, probably something targeted towards women (fashion, cosmetics, etc.). Participating in Caravan for Democracy will help me to gain a new perspective on Israel as a place to do business and a country with which the U.S. maintains relations, as well as the Middle East as a region."I anticipate gaining a comfortability there that may lead to a desire to work in Israel in the future,” she said.   ]]>
Graduating student poses for photo

From ASU to Air Force

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2022 graduates. Mayumi Webb grew up in a military family and spent a lot of her time outside of the United States. In fact, she calls Okinawa, Japan, her hometown. However, when it came time for her parents to retire from the United States Air Force, they chose to settle in Arizona. When Webb was on the college search, looking at Arizona State University became a strategic decision. It was close to family, but she could still have independence and she wanted as little debt as possible. But the price or location wasn't what made up her mind.  “I started looking into ASU and my initial interactions were with the Pat Tillman Veterans Center, since my mother was going to transfer some of her education benefits from the military to me,” Webb said. “These interactions were all pleasant, inviting and extremely helpful, and that’s what ultimately sealed the deal for me.”  Four years later, Webb graduated this fall with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Medal for aerospace studies, an award given to its highest-achieving students. As a student, Webb was part of the Air Force ROTC Detachment 025 and majored in computer science.  Webb says that she found something at ASU that she didn't know she was looking for in a college — the comfort found in being surrounded by a strong veteran community. “The greatest thing about (ASU) is its veteran community,” she said. As an ASU and Air Force ROTC graduate, Webb will commission into the United States Air Force as a second lieutenant in the cyberspace operations field. She hopes to see more of the world and visit Italy, New Zealand, Greece and South Africa. Here are her closing thoughts about the ROTC experience, lessons learned and hopes she has for the future. View this post on Instagram A post shared by The College (@asuthecollege) Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? Answer: In high school, I participated in the Air and Space Force Association’s organization called Cyberpatriot, an education program that encourages middle and high school students to pursue careers in STEM fields. They also host national cyber defense competitions for students whose objectives focus around securing virtual networks. That’s where my interest in cybersecurity grew, and in my senior year, I decided I wanted to pursue that interest in the United States Air Force. I applied for, and was ultimately awarded, an Air Force ROTC scholarship, which is how I ended up in the Air Force ROTC program. Q: Looking back at your experience at ASU, who would you like to thank? A: First and foremost my parents. They really have been the biggest supporters in my journey. Particularly them coming from an Air Force background on the enlisted perspective and me in the officer training program, having their perspective on leadership has really helped me grow into my own. Then I would like to thank my friends and family who have supported me throughout this journey as well. Q: Which instructor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU? A: It’s standard procedure for each grade-level instructor in the Air Force ROTC detachment to meet with their cadets once a semester for a midterm feedback session. In my spring semester of my freshman year, I was struggling to stay motivated, but I didn’t think anyone really noticed until my instructor had pointed it out in the midterm session. But he didn’t just send me on my way with a “you got this champ” platitude. He asked me questions to understand where my head was at and proceeded to provide me with guidance that would go on to help me improve in my performance and interactions with my peers in the program. What I gained from that meeting was that a part of leadership is meeting people where they are so that you can help them get to where they want to go. If they don’t know what that is yet, that’s okay too. The important thing is to balance the discipline with empathy. If they know that they’re genuinely valued, they’ll express that appreciation into the mission. Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU that surprised you or changed your perspective? A: School, whether in the traditional sense or otherwise, will never really end, as long as I want to continue advancing in my career. I’m part of two professional development and service organizations as a national advisory consultant called Arnold Air Society and Silver Wings. Recently, I traveled to a conference hosted by one of organizations’ chapters at the University of Las Vegas. During the conference, there was a guest speaker panel and one of the guest speakers said something along the lines of, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you probably need to find a different room.” He was speaking to the idea that we are all lifelong learners, and it doesn’t stop at any level — to be proud of the accomplishments you make and the strides in your development but be humble enough to know that there is always room for more learning. Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle? A: I believe when people’s basic needs — food, water, shelter, clothing, safety — are met, they’ll be more likely and able to develop into their own interests and skill sets that would be beneficial to their communities. In short, I would use the $40 million to build quality shelter hubs that would provide this assistance to anyone who finds themselves falling on hard times and needs some support to get back on their feet. In addition to the basic needs, these hubs would offer connections to various organizations and professionals for education and career opportunities and counseling and legal services. For the most part, when people feel invested in, they’ll feel empowered to pursue their ambitions, and those ambitions could ultimately lead to contributions to the various world problems facing us today and in the future. Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school? A: Approach school with a growth mindset. It’s okay to not understand concepts immediately or to fail a quiz or struggle with an assignment where it may appear others are getting it easily. As long as you look at where you need to improve and strive to correct those shortcomings, that’s what learning is really all about. And you don’t have to be alone in your school journey — take advantage of the help being offered by other peers, TAs, tutors and professors. It’s probably cliché to say what got you to this next level in your education won’t get you to where you want to go, but it’s true. Be willing to adjust your learning habits and explore what will work best for you. ]]>

Geologist major recognized as fall 2022 Dean's Medalist

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2022 graduates.During his childhood, Enzo Carrascal Marquez and his family traveled the various landscapes of his home country, Peru, visiting and exploring the desert, the mountain region and the jungle. This exposure to nature, along with his interest in science since primary school, prompted him to major in geology.“During the middle of high school, I realized I wanted a career that would allow me to spend time in a laboratory doing research but at the same time travel and explore new places,” Carrascal said. “Geology is a major with that perfect balance.”Carrascal was named the 2022 Fall Dean’s Medalist from the School of Earth and Space Exploration and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in geological sciences.Carrascal came to ASU as a transfer student from the National University of Engineering in Peru to experience an international university and broaden his opportunities after graduation. He discovered a vast number of possibilities and paths for his major with the opportunity to explore several upper-division courses.“In the School of Earth and Space Exploration, I expanded my knowledge of geosciences in a leading institution in research and enjoyed the wonders that this state has to offer,” Carrascal said.He is also a recipient of the New American University Transfer Scholarship from ASU for multiple semesters, because of his academic performance as an incoming transfer student.During his time at ASU, Carrascal worked as an undergraduate researcher in the lab with Dan Shim, professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. “The original plan was for an undergraduate researcher to assist in our efforts to develop new sample synthesis methods for shock wave experiments,” Shim said. “Enzo ended up leading the effort and completed the project within 6 months which is much shorter than we anticipated.”After graduation, Carrascal will apply to graduate school to continue his studies in geosciences and plans to begin work in Arizona within his major. “I want to have experience in both academia and industry, to become a competent professional able to solve problems with a significant impact on society,” Carrascal said. Here, he shares a few thoughts about his time at ASU. Question: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?Answer: I have to say that the professors at ASU are amazing, and my experience with SESE faculty has been enriching when reaching out for both academic and professional advising. I met Professor Duane DeVecchio in Dynamic Earth, a class in which I later became a teaching assistant working with him. By meeting him during office hours and classes I learned a lot of things, including the lesson of never limiting yourself when facing new challenges. By aiming for the highest, we move towards experiences that call for our best version, taking us to personal growth. I also thank professors Thomas Sharp, Dan Shim and Melanie Barboni who were important to me during this academic journey.Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?A: Get the most out of every experience you have in school, from classes to extracurricular activities. Trust in your capacity to find a balance between academic work and time for personal development/growth. Reach out to professors during office hours. Find a circle of mentors, friends and classmates that share your vision and passion for the things you do and the goals you envision.Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends, or just thinking about life?A: I would spend time outside the Memorial Union working on assignments and casually meeting friends during the day. It is a versatile spot and gives you part of the college life experience. I also liked going to Noble Library to study and the grass fields to play soccer.Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?A: One of the topics I explored in upper-division classes was the power of remote sensing data, as in the case of satellite imagery, and the wide range of applications for society. Addressing the betterment of image resolution on current satellites and exploring the promising capabilities of hyperspectral imaging for Earth observation would have a significant impact on our capacity of monitoring changes in the surface of the Earth, such as reducing the spread of wildfires, early identification of threatening conditions for crops in agriculture, enhanced exploration of mineral resources and so much more.]]>
Amm Hasib, Bruno Azeredo, Aliaksandr "Sasha" Sharstniou and Stanislau "Stas" Niauzorau smiling with arms around one another.

From Belarus to Intel: Going the distance to advance semiconductor manufacturing

When Aliaksandr “Sasha” Sharstniou was starting as an undergraduate student in Belarus, he didn’t know where life would take him. He just knew he liked physics, chemistry and making things with his own hands — all interests he’d learn would serve him well in semiconductor manufacturing.During one of his undergraduate semiconductor laboratory classes in Belarus, Sharstniou was getting bored with an extensive lesson on old bipolar transistors. He knew it was important background knowledge, but he spoke up about wanting to move on and talk about newer and more advanced semiconductor transistor technologies.In response, his lab instructor said, “It’s not like you’re going to be working at Intel,” before continuing with the lesson.Sharstniou didn’t think much of that statement at the time. He was eager to learn about semiconductors, but he didn’t expect to one day move to the United States and get a job at a top company like Intel working on the latest semiconductor research. However, 10 years later, that’s exactly where he is.“I never thought I would have this opportunity,” Sharstniou says. “You never know where you will end up.”Sharstinou is now preparing to begin a new position as a packaging R&D engineer at the Intel advanced packaging research and development facilities in Arizona after earning his doctorate in materials science and engineering from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.His doctoral research has focused on creating a scalable fabrication process for optoelectronic semiconductor devices called metal-assisted electrochemical nanoimprinting, or Mac-Imprint. Sharstniou’s innovative technique, for which he holds a U.S. patent, could contribute to industrial advances in semiconductor manufacturing processes used in Arizona and beyond over the next five or 10 years.Bruno Azeredo, an assistant professor of manufacturing engineering who has been Sharstniou’s advisor for the past five and a half years, says his work is helping to overcome a major hurdle in the semiconductor industry’s quest to develop microelectronics that use optics, or signals made of light, instead of electrical signals.“Miniaturizing fiber optics has been a gigantic challenge both from a design standpoint because the devices have to be designed in novel ways, and in manufacturing, because it involves heterogeneous materials and novel manufacturing processes,” says Azeredo, a faculty member in the School of Manufacturing Systems and Networks, part of the Fulton Schools. “Sasha’s contribution is developing a way to make these optical materials with silicon and delivering metrics in resolution, 3D structuring and scalability that are so relevant.”Though he has put in a lot of hard work to get to this point, Sharstniou says much of his success has come down to luck.“I’m just a lucky person to meet and be surrounded by good people under the right circumstances,” he says.Overcoming hardships to start his journeyRaised by a single mother and his grandparents in Vitebsk, Belarus, Sharstniou and his family struggled financially.“My mom is a doctor, but in Belarus, doctors are not paid very well, so she had to work several shifts to make a living,” Sharstniou says. “Now I realize how much she was doing to make things work and I was lucky to have what I had back then.”Sharstniou was fortunate his family was still able to find ways to foster his interests. He had books to learn about physics and chemistry, and later, his mother could afford to buy a computer and dial-up internet. Sharstniou attended a good high school and studied hard to pass his exams.“I know that a lot of kids in Belarus back in the day didn’t have these opportunities,” he says. “They might have the brains for it, but not the opportunity to get there.”After high school, his family helped him attend the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics, where he received a strong educational foundation that would support his future pursuits.There, he met Associate Professor Vitaly Bondarenko in an undergraduate microelectronics class. Bondarenko led the Nanoelectronic Materials and Structures Laboratory, where his research group studied electrochemical methods of semiconductor processing and other topics.“I liked him as a person and I liked his course,” Sharstniou says about Bondarenko. “I asked if I could join his research group as an undergraduate researcher and he was kind enough to allow me to do it.”There, he conducted research on the fabrication of porous silicon and deposition of zinc oxide nanostructures onto it.Research not only taught him technical skills, but Sharstniou says it also “definitely taught me about critical thinking, the careful design of experiments and about thoroughness.”A serendipitous start to a doctoral degreeWith his friend and classmate Stanislau “Stas” Niauzorau, Sharstniou was lucky again to meet an important person who would lead him to the next stage of his education and research pursuits.While attending a semiconductor conference in Spain, Sharstniou and Niauzorau met Azeredo, who was just about to start a new faculty position at ASU.Sharstniou personally got along well with Azeredo, and says, “I think he really liked my background, my expertise, and that’s how I got the offer to join his group.”Azeredo remembers meeting two young researchers with an excellent electrochemistry foundation who were interested in and knowledgeable about his work. He also recalls them both jumping into the cold, winter ocean after a conference event.Inviting these smart and intriguing researchers to join his lab was also an important moment for Azeredo. As a new assistant professor at ASU, he was preparing to walk into an empty room and start his lab from scratch.“Your first PhD students are the people who build everything you see in the lab,” Azeredo says. “Together, we developed a unique way to micromachine silicon, and I think they really helped me realize the vision that electrochemistry can be used to micromachine silicon.”Sharstniou was excited about this opportunity, but getting to ASU to join the lab was difficult. He couldn’t even afford the plane ticket to the U.S., and he had to leave behind his wife, Aksana Atrashkevich, who was still finishing her bachelor’s degree in Belarus. But again, his family came together to help support his dreams, raising enough money to help him move. Sharstniou was glad to have his friend Niauzorau — who has become like a brother — with him.“I liked how Stas and I worked on building Bruno’s lab from scratch because I never had this experience before,” Sharstniou says. “Being able to participate in the discussions of what we need, what is the future direction of the lab and how it will be developed — it was a very unique experience that I will cherish. It led to several months of overnight work, but I also liked it because I was working with my friend.”Achieving success at ASUOne of Sharstniou’s most memorable achievements at ASU was when he finally got to hold something he made — a successful result of his innovative fabrication technique — in his own hands.Optical metasurfaces require the creation of tiny 3D structures that interact with light in a unique way. Sharstniou was tasked with fabricating those structures on a silicon lens to demonstrate the versatility of the Mac-Imprint process. The technique involves pressing a 3D stamp coated in a noble metal like gold against a silicon lens while immersed in a chemical solution. Using an electrochemical corrosion process, 3D features of the stamp are then etched, or “imprinted,” onto the lens.“It was kind of a crazy idea. We took flexible, stretchable nanosponges that are typically meant to filter water and inflated them like a balloon to conform to the surface of the lens,” Azeredo says. “As a graduate student, I didn’t think of doing some of the things he did, so I’m proud of him.”Azeredo and Sharstniou remember the first time the process was successful after years of work. Seeing the etched surface of the silicon lens diffract a rainbow of colors was a huge moment of joy.Earlier parts of this work provided a significant amount of the preliminary results that led to Azeredo earning a prestigious 2020 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award.Sharstniou’s major contributions to this research over the past few years also contributed to him being the first author of research papers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Advanced Materials, two of the top journals for science and engineering.With the help of Azeredo, his other collaborators and the resources at ASU — lab facilities including the Eyring Materials Center and access to the latest research literature, things he only dreamed about in Belarus — Sharstniou has had an amazing journey, and it’s still in progress.A bright future awaitsAzeredo says Sharstniou had many colleagues at top-10 universities interested in bringing him to their teams as a postdoctoral researcher. His skills in a variety of fields — electrochemistry, electrical and mechanical engineering, materials science and more — are in high demand.However, meeting his new manager at Intel made Sharstniou sure about his choice to join Intel and start his industry career.“I liked how he approached the interview process. I liked his attitude and how open and willing to help he was,” Sharstniou says. “I think that personal relationships in work are important — that’s why I work so well with Bruno and my friend Stas — and I think that’s what will happen at Intel.”He anticipates his job will involve building a state-of-the-art lab and developing new technologies, processes and equipment for semiconductor chip interconnects in a highly research-oriented position.In addition to the exciting prospects of this new career, this accomplishment means a lot to Sharstniou and his family in other ways.His wife joined him in the U.S. in 2018 and was accepted into the environmental engineering doctoral program under Fulton Schools Assistant Professor Sergi Garcia-Segura. Sharstniou says his wife has been a major inspiration.“When she came here, she wasn't thinking about joining a PhD program, but she worked her way to be admitted to a program she didn't have any experience with from Belarus,” he says. “She has this inner strength and can work through anything. It’s very impressive.”Now that he’s not always occupied with the all-consuming work of a doctoral student, he can dedicate more time to his wife and family, and give back to his mother, who was the foundation of this achievement.Sharstniou still doesn’t know where life will take him now that he’s starting his career at Intel. For now, he is looking forward to conducting research that could soon be applied to improve manufacturing processes — and people’s lives.“Understanding that your efforts are actually used to make people’s lives better, that is important to me,” he says. “I hope my future work will do that.”Help enable Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering students to overcome financial obstacles and be successful by donating to the Fulton Schools of Engineering International Student Support Fund and the Fulton Student Emergency Fund.]]>
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