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See what these ASU students carry in their backpacks to help them with their day
September 7, 2017

From biology to photography, 4 ASU students share what they carry around campus to get through their day and their classwork done

Polluted beach samples from Japan, whale poop stickers and bamboo cutlery. No, this isn’t something out of a marine biology trip; these are just some of the items biology doctoral student Charles Rolsky carries around campus to help him with his day.

We peeked into the backpacks of four Arizona State University students to uncover the tools of their trades. From camera lenses to rubber molds, the contents of each bag are as unique as their owner and provide a glimpse into what it's like to study their particular major.

Charles Rolsky, doctoral student, biology

Top row, left to right: Reusable straw, reusable cutlery, red reusable shopping bag, Plastic Pollution Coalition pamphlet, wallet, earbuds, beach sand sample, tweezers, keys. Middle row, left to right: Whale poop stickers, binoculars, notebooks, pens, beach sand sample, business cards, plastic samples, bottle and vial for lab testing, water bottle. Bottom row, left to right: Sun Card, Tums. 

A doctoral student and teaching assistant in biology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Charles Rolsky works with the help of the public to collect beach sand saturated with microplastics from around the world (the samples pictured here are from Japan and San Francisco).

“I enlist the help of the public to collect beach sand saturated with microplastics around the world,” Rolsky said. “I then analyze these better to understand the impact plastic pollution has on humans and the environment.”

Because he researches plastics, he makes a point to be as sustainable as possible, using a reusable water bootle, cutlery and shopping bags. His mini binoculars have been with him since age 6, a gift from his grandmother.

Anya Manguson, sophomore, journalism

First column, top to bottom: Camera, wallet, carrying bag for flash drives, charger, memory cards and sticks. Second column, top to bottom: Extra shirt, notebooks, laptop, pens and scissors. Third column, top to bottom: Media badge, two camera lenses. Fourth column, top to bottom: Makeup bag, sunglasses, flashcard reader, UPass, Sun Card and keys.

Anya Magnuson, a journalism sophomore in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, also works at ASU as a photographer. In her backpack she carries an athletics press badge, Canon 5D Mark iii, Canon 24-70 f2.8, Canon 70-200 f2.8, SD cards, compact flash cards, a compact flash card reader, a bag of flash drives and of course her U-pass and a "life bag" that includes a toothbrush, makeup and deodorant. Forgetting her Upass, camera or the card reader would make the day pretty bad, Manguson said. 

Makayla Menges, senior, digital culture

Top row: Pencils, colored pencils, pens, Sharpies and a Pokemon bag. Middle row: Chargers, lotions, keys, notebooks. Bottom row: charger, earbuds, keys, water bottle, textbook, wallet.

Makayla Menges, a digital culture media processing senior in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, keeps it simple in her bag. She carries a variety of colored pencils and pens for drawing.

“I actually don’t know why I enjoy drawing. It’s actually really frustrating to me,” Menges said. “It’s almost like a challenge, I like challenges and it's something for my brain to do.” 

She also carries lotion, a spare phone charger, water bottle, her LSAT book as she prepares for the test on Dec. 2 and finally her blue notebook, in which she draws, takes notes in class and writes down her thoughts on the different video games she plays. 

Alvin Huff, graduate student, art 

First column, top to bottom: Rasps and utility knives for sculpting, wrist cuff, laptop. Second column, top to bottom: VGA adaptor, X-Acto knife blades, sunglasses holder. Third column: Flash drives, pens, tokens from a brewery conference. Fourth column, top to bottom: Charger, receipts. 

Graduate metal sculptor Alvin Huff, from the Herbeger Institute for Design and the Arts, keeps small tools to file plaster mold edges and razors to separate the rubber molds he’ll use for lost wax casting.  

“I’ll turn that around and put that in another ceramic shell and then melt out the wax and then fill the void with aluminum," Huff said.

He also has receipts from Home Depot and machine shops, and tokens from a brewery conference in Las Vegas, as he is a part-time beer brewer. Huff also works in IT at ASU, so he carries around items such as a VGA adapter and flash drives. 

Deanna Dent

Photographer , ASU Now


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When disaster strikes, health-care workers respond

September 8, 2017

ASU clinical professor and longtime American Red Cross volunteer nurse shares health risks to be aware of during calamities

As superstorm Irma continues its destructive path and as residents in Texas and Louisiana grapple with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, health-care providers are responding to an onslaught of patients in need of care. Cheryl Schmidt, a clinical professor in Arizona State University’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation, well understands what the communities there are facing.

She has been a volunteer nurse in the American Red Cross since 1974 and served 70,000 Gulf Coast residents in Arkansas who evacuated during Hurricane Katrina. She has taught disaster-preparedness education to health-care professionals, nursing students and community members throughout the United States.

Question: What does a “typical” day look like for health-care providers responding to a major natural disaster like Irma or Harvey? What kinds of issues are they dealing with?

Answer: Health-care providers are most likely facing the same health issues we faced in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. People with chronic illnesses and disabilities present the biggest challenge, especially if they are forced to evacuate their homes without their medications and supplies. During Hurricane Harvey, volunteers were working 12-hour shifts and sleeping on military-style cots in staff shelters. American Red Cross volunteers provide a wide range of services to people affected by the disaster, including health and mental-health care, helping to replace lost medications and medical equipment, and providing food, clothing and shelter for those who lost their homes or are displaced temporarily by the disaster.

Q: What health problems can arise from a major storm like Harvey or Irma, and how can people protect themselves from those risks?

A: Even people who are generally healthy face several risks during disasters such as the massive flooding in Texas. The biggest risk is drowning after driving through flooded streets. The statement, “Turn around, don’t drown” is ignored too often by people desperate to escape the area.

People who wade through floodwaters may develop skin rashes from the toxic chemicals that are washed out of garages and tool sheds, or from sewage in the water, like they experienced in New Orleans in 2005. It’s important to shower as soon as possible after contact with contaminated water.

Carbon monoxide from portable generators may cause suffocation for those who try to shelter in place at home, so only operate generators outdoors. Once they arrive in crowded shelters, people face an increased risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses.

As floodwaters begin to recede, standing water may increase breeding of mosquitos. Standing water should be cleaned up as soon as possible, and people should wear mosquito repellant when outdoors.

Q: September is National Preparedness Month, and this year’s theme is, “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” What can each of us do to prepare ourselves and our families for a disaster?

A: It is easy to become complacent living in areas that face less risk of natural disasters. But any area is at risk for man-made disasters such as apartment fires, overturned tankers transporting toxic chemicals, or even terrorist attacks.

Everyone should make at least a written plan of what they might need if they had to leave their home on short notice and never return. Internet sources such as and provide templates for such plans.

At a minimum, we should each have a “go-bag” containing:

  • One week’s worth of daily medications, or at least a list of medications
  • Copies of important papers (or scanned documents on a USB drive) such as proof of insurance for house and vehicle
  • Water and non-perishable food
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Small, battery-powered radio
  • Change of clothing
  • Personal hygiene supplies

Each individual and family should personalize their lists and supplies, preparing them to quickly evacuate the area or to shelter in place.

Top photo: Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class Jansen Schamp (left) and Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class Rion Johnson assist with a medical evacuation during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. U.S. Fleet Forces Command sent personnel and assets to bolster Northern Command's support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's assistance to federal, state and local authorities ongoing relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Lindahl/U.S. Navy

Katherine Reedy

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations & Strategic Communications