You make a difference

Champion the causes you care about and know that your generosity makes a difference in the lives of others.

Support the Charter Fund

Give where you care.

Invest in people and communities.

The ASU Foundation works to unite ideas, people and philanthropy to further ASU’s mission. Donor support empowers ASU to advance student access, serve our community, protect the planet, create equity in higher education and conduct research for the public good. Your generosity has a lasting impact, bettering lives at home and around the world for generations to come.

Whether you support ASU through outright gifts or planned gifts, here are some ways you can give to what matters most to you:

Invest in people and communities.

The ASU Foundation works to unite ideas, people and philanthropy to further ASU’s mission. Donor support empowers ASU to advance student access, serve our community, protect the planet, create equity in higher education and conduct research for the public good. Your generosity has a lasting impact, bettering lives at home and around the world for generations to come.

Whether you support ASU through outright gifts or planned gifts, here are some ways you can give to what matters most to you:

Give with confidence.

The ASU Foundation is a registered nonprofit with a proven history of transparency, accountability and good stewardship. With a four-star rating on Charity Navigator, you can be confident that your gift to the ASU Foundation will be used for its intended purpose.

In fall of 2020, 89% of ASU undergraduate students received some level of financial assistance. That year, 7,416 students received scholarships funded by donors, which totaled $29.7 million.

ASU Foundation News

Man posing in a a standing balance position in front of a sky at dusk.

MFA grad builds community, develops new technique during time at ASU

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.Angelo “Vo Vera” Sapienza wanted to attend graduate school 10 years ago. He applied and got into the master’s program in dance at Arizona State University, but the timing wasn’t quite right. In the meantime, he spent time with his community of artists, performing and competing. Along with other artists, he founded a street arts collective called the Sacred G’s. Sapienza also developed a street dance technique called “framing” that is inspired by street dance and club dances. “(Framing) could have been swept into the contemporary world, but I wanted it to be a package of a toolbox for my community of practice,” Sapienza said. “It’s essentially an 11-tool tracing system. It involves particular hand shapes and an expansive grid system that relies on the space and the artist’s view on the space.”It wasn’t until 2021 that the timing — and financing — for pursuing further education came together. Sapienza was recovering from a motorcycle accident and knew he wanted to keep developing his creativity. He felt it was the right time to pursue an MFA in dance from ASU.“I knew I wanted to invest in my mind, in my ability, in my pedagogy, in my artistry, in my choreography, and I didn't realize it at the time, but my ability to think and teach and theorize,” Sapienza said. “There were a lot of holes in my own professionality, and I knew that this path would fill those holes. I feel like it did fill every single one in every aspect.”Sapienza is graduating in December from the School of Music, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. During his time at Arizona State University, he, along with his street arts collective, has received more than 20 grants, including funding he received as a student. These arts and culture, academic and event grants helped Sapienza develop at least seven community events. “It was really special to bring communities together,” he said. “The mentorship that I received at ASU really helped drive it all home. It helped me be efficient and to be in alignment with what the grants were looking for.”The financing Sapienza received included the Hope and Robert Heimann Grant, the Eileen Paul Dance Scholarship, the Daniel Nagrin Dance Fellowship, the Entertainment Community Fund - Alex Dubé Scholarship, a University Grant, a University Graduate Fellowship and a University Grant: Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts Program Fee. He also received the Design and Arts Corps Grant and the Herberger Institute Creative Constellation Grant for events. “I didn’t have to pay for most of my program,” he said. “They've got a system now that really supports the grad student.”Question: Why did you decide to pursue dance?Answer: I feel that dance is the ultimate physical embodiment of the human experience in creative form. It is the ultimate expression of the artist kinesthetically. My relationship to dance is on par with my relationship to life. I am very experimental, and I thrive on working through whatever is different and not the straightforward path. In being an experimentalist in how I navigate life and find joy in the unknown — which oftentimes people can find very scary — it leaves room for a lot of potential and opportunity and guidance by instinct. This nature led me to want to pursue dance experimentally. While I ended up learning the foundations of breaking and hip-hop, my artistry loves to live inside of the unknown, and also the spaces that haven’t been explored.Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?A: There is really incredible mentorship at ASU. As a street dancer, I didn’t have to step outside of my zone, not once. It feels really amazing that they are trying to support the dancer for the zone that they're in, the community that they're in, and where they want to go. That overarching sense of mentorship has been really powerful.In terms of being experimental, some people thrive on choreography; I thrive on experimenting on what is not common. It’s freestyle but taking it a step further, taking the foundations of what we’ve learned and working past those boxes and stepping into unknown territory creatively, kinesthetically, even semantically and especially philosophically or theoretically.Somatic movement inquiry allowed us to approach experimentation from a somatic perspective. Creative movement practices allowed us to approach experimentation kinesthetically and conceptually. Ultimately, that would help me form my theory of framing. I would say that most importantly, the faculty know how to get the students to ask questions, find our values, determine what we know, what we want to know and navigate between those and create a blueprint of where we are going — even though we won’t necessarily know where we are going to end up. Q: How did ASU faculty support and inspire you? A: They are all really special and unique. I had the privilege and honor to work with retired professor John Mitchell. He helped me understand how I can use technology in performance. It wasn’t something I pursued, but I’ve done a lot of work creating multimedia frameworks to explore where I pair light technology with projection mapping with movement in a performative, interactive setting. (Jorge) "House" Magana was pivotal in supporting me in all my professional endeavors — obtaining grants, producing events, recording and having an academic component to them so that I could receive credit and fulfill these grants and also honor the community. He really supported me in doing it right and not faltering.Becky Dyer really helped me understand somatics and that framing had a somatic component. Liz Lerman opened up my mind to her creative toolbox, and I could not get enough. It was incredible to work along with her. I highly recommend her class for anybody who wants to open up and unlock their creative potential.Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?A: Know what you want to do and have that guide you in where you want to go. If you don’t know what you want to do, spend time with yourself and put yourself in new places to learn and help you understand what you want to do and therefore where you want to go. It is an incredibly special time for you, and if you do not take it seriously, the time glass will run out of sand, and the opportunities you could have obtained and the directions you could have pursued will fade. Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? A: FAC 122 is my favorite, for its unique architecture and beautiful, big, open space that I spent many semesters working within and creating inside of. Q: What are your plans after graduation?A: I’m working on my physical health, and I’m excited to keep the ball rolling. I have opportunities to stay as an adjunct at ASU. I have an opportunity to dance with a contemporary company in Los Angeles. I have a lot of unlocked potential to share with framing. I think I’m going to share it with my local community of practice first, and see if it expands into an Arizona-based dance style. Q: If you could focus on solving one problem in our world, what would it be?A: I’ve been contemplating this dynamic between colonization and Indigeneity. I feel that a lot of problems can and will be solved when the values of society begin to adopt the values of Indigeneity or return to Indigeneity, working with and honoring the Earth and the land. Not just acknowledging them verbally but looking inside ourselves for how we are expressing, identifying and acting through this lens of colonization. One way I’ve been moving toward this idea of Indigeneity is by having a Native community leader speak at most of my events as a keynote speaker or performer. In that respect, he’s been sharing his knowledge in a setting where people are open to listening and ultimately assimilating that knowledge and practice. Creating the platforms for how I want to have the world change is something that I’m interested in continuing to explore.]]>
Portrait of ASU grad Zach Rufa.

ASU Law grad uses theater background to fuel new legal career

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.The practice of law and the practice of theater have one major thing in common: performance. That’s according to Zach Rufa, who is graduating from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law this fall with his Juris Doctor. Before attending ASU Law, Rufa was a playwright and artist living and working in New York. As an undergraduate at Brown University, he said he came to a fork in the road and had to choose between two passions: law and the arts. He chose the arts, but he knew the law would be there waiting for him in the future. When the pandemic hit, and theaters shut down, he embraced the opportunity to return to his passion for the law. “Law had been a great passion of mine from a young age, alongside the arts,” Rufa said. “When the pandemic hit, the entire theater industry shut down, and it was then that I sort of looked around at where I was in my life and I looked at who I had become as an artist, and I knew that I had sufficiently established my artistic identity such that I would not lose that part of myself if I were to pursue the other fork in the road that I'd almost walked down years earlier.”While at ASU Law, he thrived. He pursued two certificates alongside his JD: one in trial advocacy and one in law, science and technology with an emphasis in intellectual property. He also served as the inaugural student executive director of The McCarthy Institute, which is dedicated to IP law, gained critical hands-on experience at the First Amendment Clinic and externed at the Arizona Legal Center, assisting community members with legal needs. A Gary L. Birnbaum Memorial Scholarship recipient, he is graduating one semester early.Additionally, Rufa took advantage of ASU Law’s location in Los Angeles and plans to stay in California after graduation. After taking the bar exam, he will join Knobbe Martens, a preeminent IP law firm, as an associate. After three years of law school, Rufa doesn’t feel like he’s leaving the arts behind in favor of his new career. “I think the process of becoming an attorney has made me a better artist, and I think I will be a better attorney because I am an artist,” he said.Question: Why did you choose ASU?Answer: The best decisions I've made in my life have been because, ultimately, I just had a good feeling about making that decision and I followed through on that feeling. And that's precisely why I chose ASU. I had a good feeling it was the right decision. There were a great many specific things about ASU Law that positively influenced my decision to choose ASU, such as its fantastic reputation and its Los Angeles program, but ultimately I think I chose ASU because of a positive but ineffable feeling I'd had that I would be happy here. I can't point to any one thing in particular that made me feel that way, though I think it was due in large part to a combination of the personalities of the people I encountered who were a part of the ASU Law community and my belief that I would find at ASU a place where I could flourish.Q: What about advice for those considering ASU Law?A: Do what's going to make you happy. I am not going to tell you not to spend hours pouring over news stories and blog posts and rankings, because I know so many law students — myself included — who did exactly that. But I would tell you to take a breath before you decide where to go to law school, and to ask yourself as you take that breath, "Is this decision going to make me happy?" However you think about your happiness, make sure to prioritize it. There is a lot about ASU Law that is very special, and it is a place where I think a lot of people could find themselves being happy. When I took that breath and asked myself whether choosing ASU would make me happy, I ultimately answered yes. I turned out to be correct.Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?A: I would put it toward improving access to higher education for people with disabilities. As someone who has gone through life with a congenital physical disability and who now uses a prosthetic limb, this is a cause that I care deeply about and that resonates with me on a profound personal level for obvious reasons.Q: What does graduating mean to you and your loved ones?A: This is the culmination of a journey that is a long time in the making and which has not always been easy, but which my loved ones have supported me throughout. I could not have done this without them.Q: Who, if anyone, helped you get here?A: So, so many people helped me get here. If I tried to list everyone by name, I fear it would resemble a run-on speech at the Oscars where the band has to start playing to get the person off the stage, but in general, I've gotten here through the help of a great many people, including family, friends and mentors. It is deeply important to me that I never lose sight of the fact that any success I've had in my life is due in great part to the kindness that people have shown me in helping me to achieve that success. It is also tremendously important to me, insomuch as it is ever within my power to help others in the ways that I have been helped, that I do so. In fact, I believe I have an obligation to pay forward the kindness that has been shown to me by helping others in turn.]]>
Members of ASU's W. P. Carey School leadership pose with members of the Morrison family for a group photo.

ASU Morrison School of Agribusiness celebrates 25 years

In 1998, Marvin and June Morrison envisioned a groundbreaking school that would recognize the intersection of agriculture and business. Twenty-five years later, the Morrison School of Agribusiness at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business remains the only agribusiness institution within the top 30 business schools.Recently, W. P. Carey and Morrison School leaders, members of the Morrison family and friends of the schools came together to celebrate that legacy and vision on ASU’s Polytechnic campus.The Morrison School’s journey has been one of continuous evolution and adaptation. The school began as an agribusiness unit within ASU’s engineering school before moving to ASU East (now the Polytechnic campus) in 1996. In 1998, the school was named in the Morrison family’s honor, and in 2009 was integrated into the W. P. Carey School of Business. The school navigated the ever-changing landscape of agribusiness with resilience and foresight.Troy Schmitz, director and professor at the Morrison School, said, “Today we celebrate not only the institution but the countless individuals, faculty, staff, students and supporters who have played an integral role in shaping the Morrison School's legacy. Our success over the past 25 years can be attributed to a few key pillars: visionary leadership, dedicated faculty, motivated students, industry partnerships and a commitment to innovation. These elements have come together to create an academic environment that not only imparts knowledge, but also fosters a spirit of inquiry, creativity and a passion for making a meaningful impact in the world.”The Morrison School has been a pioneer in forging partnerships that transcend traditional boundaries and embrace interdisciplinary collaboration. Its commitment to collaboration allows researchers to tackle complex challenges such as food security, global climate change, global food supply, chain efficiency, water scarcity, renewable energy and distribution of healthy foods to provide a sustainable future. As evidence of this thought leadership, Morrison School faculty received almost $3 million in grants from the United States Department of Agriculture just last summer.“The Morrison School of Agribusiness plays an important role in our strategic plan,” said Ohad Kadan, Charles J. Robel Dean of the W. P. Carey School. “It is a leader at W. P. Carey in producing research and knowledge that have a genuine impact on the world around us, on our environment and on our society. For 25 years, the Morrison School has been educating agribusiness leaders, disseminating cutting-edge, user-inspired and impactful research, and developing solutions for challenging agricultural issues.”Richard Morrison, the eldest son of Marvin and June and a member of the W. P. Carey Dean’s Council, joined his mother and brother, Scott, for the event. Richard is also co-founder and emeritus director of the ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy and the Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU. Richard shared his family’s deep connections to the East Valley, where the Morrison family farmed for generations, and to ASU.“I'm happy to tell you that the naming of the school symbolizes one of the most important decisions my parents ever made,” Richard said. “We hope and trust the vision of the founders of ASU Polytechnic and the Morrison School will continue unabated, and our family joins you in wishing everyone connected with the school great success. Many thanks to all who have supported the Morrison School for what you may help accomplish in the future.”“You can rest assured that the Morrison School will continue preparing students to contribute to feeding a hungry world by combining expertise and all facets of business applied to agriculture,” Schmitz said. “Together as a community dedicated to access, excellence, innovation and positive impact, we can look forward to the next 25 years with optimism and determination.”]]>
Portrait of ASU Assistant Professor Eleni Panagiotou.

Professor receives NIH grant to investigate relationship between protein structure, health issues

Proteins are very large molecules containing many amino acid residues linked together in specific sequence. They live in our bodies, in our cells, and encode function through their chemical composition and sequence. It is now well accepted that structured, governed dynamics modulate function, yet scientists still don’t know how a few changes in sequence, such as mutations, modify dynamics to alter function.“If we knew that, we would be able to treat diseases and create new vaccines and maybe help prevent Alzheimer's disease and so on," said Eleni Panagiotou, assistant professor in Arizona State University's School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. "This is at the core of many, many problems in biology.”Panagiotou has been awarded an interdisciplinary grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate this problem. Together with co-principal investigator Banu Ozkan, professor and director of the Center for Biological Physics at ASU, she will study the relation between chemical composition, protein structure and protein function.Despite the work of many researchers, the connection between sequence, structure and dynamics remains elusive. This is partly because there is no powerful method that can accurately quantify each amino-acid position’s contribution to structure and dynamics. Panagiotou's research team proposes to fill this gap by using an innovative, interdisciplinary method based on mathematical topology and physics-based protein dynamics modeling. The idea comes from the fact that scientists know that chemical composition dictates protein structure, and then structure dictates protein function. Proteins are macromolecules, and the way they sit in three-dimensional space is related to their function. So as not to be random, they may fold into particular three-dimensional structures, by which the protein becomes biologically functional. Not all proteins fold, but many do, and other proteins misfold into disease-causing structures. The fact that structure is important for function and that structure is dictated by chemical composition enables researchers to use topology, which characterizes structure as an intermediate for making the connection between chemical composition and function.“Imagine the macromolecules could be like random filaments or like the cord from your headphones. As you take the headphones out of your bag, the cord appears to be randomly tangled,” Panagiotou explained. “But proteins are not really random. A protein may look like a random filament, but actually it has specific geometry and topology that we cannot assess by visual inspection alone, unless we employ some sophisticated mathematical tools.”Panagiotou's guiding hypothesis is that the topological landscape of proteins governs conformational dynamics and that it can be modified with site-specific mutations.Understanding the protein folding process has been an important challenge for computational biology since the late 1960s. People have thought of applying topology before to study proteins, but the tools they had been using could not address some of the aspects of proteins that are essential for characterizing them rigorously.This innovative research project will create new mathematical tools for proteins using knot theory and combine them in a new molecular dynamics approach to proteins.Knots in mathematics are simple, closed curves in space. That means things like shoelaces are not knots because they have non-connected endpoints. If you close them by tying them and gluing the ends together, then you have a mathematical knot. With knots, mathematicians can define all sorts of sophisticated things to tell them apart and learn things about them.A protein (human ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase, UCH-L1) that has been implicated in neurodegenerative disease adopts the shape of a complex knot, whose role remains to be determined. Image courtesy Eleni Panagiotou“Proteins are more like the shoelaces. They have open endpoints, and they may be very, very messy, making it hard to tell what knot you have when you can't even see the endpoints,” Panagiotou said. Her research group has developed mathematical tools that enable the characterization of all simple curves in three-dimensional space — which means those are open knots. They have extended the theory of knots to account for open knots in a rigorous way, using functions that behave well.“I have been around biologists for 20 years now. Mathematicians and biologists have been trying to see if knot theory could be helpful in studying proteins. And they have been successful in finding that only 1% of known proteins contain knots,” Panagiotou said. “The new tools our team has developed now allow us to classify 94% of proteins.” Experimentalists cannot see how proteins fold, how the process of folding is happening. They only see the end result of a protein. Mathematically, if researchers were trying to model this with all the details of chemical composition, with every amino acid in each specific position, it would be such a complicated problem that they likely could not solve it. Both mathematically and experimentally, it is a challenging problem to solve.“We are using an innovative approach. Instead of trying to predict the structure through equations of motion, let's say, which would be an impossible mathematical problem, we are applying topological methods. We are using the topology of the folded protein, and we are learning from all folded proteins that exist in the protein data bank to understand the role of topologies in folding and protein function,” Panagiotou said.Ozkan's physics group has done molecular dynamic simulations of proteins before, but has never combined this data with topological analysis. Preliminary data gives the promise that this would work.An interdisciplinary relationshipWhen Panagiotou first arrived at ASU last fall, she spoke at a biological physics seminar organized by Ozkan. That meeting ignited the conversation during which the two identified the interdisciplinary project.As part of ASU’s charter and goals, the university plans to expand its role as the leading global center for interdisciplinary research, discovery and development.“All of ASU encourages interdisciplinary research, but I want to emphasize that the department of mathematics itself also encourages interdisciplinary research,” Panagiotou said. “I say that because many mathematics departments, in practice, don't so much. But ASU encourages this real, interdisciplinary research, and that is definitely very attractive to me.“I think this is a more broadly accepted idea, that interdisciplinary research is needed. It is one of the National Science Foundation's 10 Big Ideas (Growing Convergence Research). I think interdisciplinary research in mathematics is appearing more and more.“It is exciting that an area of what is called pure mathematics is finding such a direct application. This is 'unexpected applied mathematics,' because knot theory is a branch of topology, which traditionally is very theoretical."The School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences has a long history of success within their mathematical biology group, which includes both applied and pure mathematicians. Their areas of expertise include differential equations, dynamical systems, knot theory and probability and their applications to modeling in fields such as neuroscience, epidemiology, population biology and ecology, systems biology, soft matter (lipids, proteins) at interfaces, cancer, protein structure, protein folding, protein aggregation and polymer entanglement.With the coming launch of ASU's School of Medicine and Advanced Medical Engineering, which will integrate clinical medicine, biomedical science and engineering, it will be even more critical for interdisciplinary research to become the norm.“Both applied and pure mathematicians will be important collaborators for this innovative approach that will bring together health sciences from across the university to address complex health care problems,” said Donatella Danielli, foundation professor and director of the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. “From more traditional pure mathematics to modern data science, all areas of mathematics are critical to the future success of scientific research.”Panagiotou’s interdisciplinary project could lead to a breakthrough that would enable researchers to predict and modulate protein function based on structural dynamics, which will improve health outcomes and impact society.The first step could lead to proposed experiments that will engineer proteins with desired function — engineer protein structure and thereby engineer protein function. If that is successful, the next step would be to engineer methods that will prevent proteins from malfunctioning.“There are folded proteins in the cell, in the membrane of the virus, that are involved in the first stages of infection by controlling their shape. If we can attach something to keep them from making a specific movement or fold, we can engineer methods that can prevent infection," Panagiotou said. "That would lead to therapeutics for disease. For example, you may be able to engineer new vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2, the spike protein, and many other viruses.“Thousands of scientists have been working on protein folding, but no one has done it the way we are doing it. A few have combined topology before, but no one has done it with the novel tools that we have developed, which are significant improvements of what existed before.”In addition, Panagiotou has received a pilot grant from the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium to create some preliminary data that shows whether the topology of tau proteins can predict their misfolding. The diseases that her team are looking at for this project are called tauopathies — neurodegenerative disorders characterized by the deposition of abnormal tau protein in the brain.“We want to use tools from topology to first characterize the different shapes. We can look at them and say they look different, but how can we quantify it? That is a first step in making the problem mathematical, to characterize and classify different tauopathies,” Panagiotou said.“The second part is to predict where along these proteins which amino acid may be essential for misfolding. If we get preliminary results that are backed up by existing experiments, our goal is to propose new experiments to test our hypothesis about particular locations we predict are important for this misfolded structure. In the long term, if those experiments work, then we would try to create therapeutics that can act at specific sites to prevent tau proteins from misfolding.”]]>
Julian Tuan Anh Nguyen playing violin.

Music doctoral student pursues dual career as professional violinist, teaching artist

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.Arizona State University double-alum music student Julian Tuan Anh Nguyen will graduate in December from the School of Music, Dance and Theatre with a Doctor of Musical Arts in violin performance.Nguyen completed his Master of Music in violin performance in 2020, studying under Jonathan Swartz, professor of violin in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre.Nguyen has served in leadership roles with the ASU Symphony Orchestra and ASU Chamber Orchestra and is one of the winners of the 2019–20 ASU Concerto Competition. While at ASU, he has created and performed transdisciplinary works, including two innovative college courses for his doctoral project. The courses teach the skills necessary to develop artistic performance projects, combining interactive responsive music and visuals through coding and programming. His creative work also includes producing and performing in multimedia experiences with focus on works by femme-identifying and BIPOC composers.“Julian exemplifies creativity and excellence in all that he does,” said Swartz, Nguyen’s doctoral advisor. “His compassion for humanity is evident in his artistic endeavors, and he has a compelling voice that will make a difference in society.”Nguyen said one of his most memorable accomplishments was meeting faculty and students from other schools, which led to new opportunities such as participating in the ASU Designspace drive-through sensory experience. His involvement with SOUNDS Academy, Harmony Project Phoenix and the East Valley and Phoenix Youth Symphonies has provided him the opportunity to mentor young people of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, Nguyen said.In the local artistic community, Nguyen serves as concertmaster of Musica Nova Orchestra; he is also a substitute violinist with the Phoenix Symphony and a local violin teacher. Nguyen said both of his parents were very musical, so there was always music in his home. His father played violin, and Nguyen said he grew up thinking it was normal for everyone to play instruments.“When I was 3, I begged my parents for violin lessons,” Nguyen said. “After my parents paid for a full year of lessons and my mom took me to my first lesson, I laid on the ground screaming and crying wanting to quit. Since the tuition was non-refundable, I had to continue lessons until the year was over.”After the year ended, Nguyen said, he continued to play and later joined the school orchestra and a youth orchestra run by his father, later attending a performing arts high school.“I feel like I was on my musical path my whole life,” he said.Nguyen said he felt blessed to earn the teaching assistant position for Swartz's studio, and also received scholarship funds from the ASU Symphony Orchestra.“I am grateful that after I graduate, I am able to continue my performance and teaching career without any debt,” Nguyen said.Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study and major in violin performance?Answer: As a young violin student, I played in a nursing home for the residents. Before the concert, someone from the staff asked me to play for a lady in her room as she had not left her room in years, other than for meals. After I played a short piece for her, I returned to the group to warm up. Before the performance, I saw the staff member bring the lady to the concert and was later told that she had asked to attend after I played for her. Seeing the power music has to heal people and create community at that age definitely made an impact on me and contributed to my desire to pursue a music career.Q: What is something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?A: Professor Swartz's thoughts on "warming up" helped shift my perspective on what is achievable when we ask for more from ourselves. He was presenting a lecture on alternatives to scales that led to a discussion about warm-up routines. As an undergraduate, I would practice all 12 major and minor keys, plus some arpeggios, and often felt like I needed to do that to feel "warmed up." He challenged that idea by asking me, "Why?" Why do I create the expectation that I needed to spend 20 minutes in semi-autopilot running through my scales every day to feel comfortable to play? Aside from the physical warming up, which can also be accomplished through stretching your fingers, so why shouldn't I be able to recall the knowledge needed to enact the skills I already possess? Shifting my mindset to one where I expected myself to be able to play to the best of my ability whenever my mind willed it changed my playing for the better. Now, I have tried to be more mindful about it in other areas of my life – to be more cognizant of the unintended consequences certain routines or expectations can create.Q: Why did you choose ASU?A: Professor Swartz informed me that joining the ASU program would allow me to take lessons with him, participate in the Visiting Quartet Residency Program and explore classes I was interested in offered by other departments. I was able to take some creative coding classes at the School of Arts, Media and Engineering during my program.Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?A: Definitely Professor Swartz. His approach toward achieving an incredibly high level of violin playing is one that I have been able to apply to other areas of my life.Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?A: Get more sleep.Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?A: I did not venture too far from the Music Building as that is where everything I was involved in was happening. The courtyard was a great spot for fresh air between practice sessions and rehearsals, and I would always run into a friend, colleague or professor and visit with them. The second place is my TA office because it came with a futon I could nap on.Q: What are your plans after graduation?A: I am continuing to expand my performing career and applying to collegiate teaching positions.]]>
Portrait of ASU grad Azucena Villalobos-Lopez.

ASU honors graduate aspires to attend law school

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.Azucena “Suzie” Villalobos-Lopez doesn’t take her Arizona State University education lightly because she worked so hard for it, inside the classroom and out.“As a first-generation Mexican-American student, I navigated college all on my own and I am proud to be one of the first people in my family to graduate from a Research I university,” said Villalobos-Lopez, who this month will receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology and two certificates — one in law and human behavior and another in transformation and change — from the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, with honors from Barrett, The Honors College .“For those still in school, my best piece of advice is to not take education for granted. Although attending classes may seem normal in our society, realize that there are individuals in other countries that do not have access to the same educational opportunities, so definitely make the most of it,” Villalobos-Lopez said.The Phoenix native made the most of her time at ASU, with a full plate of coursework, research and community involvement at the West Valley campus.She received several scholarships, including the New American University Scholar Dean’s Award, ASU City of Phoenix Scholarship, the Obama Scholarship, the John and Pit Lucking New American University Scholarship, Barrett Community Scholarship and the Herff Jones Scholarship. She also received support from ASU RaiseMe, Friendly House Inc. and Children First Foundation.“I’d like to thank all of these individuals, businesses and organizations for their financial support and contributions to my academic pursuits,” she said.She took on many roles, including that of a Barrett Honors College Peer Mentor, a member of Devils’ Advocates, vice president of the Programming and Activities Board, a teaching assistant in the Department of Psychology and a research assistant for two psychology and law labs.In addition, she completed an honors thesis titled “An Oral History of Maryvale: Empowering Residents in Community Growth,” which entailed conducting and documenting qualitative oral history interviews with residents of Maryvale, a community in the southwest part of Phoenix.Last August, she studied abroad in England in a course titled “Race, Immigration and Higher Education in the U.K.” She also worked several jobs throughout her undergraduate years, including as a legal intern at an immigration law firm, a circulation attendant at a city of Phoenix public library, and as a cashier for the city of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Aquatics Program.“All of these roles have been integral in my personal development and have been stepping stones that have enabled me to accomplish all my academic and career goals as an undergraduate student,” she said.Now, Villalobos-Lopez is preparing for law school.“My overall career goal is to become an immigration attorney in Arizona, so I am hoping to attend ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law,” she said.Villalobos-Lopez recently took time out to reflect on her undergraduate experience. Here’s what she had to say.Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?Answer: I have always had a passion for understanding the mind and how others behaved, whether it be based on my personal relationships with others or getting to know new people. Based on my family’s immigration story and legal barriers, I knew I wanted to pursue legal studies as well. By attending ASU, I was able to combine two passions of mine: psychology and law. My “aha” moment came in my first psychology course when I realized that psychology shapes legal frameworks and policies, and thus, the field of psychology provides insights into legal issues, such as in human behavior and its effect in decision-making. Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?A: Something that I learned while at ASU is to not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Before attending ASU, I was always hesitant to ask for help and feared being seen as not competent enough or I felt embarrassed to rely on other people. But during my time at ASU, I have come to realize that asking for help, whether that be from your friends, professors, counselors or others, is the only way to find support and overcome whatever challenges you may face. Personally, asking for help provided me personal, academic and professional opportunities when I needed them most.Q: Why did you choose ASU?A: I knew that I wanted to stay in state and I was aware of how well-known ASU was in terms of research opportunities and the fact that it is ranked No. 1 in innovation. Additionally, ASU also provided the most scholarships out of all the schools I applied to. I also toured the ASU West Valley campus and loved everything about it, so I became a tour guide myself. As a high school senior, I was happy to learn that ASU West Valley offered various psychology and law research labs that I could enroll in as an undergraduate student. Above all, the inclusive and tight-knit community drew me in. I found my people and professors that have been great mentors for me. Q: Why did you choose to be in Barrett Honors College?A: As an AP and dual enrollment high school student, I knew I wanted to enroll in an honors program in college, so after researching Barrett, I found that it was a good fit for me. I got to experience firsthand how Barrett really is the nation's top honors college. The faculty, staff mentors, advisors and fellow classmates at Barrett are top-notch and diverse people that I have learned so much from. Choosing Barrett was honestly such a great choice, not only because of the benefits, such as priority registration, thesis defense experience and special research courses and opportunities, but also because it prepared me for post-graduate work.Q: How has being in Barrett enhanced your undergraduate experience?A: I absolutely fell in love with Barrett and everything it had to offer. I had a Barrett mentor my freshman year that really helped me get adjusted to college, so I followed her lead and became a Barrett mentor myself. Barrett has provided me with research positions, professional development skills and has supported my study abroad experience. Without Barrett, I would have probably not been so involved on campus and not have found my passions and niche. Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU? What was that lesson?A: Although I have had various professors teach me important lessons while at ASU, the one that has taught and helped me the most is Dr. Katherine O’Flaherty, my thesis director. She has taught me how to think like a historian and has shown me the value in oral histories. By taking her Maryvale Community History course, I was able to enhance my historical research skills and improve my ability to reason critically and communicate clearly. All in all, she has helped me successfully defend my thesis and has been a great role model. Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?A: Once you have the opportunity to further your education, do so, since it will open doors for you, whether that be with career opportunities or other networking opportunities. Attending college will also allow you to grow as a person and as a scholar, and it will challenge the way you think and introduce you to new concepts and ideas that you might not have considered otherwise.Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?A: On the ASU West Valley campus, my favorite spot is Devil’s Lair, since it is a space that I use to study, meet friends at or hold my club meetings in. This place is close to all the student services and organizations that you might need, so it is a perfect and relaxing place to spend your time. Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?A: If someone gave me $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, I would tackle the immigration system in the United States, as it needs to be reformed. I truly believe that helping immigrants will strengthen our communities, benefit the economy and contribute positively to our country’s future.]]>
Headshot of Rachel Einecker

Passion for the environment drives School of Molecular Sciences Dean’s Medalist

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.Arizona State University honors student Rachel Einecker is graduating in December with a Bachelor of Science in environmental chemistry and the prestigious School of Molecular Sciences Dean’s Medal in honor of her scholastic achievements.Einecker switched majors multiple times before landing on environmental chemistry. She was drawn toward understanding the natural world at a young age. She adored science and math and wanted lots of room to explore. Consequently, at ASU, Einecker chose environmental chemistry, which is a mix of biology, geology, chemistry, physics and math.“Rachel has worked with me on her honor’s project investigating methane and iron geochemistry in wetlands since 2022,” explained Professor Hilairy Hartnett, who holds joint appointments in the School of Molecular Sciences and the School of Earth and Space Exploration. “She started the work as a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution summer research intern in Megan Eagle’s lab at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and continued it with us in the Carbon and Nitrogen Dynamics Lab (CaNDy LaB) at ASU.““Through her work, Rachel has not only developed a deep understanding of wetland redox chemistry, she has also considered how humans influence these fragile coastal ecosystems. Rachel is a regular contributor to our group meetings, she is always happy to help other students in the group, and she is an extremely well-rounded student. I’ve enjoyed hearing her talk about her music performances and her community service work!”In 2022, Einecker published a paper in the open source journal "Sustainability" entitled "Climate Change: A Bibliometric Study of Adaptation, Mitigation and Resilience."During the summer of 2023, Einecker participated in DAAD-RISE, a highly selective research fellowship program sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service. The program supports summer research internships in Germany for undergraduate students from North America, Great Britain and Ireland. In their internships, students are carefully matched with doctoral students and researchers who serve as their mentors while they pursue research projects relevant to their interests. Einecker traveled to Gottingen, Germany, to work on a project that studies how drought affects plant physiology.In her spare time, Einecker was involved in many volunteer activities at ASU, including recycling COVID plastics, tutoring for ASU America reads, and performing as a violist for the ASU Philharmonia Orchestra.In the below Q&A, Einecker goes on to discuss more about her time at ASU and plans for the future.Note: Answers may have been edited lightly for length or clarity.Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?Answer: I switched majors multiple times before I landed on environmental chemistry. I realized I wanted this track because I always loved the environment. With my family I would go hiking, and constantly be outside, and I was drawn towards understanding the natural world at a young age. I also adored science and math. ... I’m an extremely curious person.Therefore, at ASU I landed in environmental chemistry, which to me had the most flexibility and mix of all the sciences ... along with the higher-level math and statistics I needed. I LOVE math.Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?A: I realized that it’s best to act when you feel stuck. Before ASU, I would often plan or think deeply about the future before I took any sort of action for a goal. What I realize now, is that when you have a goal, simply take small actions before trying to think about what or how to do it.So, for example, regarding schoolwork, I would dread certain big projects at the end of the semester. I’d be burnt out and not want to do anything but know I needed to accomplish it. Instead of trying to think about how to be productive, I would get up and take a walk, or just sit and do two minutes of work. By taking a small, easy action, I’d get my motivation going and I would get somewhere, rather than being stuck thinking about how to solve my problem. Another example is when I wanted to try something new, like solo travel during my internship in Germany. At first, I was googling everything to try and figure out where to go, how to make it affordable, what to do when I got to each town, if I should do big cities or small towns, etc. This whole process was pretty draining and I felt more and more like I couldn’t do it. So then I simplified everything. I just figured out how I’d get there, and where I would sleep, and that was it. And once I did that my travel was fantastic! So from this I learned that it can be much better to have a general goal, take at least one small action — like buying one train ticket — and then let the plan fall into place, rather than trying to think hard about a plan before taking any action.Q: Why did you choose ASU?A: It was the path of least resistance. Closest to my parents ... good scholarship, and a large school with many opportunities outside of class.Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?A: The most important part of college is the connections you make. These are influenced by your experiences both outside and in class, for both professional and social circles. Doing well in your classes and going to class is simply a foundation to get internships and make friends with your peers and to network and connect with your professors. Take advantage of the many opportunities available to you during your college career. Always try something new and get out of your comfort zone. College is a great opportunity to explore. If you like to give everything 110% effort like me, letting go of giving everything your full effort and realizing that it’s okay to give 80% or even 50% when you are overworked is a huge life lesson. Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?A: There is a small garden tucked away near Old Main, on the side of the writer’s house. It has a small water feature, benches in the shade, colorful yellow birds, and butterflies. No one is ever there and it’s incredibly peaceful. I’d often take a nap or study there!The meditation space in the basement of the MU is amazing; I met my friends there every Wednesday for the SKY meditation club meetings.The roses along Gammage are really nice and great to walk through before orchestra rehearsal.The silent study room in Noble was my favorite spot to study.Tempe Town Lake is also amazing, and if you have a bike, you can get anywhere on the canal trails. I’d often bike from Tempe to Mesa, to Old Town Scottsdale, or to Phoenix — and the canal trails are peaceful and gorgeous. In general, the canal trails and my bike gave me the freedom to get around the Valley since I didn’t have a car on campus.Q: What are your plans after graduation?A: I plan to work for the United States Geological Survey in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. I have a few projects I can participate in, all of which involve coastal wetland research. The job isn’t finalized, but I was given an offer.I’ll have a break before the job starts, so in the meantime I will relax, join a CrossFit, join the Mesa Community College Orchestra as a community member, get my scuba diving license, travel to my friends, travel alone, and hike a TON. From the internship in Germany and also my internship at Woods Hole, I made friends from all over the world and the U.S. I want to visit them. I also traveled Europe alone and gained a ton of confidence in terms of solo travel. Solo travel is something I’m itching to do more of, and I could see myself going back to Europe, somewhere new, or in places around or near the U.S.]]>
Portrait of Adrian Lerma, senior director of development for Tribal Nations at the ASU Foundation

Shaping the future of Indigenous excellence

When Adrian Lerma’s grandmother passed away in 2011, she reflected on her life and legacy as she grieved. Lerma, senior director of development for tribal nations at the ASU Foundation, was suddenly struck with a sense of responsibility. Who would guide and shape her to become the leader her community needed?Lerma, born and raised in the Navajo Nation, knew she wanted to positively influence and impact Indigenous women the way her grandmother had. An undergraduate at Northern Arizona University studying women and gender studies, she applied for an internship with the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals in renewable energy solutions.She interviewed for the role with Beth Osnes, a theater and environmental studies professor at the University of Colorado. During the interview, Lerma and Osnes formed an instant connection and began brainstorming projects and solutions that would serve the Navajo Nation. Lerma got the internship, and together with Osnes, co-founded the Navajo Women's Energy Project in 2012, incorporating interactive aspects of theater, improv and poetry to envision a clean energy future. The project brought together women of all backgrounds from ages 5 to 90.Lerma's path and passion led her to work with Eagle Energy, which provides small-scale solar technology to off-grid communities in the Navajo Nation.Later, she co-founded the Native American Business Incubator Network, which focuses on diversifying local economies and reducing dependence on resource extraction.In 2019, she took on a role with Diné College and continued her community development and empowerment journey.Throughout her career, she has combined her deep roots within her community with a passion for education, environmental sustainability and economic development.ASU News spoke with Lerma during Native American Heritage Month to learn more about her commitment to shaping the future of Indigenous excellence.Editor's note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.Question: You said your initial goal when you began college was empowering Indigenous women. What sparked that goal?Answer: I am Diné, born and raised on the Navajo Nation in the small community of Tuba City, Arizona. My clans are Naakai Dine’é — Naash't'éezhí Tábaahá — Tł'izhíłání — Táchiinii. This identity is my guide in everything I do. The tribe I’m from is matrilineal, meaning that women carry the bloodline. This uniquely positions women as pillars of their clan, their home and their community. When I was an undergrad, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I understood that I had a responsibility as a young lady to do something meaningful. A professor of mine, Tom Holm, once said, “Every breath you take is a political statement!” He expressed that the system is not set up for Native American people to thrive, so we have a responsibility to use our breath and the life we’ve been given to change the system so it benefits us. I remember feeling the enormity of the responsibility he was setting on our shoulders to think, strategize and act intentionally. But his words inspired me. So I set a simple goal: Do work that was going to empower Indigenous women. And that is what led me to do the work I’ve done over the past 11 years. And it’s expanded beyond just women to include all Indigenous people from all nations. Q: What brought you to the ASU Foundation?A: This role at the ASU Foundation is new. Nobody has ever been seated in this position before. I was attracted to it because it was an opportunity to advocate for and bring much-needed support to Native American-serving and Native American-led initiatives. Arizona State University has a long history of collaborations with Native American people. For example, the Center of Indian Education is celebrating their 65th anniversary in 2024. The Indian Legal Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law has been generating scholarship in the area of Indian law and has undertaken public service to tribal governments since 1988. They are celebrating their 35th anniversary this month.There are other initiatives that I am aware of that are making a great impact in Native communities, such as American Indian Policy Institute’s Indigenous Leadership Academy and the Labriola National American Indian Data Center. These are just a handful of incredible programs that ASU has committed to. I made the choice to join the ASU Foundation because I want to see these programs flourish. I believe in their collective mission to strengthen Indigenous communities through higher education and research.Q: What have you been up to in this role?A: When I joined, I was tasked with four goals:Develop a comprehensive strategy to increase engagement with tribal communities nationwide.Build a case for support to identify funding priorities.Identify and engage with tribes that have a history of philanthropic giving.Build out a portfolio.I began by evaluating the value systems of tribes. If you're looking at wealth through an Indigenous lens, the value system is distinct. It comes down to the health of the people, the family, the community and the nation. The gauge of wealth is not how much you can acquire, but how much you can distribute back to your people. By linking philanthropy back to the cultural ideology of generosity and resource distribution, it can then be discussed not only as a privilege but also as a responsibility.Being cognizant that Indigenous value systems are historic and sacred in nature while acknowledging that philanthropy is not anything new to tribal nations is the approach I am encouraging at the foundation. Over the summer and into the autumn season, I’ve engaged in hundreds of conversations about this with my colleagues. And I’ve worked with various teams to craft messaging for Native American Heritage Month that will help guide internal and external communication about how tribal nations are contributing to the strength of ASU. To meet the goals that have been set out for me, I plan to expand the visibility of Indigenous excellence at ASU; increase program stability by securing multiyear programmatic and operational funding for Native American serving programs and initiatives; and build out a support network that will strengthen relationships and expand partnerships with Native American tribes, leaders and enterprises. It’s a big task, but it’s a task that I’m excited to take on. I am assured knowing that I am not alone because I have the support of the foundation behind me, as well as the backing of the Native American staff and faculty on the university side who’ve been amazing to work with over the past few months. Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?A: If anything I said resonates with the readers of this interview, I’d like to encourage them to reach out to me. I am here at the Tempe main campus. I am motivated to make a meaningful impact here at Arizona State University and I am committed to bringing in philanthropic support for the Native community here at the university. There are many ways to give, to donate, to collaborate, to partner. So let’s talk over coffee about how we can fund the important work being done at ASU!]]>
Portrait of ASU grad Kevin Sinwelski.

ASU Online grad sets sights on career in computational biochemical research

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.It was during high school that Kevin Sinwelski became interested in medicine. But he wanted to know more than just what it does — he wanted to know how it works.This December, the Clearwater, Florida, resident will graduate with a BS in biochemistry from the School of Molecular Sciences (SMS) as part of Arizona State University’s world-class online degree program.Part of Sinwelski's scholarly success is due to the Online Undergraduate Research Scholars (OURS) program, developed by The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and EdPlus at ASU to address the pressing challenge of offering quality research opportunities to ASU Online students. Through the program, he has been working with Assistant Professor Matthias Heyden, and by all accounts is doing a fantastic job.“For our computational research project, Kevin has quickly automated all processes required to run and analyze simulations of protein complexes,” Heyden said. “In fact, he completed all of his assignments so quickly that it was clear I needed to define more advanced problems for him to work on.”Sinwelski is currently developing a software tool that simplifies the interpretation of the data generated by the entire group of participating students. What he has done so far has exceeded all of Heyden’s expectations, and he is very curious to see what Sinwelski will do next. Sinwelski in turn said, “I am very grateful for the OURS program; I have had some amazing experiences that I thought would not be possible as an online student. I am glad to be part of professor Heyden's group.”Question:  What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?Answer: I became incredibly interested in how medicines work while I was in high school. I wanted to know, for example, what insulin does beyond the very general description of lowering blood glucose. I wanted to know what makes a particular string of atoms do what they do and how they do it. My “aha” moment came when I saw that there is a pattern with some medicines and their effect — the structure-activity relationship — and that we can target specific proteins to elicit a desired response. Ever since, I’ve wanted to be on the cutting edge of knowledge in biochemistry; I want to find out more and push the boundaries in terms of how we approach medicine.Q:  What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?A: I was a writing mentor in 2022 (sort of a TA for first-year composition courses) and had some experiences that changed how I approach working with others. Being in that position exposed me to a lot of unique perspectives in terms of identifying problems in a community and proposing solutions (part of the coursework), which changed my perspective on what successful projects consist of. The experience showed me how to help students convey their point of view without altering it in any way; allowing them to retain agency over their own work is the most important thing in being a writing mentor. Prior to this experience, I may have been more likely to assert my own approach to a project.Q:  Why did you choose ASU?A: I initially planned to continue working in the trades full time while earning my BS in biochemistry, so I took advantage of the online program. I then wanted to transfer as an on-campus student for the semester I started, but that was spring 2020 and was not an option at the time. I stayed with the online biochemistry program because it affords me the flexibility to work anywhere. I can visit with family across the country without missing any coursework, and I think that is a very attractive benefit to the online program. Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?A: For the single most important lesson I learned at ASU, I have to give that credit to Dr. McElhoes, who teaches philosophy courses. I took PHI 334 – Philosophy of Mind in fall 2022 as an elective. It was a course that I thought would be an easy and interesting upper division humanities elective. I was wrong about the “easy” part — it was a definite challenge — but it was very interesting and full of considerations that stuck with me. The main lesson I picked up from Dr. McElhoes and the course was how to challenge assumptions and approach contention or debate in a more logically rigorous way. This is a course I would recommend to anyone, regardless of their major.Q:  What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?A: Make a study schedule. Don’t make one so restrictive that it’s difficult to maintain. A schedule is supposed to make everything easier, not to put you in a position where you have no room for anything else. Dedicate a few hours to studying outside of class and leave the rest of the day open. If you have to move those study hours around, do it, but make sure you’re consistent with the amount of time you study every day.Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?A: There is usually no place better than at my own desk. I have my space set up in a way that I have everything I need to make studying as efficient as possible. If I’m having trouble concentrating at home, my local library has study rooms available that minimize distractions. They’re also great places to take proctored exams if you can get a private room.Q:  What are your plans after graduation?A: I hope to get into grad school and start a biochemistry PhD. My long-term goal is to get into research, particularly computational research in biochemistry. I would like to use simulations to develop synthetic enzymes and discover ideal ligands for protein targets. Anything I could do to advance our understanding of biomolecular machinery is work I am looking to get involved in.Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?A: With $40 million, I would hope to address the problem of plastic waste. I would research methods by which plastic waste can be broken down enzymatically and develop methods for the mass production of these enzymes. Modifications to an enzyme called PETase can already do this for some plastics, but I would aim to find methods by which its action can work at lower temperatures and perform degradation faster.]]>
Portrait of ASU grad Staçia Meconiates.

Herberger Institute grad reimagines how to play instruments following rare diagnosis

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.When Staçia Meconiates was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a genetic collagen disorder that affects their ligaments, tendons and heart valves, it impacted their previous experience in music performance. “It has prevented me from being able to play traditional acoustic instruments, so my thesis work has focused on creating interactive multimedia that is accessible to those with disabilities,” Meconiates said. “I hope to encourage creativity and joy in interactive multimedia experiences as the field is rapidly evolving and coming into its own. Accessibility isn’t always at the forefront of multimedia design, and this is something that I’m hoping to change.”Meconiates will graduate this fall from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts with a degree in interdisciplinary digital media (IDM) composition from the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the School of Music, Dance and Theatre.  They discovered the interdisciplinary digital media composition program at ASU after learning the potentials that exist in interdisciplinary studies based on previous experiences. Their passion for music and coding began in high school through leading a robotics club and being the music arranger for both marching band and pit orchestra. These experiences led them to pursue opportunities to combine these fields.“When I was searching for graduate programs at ASU, I saw the IDM program and realized I could create virtual and interactive instruments, which drove me to apply,” they said. “Since being accepted, my work has primarily focused on designing for folks who use a wheelchair. After my mom had a stroke, she was paralyzed on her right side, and a lot of her house just wasn’t accessible. I wanted to make the world accessible to all.”Meconiates said when their mom passed, they were working on building instruments via 3D printing and metalworking. “Eventually, my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome led me to look further at accessibility in developing instruments that use a gyroscope or accelerometer sensor technology,” they said. “This technology is available to almost everyone at this point, as smart watches and phones come pre-installed with it.”Meconiates will continue to develop interactive experiences that are accessible to all and wants to bring awareness to designers to consider the perspective of someone in a wheelchair or with less mobility. “Right now, I'm doing some freelancing audiovisual design and operation work that I'm in the process of expanding,” they said. “I've also been in talks with a few people at Ability 360 and throughout the state about accessible interactive multimedia for some new builds. Interactive experiences are a pretty new field, and I've noticed that not a lot of people are thinking about accessibility within it right now. That's something that I'm focused on changing. I'm hoping longer term to get into theme park interactivity design, especially for making pre-ride attractions more accessible.”During their time at ASU, Meconiates received several scholarships, including the Music, Dance and Theatre Special Talent Scholarship, the Eirene Peggy Lamb Music Award, the Knowledge Mobilization Award an­­d the ASU Graduate College Scholarship.­­ Video of Saguaro Sounds Contemporary Concert: Mugic&Motion Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?Answer: I've been designing and building things my entire life. In high school, it was incredibly difficult to choose if I was going to major in music composition or electric engineering. I chose music composition, but throughout my undergrad was that annoying comp student who detunes all the pianos and starts sticking bits of metal into them. When I found out ASU had the IDM program, it was a perfect fit for me to combine my love of sound and my love of engineering. Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?A: It's not exactly academic, but learning how to ask for help and realizing that usually people are happy to provide it has really changed my perspective on a lot. I wouldn't be graduating this semester if I hadn't sat down with my professors and admin and made a plan of how I was going to do this. I've had a lot of personal struggles, and it was positively surprising to see how many people were willing to help me at my pace. It wasn't something I was really good at when I first got here, and it led to me having to explain some situations to professors that had really snowballed by the time I let them know something was wrong. There were a couple times when the first time I let someone know that I needed help was after I had injured myself trying to do it myself without assistance. It also taught me how to respectfully handle people who weren't willing to accommodate. Learning how to close out a relationship without burning bridges was a very important lesson to learn. Q: Why did you choose ASU?A: It was a combination of the weather, the size of the school, the facilities and the faculty. I was looking for a larger school with more resources, and when I met the music faculty here, I knew this was the place for me. Plus, I never have to shovel snow! Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?A: I've learnt a lot from every professor I've worked with here, even some who I didn't really personally jive with. There's actually been two professors I'd like to highlight. My thesis chair, Alex Temple, was the one who really taught me the ability to admit when I'm not going to be able to do something, and how to ask for help. She's been entirely amazing about dealing with me needing to do a lot of meetings remotely due to health flare-ups. She's also got a wicked sense of humor and real knack for satire. And Laura Cechanowicz taught me how to be open about being disabled. Before meeting her, I had never actually had a professor who was open about needing mobility aids and environmental adaptations. Having a mentor be open about how she's able to handle her disabilities in a way that allows her to still create and run projects has been deeply inspiring. Both those lessons were pretty intertwined for me, and they were both lessons I needed.Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school?A: Remember to balance learning and doing as much as you can with burnout, and learn how to politely say no. If you take every single opportunity, you run the risk of doing none of them very well. Focus on what opportunities you can take on without impacting your other work, whether it be academic or personal. And make time for the people you love.Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?A: There's a bathroom in the third sublevel of the music building that looks like a janitorial closet and where no one can hear you cry. It was very handy at times. Engrained Cafe in the Memorial Union is also a great spot; I've set up there for hours to get work done.Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?A: I'd put it towards tackling the crisis with our mental health system. There's a lot of people who need longer-term, in-patient care that our system fails by endlessly looping them through 72-hour holds that do very little for them. A large percentage of our housing-insecure, unhoused and incarcerated are victims of the short-term 5150 hold cycle. There's very little we can currently do to help people with complex mental health issues that would very likely benefit from longer-term, in-patient care and stabilization, as many of them refuse any sort of assistance or treatment. My father is one of these people, and he refuses to accept any of the help my brother and I have been able to safely offer in the past. These are people who may be unable to function within our structured society, but they still deserve compassionate care and a safe and secure space. It's a really complex issue that impacts our incarceration and homelessness statistics that very few people talk about.]]>
Man in a U.S. Air Force uniform seated next to a young child.

Native vet to focus on tribal health with global health master’s degree

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.Charles Yellow Horse served in the United States Air Force for eight years and then turned to ASU Online for his higher education. Yellow Horse obtained his Bachelor of Science in 2021, and this semester he is graduating with a Master of Science in global health from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. “The decision to study global health with a focus on tribal health was a culmination of life experiences that go back to my upbringing on the Navajo Reservation to my time in the United States Air Force and now as a graduate student,” Yellow Horse said. “Each time in my life, health was significantly present. I experienced traditional and spiritual remedies for a number of ailments on the Navajo Reservation; in the Air Force, consistent physical readiness was a priority in order to meet the demanding work environment; and as a student, my overall health was important, as well as the health of my family.”Yellow Horse is the recipient of the Fall 2023 University Outstanding Graduate Award for Social Sciences. He was also awarded the Northwest Native American Research Center for Health (NW NARCH) Support Fellowship for his research work with Native Health of Phoenix's Helping Hands program.ASU News talked with Yellow Horse about his experiences as a student. Editor's note: Answers have been edited for length and clarity. Question: Why did you choose ASU for your degree?Answer: As a non-traditional student, there were many reasons I chose to study at Arizona State University. ... As a husband and father and United States Air Force veteran, I took into account my commitments. ASU offered dedicated support for all aspects of my life, which I was overly excited to discover. The online platform made it much easier to be present to support my family, the American Indian Student Support Services supported me academically as well as culturally, and the Pat Tillman Veterans Center has been a supportive organization for my efforts as a military member through offering community building and recognition of service at events.Q: Did you participate in any internships or labs?A: I am currently completing my internship for my global health MS degree with Native Health's Helping Hands program. I am currently serving as a community resources navigator, aiding community members and their families to find resources that address their social needs, like employment, food, financial assistance, education and housing. This program looks to reduce the health inequity gap by providing referrals to address social determinants of health. I also conducted a program evaluation for the Helping Hands program with the goal of discovering ways to improve the program to help facilitate getting community members in contact with the resources they need.Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?A: While at ASU, I was impressed by how much support I received when I had not thought to ask or thought I needed it. The consistent support from faculty and staff really enabled me to succeed in my academic journey at ASU.Q: Which professor/course taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?A: I feel as though I have learned meaningful and perspective-altering lessons in each of my courses. Although the course that I value a lot is ASB 526: Survey Topics in Global Nutrition, taught by Assistant Research Scientist Roseanne Schuster. This course allowed me to research in depth about food sovereignty, which is an especially important topic for Native Americans, including myself and Indigenous people around the world. Schuster’s teaching method of hosting initiative-taking discussions via an online platform called Perusall really allowed for me to grow my perspective and complete concrete research work on traditional food systems as a means to reducing food insecurity among Indigenous peoples.Q: What are your plans after graduation?A: I am currently navigating many pathways going forward as I search for a position, but one goal I will pursue is giving back to the Native American, veteran and student communities that have supported me in my academic journey.]]>
Portrait of ASU grad Piper Heiligenstein.

International travel, research highlights of December grad’s ASU experience

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.Piper Heiligenstein’s undergraduate experience at Arizona State University was a combination of academics, adventure, prestigious research opportunities and personal autonomy.Heiligenstein will graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a certificate in biomedical research from the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and honors from Barrett, The Honors College at ASU.She took her first-ever international trip to Germany as the recipient of the DAAD RISE scholarship in the summer of 2022, where she was an intern at Kiel University working as a laboratory research assistant all week and traveling to neighboring countries on weekends.“The most interesting moment in my ASU career was in the summer of 2022 when I traveled and lived across the ocean by myself for a summer for the DAAD RISE scholarship,” said Heiligenstein, who is from Trenton, Illinois.“It was so interesting for me since it was my first time traveling and living alone out of the country. The experience really challenged me in terms of independence, but I was able to meet some really cool people who I still keep in touch with today,” she said.Heiligenstein followed up her experience in Germany with the Fulbright-MITACS Globalink Research Internship program over the summer of 2023 at McGill University, an English-language public research university located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where she spent 12 weeks studying genomics and DNA replication.As a Barrett student, she completed an honors thesis titled “Deciphering the Essentiality of the Mycobacterium smegmatis PrrAB Two Component System.”“I believe completing an honors thesis is a huge advantage on graduate school applications. The undergraduate honors thesis process gave me insight into how my future thesis defense process might look like and I also think showing you have tangible experience presenting and defending your own independent work is a key thing graduate admission offices look for,” said Heiligenstein, who plans to pursue a PhD in biomedical sciences with a focus on infectious diseases.As Heiligenstein, who was an ASU President’s Scholar, wraps up her last undergraduate semester, we asked her to reflect on her time at ASU. Here’s what she had to say.Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?Answer: There was really no exact moment when I decided to study biological sciences, but I always enjoyed my biology classes in high school the most out of all my classes.Q: Why did you choose ASU?A: I chose Arizona State since I wanted to escape the Midwest cold weather and my father graduated from ASU with a bachelor’s degree in English back in 1988.Q: Why did you choose to be in Barrett Honors College?A: After I got accepted into Arizona State, I took a tour of the campus and met with then-Barrett Honors College Dean Mark Jacobs. I was really impressed by the college and the guidance and resources the school provided students.Being a Barrett student enhanced my undergraduate experience by making a massive university feel a lot more like home. I'm from a pretty small town, and Barrett had a community atmosphere I would have missed if I did not join the college. I met almost all of my friends through Barrett.Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU? What was that lesson?A: The professor at ASU that taught me the most important lesson is Dr. Susan Holechek, assistant teaching professor in the School of Life Sciences. She taught me that genetics is more than just studying pea plants and inheritance, which led me to working in a microbiology/genetics lab.Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?A: The best piece of advice I can give to those still in school is don’t be too hard on yourself because everyone around you is just figuring it out as they go as well.Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?A: The Sun Devil Fitness Complex is my favorite spot on campus because I used to work at Shake Smart and I played intramural volleyball for three years.Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?A: If someone gave me $40 million to solve one problem, I would create a nonprofit organization with the purpose of tackling antibiotic resistance, specifically through funding projects related to phage therapy and antibiotic residue in water supplies.]]>
Woman smiling.

From French literature to the lab: Biochem grad finds true passion in synthetic biology

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.Bethany Kolbaba Kartchner is by all accounts a true Renaissance woman. She has a master's degree in French literature and is about to graduate from ASU’s School of Molecular Sciences with a PhD in biochemistry.But before her journey started at ASU, when she decided she wanted a science degree, it had been more than 10 years since she had completed the basic science classes necessary to enroll in a graduate program. In addition, she had a family who needed her. Kartchner spent a month researching ASU's biochemistry programs, strategizing how she could take classes and still be the primary caretaker of her children.“It was very important to me that their lives would not be affected by my new pursuit,” stated Kartchner. “I enrolled in one online class at Rio Salado every four months until I had taken all the necessary classes they offered. Then, I took higher-level, in-person classes and labs at Mesa Community College because they had an excellent preschool program for my youngest child. Once I had taken all of the classes I could at the community college level, I applied to ASU to complete my second bachelor’s degree, in biochemistry.”When Kartchner came to ASU, she was incredibly nervous. The school seemed so big, and she wasn't sure she’d be accepted as a nontraditional student, as most of her classmates were decades younger than her.“I needn't have worried,” explained Kartchner. “Everyone was very welcoming, and the professors were incredibly accessible. I quickly found study partners and settled into a nice routine.”One of her professors, Marcia Levitus, took a special interest in Kartchner and helped her to hone her interests and identify a lab where she could gain experience to apply to the doctoral program. She found a position in Professor Jeremy Mills’ lab working with proteins. She was especially attracted to professor Mills' work due to the range in research — from designing proteins on a computer to putting the gene that encodes that protein into E. coli, characterizing the protein and solving its structure using X-ray crystallography.“His lab really does everything and I've been fortunate to gain experience in all aspects of the protein design workflow,” said Kartchner.“In the laboratory, Beth was far more than simply an excellent researcher,” said Mills. “Rather, Beth served as a manager, mentor and confidant to her colleagues — and at times her advisor — and was always incredibly generous with her time.“Beth was often the first person I would introduce new students to because I was certain that she would make them feel welcome in the laboratory regardless of their experience or background,” Mills continued. “As much as I’d like to have Beth in the laboratory still, I am so excited that she has moved on to bigger and better things. I can say without hesitation that having Beth in our laboratory for the last few years has shaped how we do things in ways that will continue for years to come. I am so grateful to Beth that she gave me the privilege of being able to work with and learn from her.”During 2021, Kartchner worked remotely for Moderna in the Computational Sciences and Molecular Engineering Division, where she implemented the Rosetta RNA tertiary structure prediction platform.Editor's note: Answers may have been edited for length or clarity.Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?Answer: I was driving my children to their activities and listening to Science Friday on NPR. Ira Flatow, the host, was interviewing J. Craig Venter about his book "Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life." In the interview, they discussed a field that was completely new to me — synthetic biology, which is basically reengineering biology for human purposes. I was immediately intrigued and I knew that I wanted to become proficient in this field.Preparing to come to ASU took me about four years. I studied every weekday from 4–6 a.m. while the children slept, and on Sunday afternoons, I would go to the public library from 1–5 p.m. When we went on family vacations, I kept up my regime, often studying in closets because they were the only place where turning on a light wouldn't wake the family. I have a very special memory of studying biology in a closet in an Airbnb in Nevada. I was learning about ribosomes and how they translate mRNA into proteins, and this feeling of complete joy swept over me. I absolutely loved what I was doing. It was so exciting to learn about the world.Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?A: I expected my graduate work to challenge me academically, so when I struggled with an abstract concept, that didn't surprise me. What I didn't expect was that graduate work would challenge me personally. I didn't know that the struggles that I would go through would change the way I see myself and my world. I've become a much stronger person and a much more critical thinker because of my studies at ASU.Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?A: School is hard and can be overwhelming at times. Break down big projects into smaller steps and work on them methodically. All the small daily steps move you closer to your goals.Q: What advice would you give anyone who is contemplating taking on a big project or working toward a long-term goal?A: Don't be afraid of really long-term goals. When I was 36 and contemplating whether I should pursue my doctorate degree in biochemistry, I knew that the path would be long and that I would be 47 years old when I finished. Initially, that thought was very daunting. However, I knew that eventually, I would be 47 and I'd either be 47 with a doctorate or 47 without one. I decided that I wanted to be 47 with a doctorate so I got started.Q: What are your plans after graduation?A: I'm working as a scientist of computational biology for a biotech startup (FL83) in the Flagship Pioneering ecosystem based in Boston. I work remotely and travel to Boston every few months to work on site. I love what I'm doing.]]>
Jeri Sasser smiles at the camera

Psychology trailblazer leaves legacy of mentorship, research excellence

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.Jeri Sasser’s journey into psychology was fueled by a genuine desire to help others. As she nears the completion of her PhD in psychology at ASU, specializing in developmental psychology, Sasser remains committed to both her passion for research and supporting others in their academic pursuits. Hailing from Austin, Texas, where she was born, and having grown up in Edmond, Oklahoma, Sasser ventured to Athens, Georgia, for her undergraduate degree. She made Tempe, Arizona, her home in 2019 when she began her doctoral program at ASU and quickly involved herself in the psychology community, collecting accolades for her service and scholarly achievements. Awards include the Department of Psychology’s Samuel Leifheit Memorial Citizenship Award and the Graduate Professional Student Association’s (GPSA) Teaching Excellence Award in 2021. Sasser has also been recognized with the GPSA’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion award, the Department of Psychology’s Doctoral Scholar Award, the department’s Outstanding Writing in Psychology award and the Student Leader for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Award in 2022, among several other prestigious awards. Notably, she is also the recipient of the 2023 Harry Lowell Swift Advancing Health Scholarship and the National Institute of Drug Abuse T32 Predoctoral Fellowship.A defining moment for Sasser was her involvement in the Department of Psychology’s ENERGIZE Research Initiative. Sasser launched the ENERGIZE Mentorship Initiative, a sub-program designed to guide underrepresented undergraduate students in STEM in navigating research assistantships. Her proposal uniquely paired every ENERGIZE applicant with current graduate students, creating personalized mentorship experiences.Speaking on the initiative, Sasser notes that many students lack prior knowledge about entering research or the resources to prepare for the competitive process of becoming a research assistant. “The ENERGIZE Mentorship Initiative aimed to promote students’ engagement, competence and confidence in a research setting.”Sasser’s impactful program has mentored over 250 students, complemented by a research methods course she co-established at ASU. Her contributions extend to uncovering vital findings supporting the transition of Latino students to college life. As a lead graduate student researcher in the Adolescent Stress and Emotion Lab, Sasser played a crucial role in the Transciones project, a longitudinal study funded by the William T. Grant Foundation examining the daily stress experiences and health behaviors of ASU Latino students and how it impacted their academic achievement and integration into college. Sasser is graduating ASU having published 10 first-author research papers, contributing to seven more as a co-author. She reflects on her doctoral journey and shares more about her calling to create a positive impact within her community below.Professor and Associate Chair of ASU’s Department of Psychology Leah Doane (left) served as Sasser’s faculty advisor during her pursuit of a PhD in psychology with a specialization in developmental psychology. Courtesy photoQuestion: Why did you choose ASU?Answer: I knew ASU had one of the strongest quantitative psychology programs and there were multiple faculty members with expertise in areas that were central to my current and future research interests, but I ultimately chose ASU because of its culture. The program felt very close-knit and cooperative, rather than competitive. Graduate students got along with one another and seemed to form genuine friendships, and faculty members often collaborated on research projects. It was really important that I chose an interdisciplinary and supportive environment to complete my PhD, given that I would be dedicating the next five to six years in this community. Choosing ASU was the best decision I could have made, and I truly believe that this is where I was supposed to be.Q: Can you share more about your doctoral dissertation?A: My dissertation is a combination of three published papers that explored the influence of family members such as parents and siblings, as well as broader aspects of the family context, like dynamics and values, on adolescent sleep. The central findings emphasized that adolescent sleep is significantly influenced by the family environment and cannot be fully understood without considering this context. The aim of this research collection is to shed light on how families can support better sleep during adolescence, addressing the notable sleep-related challenges this age group encounters. My hope is that this work guides future research directions and informs intervention and prevention strategies to enhance sleep health and overall well-being during adolescence. These papers were published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, the Journal of Research on Adolescence and Sleep Medicine.Q: You’re leaving ASU with 17 publications under your belt — what does this accomplishment mean to you?A: (Laughs) As cliché as it sounds, that is just a number and doesn’t do justice to the time and effort invested in these papers by folks other than myself. To me, this really goes to show the power of collaboration and relationship-building. These publications are the result of collaborations with teams both within and outside of ASU, including the Arizona Twin Project, the Youth Development Institute, the ASU Biodesign Institute and ASU Counseling Services. These diverse collaborations not only helped me learn more about the topics that we were studying, but also made the journey more fulfilling, working alongside others with a shared interest and similar goals. So I guess the short answer is that this perceived productivity is really just a testament to the collaborative spirit that drives impactful research.Q: Could you share an instance or story that illustrates the impact of a specific professor or mentor during your time at ASU?A: My doctoral advisor, Dr. Leah Doane, has significantly influenced my experience at ASU. When my original mentor unexpectedly retired in the first semester of my PhD, Dr. Doane readily agreed to take me on as a student. This is a big deal! Many professors spend years preparing to take a new student and don’t do so lightly (after all, it is a five-to-six-year relationship they are committing to). This is just one example of how Dr. Doane has always had my best interest at heart. She cared about me as a person and helped me in achieving my goals, even when they did not align with the traditional outcomes of the program. Based on my experiences, as well as others in the lab, several graduate students and I nominated her for an Outstanding Faculty Mentor award.Q: Could you elaborate on any specific experiential learning opportunities that significantly influenced your academic and personal growth?A: This past summer, I completed an internship at Google as a user experience researcher, where I gained insights into the role’s demands and expectations, drawing from my background in psychology. Working with the Pixel hardware team, I learned how to lead end-to-end concept testing, usability studies and foundational research, conduct product synthesis and market literature reviews, and collaborate effectively with cross-functional stakeholders such as those working on Android and Fitbit. Leveraging my psychology background, I contributed to initiatives broadly related to user health and well-being. For example, I supported the launch of the Pixel 8 Pro temperature sensor, a feature with the potential to significantly impact health and wellness. I’m really proud of the contributions I made during my time at Google, and I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow within such a collaborative, inclusive and forward-thinking community.ASU doctoral psychology student Jeri Sasser completed an internship as a user experience researcher at Google, where she supported the launch of the Pixel 8 Pro temperature sensor. Courtesy photoQ: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?A: The biggest advice I have is to continuously listen to yourself and what makes you excited, and not be afraid to pivot or explore new options. I think as students it’s easy to get stuck in overthinking what the “correct” pathway is or feel the need to take the traditional route because that is what most of those before us have done. But in reality, the “best” path looks different for everyone, because we all have different strengths, values, goals and personal situations. The moment that I started noticing what I had the most fun doing, and tapping into what some of my natural strengths were, the future became a lot more exciting to me (as opposed to stressful or scary). And we all deserve to be excited about the future!Q: Can you share more about your plans after graduation?A: I will be starting a full-time job as a user experience researcher at EdPlus at ASU. I’m excited about contributing to the innovative work at EdPlus, expanding access to high quality education and enhancing students’ learning experiences. I’ll primarily be working on ASU Online, which hosts the nation’s fourth-best online psychology program and is one of the most popular ASU Online majors. I’m optimistic that my work will contribute to the field by reducing barriers to higher education and improving learning outcomes for current and prospective students.]]>
Olivia Maras smiles at the camera.

Graduating psychology student examines developmental pathways to healthy love

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.Olivia Maras studies romantic relationships; she aims to understand how to promote healthy relationships through adolescence to adulthood. This December, she’ll earn a master’s degree in passing as she continues her pursuit of a PhD in psychology with a specialization in developmental psychology at Arizona State University.Originally from the small town of Blair, Nebraska, Maras’ interest in relationship dynamics began during her undergraduate days at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she served in a psychology lab that explored the marital dyad through structured interviews with family members.“Conducting these interviews really sparked my interest in studying romantic relationships, as I saw firsthand how integral they were to so many other aspects of their well-being and parenting. I also saw how impactful and important quality research is to answering important questions,” Maras said. “I knew I wanted to continue my research journey, and a PhD in psychology was the next natural step!”In addition to her doctoral research in Associate Professor Thao Ha’s Healthy Experiences Across Relationships and Transitions (@Heart) Lab, Maras is an advocate for inclusivity, actively contributing to ASU’s Department of Psychology through teaching, mentoring and spearheading the graduate student-led initiative Amplified Voices.We caught up with Maras to learn more about her research, her decision to attend ASU and her plans for the future. Question: Why did you choose ASU?Answer: I chose ASU for many reasons, but my primary reason was the wonderful, supportive community in the Department of Psychology. I could tell, even from my interviews, that the graduate students and faculty were there to support and uplift each other. This has held true, three years in! I also chose ASU for the robust research program and research opportunities. Learning from the amazing and accomplished faculty at ASU has deepened my learning experiences and pushed my research to new heights.Q: Can you share more about your master’s thesis?A: My thesis utilized a longitudinal research sample to investigate whether experiencing harmful, negative parenting dynamics in adolescence is associated with increased risk for involvement in intimate partner violence in adulthood. I also wanted to understand whether having a healthy, positive and prosocial friendship in adolescence could lower the risk of being involved in intimate partner violence in adulthood, particularly for those who experienced harmful parenting in adolescence. I found that, indeed, having positive, prosocial peer friendships in adolescence were important in lowering the risk of future intimate partner violence. I hope that this research inspires intervention and prevention programs to invest in the promotion of healthy, positive peer friendships in adolescence as it may protect against future harmful romantic relationship behaviors.Q: Could you share an instance or story that illustrates the impact of a specific professor or mentor during your time at ASU?A: My advisor, Dr. Thao Ha, has been instrumental in my success as a graduate student. She is endlessly encouraging and believes in me and my abilities to make an impact as a researcher. One example that comes to mind is when I first started graduate school. In my first month in the program, Thao encouraged me to submit an abstract to the Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA) conference, even though I had just started and had no idea what I wanted to study. She pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and trust myself as a new researcher. I was accepted to the conference and had an amazing time presenting my research at SRA in New Orleans!Q: Are there any experiential learning opportunities that have significantly influenced your academic and personal growth during your time at ASU?A: My involvement in Amplified Voices: A Conversation and Action Series has been incredibly rewarding. Amplified Voices is a graduate student-led project in the Department of Psychology, aiming to provide a platform that honors and celebrates racial and ethnic minority scholars and underrepresented voices. The project also challenges current ideas and practices within psychology research. So far, we have held seven successful events, bringing in speakers to discuss a range of crucial topics. These include equity in the classroom, historical silences that shape current social stratification, experiences of being Black in academia’s “ivory tower,” racism in health care, approaches to Indigenous quantitative methods and behavioral genetic approaches to study race-related dynamics. I currently hold the role of project manager, leading a team of four graduate students to execute these events and ensure the success of the project. I love having the opportunity to inspire our community to engage with these critical ideas and calls to action.Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?A: My advice is to be kind to yourself and give yourself more credit than you think you deserve. Just getting into graduate school is a huge accomplishment and means that you are exactly where you need to be. Remember that you deserve to be there. As I’m still in school as a PhD student, I am still trying to take my own advice! Also, finding your community is critical to your personal success as an academic and researcher. Building a strong community to support you and uplift you in difficult times is one of the most important tasks of graduate school.Q: What was your favorite space on campus, whether studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?A: My favorite space on campus is the secret garden, in the southwest corner of Dixie Gammage Hall. I love the greenery, beautiful landscaping and quiet surroundings. Another runner-up is the Life Sciences A Wing, where you can find many live reptiles, including snakes and turtles, along the hallway! Q: How do you envision your future work contributing to the field of psychology?A: After I get my PhD, I am unsure of where I will land. I know that I want to pursue a career in research and help improve people’s lives in some way. Stay tuned for what this looks like, whether it is a career in industry in user experience research, nonprofit work, government policymaking or academia!Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle? A: As a psychology student, I must note that this is an impossible question to answer, as there are so many aspects of our lives that are interconnected. So solving one problem just means there are still many more to solve. However, I am passionate about preventing intimate partner violence and dating abuse, so I would tackle this issue. To do so, however, we need to target parenting, peer dynamics, socio-economic status, sex and relationship education in schools, and so much more! Additionally, I would bring more awareness towards the issue of digital dating violence, which is a new frontier in dating abuse research. With technological advancements and social media, harmful relationship behaviors aren’t just happening in person anymore. Understanding relationship dynamics and how they intersect with technology is a crucial next step in research. Overall, I would spend this money on promoting healthy, positive and constructive relationship skills and dynamics, starting as early as childhood and continuing into adulthood.]]>
Meghna Chowdury smiles at the camera.

Dean’s Medalist explores legal field through psychology studies

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.Named the Arizona State University Department of Psychology’s fall 2023 Dean’s Medalist awardee, Meghna Chowdhury has emerged as a star student. She’s passionate about shaping public policy for juvenile justice, and has her sights set on law school. Chowdhury’s academic journey has been punctuated by pivotal moments of self-discovery.“I decided that I wanted to pursue a degree in psychology during my second semester at ASU. I was taking PSY 101, the first psychology course I’d ever taken. Before then, I really didn't know what psychology was about. I was so captivated by that class, and I wanted to learn more about human behavior, so I changed my major from biomedical science to psychology,” Chowdhury said.Originally from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, Chowdhury is graduating this December with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a certificate in law and human behavior. She received the Deborah Oldfield Reich and John Reich Maroon and Gold Leaders Scholarship, along with her merit-based ASU scholarship. During her time at ASU, Chowdhury participated in Project Excellence — a partnership between Barrett, The Honors College and ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law that exposed students to law courses and faculty members. She took a public interest litigation course and pursued a research position studying electronic incarceration (e-carceration) technologies in the Anti-Racist Digital Health Futures Lab. Her various experiences culminated in an honors thesis project under faculty advisor Professor Adam Cohen that examined jury instructions and its effect on Christian and Jewish jurors' beliefs on sentencing verdicts of inchoate crimes.We caught up with Chowdhury to learn more about her ASU experience and future plans.Question: Why did you choose ASU?Answer: It was always my dream to attend somewhere warm, especially coming from Colorado. I loved how ASU offered me the duality of a smaller department for my major while still being able to take advantage of the large university atmosphere. It was also a draw that I got to explore Phoenix, experiencing a brand-new city and meeting new friends along the way.Q: What is something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?A: During the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I participated in a study-abroad internship program in London, U.K. While there, I worked for the Exit Foundation, a grassroots organization dedicated to helping youth involved in the criminal justice system. I was able to see the importance of mentorship and how the community in London came together to achieve their collective goal of ending youth violence. It completely opened my mind to a whole world I felt passionate about and ultimately inspired me to attend law school.Q: Could you share an instance or story that illustrates the impact of a specific professor or mentor during your time at ASU?A: I have been a part of Dr. Rick Cruz’s CACTUS Lab for two years now, where I learned the importance of advocating for improved prevention and intervention efforts for diverse youth and their families. I always love going into his lab because of the warm atmosphere it fosters. Dr. Cruz has played a huge role in my academic career, and I know that I can go to him with anything I need, regardless of whether it is school-related. He truly promotes mental health and deeply cares for every one of his students. Q: What were the results of your honors thesis sequence?A: I hypothesized that Christians and Jewish people will view jury instructions the same when given jury instructions, and that Christians will judge inchoate crimes more harshly than Jewish people when not given jury instructions. My results indicated that Christians judge inchoate crimes more harshly than Jewish people, but there was no effect of jury instructions on judgment. Christians who were presented with jury instructions gave the defendant a longer prison sentence in years compared to Jewish participants who received jury instructions. On the other hand, Christian and Jewish participants who did not receive jury instructions gave a similar length of prison sentence in years.  Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?A: I would tell every incoming first-year student to take a chance and try one new thing. Some of my favorite memories were created by simply saying “yes.” For example, I tried intramural beach volleyball during my first year, even though I hadn’t played before. From that experience, I learned a new skill and even met one of my best friends!Q: What was your favorite space on campus, whether studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?A: For the last three years, I have loved the outdoor patio behind Hayden Library. It stays shady all day and is a great, quiet place to escape from the constant bustle of campus. An added bonus is its close proximity to Starbucks, perfect for a mid-study-session pick-me-up.Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle? A: If I were given $40 million, I would reform the prison system in the United States. More specifically, I would invest that money in giving employees better pay, building more space that is safer and healthier for inmates, and providing more programs to inmates that assist them in the transition back to society, such as therapy, rehabilitation, education and other necessary life skills.]]>
Reya Adoni smiling with an outdoor setting behind her.

ASU community thanks donors during a dedicated week of gratitude

This week, Arizona State University is celebrating the donors who give their time, talent and treasure to support our community.The ASU Foundation organizes Sun Devil Gratitude Week for students, faculty and staff to thank donors for their generosity. The celebration started as a single-day event on National Philanthropy Day six years ago.Jessielyn Hirschl, associate director of donor relations at the ASU Foundation, said it’s essential to thank donors for their contributions. “ASU is doing so much amazing work, and none of it would be possible without the support of our donors and the passion of our students, faculty and staff,” she said. “It’s so important to show gratitude to all the people who make this community so special and encourage a continued commitment to building a better world.”Last year, ASU received contributions from over 107,000 donors. The ASU Foundation will use phone calls, text messages, emails and social media posts to connect with as many donors as possible during its Gratitude Week.Throughout the week, all ASU students and faculty are encouraged to celebrate donors, especially those who have benefited from their generosity.Tirupalavanam Ganesh is associate dean for outreach and student success and Tooker Professor for engineering education at ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. In his roles, Ganesh sees the impact of scholarship support on students firsthand.“I thank ASU donors for their continued support over these many years, which has allowed us to support engineering students as they earn a degree,” he said.Nicole Ponsart is an MFA student at the School of Art, where she works in ceramics. Support from donors has allowed Ponsart to secure the materials she needs to make larger pieces.“You’ve made it possible for me to continue my education and create a body of work that is meaningful and long-lasting,” Ponsart said of the donors who helped fund her education.Reya Adoni is an undergraduate studying economics at the W. P. Carey School of Business. Donor support helps her focus on school and devote time to campus involvement.“This has enabled me to focus on getting my degree while also giving me the time to really take part in my role as vice president for Women’s Club Soccer,” she said. “I’m really, really grateful.”These stories and countless others show the impact that donors have across ASU.“By having a special week that highlights gratitude, we can demonstrate its importance and foster a ‘gratitude mindset’ to inform our work and personal lives all year long,” Hirschl said.]]>
ASU professor and students pose for a group photo.

Empowering Indigenous communities on economic self-development

Every Indigenous community has its unique characteristics.Some communities embrace developing their land for enterprise or tourism to foster cultural exchange, while others adopt a more conservative stance regarding development.In either case, Hale works to empower Indigenous communities with the necessary tools and knowledge to achieve their objectives and align their development with their vision.Since joining ASU’s American Indian Studies program in 2005, Michelle Hale, who is Laguna, Chippewa, Odawa and a citizen of the Navajo Nation from Oak Springs, Arizona, has focused her teaching and research on Indigenous communities' economic and community development and governance.For Hale, development is essential in every community, but even more so for Indigenous communities looking to enhance the quality of life, preserve and maintain their culture, improve infrastructure, expand opportunity and assert more control over their land and resources.“Most of what I teach is in Indigenous planning and reservation economic development,” she said. “Our core course is Indian policy, which I enjoy because it is sort of an introductory class to a lot of the concepts I’ve been working on the last couple of years.”Hale’s coursework is grounded in lived experience, traditional knowledge and perspectives of American Indian people and organizations who do the work of community development on the ground.It connects to the unit's larger mission to educate students and the broader community about the history, experiences and issues facing Indigenous people and to create opportunities for community-based research.Hale and David Pijawka, professor emeritus in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, have worked together over the years to create a course in tribal community planning, which has bridged the gap between historical, cultural insights and practice from the two disciplines.“What I appreciate most is that the work is interdisciplinary across the university. It allows us to draw from the knowledge of different topics, tools and technology to brainstorm solutions to fit a common goal and to modify those approaches to be relevant to Indigenous communities,” Hale said.In Arizona, the combined efforts of American Indian Studies and the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning have helped support communities in the Navajo Nation in developing land use plans, updating older land use plans and supporting discussion and community education for economic development efforts and planning for new infrastructure projects.“Our approach, leveraged by the strengths of the two units, ensured that the planning process aligned with Indigenous community values,” said Jonathan Davis, an instructor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning said. “These efforts support tribal self-sufficiency by building planning capacity through bottom-up approaches.”“It’s about providing Navajo community leaders, members and support staff with the planning tools they need so they can tailor them to what is most important to them and the projects at hand,” Hale said. “These tools empower them to have greater control in terms of planning, land use and having a say in areas they don’t want to develop.”Kim Kanuho, a member of the Navajo Nation and president of Fourth World Design Group, recently came to Hale’s tribal community planning class to speak to students about the importance of tribal planning and how they can get involved.“As a tribal planner, our work is important because it includes Indigenizing the planning process and incorporating our tribal voices and cultural values into our tribal communities," Kanuho said. “I love working and co-creating the planning process with our tribal people who know their culture, land and communities best.Student engagement and community-based workMichelle HaleHale said that in past years, teaching Indigenous planning meant breaking through the stigma of development, since the word “development” did not always sit well.“For many Indigenous students, development is associated with extraction, capitalism or growth that is managed by those other than the Indigenous people themselves,” she said. “The early thoughts from students when the tribal community planning class was first introduced at ASU in 2015 were that Indigenous planning was something that is simply going to trick us into developing all our lands.”But that has changed over the years. Hale said she has seen shifts in the students' mindsets. “There is a lot of excitement, especially from undergraduate Indigenous students, because they see how Indigenized planning tools can help to address real-world, here-and-now challenges in their home areas and place the community at the heart of the decision-making,” Hale said.One of Hale’s upcoming research projects, in collaboration with the the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, focuses on the Navajo Nation's food stands and flea markets. It will use geographic mapping technology that captures data for various purposes, such as mapping and spatial analysis.The project, funded by the National Science Foundation and part of a grant with the Earth Systems Science for the Anthropocene, will monitor the activity at Navajo reservation flea markets in communities like Window Rock, Kayenta, Tuba City and Shiprock.Hale and Davis will be joined by Assistant Professor Jose-Benito Rosales Chavez and a team of student researchers who will use geographic information systems to map flea market locations. They’ll also study the exchange of traditional food items and arts and crafts and talk to customers about why they visit these flea markets. They hope the information collected will be helpful for decision-makers with Navajo Nation Economic Development, local chapters and others who wish to support Navajo entrepreneurs and the flea markets essential to the Navajo economy and people who rely on them for income or access to food and necessities.“Navajo students on the project know what it’s like to be at a market; they show a real interest in engaging with this work,” Hale said. “This project helps us to support and encourage students interested in community-based work and offer guidance on how to engage with people in the community respectfully and ethically.“But this research can also help the Navajo Nation learn with tools and information to help support the market sellers or entrepreneurs and advance their community.”Hale will also be collaborating with professors across the university on a water sustainability mixed-reality game launching in 2025 that helps address water issues in Arizona.A co-principal investigator on the WaterSIMmersive project, Hale will work with Indigenous students to start a dialogue with tribal and rural community members all over the state to better understand and voice their water concerns.Outside of her community-based research, Hale has long engaged with students on different grant-funded projects or helping students with their research. Currently, Hale is helping ASU student Elisha Charley conduct her dissertation research.Charley, a doctoral student studying urban planning, is researching tribal community development in her hometown of Dennehotso, Arizona, in the northeastern Navajo Nation. She is researching self-help housing advocacy for tribal members living in the Navajo Nation and the Nihok’aa Diyin Dine’é (Navajo) value system.“Housing or dwelling disparities in the Navajo Nation is an ongoing issue that requires collective efforts,” Charley said. “The housing footprint is one aspect of the complex layers of the built environment in the Navajo Nation. It is also significant data to study and maintain for future infrastructure development.“Dr. Hale is a fellow Navajo tribal member and representation is invaluable. Her academic support has been significant in how I can intersect (American Indian studies) framework into my planning research topics.” Video of Community led development | Native American Heritage Month ]]>
A man gestures with his hands while talking to a group of students.

Patent law scholarship awarded to more ASU Law students than ever

A unique annual patent law scholarship has been awarded to an extraordinary number of ASU Law students.The 2023–24 Lisa Foundation Advanced Patent Scholarship at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University was initially designed six years ago for one awardee. This year, the $2,500 scholarship and hands-on patent law experience with the award's namesake and donor, famed patent attorney Steve Lisa, went to four students. Lisa graduated from ASU Law with his Juris Doctor in 1984. The four recipients are third-year law students Bailey Hopkins, Sierra Murphy, Leah Dosal and Alex Egber.Lisa said the scholarship came about to reward the school's top patent and intellectual property law scholars and allow them to further their education in the field. Over a dozen students have benefitted since its inception. "The purpose is to reward the very best students at the law school who are committed to a career in patent law but have exhausted the normal intellectual property law (IP) curriculum," he said. "A patent appeals course taught by experienced practitioners puts our graduates a few steps ahead of other graduates who have taken the normal IP courses. We hope it helps ASU's graduating IP students stand out as young associates at their new firms."Alex Egber. Courtesy photoIn addition to the financial reward, Lisa Foundation scholars work closely with select faculty members, including Lisa, in an advanced course to learn how to appeal to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO). It's training that most attorneys in the IP field don't get until after graduation.Lisa said four students were chosen this year due to the many outstanding applicants. They have all participated in the Lisa Foundation Patent Clinic and taken the intellectual property courses that ASU Law offers. "It's great to be in school with so many outstanding classmates interested in patent law," said Hopkins. "Having the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from each other enables all of us to excel."Jon Kappes, associate teaching professor and director of the Lisa Foundation Patent Law Clinic, closely mentors many law students hoping to enter the field, including these scholarship awardees."I am thankful to Mr. Lisa’s consistent support of our students and programs, including through the patent clinic which he endowed, this advanced scholars program and through his mentorship, training and encouragement of our students more broadly,” he said. “I am equally proud of our students who are achieving exceedingly high levels of excellence both as patent students and as professionals entering the field."Third-year law student Leah Dosal (right) moderates a discussion with U.S. Patent and Trade Office Director Kathi Vidal. Vidal visited ASU Law this spring, thanks to its thriving patent law program. Photo by Tabbs Mosier/ASUDosal had the honor of moderating a discussion with USPTO Director Kathi Vidal when she visited ASU this spring. Now, she's an Advanced Patent Scholar. "A legal career in patents is demanding and can be difficult to break into as a student, so this program sets ASU Law students apart from students at other schools," she said. "We have so many incredible intellectual property professors at our school who are top experts in their field and who make learning about patents fun and engaging. Our professors serve as a guiding light to students who are unsure of where they want to be after law school."Sierra Murphy. Courtesy photoPatent and IP law combine legal issues with the study of science and emerging technologies. The unique and growing field offers those the chance to work creatively and solve problems for their clients, whether they're engineers, inventors or anyone with a great idea. "Patent law offers the opportunity to synthesize several of my favorite intellectual pursuits," said Egber. "I'll get to continue learning about state-of-the-art technologies, and at the same time, I'll get to flex my creative side by strategizing and litigating in a way that most effectively advocates for my clients."With four students taking part in the advanced scholarship this year, the students will learn with and from each other. "The fact that multiple scholars were chosen is a testament to the strength of the IP program at ASU Law," said Murphy. "Even more so, knowing who the other three scholars are, it is a privilege to share this designation with them. Alex, Bailey and Leah are students I looked up to as a 1L, and I am happy to get to know them even better throughout this year."Lisa said the opportunity to work directly with the next generation of skilled patent attorneys has also benefited him, calling their work together "fulfilling.""Inventors today face a staggering uphill battle to protect their inventions," he said. "I am hopeful that our future IP and patent lawyers don't leave those inventors behind."]]>
Exterior of a building with the words "Watts College of Public Service and Commnity Solutions."

Former school director creates new ASU scholarship

As his academic career progressed both as a teacher and an administrator, Scott Decker learned he liked building things more than managing them.This realization is a big part of why he and his wife decided to fund a scholarship for Arizona State University criminology and criminal justice students. It also explains why 18 years ago he left the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) — where he chaired the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice for many years — for ASU in the first place.“I learned from my time in St. Louis that I was a builder, not a manager,” Decker said. “It encouraged me to come to ASU to build a top-flight School of Criminology and Criminal Justice program. The program would include high-quality instruction at the undergraduate, master’s and PhD level.”Today an ASU Foundation Professor emeritus, Decker served as the school’s first director from 2006 to 2014. In 2008, Decker oversaw the creation of ASU’s criminology and criminal justice PhD program, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.Decker said his experiences as an undergraduate student and later as department chair at UMSL guided him toward creating the Decker Family Scholarship. It is open to juniors or seniors who intend to become a practitioner in criminal justice, law enforcement, probation and parole, corrections, juvenile justice or other public service roles.ASU Foundation Professor Emeritus Scott Decker. ASU photoWhile an undergrad at DePauw University in Indiana, Decker asked his criminology professor one fall semester about conducting interviews inside prisons. His professor said interviews were held on Thursday afternoons, and he invited Decker to interview incarcerated persons with him.“I listened and observed early on. Then (the professor) said if you want to talk to some of these people on your own, that’s good,” said Decker, who recalled joining the men experiencing incarceration in softball games against the corrections officers. “We won all the time.”In January, Decker’s professor sent him to observe inside the Indiana Boys School, a correctional institution for adolescent boys.“I learned more as an observer than I did with interviews and data. That meant a lot for me in terms of understanding the link between the academic part of punishment and the prison and rehabilitation that I observed in the institution,” he said.Throughout his career, Decker visited 27 different prisons in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe.“It was part of my continuing education and enhanced what I did as a researcher,” he said.His experiences as a department chair at UMSL provided a foundation for the dramatic changes in the criminology and criminal justice school at ASU. The ASU doctoral program began two years after he arrived, bolstered by the addition of a large cadre of new faculty.Decker said both he and his wife, JoAnn, are products of public universities (he received his master’s and doctoral degrees from Florida State University, where they met), and they wanted to help students involved in internships and opportunities for service learning. This, as well as a strong ongoing effort in inclusion, remains a priority for the school under its current director, Watts Endowed Professor for Public Safety Beth Huebner.“We want to provide an opportunity for a junior or senior, with at least a 3.0 grade-point average, to enhance their undergraduate experience,” Decker said. “Funds may be used to support engagement with the community, support for participation in a conference or support for programming a student is engaged in. It is our hope that the scholarship will grow over time and support multiple students.”In addition to the requirements above, student applicants must submit a short essay on the impact they hope to achieve by pursuing a criminal justice career, and demonstrate financial need as defined by ASU Financial Aid and Scholarship Services. The school will select the first scholarship recipient in spring 2024.Huebner said she is grateful to the Decker family for their support of the school.“Scholarships like these make such a difference in the lives of our students, many of whom are the first in their family to go to college,” Huebner said. “The health and safety of the community is bolstered for all when we send educated ASU students into the public safety workforce, and this scholarship will help make that a reality for the recipient.”Decker said he and his wife deeply appreciate all that Arizona and ASU have done for them.“We want to give something back to a state and a university that has given a lot to us and whose mission we support,” Decker said.The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice is part of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. Information on supporting the scholarship is available here. ]]>
Because of you, ASU will be able to meet the most pressing needs of our community. Learn More
Choose Amount Give $25 Now
You can honor our military veterans and give back to the men and women who bravely served our country. Learn More
Choose Amount Give $25 Now
Through your generosity, ASU Family awards scholarships to individuals with financial need and a record of community service. Learn More
Choose Amount Give $25 Now
Give today and provide immediate financial assistance to students who are unable to meet essential expenses in times of crisis. Learn More
Choose Amount Give $25 Now
Being a first-generation college student isn't an easy task, but you can support these students and help them have a successful college experience. Learn More
Choose Amount Give $25 Now
Your gift provides scholarship support to students whose educations have been interrupted by displacement as a refugee so they can continue their studies at ASU. Learn More
Choose Amount Give $25 Now