Take a sneak peek inside ASU's new Biodesign C building

$120 million expansion of ASU's Biodesign complex is under construction along Rural Road

December 15, 2017

Biodesign C, the $120 million expansion of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, continues to rise along Rural Road at ASU’s Tempe campus.

Much of the building is now in place ahead of an April 2018 completion date. Biodesign staff recently toured the construction site for a sneak peek at the progress, and the project architects explained the building’s layout, infrastructure and appearance at a seminar in November. Biodesign C tour Though dust and construction equipment still fill the new Biodesign C building, it will be ready for research in just a few months. Photo by Ben Petersen Download Full Image

It is the third building at ASU’s 14-acre master-planned Biodesign complex. The 189,000 square foot structure includes 60,000 square feet of flexible laboratory space and office space for nearly 400 researchers and staff, bringing the total size of Biodesign to 535,000 square feet and nearly 700 researchers.

Biodesign C is five stories tall, plus a basement. Its crown jewel lies in an underground vault: the world’s first compact X-ray free-electron laser. This innovative device will let scientists peer deep into molecular structure at a fraction of the cost of a typical free-electron laser. The new laser holds promise for drug discovery and bioenergy research.

The expansion is expected to draw top international scientific talent and grow ASU’s annual research expenditures by an estimated $60 million, supporting ASU’s goal of increasing research revenue to $850 million by 2025 and contributing an estimated $750 million to the Phoenix metro area in the coming decade.

Design thinking

“First and foremost, ASU wanted a workhorse research building that maximizes its investment,” said Erik Halle, ASU’s director of research facilities and infrastructure. It had to be 100-percent reliable, highly efficient and easy to operate and maintain. The successful design proposal took it a step further, thinking deeply about how the design could stimulate the Biodesign Institute’s unique, nature-inspired approach to research.

More than 20 design firms submitted proposals, and the university selected ZGF Architects and BWS Architects for the project. “These are two very highly skilled architects for what we believe to be an extraordinary and successful project for ASU,” Halle said.

Inspired by ASU’s institutional design aspirations and the Biodesign mission, the architects designed the building around a concept of research neighborhoods. “The form of the building grew from the idea of how we wanted it to function. It’s an embodiment of the type of collaboration we expect to see in the Institute,” said Gary Cabo, principal at ZGF Architects.

Biodesign scientists specialize in an entrepreneurial mindset to translate their discoveries into societal impact. The building’s open neighborhood model encourages collaboration between scientists of different disciplines. It also accommodates different forms of research with specific infrastructure and equipment needs, including chemistry, biological sciences and engineering.

Biodesign C will house a number of new and expanded programs, including the new ASU-Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center. Led by Eric Reiman, it is expected to be one of the world’s largest basic science centers for the study of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. The C building will also house an expanded Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution led by Michael Lynch.

Sense of place

Located at a major eastern entry point for ASU’s Tempe campus and visible from miles away, Biodesign C is a striking addition to the neighborhood. It sits steps away from a major transportation hub connected by Valley Metro light rail, ASU’s intercampus shuttle and city buses, along Tempe’s busy Rural Road and between two parking garages.

The C building’s distinctive, wraparound copper skin emphasizes Biodesign’s Arizona roots (copper being one of Arizona’s historic “Five C’s” that drove the state’s early economy) and shields the building from sun exposure. Beneath this outer skin lies another metal skin that Cabo compared to a refrigerator door to further insulate the building. The space between the two skins acts like a chimney, allowing hot air to escape.

“This is the highest-performing building from an energy and technology standpoint on a campus that is known for excellent stewardship of the environment,” Cabo said. Biodesign C is targeting the rigorous LEED Platinum certification, building on a Biodesign tradition — Biodesign B was the first LEED Platinum building in Arizona.

“As an institution, Arizona State University is at the forefront of innovation in energy and performance in buildings,” said Robin Shambach, managing principal at BWS Architects. “Our goal was to be 50 percent better than similar research facilities, and Biodesign C will exceed that goal.”

Despite the extensive shielding to withstand Arizona summers, natural light fills the interior. The building boasts impressive views of Tempe in all directions and the neighborhood layout offers clear lines of sight through lab and office spaces. Biodesign C is adjacent to one of the largest areas of green space on the urban Tempe campus, which includes a desert garden and the James Turrell “Skyspace: Air Apparent” public art installation.

Biodesign C connects to the existing Biodesign B building underground; above ground, they connect visually via a shaded patio and glass lobby outside the Biodesign cafe. The design also leaves room for a possible fourth research building in the future.

Innovative construction

Advanced building techniques made the Biodesign C building possible.

“Successful architecture is not unlike research,” Halle said. “It can be incredibly complex. It is dealing with the minutiae of everything, and at the same time it embodies bold visions.” The basement, housing the world’s first compact X-ray free-electron laser (CXFEL), exemplifies this idea.

Free-electron lasers help scientists to better understand the cellular mechanics of diseases such as cancer and processes including photosynthesis, accelerating research for new treatments and energy sources. Biodesign scientists William Graves and Mark Holl have collaborated with the architects, structural engineers and general contractor McCarthy Construction to shield the custom-built laser from outside interference.

This meant a lot of problem-solving: minimizing vibration from passing light rail trains, reducing magnetic fields in building materials and containing the energy from the laser beam. The lead-lined laser vaults feature an isolated four to six foot concrete mat slab that required a special overnight pour from more than 100 cement trucks, four foot thick concrete walls, a Faraday cage structure, demagnetized steel rebar, electronic safety features and a state-of-the-art control room.

ASU’s compact laser has the potential to relieve a scientific traffic jam and dramatically shrink the cost of this technology. Currently, there are only four XFEL facilities worldwide, including the $700 million, two-mile-long Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Capacity simply cannot keep up with demand from researchers, and 80 percent of requests to use the technology are denied.

ASU’s CXFEL will also be about 100 times smaller and cheaper than a typical XFEL. ASU expects the Biodesign C laser will attract scientists from around the world and further grow the university’s reputation as a leading hub for research, innovation and discovery.

McCarthy Construction built and tested mock-ups of building components before they went up, including concrete slabs, columns and exterior panels. Biodesign C also features an innovative high-performance HVAC system that conserves energy while keeping labs properly ventilated and temperature controlled. Construction will be completed in April 2018.

Ben N. Petersen

Student Science Writer, The Biodesign Institute


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ASU social work students help refugees with pop-up shop

Find holiday gifts, enjoy some sweets — and help Valley's immigrant community.
December 13, 2017

Interns create one-day Global Marketplace for immigrants to sell handmade items

You can finish your holiday shopping and help the refugee and immigrant community at the same time by shopping at the pop-up Global Market at Phoenix City Hall this Friday.

The market, which will run from noon to 4 p.m. in the lobby, will sell crafts and baked goods made by refugees through a project by Arizona State University graduate students.

Shoppers will find handmade soap, pastries, tablecloths, kitchen linens, teapots, plates, holiday ornaments and other crafts, with everything priced at less than $25.

Alyaa Al-Maadeed is an intern in the Office of Global Social Work at ASU, and she and the other interns have been working with three ethnic-based groups to create the pop-up shop. Al-Maadeed is a student in the master’s of social work program in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions at ASU.

“We are trying to develop a program with those nonprofits so they can be self-sustainable to help refuges sell their handmade items, and a pop-up store is low-risk and low-cost,” said Al-Maadeed, who earned her bachelor’s of social work at ASU in May.

The student team is hoping the shop pops up for a longer period in the spring.

“We have many vacant shops in Phoenix, so we are trying to negotiate with landlords to provide a location for one month rather than something permanent, which will make it low-cost and a low-risk investment for the nonprofits,” she said.

“Then they can have more refugees participate in the long run.”

The nonprofit groups that are participating in the Global Market on Friday are Phoenix Syrian Sweets Exchange, Refugee and Immigrants Community for Empowerment and the American Muslim Women’s Association of Arizona.

The students also worked with Phoenix Vice Mayor Laura Pastor and with the International Rescue Committee, which trains refugees how to open small businesses, teaching skills such as tracking inventory and calculating taxes, Al-Maadeed said.

They’ll also have a survey for customers to fill out during the pop-up shop Friday.

“So we can have their opinion on how we can improve and what they liked,” she said.

Top photo: Handmade holiday ornaments will be among the items for sale at the Global Marketplace from noon to 4 p.m. Friday at Phoenix City Hall, 200 Washington St., Phoenix.

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


ASU CIO Gordon Wishon honored at retirement reception

December 13, 2017

President Michael M. Crow and other Arizona State University officials honored Chief Information Officer Gordon Wishon at a ceremony Dec. 8 as he leaves ASU for a much-deserved retirement. The event honored Wishon’s many accomplishments across his seven years in the University Technology Office.

“We’re at the forefront of what’s happening in technology at the university level,” ASU CFO Morgan R. Olsen said at the ceremony. “And having Gordon’s stable leadership and getting there has just been fantastic.” man's portrait ASU Chief Information Officer Gordon Wishon Download Full Image

ASU Executive Vice President and University Provost Mark Searle said technological infrastructure improvements and opportunities have tremendously influenced student retention rates.

“That’s a credit to the kind of leadership Gordon provided,” he said.

Crow closed out the honors praising the indispensable nature of technology at ASU.

“At the center of everything we do has been the fact that a technology platform must be ubiquitous,” he said. “(Gordon) brought all that with a very, very, very steady hand. And so I was never worried.”

Wishon was inducted into the CIO Hall of Fame for his technological innovation initiatives in higher education. In 2014, he received the EDUCAUSE Leadership Award, the highest honor at the higher-education technology association. 

At ASU, he has been at the forefront of wireless upgrades, cloud-based strategies, infrastructure design for the Sun Devil Stadium renovation and more.

four people posing for photo
From left to right: ASU Provost Mark Searle, ASU President Michael Crow, Cyndi Wishon and ASU CIO Gordon Wishon at Gordon Wishon's retirement ceremony.

Wishon’s day-to-day duties included cultivating services that could improve student success, such as big data and Internet of Things research and implementation, as well as a reengineering of the University’s Help Center.

He has also overseen many other ASU technology developments like the Starbucks Achievement Program, eAdvisor, smart campus initiatives, infrastructure upgrades, an improved mobile experience for the community and student success and achievement initiatives. In his career at ASU, Wishon oversaw 1,857 projects from initiation to close.

Previously, Wishon led the information technology organizations at the University of Notre Dame and the Georgia Institute of Technology following more than 20 years of military service with the U.S. Air Force.

He brought his unparalleled experience and vision to numerous ASU improvements, and his insight will be missed at the university.

Written by Tristan Ettleman

Sun Devil Gymnastics to partner with Pitchfork Pantry for Maroon and Gold meet

December 12, 2017

Watch the intrasquad face-off between the Sun Devil Gymnastics team at Wells Fargo Arena as the team hosts their annual Maroon and Gold meet at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 15.

Help us welcome freshmen Maya Williams, Molly McNamara and Cairo Leonard-Baker — as well as transfers Anne Kuhm and Kaitlyn Szafranski to the Sun Devil community. Admission is free to all, so come cheer on your Gym Devils and get a sneak peak of what’s in store for the 2018 competition season. women's gymnastics team in a huddle Download Full Image

For the holiday season, Sun Devil Gymnastics is partnering with Pitchfork Pantry and all fans are encouraged to bring a non-perishable canned food item to donate to the cause. 

Follow Sun Devil Gymnastics on Twitter @SunDevilGym for live updates and information on the team.

West campus advisory board building cyber workforce of future

December 5, 2017

Kim Jones, director of the Cybersecurity Education Consortium (CEC) and professor of practice at ASU’s West campus has organized a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Advisory Board.

The mission of this board is to provide opportunities and outreach for the community and general public who have interest in cybersecurity, as well as to determine how the CEC can better serve the cyber workforce, and how current academic courses in cybersecurity can potentially be improved. hands typing on computer keyboard Download Full Image

The board consists of advisers Sheldon Cuffie, David Hoid, Malcolm Harkins, Stanley Jaroki, Jack Jones, David Schauble, Kimberly Trapani and Robert Wahl. These advisers bring together over 150 years of operational security experience from industries such as healthcare, financial services and manufacturing. Together, they work to combine all of their knowledge and experience in support of the CEC.

The members of the CISO Advisory Board allow the CEC to stay up to date in terms of current issues within the cyber community. This in turn allows a better and more current curriculum to be available for cybersecurity students, to whom the board will be regularly exposed in order to be aware of their experiences first hand. In the recent past, cybersecurity students have become out of touch with “real-world” experiences and current cyber technology, and Jones emphasized the importance of the CISO Advisory Board when it comes to keeping the cyber curriculum current.

“As a former CISO I can’t overstate the importance of a practical, interdisciplinary education for our future cyber warriors," she said. "The CISO Advisory Board will help keep the CEC grounded in practicality versus theory, while at the same time helping us to find ways to service the community as a whole.”

CISO Advisory Board members

Sheldon Cuffie

David Hoid

Malcolm Harkins

Stanley "Stash" Jarocki

Jack Jones

David Schauble

Kimberly Trapani

Robert Wahl

Sun Devil Women's Basketball to play in annual ASU Classic

November 28, 2017

Sun Devil Women’s Basketball returns to Tempe for their annual ASU Classic Dec. 2–3.

The team kicks off this exciting weekend with a match up against Buffalo at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 and will celebrate an upcoming movie by encouraging fans to wear their favorite "Star Wars" costume to the game — enjoy characters, movie clips, and much more. Use promo code STARWARS for discounted tickets. women's basketball flyer Download Full Image

The team will conclude the tournament Sunday, Dec. 3 to face either UNLV or UC Riverside at 2:30 p.m. Sunday’s game will feature the third annual Teddy Bear Toss. Attendees are encouraged to bring a teddy bear to throw on court at halftime that will be donated to Hope Women’s Center. Fans who bring a teddy bear can receive half off any women’s basketball ticket purchased at the door. It’s also Sunday Funday with free admission for kids in 8th grade and younger at the box office.

The team will also celebrate ASU's sustainability practices by hosting a Green Game. Use promo code GREENGAMEASU for discounted tickets. Please note that all promo code offers must be redeemed prior to game day. Offers will not be available at the box office.

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ASU Police reach a 20-year milestone

November 27, 2017

Department continues streak of national accreditations

Getting the seal of approval from the nation’s pre-eminent accrediting body in the law enforcement field is not new to the Arizona State University Police Department, an achievement they have earned since 1997.

However, this year under the leadership of Chief of Police Michael Thompson the department earned the highest rating possible from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, better known as CALEA.

“We passed our reaccreditation ‘with excellence’ which is the highest rating you can receive from CALEA,” Thompson said. “I am first and foremost grateful to all of the department members for the hard work they’ve put forth to make sure we have a great department and that we deliver services to the best of our ability.”

CALEA announced the results of this year’s evaluations during a reaccreditation hearing in Florida on Nov. 18. Other police agencies earning accreditation included the Chandler Police Department, Penn State, Vanderbilt University and the University of Vermont, among others.

The ASU Police Department is only one of 13 accredited agencies in Arizona, Thompson said.  The accreditation process is complicated and takes tremendous commitment by a department. Not all law enforcement agencies devote the time to go through this voluntary process, which inspects all significant aspects of a police department — policy and procedures, administration, operations, and support services.

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

Accreditation benefits the ASU community in that it helps create a more professional police department engaged with the best trends and practices to serve the community. Accreditation is good for four years as long as law enforcement agencies submit yearly reports confirming continued compliance with the standards under which they were initially accredited.  

As part of the accreditation process, the ASU Police Department invited members of the university and local communities to provide feedback during a public information session in August. The session took place in Tempe but was also live-streamed to the Polytechnic, West and Downtown Phoenix campuses. There was also an option for community members to mail written comments about ASU police directly to CALEA.

To qualify for the CALEA Accreditation with Excellence Award, the ASU Police Department had to meet several requirements, including having a minimum of two previous consecutive CALEA accreditation awards and submitting all annual status reports. The police department also had to achieve a minimum of 95 percent compliance rate with all standards by the end of the assessment cycle.

In a letter sent Nov. 18, Richard W. Myers, CALEA chairman, and W. Craig Hartley Jr., CALEA executive director, congratulated the ASU Police Department: “On behalf of the Commissioners and staff of CALEA, we commend you and your agency for demonstrating a commitment to professional excellence in policy and practice. It is a privilege to award your agency CALEA Accreditation, which is accomplished through a highly regarded and broadly recognized body of professional standards. This award represents the culmination of self-evaluation, concluded by a review from independent assessors and CALEA’s Commissioners.”

Jerry Gonzalez

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

Sun Devil achievers sought for entrepreneurship recognition

November 20, 2017

The ASU Alumni Association celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit of ASU alumni who own or lead businesses — everything from law firms to wineries — as part of the prestigious Sun Devil 100 program. Last year’s honorees included owners of restaurants, marketing agencies, printing companies, skin-care product lines, recruitment firms and moving and logistics companies.

ASU alumni have until Dec. 1 to apply for the Sun Devil 100 Class of 2018. Applications can be submitted online at https://alumni.asu.edu/node/4838 2017 Sun Devil 100 honorees The Sun Devil 100 honorees in April 2017. Download Full Image

To be eligible for the Sun Devil 100:

  • The business leader must be a graduate of ASU, and the company must be alumni-owned or -led.
  • The company revenues must total $250,000 or more since calendar year 2014.
  • The company must have a minimum of three years of operational background.
  • The company must operate in a manner consistent with the ASU Charter. 

Rankings will be announced at the Sun Devil 100 reception on April 25. Companies will be ranked by the compound annual growth rate from revenues the past three years. After the calculations, the fastest-growing 100 companies will be listed by growth rate from the highest to the lowest.  

“Enterprising Sun Devils have created and led some of the most innovative business in the world,” said Christine K. Wilkinson, president and CEO of the ASU Alumni Association. “The Sun Devil 100 celebrates and honors those who exemplify the spirit of ASU as the New American University.”

View previous Sun Devil 100 honorees at alumni.asu.edu/sun-devil-100.

Tracy Scott

Director, Public Relations, Enterprise Marketing Hub


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New ASU program helps professionals polish their skill set to boost career

Project management, transgender education, even beekeeping among courses offered
November 17, 2017

Self-paced Continuing and Professional Education courses provide the expertise that are most in demand by employers today

Professionals whose college days are behind them still need to learn new skills to stay at the top of their game, and Arizona State University has launched a new way to do that.

ASU’s new Continuing and Professional Education courses are mostly online, self-paced and developed to create the expertise that employers demand most.

“If you look at an individual’s career path once they leave with an undergraduate degree, they’re going to continue to need to learn new skills and refresh skills throughout their professional career,” said Darcy Richardson, director of continuing education for EdPlus, the unit at ASU that creates technology and forges partnerships to develop new ways of teaching and learning. “They need to learn to stand out from competition to progress their careers.”

Richardson said that employers want T-shaped employees, with a depth of knowledge in one area but also skills that translate to many different jobs, such as critical thinking and writing clearly.

ASU is now offering nearly 50 non-credit courses ranging from free to $399, for businesspeople, teachers and other professionals, based on what employers are seeking. New classes in “soft skills” include “Understanding Office Politics” and “Improving Informal Communication.”

Richardson said that project management is a highly prized skill in hiring, but only 15 percent of job postings require the official industry certification. So ASU created a set of classes on the different aspects of project management, such as choosing a project, developing a schedule and closing the project.

“We took the body of knowledge for project management and we identified 12 primary skill attributes that go in this body of knowledge,” she said. “Instead of one big program of all 12 categories, we developed 12 separate, three-hour micro-courses. Each one addresses a core skill.”

Users can take one or two courses to develop a skill or, by taking all 12, would be eligible to sit for the exam that leads to industry certification, she said.

Each course will generate a digital badge that can be used on a LinkedIn profile or a resume — another request from employers who are increasingly relying on electronic resume vetting.

Richardson said the program will eventually offer discounts to ASU alumni, who also will be surveyed on the type of professional development classes they’re interested in.

The project management content was created by ASU faculty in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, and future courses — which Richardson predicts will be added at the rate of about 100 per year — also will be faculty-driven. For example, two daylong, in-person courses on beekeeping are being taught in the spring semester by Osman Kaftanoglu, the project manager of the ASU Honey Bee Research Lab at the Polytechnic campus in Mesa.

Another ASU staff member who created a course is Cammy Bellis, program manager for Project Connect, part of the T. Sanford Denny School of Social and Family Dynamics at ASU. She developed content for the online class called “Creating Affirming Schools for Transgender Students.” The self-paced course, for teachers, principals and other K-12 educators, covers issues such as using the pronoun requested by transgender students, the increased risk of depression and anxiety they face and how to respect their confidentiality. 

“We tell teachers that by using their asserted names, it shows them, ‘I see you, I affirm who you are and your identity,’ ” said Bellis, who has worked with transgenderTransgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their assigned sex. youth and their families for several years. She also offers face-to-face workshops for educators.

“We always wanted this information to be more accessible to more people. We didn’t want to just see a change in Arizona; we’d like to see a change globally,” said Bellis.

Teachers in the one- or two-hour seminars frequently tell Bellis that they want more time, and at six hours, the online module — which includes videos, interactive case studies and animation — can provide that deeper level of material. The module was piloted with teachers, who said they especially liked the videos of transgender youths describing their experiences.

“We know when you put transgender people in front of cisgenderCisgender is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth. people, it’s more likely to break down stereotypes they have of that group. They can see a face with an issue. They can personalize it,” Bellis said. 

“The hope is to build empathy for this group because school is hard for them.”

Richardson said that the Continuing and Professional Education initiative will be focused on professional skills, not enrichment classes, which are provided by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at ASU, or executive education, which is offered by the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

“We’re staying with this niche of individuals who are working on their career trajectory,” she said. Upcoming course additions will likely include digital marketing and customer service.

“Employers tell me, ‘If I’m looking at an individual who has taken the time to further their education, even informally, that tells me they’re committed to learning and development, which makes them a better candidate,’ ” she said.

For details on Continuing and Professional Education courses, visit https://cpe.asu.edu.

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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ASU women's basketball hosts third annual Heart Health Awareness game

The No. 1 cause of heart disease is smoking.
Healthy lifestyle, good diet & stress management can help prevent heart disease.
November 15, 2017

Expo featuring free samples of local cuisine and fitness assessments before game; here are more tips on how to care for your heart

Up until the moment Becca Tobin’s heart stopped for seven minutes in an airport food court two years ago, there had been no signs that there was anything wrong with her. Fortunately, the former ASU women’s basketball star survived her ordeal, surpassing doctors’ predictions and going on to play professionally overseas.

Tobin’s total lack of warning is typical of most women, said ASU Clinical Assistant Professor and cardiac nurse Heather Ross.

“Women don’t always have the same kind of symptoms as men,” Ross said. “Unfortunately that translates a lot of the time to women not getting those clues that something is wrong until it’s too late.”

To help share that and more invaluable knowledge, ASU women’s basketball will host its third annual Heart Health Awareness Game on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Wells Fargo Arena. A Heart Healthy expo featuring free samples of healthy local cuisine and fitness assessments will take place outside the arena beginning two hours before the 2 p.m. game time.

Head Coach Charli Turner said that considering how the team has personally been affected by heart health issues — another former player, Aubrey Johnson, lost her 15-year-old brother to heart failure in 2006, and Turner’s own husband lives with heart disease — partnering with the American Heart Association to host the awareness game seemed like a no-brainer.

“For all of those reasons this has just really hit home for our ASU family,” she said. “And we feel like it’s our obligation because of the platform we have to give back within our community.”

Volunteers from ASU’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation, College of Health Solutions and Sun Devil Fitness Complex, as well as community partners including Dignity Health and the American Heart Association, will be on hand to give blood pressure and cholesterol checks, CPR training and more.

“Taste of Tempe” will feature healthy food samples from more than a dozen local restaurants and grocery stores, such as Outback Steakhouse, Red Robin, Jimmy John’s, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

Attendees are of course encouraged to stay for the game following the expo, which will include a heart health awareness-themed halftime, complete with activities and giveaways.

women's basketball team and coach cheering
ASU women's basketball Head Coach Charli Turner (center) during a 2010 game against University of Oregon. The ASU team, which at the time included Becca Tobin (not pictured), defeated Oregon 73-68. Photo by Tom Story

“In our small way here, we’re trying to educate and have a fun event,” Turner said.

Despite a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found deaths from heart disease are on the decline, it is still the No. 1 killer of women, Ross said.

Ross researches wearable heart-health-tracking devices that can alert a patient that something is wrong before they begin to experience symptoms, hopefully preventing adverse reactions. She presumes the CDC’s findings about the decline in deaths from heart disease may be related to an increase in smoking bans and the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

“When they banned smoking in public places in the UK years ago, they saw a significant drop in heart attack rates,” Ross said. “And rates of sudden cardiac death in the U.S. dropped quite a bit in the years since the ACA was passed. What that makes us think is that people are getting checkups and preventative care, and are better able to take care of chronic health conditions because they have insurance.”

Still, the New York Times reported just this week that new guidelines for high blood pressure mean millions of Americans will need to change their lifestyles or begin taking medication. The news underscores the pervasiveness of heart health issues and the need for diligence where they are concerned.

RELATED: Q&A on the new blood pressure guidelines

The No. 1 cause of heart disease, Ross said, is smoking. Other factors that put people at risk include having diabetes and being post-menopausal.

Unfortunately, though, there are cases where one’s lifestyle or stage in life don’t contribute to causing the disease. Ross specializes in electrical arrhythmia, a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. A related condition, atrial fibrillation, is also common in women and can cause strokes.

“It’s important to realize that a lot of things go along with heart disease, including risk of stroke,” Ross said.

As far as prevention goes, she recommends partaking in regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and not smoking.

“There’s a lot of data that suggests that a Mediterranean diet that really focuses on veggies, whole grains, fruits and lean meats can be cardio-protective,” she said. “One of the tips we give patients when they go grocery shopping is to stick to the edges (of the store),” where healthier foods tend to be located.

In addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet, Turner suggests dealing with stress through practices like yoga and mindfulness.

“Behavior change is really, really hard,” said Turner, whose master’s thesis focused on lifestyle changes in relation to heart disease. “But I think the biggest thing to realize [about heart disease] is that you can prevent it.”