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4 ASU faculty members named 2020 President’s Professors

November 5, 2020

Arizona State University has named four faculty members 2020 President’s Professors — a prestigious designation bestowed upon dozens of ASU faculty members since 2006.

This year, the four faculty members are Heather Bimonte-Nelson, a professor in behavioral neuroscience in the Department of Psychology in The College of Liberal Arts and SciencesEileen Díaz McConnell, a professor in the School of Transborder Studies, also in The College; Cynthia Lietz, a professor in the School of Social Work, an academic unit of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, for which she is also a vice dean; and Ian Moulton, a professor of English and cultural history in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.

“It’s an honor to recognize these four outstanding colleagues who have demonstrated hard work and dedication to advancing learning and student success while maintaining robust scholarly records,” said Mark Searle, executive vice president and university provost. More than ever, it’s essential to have committed educators participating in engaging work and encouraging our learners to become the types of leaders who can change the world.”

The President’s Professor designation is one of ASU’s most prestigious faculty honors — it's designed to reward enthusiasm and innovation in teaching, scholarly achievements and contributions and the ability to motivate and inspire students to create original works. 

“ASU is a 21st-century knowledge enterprise that attracts individuals with extensive experience, highly creative minds, and the dedication as educators to advance student success,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “This year’s President’s Professors exemplify the highest standard of those characteristics and set the bar as the best and brightest for our university’s outstanding faculty.”

This year’s President’s Professors will be honored at a recognition ceremony at a later date.

Learn more about the professors:

2020 President's Professor

Heather Bimonte-Nelson

Heather Bimonte-Nelson

Each semester, Bimonte-Nelson encourages her students to think outside the “textbook box.” Many of their ideas are cultivated inside ASU’s Behavioral Neuroscience of Memory and Aging Lab where Bimonte-Nelson leads research related to the cognitive and hormonal effects of transitional and surgical menopause. In one of her most recent studies, Bimonte-Nelson and her colleagues found rats suffered memory deficits when their uterus was removed, suggesting that the organ may be beneficial outside of reproduction, and could impact the way women age if the organ is removed before natural menopause.

Bimonte-Nelson, who has collaborated with more than 80 undergraduates, says it’s a privilege to mentor students to be scientists in the laboratory.

“What a delight to watch a student recognize that the experiment they just designed is going to turn into scientific discovery,” Bimonte-Nelson said. “My students have won Fulbright Awards, best honors thesis awards, best PhD dissertation awards, NSF grants, and NRSA grants with them as the lead investigator and me as the sponsor or mentor. I am so proud of them!”

Bimonte-Nelson is dedicated to diverse teaching projects at a community, university and national level. As the founder of ASU’s award-winning Brain Fairs for Children, Bimonte-Nelson and her team of doctoral and undergraduate students organize the events to increase public awareness about the brain and to introduce children to neuroscience and the field of psychology.

Bimonte-Nelson has published about 90 peer-reviewed manuscripts evaluating hormone effects on the brain and behavior from early development until old age. She is the co-director of the Research Education Component of the Arizona Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center and associate director of an NIH T32 Postdoctoral Training Grant for the neurobiology of aging and Alzheimer’s disease. She is also a member of the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium and a recipient of the 2018 Michael A. Cusanovich Bioscience Educator of the Year Award.

“I am overwhelmed and grateful for this award,” said Bimonte-Nelson of the President’s Professor designation. “It is an honor to work with the inspiring faculty and students as ASU.”

2020 President's Professor

Eileen Díaz McConnell

Eileen Díaz McConnell

McConnell is a sociologist whose research focuses on transborder communities and the effects of Mexican and Latin American migration to the U.S. Her most recent paper — in conjunction with ASU Professor Aggie Yellow Horse from the School of Social Transformation — explores how undocumented immigrant parents from Mexico and Central America utilize family functioning strategies to overcome and adapt to challenging situations driven by lack of legal status.

In the classroom, and beyond, McConnell is actively involved in supporting diverse undergraduate students at ASU, especially first-generation college students from Mexican and other Latin American backgrounds. She often connects current students to former students who are further along in their career trajectory.

“These efforts tend to be successful, but only because past and present ASU undergraduate students are exceedingly generous with their time, talents and experience,” McConnell said. “Although much of this work is invisible, it stimulates excellence, expands access, and directly upholds the values of ASU’s charter.”

As for the title of President’s Professor, McConnell adds, “ASU has many wonderfully talented professors, and I am honored to have been selected for this recognition.”

2020 President's Professor

Cynthia Lietz

Cynthia Lietz

Lietz is fascinated by the complexity of family dynamics, especially when family members are confronted with challenges such as trauma or loss. How is it that some families can overcome adversity? It’s a question Lietz has researched for years, translating the results into social work practice through instrumental tools like strengths-based supervision — a model Lietz developed — to implement family-centered practice in child welfare settings. The model has been adopted by public child welfare systems in Arizona, Texas and Idaho.

At ASU, Lietz supports students through mentoring opportunities in the Watts College Undergraduate Research Program. She has also taught a pro-mod, hands-on learning course for freshmen and oversees the Bridging Success program, which supports ASU students with a foster care background.

Honored and humbled by the President’s Professors title, Lietz said, “This recognition is very meaningful and is something I did not accomplish alone. My colleagues and students made this possible.”

2020 President's Professor

Ian Moulton

Ian Moulton

Moulton is a cultural historian and literary scholar whose research focuses on the representation of gender and sexuality in early modern literature. In his most recent book, "Love in Print in the Sixteenth Century: The Popularization of Romance,” Moulton analyzes the role books played in circulating new notions about romance in early modern Europe, leading to significant transformations in rhetoric, ideology and social function of love.

Moulton has been at ASU since 1995 and said he is honored to receive the President’s Professor title. He believes the award is a testament to the great work of all the humanities faculty at ASU’s Polytechnic campus. Over the course of more than two decades, Moulton’s work in teaching and curriculum development has helped build programs at new campuses: West (1995–2005) and Polytechnic (2005–present).

“The ASU model of one university in many places is a powerful one and much more effective than the traditional model of one 'main campus' and lesser 'satellite campuses,'” Moulton said. “Some of the best work at ASU is done at Poly and West and Downtown (Phoenix) and I’m very proud to be part of that effort.”

Moulton is fluent in multiple languages, including French and Italian. He is a member of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, chairing the editorial board for the book series "Late Medieval and Early Modern Studies.” He is currently working on contributions to the “Cambridge World History of Sexualities and the Bloomsbury “Cultural History of Beauty.”

Top photo by Deanna Dent/ASUNow

Jimena Garrison

Copywriter , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

ASU lands in top 25 of MBA entrepreneurship program rankings

The rankings measured each MBA program on 10 categories, including the number of students who launched businesses following graduation

October 28, 2020

Inc. magazine has ranked ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business No. 22 in its second annual rankings of MBA entrepreneurship programs worldwide.

The rankings, which include 50 programs, were launched last year with 27 programs by Inc. in partnership with business education publication Poets and Quants. The rankings measured each MBA program on 10 categories, including the percentage of elective courses focused on entrepreneurship, the number of students who launched businesses following graduation and the number of students in each school’s entrepreneurship club. exterior of W. P. Carey School of Business building Download Full Image

ASU ranked ahead of the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, Columbia Business School and Rutgers Business School. Read the full rankings.

The rankings of MBA entrepreneurship programs follows on the heels of ASU ranking No. 1 in innovation for the sixth year by U.S. News and World Report.

Entrepreneurship plays a major role at the W. P. Carey School in many ways: a popular undergraduate major in business entrepreneurship, student funding competitions programmed through the school’s Center for Entrepreneurship and deep ties to entrepreneurial opportunities with other ASU schools through the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute. 

Earlier this year, ASU launched a first-of-its-kind master’s degree program offered by the highly ranked Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts, W. P. Carey School of Business and Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. The Master of Science in Innovation and Venture Development (MS-IVD) is a one-year program offered on ASU’s Tempe campus that prepares leaders with the mindset, skill sets and practice needed to launch successful ventures in any industry or sector, inside existing organizations or as new entities. Students are required to launch a new product or service that solves a problem as a graduation requirement.

In addition to the new ranking, Poets and Quants recently highlighted the business of a W. P. graduate as a 2020 Most Disruptive MBA Startup. The publication noted that “MBA students at W. P. Carey founded the first academic chapter of Conscious Capitalism,” which exposed students to entrepreneurial ideas centered around selfless service.

“Our goal is to develop the next generation of disruptive leaders of innovation,” said W. P. Carey Dean Amy Hillman. “This No. 22 ranking certainly validates our strategy and recognizes amazing students who have leveraged our programs to become accomplished entrepreneurs.”

Shay Moser

Managing Editor, W. P. Carey School of Business


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Gin Blossoms concert to anchor Salute to Service 2020 at ASU

October 20, 2020

Virtual events will give access to Sun Devils worldwide

Editor’s note:  This story is being highlighted in ASU Now’s year in review. Read more top stories from 2020.

Salute to Service at Arizona State University will move forward this year with virtual events planned from Nov. 5–19, including a concert by multiplatinum-selling alternative rock band the Gin Blossoms. 

Made internationally famous by their hit song “Hey Jealousy,” Tempe’s own Gin Blossoms will perform Nov. 8 for a virtual audience across the U.S. and overseas.

Gin Blossoms ASU Salute to Service Concert

“The most significant change this year is our signature event will be a virtual concert with the Gin Blossoms, instead of the traditional football game experience,” said Jeff Guimarin, director of veteran services and the Pat Tillman Veterans Center. “This concert will be broadcast live and free of cost to viewers around the world.”

In years past, Salute to Service featured in-person gatherings, community events and larger forums to celebrate and recognize service. This year’s celebration will go virtual because of COVID-19. Moving forward with the event in the midst of the pandemic provides a great opportunity for the university, Guimarin said.

“One reason is we need to seek out and embrace uplifting stories to show how Sun Devils excel in challenging and complex times,” Guimarin said. “These stories should inspire others to emulate the acts of those who have gone above and beyond to serve the community.”

The virtual aspect of this year’s event means that unlike previous years the celebration will reach Sun Devils beyond Phoenix. This includes online students and alumni who are out of state, or even halfway across the world.

“We’re hoping to catch the interest of Sun Devils in many places, as well as anyone else who wants to watch a great tribute to the selfless acts of our students, staff, faculty and alumni,” Guimarin said.

Online students are scattered throughout the country and the globe, Guimarin said. Military students are logging on from Europe (Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and other countries), the Pacific (mainly Korea and Japan), South America and the Middle East. 

ASU’s military-affiliated student population — veterans, active duty, Guard, Reserves and family members — has risen sharply to 10,500, with nearly 70% attending solely through ASU Online.

Pat Tillman Veterans Center Director Jeff Guimarin

Jeff Guimarin, ASU director of veterans services and the Pat Tillman Veterans Center.

“When we can open up more apertures, availability and opportunities for the online side, it will really help build that community,” Guimarin said. “This kind of event can help accentuate it by giving them a chance to be a part of it.”

While Salute to Service is rooted in recognizing those with military ties, the event is expanding to include everyone who serves the community in some capacity. This year’s theme “service through leadership, mentorship, education, innovation and medical care,” captures the new approach.

“Yes, the Salute to Service theme has evolved,” Guimarin said. “This year we wanted to be more inclusive of those who continue to demonstrate service above self in their everyday lives, across a variety of areas. This includes the teachers, first responders, nurses, doctors, researchers, leaders and mentors who dedicate so much of their profession to serve others and create positive impact on a grand scale.”

Organizers encourage the ASU community, locally and online, to get involved in Salute to Service. It can be an enriching experience with long-lasting impact for everyone.

“First and foremost, we hope they feel a strong sense of community from getting to know some of the Sun Devils who are out there, making a big difference,” said Guimarin, who is a former Air Force colonel. “Also, we want to inspire them to do the same. Lastly, we hope to get participants to reflect inwards and think about the sacrifices others make to ensure our safety, freedoms and way of life.

“Ideally, this will drive more empathy in our society, which helps build trust and collaboration.”

The Gin Blossoms concert will honor the Sun Devil Community and feature a variety of recognition activities highlighting selfless service by students, faculty and staff along the lines of this year’s theme. The broadcast will be available via various digital platforms, such as YouTube, Zoom and others.

Other planned events include a 5K virtual fun run, Nov. 10; a virtual talent show, Nov. 12 and 13; a discussion on the future of energy, Nov. 10; virtual mock job interviews for job seekers, Nov. 12; and many others. Visit the Salute to Service homepage for the latest information and a complete schedule of events.   

Top image courtesy of

Jerry Gonzalez

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

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Early voting at ASU begins Thursday, Oct. 22.
Vote early at sites across four ASU campuses.
October 20, 2020

Students, employees and the public can cast ballots early on or near all 4 campuses

Editor’s note:  This story is being highlighted in ASU Now’s year in review. Read more top stories from 2020.

While the early bird gets the worm, early voters get the confidence that their voice will be heard. At Arizona State University, students, employees and members of the public have the opportunity to cast their ballots with plenty of time to spare, with early voting locations on or near all four campuses.

The following sites are open on Election Day, Nov. 3, in addition to the early voting dates listed below:

Tempe: Sun Devil Fitness Center, Maroon Gym (Gold Gym on Nov. 3 only), Oct. 22–Nov. 3, except Sundays.
Hours: 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Oct. 22–24 and Oct. 26–Oct. 31; 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Nov. 2; 6 a.m.–7 p.m. Nov. 3.

West: Verde Dining Pavilion, Oct. 22–Nov. 3, except Sundays.
Hours are the same as Tempe campus.

Polytechnic: Cooley Ballroom, Oct. 28–Nov. 3, except Sunday, Nov. 1.
Hours: 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Oct. 28–31; 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Nov. 2; 6 a.m.–7 p.m. Nov. 3.

Downtown Phoenix: For students and employees on the Downtown Phoenix campus, there is early voting at Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix, Oct. 28–Nov. 3, except Sunday, Nov. 1. Hours are the same as the Polytechnic campus.

Any employee, student or member of the public who are registered voters and residents of Maricopa County can vote at any of these locations. Voters are asked to follow ASU's COVID-19 guidelines: Wear a mask both inside ASU buildings and outside on campus, and maintain a 6-foot distance from others.

There will be free parking near these locations: Tempe — Apache parking structure (45 minutes free parking and then parking validation provided beyond 45 minutes); Polytechnic — Lot 10; and West — the north zone (north side of campus, just off Thunderbird Road), specifically Lot 10. The free parking is valid on the days the voting location is open.

To vote in person, people need to show a valid ID. Get information on what type of identification is accepted.

The youth vote

Before you head to the polls, take a minute to familiarize yourself with some of the history behind the mechanisms of the U.S. presidential election. ASU Now spoke with School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies Lecturer James Hrdlicka to find out more about that, the events that led to the lowering of the voting age and how it enfranchised America’s youth.

Question: What were the events that led to the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18?

Hrdlicka: When the Constitution was ratified in the 18th century, it left the voting age up to the states, and the traditional age of voting was 21, which reflected a traditional English precedent that that was the age at which you could intelligently exercise the franchise. Of course, at that time, there were a lot of others requirements, such as property requirements, that you had to meet to be able to vote as well. And that stayed the same throughout much of the 19th century until, eventually, things like property requirements were done away with and you began to get this idea of universal manhood suffrageUniversal manhood suffrage is a form of voting rights in which all adult male citizens within a political system are allowed to vote, regardless of income, property, religion or race., followed by the Civil War and the 15th amendment, which said that states could not prohibit men to vote on the basis of race.

So you would think that age would also be a factor that would influence a change in voting requirements, since there were plenty of 18-year-olds fighting in the Civil War, and then later in WWI and WWII, with the argument being that if you're old enough to be drafted and to fight in a war, you ought to be able to vote. But surprisingly, that did not create a huge groundswell on behalf of the states to change the voting age at that time.

Throughout the 20th century, there was some debate on the state level about lowering the voting age. The first one to do it was Georgia in 1943. They lowered it to 18. And then a few states followed: Kentucky lowered it to 18 in 1955; Alaska, in 1956, set it at 19; and Hawaii, in 1959, set it at age 20. Some other states passed referendums on the question of lowering the voting age, but a lot of them failed. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that the people voting on those referendums were over 21. And this is the case for every expansion of voting rights, whether it's about race, or gender or something else; the people deciding on this are not part of the group that is currently disenfranchised.

But with the Vietnam war, there was this situation where you had an especially in-your-face example of young men getting drafted and going off to a war that lacked popular support, and there were a lot of protests surrounding that, which were led by young people. So you could look at that and say, these young people protesting and creating unrest obviously aren't fit to exercise their democratic franchise. Or you could look at that and say, these young people are doing this because they don't have a democratic outlet for that energy, and that’s a legitimate grievance. What ultimately happened was, in 1970, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which helped guarantee the right to vote for African Americans, was renewed, and at that time, some senators added an amendment to that act granting 18-year-olds the right to vote.

There was much debate over whether that was constitutional because it certainly seemed like the Constitution left the voting age up to the states. So it was immediately challenged in court, and in a very strange a Supreme Court decision, Oregon v. Mitchell, the court divided evenly, with four justices voting against it and four voting in favor of it. And the swing vote, which came from Hugo Black, said that a Congress could regulate the voting age for federal elections, but could not do that for state elections. So what you were faced with was a situation where there was going to be two sets of requirements for voting, where, if you were 18, you could vote for federal officers, but in most states, you wouldn't be able to vote for state officers. And that was just going to be chaos. So the only way to cut through that was to pass a federal constitutional amendment allowing 18-year-olds to vote in all elections, and that's what Congress did in record time with the passing of the 26th Amendment in 1971.

Video by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

Q: There have been some grievances from younger generations regarding the Electoral College and its relevance today. What is the history we need to know there?

A: The Constitution was written at a time when the question on the table was, "What do you have to do to create a United States that would be sustainable, that Americans from each individual state would be willing to sign on to?" So features of the American political system sort of derive from that context, and over the centuries, it has manifested in ways that might seem strange.

For example, the 50 states vary dramatically in their populations, but they all get two senators. That's a legacy of that constitutional moment when you needed to make regulations across the board, regardless of state size, because you needed everybody on board. And that's part of why we have the Electoral College. There were proposals at the time for a direct popular vote for a president, but there were questions about whether that was practical. Because if you're in Massachusetts, you might have no idea who a candidate from Virginia is. Or if you lived in a state with smaller population, you might be worried about your voice being diminished in a direct popular vote.

So you got the Electoral College, which was sort of proportional to population, because you take into account how many representatives each state gets, which is assigned according to population. So smaller states get a slightly disproportionate voice, and that's replicated across time and space every time you get a new state, which by nature of it being a new state is going to be smaller in population than existing states. But if you add enough of them up, you get a sort of unbalanced system where smaller states are disproportionately important in terms of the Electoral College. I think, historically, there were reasons people wanted to give a somewhat disproportionate voice to places with smaller populations, and those arguments have less force today. I don’t have a really strong stance about whether the Electoral College should be done away with or not, but I think what defenders of the Electoral College need to recognize is that there are legitimate questions about what we could do to put a system in place that allows all Americans to feel like their voice is heard.

Q: Do you think younger, college-age voters have the power to make an impact on U.S. politics?

A: Certainly. Going back to the '60s, not just in regards to voting rights, but the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement as well, college campuses were a place of organization for young people that made it easier to gather and concentrate their efforts. They still are. So certainly, young students have the power to contribute tons of energy to movements for change, and have done so historically. When you’re in college, you’re at that age where you are thinking of yourself as an adult for the first time, you’re becoming more enlightened and thoughtful, you're considering all these different perspectives. And you want to have your voice heard. And that can be extremely compelling, especially when you’re surrounded by other people having the same experiences and wondering about the same issues.

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16 books to read this Halloween

October 19, 2020

From Frankenstein to true crime, check out these spine-chilling books from ASU faculty

Editor's note: This story is part of a series from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for National Book Month. Read more from this series: ASU collection of rare books made accessible online.

This Halloween season, explore eerie, spine-chilling books written by Arizona State University faculty on everything from gothic true crime and dystopian fiction to vampires, Frankenstein’s monster and ghosts.

Richard Newhauser, English professor in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and author of several books on the seven deadly sins, said topics of this nature can help us examine and understand humanity from a new, unlikely perspective. 

“One of the things that I find so interesting about medieval ghost stories is that those who come to visit humans often bring a lesson with them, something they wish to teach humanity,” Newhauser said. “It’s often the case with longer stories, about people who visit hell and return to tell their tales to an audience they think requires some moral improvement. This is not to say that the lessons are without discomfort. Just the opposite: Pain is part of the message.” 

Discover something to read this fall, with this selection of 16 books curated by The College and the Department of English:

Top image by Jody Lu/The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Emily Balli

Communications Specialist and Lead Writer , The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Graduate College partners with Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation to bring scholars to ASU

Truman Scholars attending ASU will receive additional tuition support

October 19, 2020

The ASU Graduate College is partnering with the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation to bring more Truman Scholars to Arizona State University to complete their graduate or professional degrees. 

To do this, the Graduate College has committed to providing a full-tuition award for up to two years to Truman scholarship recipients enrolled in on-campus graduate programs. This award will be provided in addition to the award Truman Scholars receive from the foundation. Harry S Truman Foundation Download Full Image

What is the Truman Scholarship?

The Truman Scholarship awards merit-based scholarships to undergraduate students who plan to attend graduate school and pursue careers in public service.

Truman Scholars receive a $30,000 award for graduate or professional school, participate in leadership development activities, and have special opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government.

“ASU is deeply committed to promoting public service and is proud to provide additional financial support for Truman Scholars, who are answering the call to public service leadership at a time when public leadership is more valuable than ever," said Mark Searle, ASU executive vice president and university provost.

Well-known Truman Scholars from Arizona

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation has awarded 21 Truman scholarships to ASU Sun Devils since the program began in 1977. In addition, prominent Arizonan Truman Scholars include former Gov. Janet Napolitano, Congressman Greg Stanton, former Ambassador Michelle Gavin and ASU professors Kristin Mayes and David Gartner.

“Now is the time to invest in the next generation of leaders,” said Terry Babcock-Lumish, executive secretary of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. “Arizona State University's generous commitment to add additional financial support for Truman Scholars demonstrates a shared commitment to creating opportunities for innovative problem-solvers tackling society's greatest challenges.”

A living memorial

The scholarship, a living memorial to the 33rd president, is intended for “future change agents” — students who demonstrate the passion, intellect and leadership potential to serve the public interest. Truman Scholars can be found in the White House, Congress and on the Supreme Court. They are ambassadors, journalists, educators, philanthropic leaders and more. 

“For more than 40 years, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation has served as a beacon for public service, inspiring Americans from diverse backgrounds and from across the country,” Babcock-Lumish said. “Thank you to President Crow, Dean Wentz and the ASU community for championing public service.”

The Graduate College oversees the university’s commitment to Truman Scholars who bring their award to ASU for their graduate studies. Scholars should contact after receiving the Truman Scholarship and being admitted to their graduate program to coordinate funding. Review the Graduate College Truman Scholarship webpage for more information.

Undergraduate students interested in applying for the Truman Scholarship should visit the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarship Advisement Truman Scholarship webpage for more information.

Article by Emily Carman and Tracy Viselli

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ASU brings drive-thru COVID-19 testing to Lake Havasu City

September 29, 2020

ASU at Lake Havasu supports the state’s western region with free saliva-based diagnostic testing on Oct. 2

Arizona’s Mohave County is experiencing long wait times for COVID-19 test results, but ASU at Lake Havasu is helping to relieve some of the bottleneck.

The university is teaming up with Lake Havasu City and the Arizona National Guard to offer free saliva-based diagnostic testing, event staffing and a drive-thru site location to residents of Mohave County and Lake Havasu City at large.

“ASU at Lake Havasu is proud to partner with Mayor Cal Sheehy, Lake Havasu City and the ASU Biodesign Institute to bring additional COVID testing options to the western region of Arizona,” said Carla J. Harcleroad, director of ASU at Lake Havasu. “This is an example of ASU’s commitment to the communities we serve.”

The event is slated for Friday, Oct. 2, at the Lake Havasu City Aquatic and Community Center located at 100 Park Ave. Event hours will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and test results are usually delivered within 24–48 hours. The Arizona National Guard Medical Division will provide five staff members to administer the tests. Preregistration is required, and the agency code for scheduling is SALIVATEST.

Sheehy said the current typical wait time for COVID-19 test results in the Lake Havasu City area is about 7-10 days, and he felt that was too long.

“Test results were taking a considerable amount of time, and the city was looking for additional options for our community. That’s when this opportunity with ASU presented itself,” said Sheehy, who has partnered with ASU at Lake Havasu on many community-related issues such as the environment, sustainability, volunteer work and fundraising. This is central to ASU’s Charter commitment to be fundamentally responsible for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.

The saliva-based diagnostic testing was conceived by ASU’s Biodesign Institute and designed with an eye for speed, scale and convenience. The testing process usually takes about 10–20 minutes and participants don’t even have to leave their vehicles.

“The process is easy and painless,” said David Thomas, CEO of ASURE, who works with the team providing public testing for ASU. “When you arrive at the site you get a sample tube, find a comfortable parking space to collect the sample, hand off the tube on the way out, and go about your day.”

The Biodesign Institute announced in May that it had developed the first saliva-based COVID-19 test for front-line health care workers, critical infrastructure and public safety personnel. Since then they have hosted several events throughout the state through a partnership with the Arizona Department of Health Services. ASU has also been using the saliva-based test with employees and students. To date, more than 36,000 Arizonans have received testing free of charge through ASU/state of Arizona partner testing sites.

In addition to the Phoenix area, ASU has hosted testing in Tucson, Flagstaff, Winkleman, Safford, Parker and Salome. The university also has plans to visit Nogales and Rio Rico in mid-October.

Top photo: Throughout the course of the pandemic, ASU's Biodesign Institute has played a major role in tracking COVID-19. Now, the university has developed a free saliva-based diagnostic test for Arizona communities.

Reporter , ASU Now


Biodesign Institute, on a research roll, announces new centers, state-of-the-art X-ray lab

September 29, 2020

The Biodesign Institute at ASU is significantly expanding its scientific enterprise, announcing two new centers and one new lab to advance explorations in the fields of microbiomics, green chemistry and pioneering compact X-ray science.

With the new additions poised to begin operations, the institute continues its aggressive effort to probe exciting new domains, pursuing research to address human health, safeguard the environment, improve daily life and advance basic scientific understanding in diverse fields. The Biodesign Institute at ASU is significantly expanding its scientific enterprise, announcing two new centers and one new lab to advance explorations in the fields of microbiomics, green chemistry and pioneering compact X-ray science. Graphic by Stetson Finch Download Full Image

The two new centers are the Biodesign Center for Health Through Microbiomes, under the direction of Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, and the Biodesign Center for Sustainable Macromolecular Materials and Manufacturing, led by Timothy Long.

The Beus CXFEL Laboratory, the first facility of its kind centered around Biodesign’s new compact X-ray free electron laser, is directed by Robert Kaindl.

“Today, science is increasingly called upon to help meet the daunting challenges facing society,” said Joshua LaBaer, the Biodesign Institute’s executive director. “The Biodesign Institute is thrilled to welcome three scientists known for outstanding contributions to their field. Their research will further the institute’s audacious efforts and advance the kind of interdisciplinary investigations Biodesign is specifically designed to nurture. The latest additions will bring the total number of research centers within Biodesign to 17 and significantly enhance our research synergy.”

Microbial universe within

The human body is teeming with nonhuman biological forms — vast ecosystems of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes scientists have only begun to probe. Collectively, they are known as the microbiome and their startling role in health and disease is finally coming to light.

Biodesign’s new Biodesign Center for Health Through Microbiomes, under the leadership of Krajmalnik-Brown, will not only advance pathbreaking research into the subtle activities of microbial communities but further investigate potential microbial-based therapies for diseases including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, altered drug metabolism, autism, depression, severe infections, irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer and a range of other afflictions.

The center will explore microbial biomarkers that can pinpoint disease and guide appropriate treatment, while promoting improved health, through the monitoring and adjustment of the gut microbiome. The center will delve into new study areas while advancing Krajmalnik-Brown’s ongoing investigations into microbial diagnoses and therapies for obesity and autism spectrum disorder, formerly carried out within the Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, where she was a faculty member for 13 years.

Groundbreaking studies have lately unveiled the complex microbial associations between the gut and human brain, with implications for the management of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s — themes the new center will also explore.

In addition to her appointment at Biodesign, Krajmalnik-Brown also serves as a professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment

“I am really excited to lead the Biodesign Center for Health Through Microbiomes,” Krajmalnik-Brown said. “There are 100 times as many microbial genes in our bodies compared with genes from our human cells. The possibilities for harvesting these microbes’ metabolic activities and healing power are huge. This is a fast-growing field, and there is still so much we don’t know. The opportunity to transform health and help many people is immense.”

Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown directs the Biodesign Center for Health Through Microbiomes and also serves as a professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment

Krajmalnik-Brown is currently conducting clinical research focusing on the management of autism and gastrointestinal symptoms through microbiota transplant therapy, along with Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering colleague James Adams. Another active project involves the exploration of the microbiome’s contribution to energy balance and human metabolism. She has also contributed to the formation Autism Diagnostics, LLC, a commercial company focused on developing diagnostic tests for autism based on the observed profile of metabolism in patients.  

The center plans to recruit new faculty with a broad range of relevant expertise, including in nutrition, bioinformatics, engineering and biochemistry and engage industry and clinical partners, while leveraging existing strengths in microbial ecology. 

Another green world

Every year, some 600 billion pounds of plastics are produced, of which only a fraction are recycled. Although these materials have provided many benefits to society, over time they have accumulated in the environment, causing extensive contamination of air, earth and water. The problem has grown into one of the most profound ecological challenges facing humankind.

The Biodesign Center for Sustainable Macromolecular Materials and Manufacturing promises to be one of the top 10 centers of its kind in the world, dedicated to engineering sustainable solutions to the world’s plastics obsession through the development of green materials and the exploration of environmentally sustainable alternatives rooted in a molecules-to-manufacturing approach.

Petroleum-based polymers assume an almost endless variety of forms and are found in everything from synthetic fibers used in clothing, to latex paints, epoxy glues, Teflon cookware and polyurethane cardiovascular devices. In addition to the search for more sustainable substitutes for common polymers, the center’s research is expected to advance biomedical devices, biodegradable polymers, greener synthetic methods, and pioneer the use of sustainable feedstocks.

The center will focus on the principles of green chemistry, using techniques including click chemistry for efficient functionalization, solvent-free polymerization processes, design of degradable polymers, additive manufacturing and development of sustainable precursors for polymer production.

Advances in materials science will be investigated, including stimuli-responsive polymers, adhesives and elastomers using the techniques of block copolymers, highperformance engineering polymers, controlled polymerization and biomaterials with the aim of improving health and energy production and storage.

“The center will demand an unprecedented intensity of interdisciplinary partnership, asking molecular scientists and engineers to speak many different technical languages at the convergence of chemistry, biology, health sciences, and diverse engineering fields,” said Timothy Long, who will lead the new effort. “Our center will nucleate industrial partnerships and entrepreneurship to ensure a molecules-to-manufacturing paradigm both for educating the future workforce and innovating new technologies. We must sustain our passion for sustainability.”

Tim Long directs the Biodesign Center for Sustainable Macromolecular Materials and Manufacturing.

Prior to his new appointment, Long pursued a distinguished career at Virginia Tech, where he was professor of chemistry and director of the Macromolecules Innovation Institute. The new center will continue Long’s study of novel polymer materials for advanced manufacturing, bio-inspired thermoplastics and adhesive technologies, bio-derived polymers with biodegradation, making use of novel 3D printing techniques for reduction of waste and access to unprecedented geometries of printed objects. The recipient of numerous awards, Long received the 2019 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award and was named an AAAS Fellow in 2016.

Long has published more than 320 peer-reviewed publications and has obtained over 60 patents based on his research discoveries. He is also deeply devoted to teaching and inspiring a new generation of young investigators working to pioneer sustainable solutions based on the latest advances in polymer science.

Long’s devotion to integrated research and teaching has earned him numerous awards, including the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Award in Virginia, Thermoplastic Elastomer Award from the American Chemical Society’s Rubber Division in 2018 and the Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Research Excellence 2010. In 2018, he was appointed the editor-in-chief of Polymer International and served as the president of the Adhesion Society.

Flash of light

Since the first X-ray image, a ghostly view of the bones of a hand produced by the German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, X-ray radiation has had tremendous impact on science. 

Though the ability to penetrate soft tissue and reveal skeletal bones may be their best-known characteristic, X-ray beams have been equally transformative in myriad other applications — particularly in the method of X-ray crystallography that has been essential to understanding atomic structure from the first discovery of human DNA up to modern structural analysis in chemistry, materials science, and drug development.

Yet conventional crystallography takes static pictures. Instead, full insight into the microscopic world requires an understanding of its dynamics, recognizing that many of the key processes underlying the function of biomolecules occur on unimaginably short time scales of femtoseconds — where one femtosecond corresponds to only a billionth of one millionth of a second.

This has motivated the recent development of X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) to generate ultrashort X-ray pulses. So far only a handful of XFELs exist in the world, including the Linac Coherent Light Source at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and their design principles entail mile-long electron accelerators and up to billion-dollar price tags.

ASU's Biodesign Institute has taken on the pioneering task of developing a new generation of compact accelerator-based X-ray sources, which target a much smaller laboratory-sized footprint, dramatically lower costs and improved levels of access for scientists.

Housed in a custom-designed space in Biodesign’s newly constructed Building C, these CXFEL labs comprise two instruments conceived by ASU faculty member and accelerator physicist Bill Graves. The first source — dubbed the compact X-ray light source (CXLS) — is currently nearing completion and will produce femtosecond X‑rays for time-resolved crystallography. A second-stage machine, designed in parallel, is slated to produce laser-like X-rays with full wave coherence and durations of less than a single femtosecond.

Robert Kaindl has been appointed to direct the CXFEL lab. Prior to joining ASU, Kaindl was a principal investigator in the Materials Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. A leading expert in quantum materials and ultrafast science, Kaindl has focused on exploring condensed-matter phenomena on the shortest time scales including studies of superconductors and nanomaterials. His research involves the development and application of laser techniques across the spectrum of light, ranging from sub-millimeter wave terahertz radiation up to the X-ray regime.

“These are exciting times,” Kaindl said. “The development of compact ultrafast X-ray sources at ASU will position the university as a global leader in this forefront field. Peering into matter at its smallest dimensions in time and space lets us access some of the most important processes in nature — while realizing that physics, chemistry and biology all converge on these scales. An on‑campus capability of this kind is truly unprecedented for a university. It will attract national and international collaborations while helping train a new generation of students.”

Robert Kaindl directs the Biodesign Beus CXFEL Laboratory.

Kaindl received his PhD in physics from Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, in 2000 and was recently elected a 2019 Fellow of the American Physical Society. At the Biodesign Institute and as a professor in ASU’s physics department he will pursue new frontiers of light-driven materials phenomena using both tabletop time-resolved spectroscopies and ultrafast probes of electronic and lattice structural dynamics in quantum materials with CXFEL’s powerful X-ray pulses.

Among the core bioscience applications envisioned for the CXFEL Lab’s machines are static and time-resolved crystallography investigations by Petra Fromme’s group and colleagues in the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery. Ultimately this will enable scientists to produce movies of biomolecules in action, for instance permitting the visualization of drugs binding to receptors at the surface of cells. Such research is fueled by many national and international collaborations as highlighted by the NSF BioXFEL Science and Technology Center, a multi-institute consortium directed by ASU’s John Spence, which is dedicated to applying X-ray free electron lasers to investigations in structural biology.

Richard Harth

Science writer, Biodesign Institute at ASU


ASU center 'mixes it up' with virtual art exhibit honoring National Hispanic Heritage Month

September 22, 2020

The Hispanic Research Center at Arizona State University is home to an extensive collection of work by Hispanic artists. Over the years, the center has showcased this collection through a variety of in-person art shows, exhibitions and tours. Now, for the first time in its 35-year history, the center has launched a virtual art exhibit highlighting the work of artists of Mexican descent. 

Founded in 1985, the Hispanic Research Center is a research unit of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that serves the university and broader community through its academic exploration and distribution of resources in areas of importance to Hispanic culture.  "The Return to Aztlan," Alfredo Arreguín. Oil on canvas, 2005. Image courtesy of the Hispanic Research Center. Download Full Image

Jean Andino, interim director of the Hispanic Research Center and associate professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, said center staff were motivated to find new and engaging ways to make artwork from their collection accessible.

“Obviously in this time of COVID-19 things are a little bit different than they normally would be,” Andino said. “But we're so excited about the possibility of doing a lot more with the community and I’m encouraged by the enthusiasm that exists within the team.”

The virtual tour, titled “Mixing it Up,” features 12 videos narrated by Santiago Moratto, senior research specialist, and produced by Brandon Ortega, media specialist. In each video, Moratto gives a brief description of the work and shares context about the artist and subject matter. The exhibit showcases 10 pieces from the collection that were specially selected to celebrate and honor National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Each artwork depicts themes involving United States’ Hispanic identity including immigration, spirituality, traditional food and drink, and farmworker iconography. These themes are meant to provoke thought and discussion of social issues that are prevalent in present U.S. society. 

Andino said “Mixing it Up” is the first of many virtual art exhibits, with plans to curate more in the coming months. Aside from virtual art exhibits, the center is involved in a number of other projects across the university. With the recent passing of Gary Keller, the center’s longtime director, Andino was appointed interim director. She said she and the team remain determined to move ongoing projects forward while expanding the center’s reach. 

“Ultimately, when we start talking about social justice and social equity, it's crucial to have organizations that are able to speak to the needs of the community,” Andino said. “The Hispanic Research Center has the ability to bring diverse voices into the discussion and if you're trying to develop solutions for society, it's important to have all voices represented. We're always looking for new ideas and new opportunities to do collaborative work that will really impact the Hispanic community and the community in general.”

One of the center’s largest efforts is the Bilingual Press, a publisher that has produced literary works, scholarship and art books by or about Hispanics in the U.S. since 1973. The Bilingual Press has a catalog of 200 books authored by both established and emerging writers in English, Spanish and bilingual formats. 

In addition to the Bilingual Press, the center also leads the Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities, a regional alliance of community colleges, four-year colleges and universities that seeks to expand opportunities for students in Arizona, Colorado and Utah. The program specifically focuses on enhancing and diversifying student inclusion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

As an Afro-Latina woman in STEM, Andino said she feels passionate about the center’s work and hopes its efforts will lead to creating a more culturally diverse, accepting community.

“It’s critically important to have an organization like the Hispanic Research Center that is meant to provide some additional knowledge, especially in this day and age, so that we can all better understand how to interface with each other. The Hispanic population is such a diverse group of individuals — the center represents these different cultures and allows their voices to be heard.”

Emily Balli

Communications Specialist and Lead Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Live from ASU continues virtual concert series this fall

Free live concerts featuring Omar Apollo and D Smoke

September 21, 2020

After presenting Jason Derulo and Icona Pop this summer to thousands of people digitally, Live from ASU is back this fall with more live music on a screen near you with two virtual concerts. Presented by the ASU 365 Community Union, the concerts feature two fresh artists in Omar Apollo and D Smoke. Both artists pay tribute to their diverse cultures and will offer something lively and engaging in a live digital format for the ASU Community and the public.

Mexican American bilingual singer-songwriter Omar Apollo will perform live in the first fall concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8. The second concert features D Smoke, a former Inglewood High Spanish teacher turned breakout star of Netflix’s "Rhythm + Flow," at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12. Both artists produce bilingual music that highlights their own experiences growing up in multicultural environments. Omar Apollo laying on blue silk floor Omar Apollo will perform live in the fall virtual concert series Live from ASU presented by ASU 365 Community Union. Download Full Image

“The shows must go on — and they will with ‘Live from ASU,” said Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU vice president for cultural affairs. “These virtual concerts are reflective of the diversity of our community and will bring the energy and excitement of a live show, plus the intimacy of a postshow Q&A with the artist.”

The Q&A will be hosted by an ASU student and members of the community can begin submitting questions now using the hashtag #ASULive for an opportunity to have their question answered.

The ASU concert series "Live from ASU" was conceived by ASU President Michael Crow as a way to engage with students and the ASU community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each performance will be an opportunity to reinforce ASU’s commitment to students and its culture of innovation, as well as provide an interactive shared experience with artists.

The ASU community and the public can tune in to watch each livestream at Concerts will be broadcast live in Mountain Standard Time and will not be available for replay or redistribution.

Omar Apollo
7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8

Apollo, a 22-year-old, first-generation Mexican American singer from Indiana, began writing and recording his own mix of jazz, R&B, funk, alternative, soul, and pop music. His parents moved to the U.S. to give their kids a better life and the opportunity to go to college; however, Apollo always knew this route wasn’t meant for him. He began playing guitar at 12 years old, but quit soon after because he got bored of only playing in church. At age 18, he began listening to new styles of music and fell in love with the guitar again. His biggest influences are Benny Sings, D'Angelo, Los Panchos, John Mayer, Elliott Smith, Cuco Sánchez, Paul Simon, Gary Numan and João Gilberto. In 2019, Apollo completed back-to-back sell-out headlining tours throughout North America.

D Smoke
7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12

Hailing from Inglewood, California, Smoke personifies the city’s potent cultural duality: ​nurtured by the boulevards, and ​natured​ by a family’s legacy in gospel music. Smoke dove fingers-first into classical piano at the age of 6, honing his talents in church, and eventually lending vocals to Michael Jackson. Focusing on the creative arts helped him to circumvent the throes of violence present on his doorstep and propel himself into the classrooms of UCLA. During his matriculation, D Smoke was a beacon of light for his city, becoming a voice for the voiceless, using language, culture and music as tools to bridge institutionalized gaps and spread the gospel of a united Los Angeles culture. During the same years he spent in Westwood, D Smoke gained a unique and immersive industry experience by collaborating across genres with everyone from Usher, Babyface, Mary J Blige and Jahiem, to Missy Elliot, Timbaland and the Pussycat Dolls. His hard work garnered an ASCAP ​Song Of The Year ​award. After college, he taught Spanish at Inglewood High, applying his personal experiences as an alumnus and lifelong city resident to create a safe space for students to truly express themselves openly.

As of 2019, D Smoke gained global notoriety as champion and undisputed breakout star of Netflix’s ​"Rhythm + Flow."​ Smoke showcased himself as a raw lyricist, classically-trained musician and social activist with “something to say” — and nothing left to prove. The ​"Inglewood High" ​EP, released on Oct. 24, 2019, reveals the beauty and frustration of today’s Inglewood through the eyes of his former students, while capturing the essence of the city that raised him.

Kimberly Inglese

Marketing and Sales Coordinator, ASU 365 Community Union