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April 27, 2017

'Science Exposed' event at Biodesign Institute pairs scientists and artists to explore research; watch it here

An Arizona State University semesterlong fusion experiment that paired artists from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts with scientists from the Biodesign Institute culminated in a one-night-only performance of “Science Exposed: Bringing Science to Life through the Arts.”

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

The evening kicked off with a chamber musical alchemy from two compositions by graduate students Zachary Bush and Stephen Mitton, as they interpreted the daily struggles of Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers and the scientists searching for a cure.

With neuroscientists Paul Coleman and Diego Mastroeni serving as personal guides to visits to brain banks and research labs, Bush’s “Cycles” explored the research cycle, where according to Bush “months or years of methodical effort to try and prove a hypothesis” all too often result in setbacks. “However,” he said, “the experiments eventually are complete and the triumph of discovery prevails” — but for only a short time, when scientists must confront the next challenge and start the whole process once again. Listen to it below.

Mitton’s “Stages” captured “the daily struggles of Alzheimer’s sufferers and their caregivers as the disease progresses through various stages over time.” Mitton’s evocative work focused on the emotional and physical toll on all affected, with a 12-note theme, representing the personality of an Alzheimer’s victim, undergoing subtle variations over the course of the performance and ending on a bittersweet note. Listen to it below.

Next, Herberger Professor Liz Lerman’s “Animating Research” project combined contemporary movement, dance and theater into a multimedia, immersive extravaganza. A dozen artists were paired with molecular virologists, evolutionary biologists and engineers to create expressive pieces that utilized and fully explored the Biodesign building space for both the audience and performers. 

Lerman, a choreographer and MacArthur Fellow, led the group to create a dance collaboration, engaging tools of movement, performance and media with her students in her semesterlong “Animating Research” class. The expressive pieces evoked the science behind X-ray lasers and protein molecules, the role of cancer cells and our bodies, the spread of viruses throughout our ecosystem, the accumulation and environmental damage caused by microplastics, and using the leading cause of food poisoning, salmonella, as a “warrior” in the fight against cancer. Everything from classical ballet and modern hip-hop to interpretive dance and multimedia performance art installations were used in a creative expression to explain and engage the science.

The energy level and audience engagement steadily rose, and the evening culminated in an audience participatory dance, with groups acting out the roles of molecules to create an early diagnostic for cancer.

Written by Joe Caspermeyer/Biodesign Institute


Top photo: An "atom" dances around the circle as it goes through a "red laser" during the "Science Exposed" performance at the Biodesign Institute on Wednesday. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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Sparky, ASU crew roll out the fun to welcome new Sun Devils

April 27, 2017

Future Sun Devils team brings ASU bus, maroon-and-gold celebration to Phoenix area high schools for College Signing Day

A sea of maroon and gold is a normal sight at Arizona State University — on Thursday, that sea spread to high school campuses across the Phoenix metro area as the ASU bus rolled out to welcome future Sun Devils to the ASU family.

“Being the only university in the Phoenix metropolitan area, we want to be embedded in our community and we want to celebrate all these young people starting their future at ASU,” said Brad Baertsch, director of freshman recruitment and admission.

Baertsch was one of the many ASU staff members and faculty along for the ride, congratulating students on their new adventure. For a second year in a row, ASU celebrated College Signing Day by visiting Valley high schools. The Future Sun Devil team will stop at six high schools over the course of Thursday and Friday. Combined, approximately 600 students from these high schools have been admitted to ASU.

Other students can see their friends celebrating going to college and see it as a possible path for them after high school, Baertsch added.

Student support specialist Rebecca Folk from Barrett, The Honors College at the Polytechnic campus said that being part of the event was really meaningful.

“This is the end of their high school career, but it’s also a starting point for the rest of their lives. It really means a lot for me to actually put faces to the names and welcome them to the next chapter,” she said.

The university will continue to celebrate Future Sun Devil Day through May 1. Admitted students can go online, sign the pledge and show their Future Sun Devil pride on social media.

ASU Now was along for the ride as Sparky and the team surprised high school seniors getting ready to become college freshmen.

Top photo: Graduating seniors pose for a photo with Sparky during College Signing Day at ASU Prep in Phoenix on Thursday. These future Sun Devils have committed to attending Arizona State University in the fall of 2017. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now