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Army medic sees MBA as path to dream career

Army medic sees MBA as path to dream job as military hospital administrator.
August 15, 2019

Student looking forward to teamwork at W. P. Carey School of Business

Alex Nyunt is starting the full-time Master of Business Administration program at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University as a path from being a medical service corps officer in the Army to becoming a hospital administrator.

Nyunt has been in the Army for 15 years.

“I married my high school sweetheart right after we graduated, so I decided it was time to grow up and get a job,” he said.

“With its benefits like health care and housing, the Army seemed like a good way to take care of my young family.”

After completing combat medic training, Nyunt received an additional year of training to become a licensed practical nurse for the Army.

“I lived in Seoul, South Korea, for two years. I've been to Iraq twice,” he said.

“In October 2017, I led a medical relief effort to the island of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“The experience that has stuck with me most from that time is working with prisoners in Iraq in 2007.”

Nyunt answered some questions from ASU Now:

Question: Why did you decide to pursue an MBA and why did you choose ASU?

Answer: My career goal is to manage the budget of an Army hospital as its chief financial officer. The next step toward that for me, from my operational background, is to increase my knowledge and skills regarding business, finance and analytics.

I chose W. P. Carey and ASU because of its highly ranked analytics program and because its culture appealed to me during my research. Also my wife of 15 years, Caitlin Nyunt, is currently working on a graduate degree in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

Alex Nyunt, left, is starting the full-time MBA program in the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU. His wife, Caitlin Nyunt, is working on a master's degree in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

Q: What are you most excited to experience your first semester?

A: I'm most looking forward to interacting with students from all different backgrounds and learning their values and perspectives. It's cliché but I'm a big fan of the team concept and I know we'll be relying on each other to get through the next two years.

Q: What talents and skills are you bringing to the ASU community?

A: I believe I have a unique perspective to offer. While I don't have much in the way of "business" in my background, I do have a lot of experience leading and managing a team through adversity, as well as building and maintaining a healthy organizational culture — most recently, integrating partners from eight coalition medical teams into a tactical-operational health system in support of combat operations in Syria and western Iraq.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your MBA program?

A: I want to gain the skills necessary to prepare me to be an adaptive, innovative resource manager for Army health. I want to be able to contribute as least as much to others — to the team here — as I receive from them.

Q: What’s one interesting fact about yourself that only your friends know?

A: Caitlin and I wrote and recorded a shoegaze rock album in 2009.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem in our world, what would you choose?

A: I don't know how far $40 million would go toward this, but I would set up fully-funded health clinics in underserved areas. Even limiting them to preventive care could do a lot of good!

Q: Predictions on the final score for this year’s Territorial Cup game?

A: 27-20, Sun Devils!

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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3 ASU professors named senior members of National Academy of Inventors

August 15, 2019

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) has named Terry Alford, Devens Gust and Andreas Spanias as senior members for fostering a spirit of innovation at Arizona State University while educating and mentoring the next generation of inventors.

Alford and Spanias — faculty members in the ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering — and Gust of the School of Molecular Sciences are among the 54 academic inventors named to the spring 2019 class of NAI senior members. NAI senior members are active faculty, scientists and administrators from NAI member institutions who have demonstrated remarkable innovation producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society. Senior members have proven success in patents, licensing and commercialization.

“Terry, Andreas and Devens have demonstrated a commendable commitment to not only driving innovation at ASU, but in championing work that has the potential to improve society at local, national and global scales,” says Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise and chief research and innovation officer at ASU. “This is a richly deserved recognition for each of them.”

Fulton Schools of Engineering Dean Kyle Squires said Alford and Spanias’ efforts as inventors and innovators have supported ASU’s designation as one of the top 10 universities worldwide granted U.S. patents.

“Terry and Andreas’ elevation to senior members in the National Academy of Inventors is a well-deserved achievement for these dedicated members of our faculty,” said Squires. “The Fulton Schools has a strong record of innovation and creativity and it's through work like theirs that we’ve moved into a leadership position not only nationally but internationally.”

Innovating integrated circuits

, Associate Director of the School for Energy of Matter, Transport and Energy at Arizona State University

Terry Alford

Alford holds 10 U.S. patents and multiple invention disclosures. An expert in silver and copper metallization and low-k dielectrics for integrated circuit technologies, Alford is most proud of his patented work to develop a process for cladded silver alloy metallization to improve adhesion and electro-migration assistance.

His greatest achievements, however, lie in the successes of the students he mentors, many of whom have gone on to have successful careers as entrepreneurs and in academia and industry.

“I use generating patent disclosures as a venue to train graduate students — a way to encourage them to be entrepreneurs, scholars, tinkerers and intellectuals,” said Alford, who serves as the associate director of the School for Energy of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of the six schools in the Fulton Schools of Engineering, where he is a highly regarded mentor and teacher of materials science and engineering. “We use the curiosity inherent in research to address societal needs. I always tell my students, the whole premise of what we do not just to learn through concepts in the classroom or fund research, but to contribute to the knowledge base.”

Advancing photosynthetic technologies

Devens Gust

Gust is a Regents Professor Emeritus in the School of Molecular Sciences and a distinguished sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Gust is an expert in the field of photochemistry and artificial photosynthesis who has published over 300 scientific papers and holds 17 patents. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Institute of Physics in the U.K.

His expansive research in photosynthetic pigments and light conversion processes has propelled innovation in solar energy and chemical fuels. As the past director of ASU’s Energy Frontier Research Center for Bio-Inspired Solar Fuel Production, Gust fostered development of intellectual property, mentored thousands of young investigators and impacted students at all levels by illustrating how basic chemical principles have led to important practical discoveries.

"Fundamental research projects are usually begun to explore some interesting scientific question without regard to possible practical applications," says Gust. “However, if we keep our eyes open for potentially useful discoveries, it is surprising how often they come up during the course of an investigation."

Optimizing energy with machine learning

Andreas Spanias

Spanias holds nine U.S. patents and several provisional patents. A professor in the School of Electrical, Computing and Energy Engineering, Spanias has expertise in adaptive signal processing, sensor systems and speech and audio processing. Much of the research behind Spanias’ patents is conducted in the Sensor Signal and Information Processing (SenSIP) Center, the Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) he directs with support from the National Science Foundation.

The most recent work of Spanias’ team uses machine learning to detect faults, predict shading and optimize energy output in solar systems. The sensor-related patents his team is developing will elevate energy efficiency and impact sustainability efforts in a positive way.  In addition, compact machine learning algorithms his team developed will provide companies the ability to use inexpensive sensors with enhanced fidelity in myriad technologies, such as cell phone sensing, health apps and autonomous vehicle applications.  

“The elevation to senior member is a great honor for the center and the lab and the students who contributed to all the patents,” said Spanias, who is also a fellow of the IEEE. “We appreciate the support of the Fulton Schools of Engineering, Skysong Innovations, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and especially that of our industry members, including Raytheon, NXP, Intel, Sprint and the four SBIR-sized member companies. The industry network we’ve developed through our NSF I/UCRC have been integral to our ability to perform application-oriented research.”


The NAI is a member organization made up of U.S. and international universities and government and nonprofit research institutes. Its purpose is to encourage inventors to share their products, mentor and educate students, and communicate its members’ inventions for the betterment of society.

ASU is one of NAI’s nine sustaining member institutions, with nine fellows to date. ASU launched its own NAI chapter in 2017 to promote invention and recognize innovation across the university, with 65 current members. ASU currently ranks among the top 10 universities worldwide for U.S. patents issued.

“NAI member institutions support some of the most elite innovators on the horizon. With the NAI senior member award distinction, we are recognizing innovators that are rising stars in their fields,” says Paul R. Sanberg, NAI president. “This new class is joining a prolific group of academic visionaries already defining tomorrow.”

Following a nomination for NAI Senior Member class, individuals undergo a rigorous selection process by the NAI Advisory Committee, composed of elected NAI members and other professionals considered pioneers in their respective field. 

Senior members are elected biannually, and nominations are accepted on a rolling basis. Nominations are currently being accepted for the third senior member class on the NAI website

A full list of NAI senior members is available on the NAI website.

ASU Knowledge Enterprise contributed to this article. 

Lanelle Strawder

Content & PR Manager, Communications , Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering