Watts College names two ‘community champions’ as liaisons to Maryvale neighborhoods

February 17, 2020

Two women with strong ties to the Maryvale community in northwest Phoenix will serve as "community champions," working with faculty, staff and students of Arizona State University’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions on improving the lives of those residing there.

The college’s appointment of Karolina Arredondo and Rosie Espinoza as liaisons to and from Maryvale is part of a long-range plan to enhance the area’s quality of life, managed by a partnership of the college and local residents and institutions. The effort is funded by a portion of the $30 million gift to the college in 2018 from Mike and Cindy Watts, who grew up in Maryvale and for whom the college is named. Maryvale Town Hall October 2019 Watts College Maryvale residents discuss issues at a community town hall co-sponsored by ASU's Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and the Arizona Town Hall in October 2019. Download Full Image

Maryvale residents confront many challenges, including lower education levels and academic test scores as well as decreased household income. The One Square Mile Initiative seeks to organize and apply the community’s many assets to help improve local life and give residents more chances to succeed.

Arredondo and Espinoza will each represent a separate square-mile area of the community.

Arredondo is the community champion for an area called the Isaac One Square Mile, named for the Isaac Elementary School District in which it is located.

Arredondo is a preschool teacher at Bret Tarver Isaac Preschool. She is experienced in coordinated outreach to the community in early childhood education, voter registration and family engagement. She has supported community outreach for Early Head Start, One Arizona, Neighborhood Ministries and the Isaac district. Arredondo also has acted as a direct liaison to the Maryvale and Isaac community, families, schools and children, which gives her deep knowledge about local education issues and culturally appropriate strategies for successful community outreach.

Espinoza is the community champion for the Cartwright One Square Mile. She is the wellness administrator for the Cartwright School District.

, ASU Watts College Maryvale Community Champion

Rosie Espinoza

Espinoza is experienced in coordinated outreach to the community in wellness, health and family engagement. She grew up in Maryvale and still lives and works in the community. Her work developing, recruiting and facilitating community events in health, nutrition and physical fitness provides key expertise for the initiative. Espinoza is also a graduate student at Watts College, working toward a master’s degree in nonprofit leadership and management.

“The community champions are members of the Maryvale community through their work and life activities,” said Erik Cole, director of the Watts College’s Design Studio for Community Solutions, which is spearheading the Maryvale initiatives. “Both Karolina and Rosie have a deep passion for supporting their neighbors, and we are excited about the powerful link they provide between the Design Studio and residents and local stakeholders in each One Square Mile geography.” 

Allison Mullady, the Design Studio’s program manager, agrees.

“The champions will be cultural advisers,” she said “They will be building trusted relationships with residents, faith-based groups, local businesses and schools to document the aspirations of the residents of Maryvale.” 

, ASU Watts College Maryvale Community Champion

Karolina Arredondo

Arredondo said she knows many young people in Maryvale and is happy to be in a position to acquaint them with university resources to help them apply for postsecondary education.

“When I was younger, we had good opportunities. Now we need the right resources to help kids today. A lot of people don’t know (the resources) are there,” she said. “I have co-workers who live in the neighborhood. One had no knowledge of what was next once her kids left high school. To have ASU have people share that knowledge with parents, it gives more students the chance to be able to go to college.”

Arredondo said the university is working with area entities such as churches, as residents might more easily reach out to their local leaders with questions or requests for information.

Espinoza said her having lived in Maryvale so long allows her to approach her new duties with a sense of pride.

“I’m very passionate about Maryvale,” she said. “I know Maryvale like the back of my hand. I feel very proud that I also get to work there. I like to think my position is a fun position.”

For Espinoza, success will come from engaging residents to build more of a connection with other like-minded individuals, as well as from encouraging conversations about things they would like to see change for the better.

“There is a lot of beautiful and positive in Maryvale. But there are other issues that, growing up and being part of the community now, I would like to see improved,” Espinoza said. “The first step is voicing those concerns and figuring out how to move forward, learning how to get something changed in your neighborhood, then asking, 'What are the next steps?'”

Espinoza said she sees the role of community champion as a great opportunity to represent both the university and community, to build trust and relationships.

“I want to let (residents) know they will actually be heard and their conversations will actually be relayed back to the university,” she said.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


The art of letting go: Researchers track progress of separations field in spearheading diagnostics

February 17, 2020

Just as a cotton gin separates cotton fibers from seeds, separation methods for complex biological samples are often required to ferret out targets of interest for researchers and physicians. Diagnostic tests may require the separation of certain classes of cells from blood and specific proteins or DNA markers for disease from plasma.

This field has come a long way, and there are a wide variety of methods employed to separate biomarkers or bioanalytes from a sample. Part art, part science, such separation techniques are becoming ever more sophisticated. However, many large-scale methods are time- and resource-intensive. So how do researchers sidestep this? They take everything and make it smaller. Chip Just as a cotton gin separates cotton fibers from seeds, separation methods for complex biological samples are often required to ferret out targets of interest for researchers and physicians. Download Full Image

That’s the idea behind “microfluidic” (or nanofluidic) devices. These inventions can accomplish the same task of separating cells and biomarkers used in conventional benchtop separation techniques, but reduce the resources needed and thus the cost. Microfluidic devices take many forms, depending on specific need. Some are modeled like human tissue, and others work by exploiting electric fields or channels that divide particles by charge or size.

Functioning much like small factories, all the internal mechanisms are pre-set to sort a given sample’s components, and because all the materials needed for the separation are confined within the device, fewer specialized skills are required to use them.

“Twenty years ago, there were more specific groups that had to use (large-scale) facilities, and they would understand how to build these devices, so the community was smaller,” said Alexandra Ros, faculty member in the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery and associate professor in the School for Molecular Sciences. “Now, you can purchase devices — there are no specialized skills required to fabricate them anymore.”

One method of generating these microfluidic devices includes 3D printing. As many know, 3D printers are capable of making objects ranging anywhere from jewelry to the metal parts used in assembling airplanes. But recently, 3D printing technology has been exploited for making these micro- and nanofluidic devices and all their components, eliminating the need for human labor and specialty facilities.

“Think about the 3D printer — when you have the device, you switch it on and feed it a drawing, which is different from having to be in a clean room and building it yourself,” Ros said.

In a review paper published in Annual Review of Analytical Chemistry, Ros — along with first author and postdoc Mukul Sonker— highlighted recent progress in the field. They discuss the advantages and disadvantages of separations in micro- and nanofluidic devices versus their macrocounterparts and review the separation techniques employed within these devices.

“The aim was to summarize separation phenomena that can only be achieved at micro- to the nanoscale,” Sonker said. “We have focused on some unique techniques that can only be realized at these scales and are novel in terms of their separation aspects.”

These techniques include dielectrophoresis and electrophoresis methods. In dielectrophoresis, a biological particle is subjected to a nonuniform electric field exerting a dielectrophoretic force, leading to migration. For biomedical purposes, dielectrophoresis is used to characterize cell types.

In electrophoresis, particles, upon being subjected to a uniform electric field, separate based on charge. This is a common technology for separating nucleic acids or proteins from a human sample.

The paper additionally discusses two size-based separation methods: lateral displacement separation and ratchet mechanisms. In these phenomena, there are obstacles placed within the device. As the particles travel through a channel, these obstacles prompt the particles to arrange themselves by size. These can be used with or without an electric field present and are typically applied to separate cell types of different sizes, such as tumor cells, red blood cells and white blood cells. 

Lastly, in entropic trapping, biomolecules (namely DNA) are arranged by level of entropy, which in this case gauges the number of arrangements that molecule can take. There are shallow and deep channels that trap biomolecules based on their entropy level, which often also corresponds to size.

The review paper provides ample background on each technique, offering a useful resource for anyone within or outside the field.

“This review gives a very detailed update about these micro- to nano-scale separation techniques along with their theoretical background and is a good resource for new members in the field to learn about what has been reported already and where the current research is heading,” Sonker said.

The accessibility and resourcefulness of such technology is a testament to the rampant interest in the field.

“The field of microfluidics is just exploding, and there are so many different applications people find useful,” Ros said. 

Gabrielle Hirneise

Assistant science writer , Biodesign Institute