ASU professor’s unintended dive into water research leaves lasting impact

Research Professor Pat Gober establishes new award recognizing outstanding student water research

March 9, 2020

Pat Gober became a water researcher by accident. 

For 25 years, as a population geographer and demographer at Arizona State University, she focused on migration patterns and urban planning issues in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Pat Gober, a research professor in ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, will be retiring as full-time faculty after 45 years to focus on research and professional service projects. Download Full Image

Then came an email from the National Science Foundation. 

The government agency was looking for social scientists to pursue work that advanced the understanding of decision-making in uncertain environments. Gober’s mind started to churn with ideas. 

“I read the request for a proposal and it was written very generically, but for me, I could see climatic uncertainty in Phoenix and water and growth,” Gober recalled. “I thought it was written for Phoenix and for me to be able to put different disciplines, economics, hydrology and geography all together to tell a water story.” 

Gober teamed up with then ASU anthropology chair Chuck Redman and applied. They won the grant. 

“From that moment on, I became a water person,” Gober said.

Today, 20 years later, Gober is a leading authority on water management decision-making research. Her research sparks interest across the globe, and she has won international prizes for being at the forefront of integrating physical and social science for water planning.

This month, Gober will be retiring from ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning full-time faculty to focus on research and professional service projects, but her outstanding leadership, mentoring and scholarly contributions to the department and the field of geography at large will never be forgotten. 

“Pat is in many ways the best version of us: a geographer who understands not only how the discipline works and what its value is to society, but is willing to put in effort, time and creativity to the task of blending those values across the spectrum of teaching, research and service,” said Martin Pasqualetti, professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and colleague of Gober’s for more than three decades. “The School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, and Arizona State University, owe her a heartfelt thanks. We would not be where we are without her.”

A secure water future 

In the face of a long-term drought, rising temperatures and global climate change, growing cities like Phoenix face hard questions about how to prepare for a future with less water.

Since 2000, the Colorado River Basin, a crucial source of Phoenix’s water supply, has been suffering a drought linked to higher temperatures and climate change. The basin provides less water than it used to, having declined by more than 16% in the past century. If trends continue there is a risk of severe water shortages for the 1.6 million people living in the Phoenix metropolitan area. 

“If you really are interested in the future of Phoenix you have to be interested in water,” Gober said. “In a desert city it’s the engine that supports growth and development.” 

After being awarded the NSF grant, Gober centered her research on the human activities around managing water and the use of science for water decision-making. 

“The focus of my research became: How do we take knowledge as scientists and put it to good use in water management decisions?” Gober said. “As geographers, I think we’re really well equipped to bring different groups together to solve a problem.” 

Decision Center for a Desert City

With new funding, Gober and Redman created the Decision Center for a Desert City housed within ASU's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute for Sustainability

The research center, armed with more than 40 people of various academic disciplines, aimed to advance research about water management decisions in the context of rapid population growth and urbanization, complex political and economic systems and global climate change.

Gober brought the water science community together with the water policy community to build decision tools that would help integrate climate change into decision making. She sparked important dialogue for groups to learn from each other and together examine the future growth of Phoenix.

Facilitated interactions included monthly water briefings, joint colloquiums and the co-development of water simulations and global climate models. The center became a model of successful science and policy integration where decision-makers and scientists could collaborate on important research questions and experiment with new methods.

“We enhanced learning between the two groups so that collaboration was easier,” Gober said. “We created the social institutions to make sure it was happening on a regular basis. It was our contribution to the water discussion locally.” 

Gober often is tapped by researchers around the globe to speak about the technologies and strategies developed by the project and how to apply what ASU has done in other parts of the world.

“Pat’s command of the social and physical geography of this region together with a growing knowledge of decision science made our application a winner,” Redman, the founding director of the School of Sustainability, reflected in response to the NSF grant proposal. “From that point forward she led the intellectual exploration and community engagement that DCDC has become internationally known for.”

Building capacity for learning 

Gober’s ASU story began in 1975 when at the age of 25 — fresh from earning her PhD from Ohio State University — she flew across the country to accept a role as an assistant geography professor. 

Over the course of her 45-year tenure at ASU, she held a range of appointments including a term as chair of the Department of Geography, where under her leadership it grew into a nationally-ranked geography doctoral program. 

Additional appointments include distinguished honors faculty fellow in Barrett, The Honors College; policy research associate, Morrison Institute for Public Policy; senior sustainability scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability; and interim director in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban planning. 

Gober also journeyed beyond ASU during her time here, serving as a visiting professor at University College London and professor at the University of Saskatchewan. She has published three books about her research, the most recent in 2018 titled, “Building Resilience for Uncertain Water Futures.”

Gober fostered a new capacity for learning wherever she went and her demonstrated leadership was felt beyond the university settings and into her commitment to public service. 

Over the course of her career, Gober led the global network of leading geography researchers, educators and practitioners as president of the Association of American Geographers; served as a member of the science advisory board for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration; was a former member of the Population Reference Bureau's board of trustees; and for seven years served on the Stockholm Water Prize nomination committee, amongst many other professional service commitments. 

Gober holds an honorary doctorate of science from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin; is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and was awarded the Prince Sultan Abdulaziz International Prize for Water in 2008. She received the ASU's Faculty Research Achievement Award in 2009, the Association of American Geographers' Presidential Achievement Award in 2011 and will be recognized with the highest honor offered by the association in April, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Research Award in the population specialty group.

Sun Devil for life 

Gober credits the support she’s received from ASU to giving her the grounding to advance her academic career and research pursuits. 

“Everything I’ve been able to achieve has been from my ASU base,” Gober said. “I’ve had great encouragement and support to pursue my interests inside the university and outside the university, it’s a great place to be.”

She continued, “I really feel like this has been a place that is supportive of a person like me to make a big change in topics and to make it possible for me to have done the things that I have done. I think the university saw the importance of science really informing decision-making. I have tremendous gratitude for finding a supportive academic place.” 

Pat Gober Water Prize 

Proud to have seen the growth of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and to continue to be a part of it its future success, Gober has committed to the future of water research at ASU by investing in student success. 

Gober has established the Pat Gober Water Prize, a student research proposal competition awarded annually that recognizes and supports scholarly contributions in water research. 

“I think water is a natural topic for geographers, it was for me,” Gober said. “To have a more secure water future, we should do more water research. My hope is that this scholarship will inspire someone to do something they may not have otherwise have done.” 

Qualified submissions will be in the area of water-related research broadly defined. This includes, but is not limited to, water policy, climate research, geomorphology or social science. Funds can be used to support travel, purchase of data, surveys and expendable field supplies related to the proposed research. 

A bright future ahead 

As Gober answers the call to the next chapter of her career, she remains an active part of the ASU family and looks forward to advancing several ongoing professional research service projects. 

“I’ll continue to do research with other people, I continue to do work with students, but now I have the time for more professional responsibilities.” 

Amongst many other things, Gober is currently serving on a water review committee for the University of Stockholm in Sweden, reviewing a 600-page book in her field of research, and collaborating on several other research projects. 

“I have found a lot of things that I can still do to keep myself active where I know what’s going on in the field," Gober said. “I’m not teaching anymore, not serving on student committees, but I continue to do research and public speaking. I’m not leading a bunch of research projects but I’m participating in them,” Gober continued.

“I try to add value to what someone else is doing.”

And add value she has for more than four decades, as she undoubtedly will continue to for years to come.

In honor of Gober’s outstanding career and service to ASU and water research, donations can be made in support of the Pat Gober Water Prize here

David Rozul

Communications Program Coordinator, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning


ASU professors among first class of American Astronomical Society Fellows

March 5, 2020

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) recently announced that a new accolade, Fellow of the AAS, has been established to honor members for extraordinary achievement and service.

Among this first class of AAS Fellows are Arizona State University Regents Professor Sumner Starrfield and Professor Emeritus Anne Cowley, both of the School of Earth and Space Exploration. Among this first class of AAS Fellows are ASU Regents Professor Sumner Starrfield and Professor Emeritus Anne Cowley, both of the School of Earth and Space Exploration. Download Full Image

“I am thrilled to be included among the first group of AAS Fellows chosen because of the strength of their contributions to astronomy and the society,” said Starrfield, who has served as chair of the publications board at AAS. “And I am grateful to ASU for their support of my research and teaching.”

Starrfield and Cowley are being recognized for their original research and publications, innovative contributions to astronomical techniques and instrumentation, significant contributions to education and public outreach, and noteworthy service to astronomy and to AAS.

“It's both a professional and personal honor,” Cowley said. “I have greatly enjoyed working with the AAS in a variety of capacities. It is wonderful that they have initiated this new honor for members who are longtime supporters of the AAS and its goals.”

The AAS Fellows program was established in 2019 to confer recognition upon AAS members for achievement and extraordinary service to the field of astronomy and the American Astronomical Society. AAS Fellows are recognized for their contributions toward the AAS mission of enhancing and sharing humanity's scientific understanding of the universe.

“We are incredibly proud of the accomplishments of Professor Cowley and Professor Starrfield,” said Meenakshi Wadhwa, director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration. “This is a well-deserved honor that recognizes their seminal contributions to the fields of astrophysics and astronomy.”

Karin Valentine

Media Relations & Marketing manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration


ASU psychology clinic launches group to improve stress coping skills

March 3, 2020

Nobody is immune to stress, and chronic stress can have serious physical and mental consequences.

Sources of stress can include the demands of school and work, loneliness or conflict in relationships, financial difficulties, the never-ending stream of information from news outlets, or even stress from using social media. Coping Skills at the Clinical Psychology Center Nobody is immune to stress, and chronic stress can have serious physical and mental consequences. Sources of stress can include the demands of school and work, loneliness or conflict in relationships, financial difficulties, the never-ending stream of information from news outlets, or even stress from using social media. Photo: Victoria Heath, Unsplash Download Full Image

To teach people the skills needed to improve their ability to cope with stress, the Arizona State University Department of Psychology will launch a new option for group therapy at the Clinical Psychology Center. The new group is called “Coping Skills,” and the first session begins at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, and will be each Wednesday for the remainder of the spring semester.

“Too often, people ignore stress or don’t know how to cope. Our group is designed to help teach the skills to manage those stressors in a healthy way,” said Leena Bui, a psychology graduate student who will run the program. 

The weekly group is intended for anyone who wants to learn techniques that are applicable to everyday stressors. The service is available to ASU students, faculty, administrators and community members.

“It doesn’t matter if someone is struggling with anxiety, depression or everyday life stressors, we are here to help,” Bui said.

The group is designed to teach skills that are beneficial for a broad range of problems that all have stress in common.

Overwhelmed with stress, unable to cope

Recently, over 85% of college students reported feeling overwhelmed during the previous year, and 30% reported that stress negatively affected their academic performance. This lack of coping can lead to challenges in the classroom, social settings and even to depressive symptoms or anxiety. 

Students might be unaware of resources available to them or feel uncomfortable with the stigma attached to therapy. In a group setting, people can feel validated by being around other individuals who are struggling with similar problems.

Many people experiencing depressive symptoms think they are the only ones dealing with the issue. But more than 20% of people have experienced some level of clinical depression at one point in their lives. 

The Clinical Coping Skills program is based on research from ASU’s Matthew Meier, associate director of the Clinical Psychology Center. The group uses a cognitive behavioral therapy approach, which improves mental health and prevents long-term mental health problems.

The techniques taught in the group are based on research, and the group will focus on teaching skills that can be implemented in the daily lives of the participants. These skills include strategies for efficient communication, problem solving, improving motivation to make a change, seeing a problem from a different perspective, taking a step back and accepting a situation for what it is. 

“Each week, we will learn about a technique by going over what it is, how it applies to specific scenarios and then apply it,” Bui said.

Group therapy can work as well as one-on-one therapy and can also be more cost-effective.

For more information about the Coping Skills group, please visit the Clinical Psychology Center Website or call the Clinical Psychology Center at 480-965-7296.

ASU’s Clinical Psychology Center was established in 1959 as an outpatient clinic and training facility for doctoral students in clinical psychology. The mission of the Clinical Psychology Center is to provide outstanding service to clients using evidence-based best practices.

Robert Ewing

Marketing and Communications Manager, Department of Psychology


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5 ASU researchers who are making lab spaces safer

February 18, 2020

Innovation emerging from research labs makes for intriguing headlines. But sometimes it is the lab itself that is being innovated. Arizona State University is recognizing and rewarding researchers who are finding creative ways to make their labs safer. 

Meet five ASU researchers who invented ingenious solutions to play it safe in the laboratory and were recognized at a recent ASU Laboratory Safety Innovation Awards event. The annual competition supports principal investigators who are making their ASU research labs safer places to work with up to $8,000 to advance their efforts. Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers working in qualified labs are eligible to apply for a $700 lab safety culture award. 

A leading light in laser safety

Innovation Award

Scott Sayres, an assistant professor in the School of Molecular Sciences, leads experimental research using ultrashort laser pulses to observe how electron motion influences chemical reactions. 

“Laser technology is one of the fastest-growing technologies that we have out in the market today,” he said. “With the innovations, we’re constantly reaching shorter pulse widths and higher laser intensities. There’s more power and increasingly more danger. The safety measures of a few decades ago are not appropriate for today’s innovative laser designs. When we produce a white laser source, there’s not a laser safety eye goggle on the market that can block all of those colors and give you a safe experience. The only thing that could work is a blindfold. And you can’t run experiments that way.”

His research team’s solution is high on ingenuity and low in price: webcams that cost between $10 and $20 each. 

“We have discovered that simple webcams can be modified to allow them to observe the infrared emission of the laser beam, which are invisible to our eyes,” he said. “We can use the webcam to search for any stray light scatter rather than exposing our eyes and risking blindness.” 

The devices are paired with software the team developed to run on Raspberry Pi devices and large screens or monitors that remain on, a similar setup to a security camera.

Sayres says his research team plans to develop and implement more devices for his lab while sharing his innovation with other research labs using ultrafast lasers on campus. 

“We’re working on a manuscript to detail our methodology on how we’ve created this system,” he said. “Our goal is to spread the knowledge.” 

Scott Sayres uses safety gear that includes webcams that can detect stray laser light scatter invisible to the human eye.

Assistant Professor Scott Sayres makes safety a priority in his lab.

A researcher with 'shelf'-determination

Lab Safety Culture Award (postdoc)

In the School of Molecular Sciences laboratory where Telpriore “Greg” Tucker conducts research, handling various strong acids, pyrophoric metals, carcinogenic compounds and flammable gases is all in a day’s work. The postdoctoral research associate devised a cloud-based inventory system and shelving and retrieval method for the laboratory’s more than 1,400 bottles of stock chemicals. Tucker says the system saves researchers’ time, reduces overhead expenses by eliminating the purchase of chemicals already on hand and closely monitors chemicals’ shelf life, thus reducing hazardous chemical waste. 

If implemented universitywide, the system would promote lab safety uniformity and create real-time inventory updates of chemical stocks and other materials from all registered labs. 

“This could encourage sharing resources among fellow scientists, spur collaborative efforts and minimize the dreaded ‘orphan chemical surplus,’” Tucker said. “The entire method would require a relatively easy onboarding process and online training sessions similar to the fire and safety videos offered at ASU.”

Making a course correction

Faculty Laboratory Safety Award

As the School of Molecular Sciences associate director of academic affairs, Professor Anne Jones has a track record of leading major teaching innovations, from spearheading the launch of the first online biochemistry degree in the United States to guiding the creation of a massive open online course (MOOC) in general chemistry for engineers. She has now set her sights on improving laboratory safety training, modeling her new system after the “personnel qualification standards” (PQS) training method used by the U.S. Navy. 

“Like a research lab, the Navy must train a diverse group of individuals on technical skills with unique hazards within a short time frame,” she said. 

Her research lab adapted the PQS training strategy, which includes written training guides for each instrument or technique and binders for lab personnel to keep their guides for personal reference. An authorized trainer guides the trainee through the series of tasks in each module, and the trainee must demonstrate their knowledge or ability unassisted before the trainer marks the task as complete. 

“This ‘trainee-driven’ approach rapidly identifies knowledge gaps, whether in fundamental chemistry or safety hazards,” she said. “We will continue to develop new training guides and standards for all techniques and instruments in our lab, and we hope to share these PQS guides as templates with the broader research community at ASU.” 

Getting into gear

Faculty Laboratory Safety Award

Joshua LaBaer, Biodesign Institute executive director and professor, has developed an engaging reward system that provides incentives for biology lab workers to always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) — lab coats, gloves, closed-toe shoes, safety glasses and long pants — in the lab. 

“Unfortunately, researchers in biological laboratories often have the misconception that because it is not easy to be harmed by aqueous buffers and common macromolecules — such as antibodies, DNA, bovine serum albumin — PPE is not necessary. So they feel lulled into a false sense of safety,” he said. 

Under the reward system, lab workers can earn “safety chits” by wearing PPE consistently, observing and correcting safety violations, and more. The safety chits can be used for a chance to win a monthly raffle.

In sharp focus

Faculty Laboratory Safety Award

Under Director Bruce Rittmann, the Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology is developing a program to prevent accidental needle sticks in the laboratory. The program includes in-person training and a training video to increase mindfulness on how to safely use needles and sharps, followed by a short quiz to review what students have learned and reinforce key take-home messages. Since the team invented and implemented a needle guard in June, there have been no needle sticks.

Safety first

Sethuraman Panchanathan, executive vice president of the ASU Knowledge Enterprise and chief research and innovation officer, commended the award recipients at the second annual ASU Lab Safety Innovation Awards event in December. 

“I am very proud that ASU is a place where lab safety is emphasized at the highest possible extent,” he said. “At the end of the day, lab safety is not just about a policy or an institutional statement, but about the individuals and culture. A safety culture cannot be propagated on campus unless every faculty member practices it.” 

Each awardee received a medallion designed and hand-forged by Daisy Nolz, an artist and teaching assistant at ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. 

Are you a researcher with an innovative idea for making your lab safer? Learn more about the Laboratory Safety Innovation Awards and how to apply.

Top photo: A student researcher in Scott Sayres' laboratory uses safety gear developed at ASU to conduct experimental research using ultrashort laser pulses. Photo by Andy DeLisle/ASU

ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative to celebrate premier new lab space

The new research and development environment is dedicated to teams including external partners and ASU faculty and students

February 11, 2020

Arizona State University's Interplanetary Initiative will celebrate the grand opening event of its new lab Feb. 27,  from 4-6 p.m. in Sun Devil Hall, room 160. The initiative is inviting ASU affiliates, external partners and the public to be among the first people to preview the new lab space with self-guided tours of the different areas.   

The Interplanetary Lab, a facility devoted to interdisciplinary research and development, contains roughly 6,800 square feet of in-house, design-build-fly space, making it one of the more diverse lab environments at ASU. From inception through its completion on Dec. 1, 2019, the lab took 15 months to fully construct. It contains a protospace area, electronics lab, shop, vacuum testing area, ground station and clean room.  Download Full Image

These features will benefit students and faculty at ASU as well as external partners looking to collaborate on the interdisciplinary projects of the Interplanetary Initiative. Offering rapid building and testing capabilities, the lab will facilitate accelerated progress on multiple projects at once while offering on-site staff engineers to manage the space and mentor teams. The lab seeks strong stakeholder support in answering compelling questions that have room for growth and potential for outside funding and/or corporate partnerships. 

Learn more about the grand opening event, or register to attend

Taryn Struck

Manager of Marketing and Publicity, Interplanetary Initiative


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State Farm, ASU announce partnership on Pathways for the Future initiative

February 4, 2020

$30 million gift to drive new education and career development program that targets high school and transfer students, as well as working adults

Arizona State University will prepare learners of all ages to succeed in a transformed workplace thanks to a $30 million gift from State Farm that will fund new programs and scholarships.

The funding, announced Tuesday, will drive the new State Farm Pathways for the Future workforce-development initiative, which will target high school and community college students as well as adults in the workforce who need to update their skills on the go.

"I have a concern that the technological advancements that are occurring in today’s society have the real risk of leaving segments behind," said Michael Tipsord, CEO of State Farm. He spoke at an event announcing the partnership at Sun Devil Stadium on Tuesday.

"You combat that through this continued upskilling of individuals to deal with whatever it is that the world may present. I want our people to have all the opportunities to be able to develop skills and learn in a way that continues to make them relevant and competitive."

State Farm's regional headquarters sits just north of Sun Devil Stadium, and Tipsord said that ASU President Michael Crow was influential in attracting the corporate campus to Tempe. Crow said the partnership is a perfect pairing of two entities that are focused on embracing the future of technology while supporting families and individuals.

"We're excited about this gift and honored to be a partner with State Farm because of the openness and logic with which the gift was approached, which was, ‘How do we now take these resources and not just use them as some generic scholarship,' which is always useful but inadequate," Crow said.

"Here we have a company that’s thinking differently. This investment is looking at each aspect of what we do: Let’s eliminate the financial barrier; let’s build some tools that help us to greatly accelerate who goes to college. It’s not only about money but it’s about ways to overcome barriers."

Pathways for the Future has four components: an online academic program, financial support, tools for success and career coaching.

Participants in the program, called Pathway Scholars, start by earning online credits in one of three tracks: STEM, business leadership, or humanities and social sciences. If a student needs extra help before entering a track, a refresher course or tutoring options will be available. These tracks will lead to an associate degree, undergraduate degree or undergraduate certificate.

One goal of the program is to increase degree completion in Arizona by preparing students to enroll in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the W. P. Carey School of Business, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and other units across ASU.

The State Farm gift will allow students to take courses for a reduced cost. For those interested in earning credit, each course will cost $25 for identity verification, to ensure academic integrity, and $400 for credit conversion. Typically, a three-credit online course would cost approximately $1,500. Additionally, students only pay for credit conversion once they are satisfied with their grade and only if they opt to do so. 

Other financial incentives will be available, including the State Farm Pathways for the Future Scholarship Program, which will help eligible students pay for enrollment fees, conversion of earned admission credits, tuition and summer bridge programs. Crisis funding will be offered to students when personal emergencies could derail their education.

Panelists sit onstage

ASU Vice Provost of Academic Alliances Cheryl Hyman speaks on a panel about preparing students for the future Tuesday at Sun Devil Stadium. She is joined by moderator Jane Oates of WorkingNation; Sarah Mineau, vice president operations, human resources for State Farm; and John Graham of Sun Belt Holdings. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

The gift also will provide support for students on their academic journey. The longstanding Maricopa to ASU Pathways Program, which serves students who begin at the Maricopa Community Colleges and aspire to transfer to ASU, will be improved with a better progress tracker.

One significant new support will be “Universal Learner me3.” ASU’s online me3 planning tool, which launched several years ago, helps high school and college students discover their career interests through a fun, interactive game. Funding from State Farm will help redesign me3 to reach universal learners, primarily mid-career adults who need to upgrade their skills and community college students. In partnership with State Farm, ASU will develop and pilot the new Universal Learner me3, with the potential for the tool to be expanded into other industries and employment possibilities.

The updated Universal Learner me3 will be part of the new Pathways Career and Transition Success Center, which will ensure that Pathways Scholars are ready to immediately enter or reenter the workforce upon coursework completion. Students will have access to career coaching, digital portfolio and resume preparation and mentorships.

The success center will partner with State Farm and other corporations to keep up with workforce trends and job opportunities and to monitor the need for new credentials or certificates. 

Crow said Tuesday that the future of work is changing.

"It’s about the empowerment of the individual," he said. "What we’ll see, if we do this right, is the nature of work and the nature of learning become less differentiated.

"It doesn’t mean you won’t go to college when you’re 18. Some will. Some will go to college when they’re 30, and some will go when they’re 80. Every industry and every sector will be affected by the change, and this investment helps us to accelerate our energy on that issue."

Cheryl Hyman, vice provost for academic alliances at ASU, spoke on a panel at the event, and she described how her career started in the technology industry before she earned an MBA and entered the education field. She said she wished she had been better educated on her career options, and that's why the new Universal Learner me3 is a critical element of Pathways to the Future.

"I've seen thousands of students waste time and money and lose credits and see their financial aid run out, all stemming from a wrong choice that's not their fault," she said.

"We have an obligation to inform every learner of every option they have, and this investment in our transfer tools and me3 allows learners to educate themselves."

Crow said the partnership will have a ripple effect.

"This energy will send a wave. Other companies are listening. Other institutions are listening," he said. 

"State Farm is showing not just philanthropy, but activist philanthropy. ... Hopefully, a hundred other groups will step up and do the same thing."

Top photo: State Farm Insurance Chairman and CEO Michael Tipsord (left), moderator and ASU Foundation CEO Gretchen Buhlig and President Michael Crow talk about their alliance to implement the Pathways for the Future program funded by State Farm Education Assist and $30 million, on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, at Sun Devil Stadium. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU scholar-in-residence to offer lessons in diversity

Faculty Women of Color Caucus welcomes Menah Pratt-Clarke, a leader in institutional transformation in higher education

January 31, 2020

The Faculty Women of Color Caucus at Arizona State University is pleased to welcome Menah Pratt-Clarke, a leader in institutional transformation in higher education, as its 2020 scholar-in-residence.

Each year, the caucus selects an established scholar to visit the ASU campus to meet with faculty, students and administration on negotiating issues related to diversity and inclusion within the classroom and within the university as a whole, especially as they relate to race, class and gender.  FWOCC 2020 Scholar in Residence Menah Pratt-Clarke Download Full Image

“The program enacts FWOCC’s mission to promote ongoing dialogue about inclusion across the university and to integrate issues of diversity, access, and equity into the university’s mission,” said caucus President Ersula Ore. “We look forward to engaging Dr. Pratt-Clarke in meaningful dialogue during her visit to ASU.”

Pratt-Clarke is the vice president for strategic affairs and diversity, vice provost of inclusion and diversity, and professor of education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) She served 10 years as the associate chancellor for strategic affairs, associate provost for diversity at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. In these positions, Pratt-Clarke has led successful efforts to develop and implement universitywide strategic plans addressing inclusion and diversity. She is recognized for her interdisciplinary contributions that span from law and sociology to literature, philosophy, African American studies and education.

Pratt-Clarke is the author of the book “A Black Woman’s Journey from Cotton Picking to College Professor: Lessons about Race, Class, and Gender in America,” which was awarded the American Education Studies Association 2018 Critics’ Choice Book Award. The book will be the focus of a scheduled book group discussion among ASU faculty and students ahead of Pratt-Clarke’s arrival to ASU this month.

Upon her arrival, Pratt-Clarke, like previous scholars-in-residence will meet with ASU graduate students, administrators and caucus membership to discuss and advise them on their respective concerns and interests.

Faculty Women of Color Caucus past scholars-in-residence include Rusty Barceló, Dorothy Roberts, Eduardo Bonilla Silva and Derald Wing Sue.

“The scholar-in-residence program provides an opportunity for representatives of the administration, the faculty, and graduate or law students to interact in smaller groups with highly respected scholars who have focused their research and teaching on critical aspects of ongoing endeavors to foster diversity and strengthen inclusion,” said Stanlie James, vice provost for inclusion and community engagement at ASU.

Pratt-Clarke’s keynote address is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Feb. 18 in the Old Main Carson Ballroom at ASU's Tempe campus.

Media Relations Officer, Media Relations & Strategic Communications


Graduate College Fellows Program: Call for applications

ASU faculty should apply for the Graduate College Fellows Program.

January 28, 2020

The Graduate College is accepting applications for the 2020-21 Graduate College Fellows Program. The purpose of this initiative is to foster interdisciplinary curriculum innovations in graduate education that will benefit graduate students across Arizona State University.

The principal focus of the yearlong fellowship period is to design and develop innovative graduate learning experiences that satisfy core curricular or other kinds of program requirements, including electives, research training, field experiences or culminating experiences, as well as other key areas of graduate education such as professional and career preparation and development. These innovations should have an interdisciplinary nature and emphasize impact. Professor Hamid Marvi works with graduate students Professor Hamid Marvi speaks with mechanical engineering graduate student Hailey Burch and mechanical engineering senior Clayton Brenner. Download Full Image

The program is open to ASU faculty members of the Academic Assembly who work with graduate students and have an interest in designing programs or curricula for them. Two fellows will be selected and collaborations between them welcomed as appropriate. Fellows will spend the fall semester in collaborative design and consultation with Graduate College faculty and staff. In the spring semester, fellows will pilot their curricular innovations. Fellows are also expected to participate in the life of the Graduate College enough to become familiar with its values and strategic initiatives.

Benefits of the yearlong fellowship include:

• The opportunity to conceptualize new interdisciplinary curriculum innovations that will be made available to all graduate students.

• A deeper experience of the Graduate College culture, strategic initiatives and resources that can benefit your home graduate students.

• For serving as Graduate College Faculty Fellow you will receive supplemental pay in the amount of $10,000 ($5,000 each if jointly applied) paid over the period, August 2020 through May 2021. This appointment is in addition to your other faculty and administrative appointments at Arizona State University. 

To apply:

Prospective fellows should apply (individually or in teams of no more than two) submitting the following:

1. A two-page (single-spaced, 12-point font) proposal narrative describing the problem that the interdisciplinary graduate curriculum innovation will address and the rationale for its selection, including a description of how the fellows’ innovation will enrich graduate learning. Priority will be given to proposals that leverage ASU existing resources; focus on bringing together knowledge from more than one distinct discipline or approach; and attend to ASU’s charter priorities of inclusion relative to applicant experience base, student access and public value.

2. A 500-word description of the pedagogical approach to be used in the proposed curriculum innovation.

3. Background on the applicant(s): (a) Three-page CV, (b) 300-word history or experiences with proposed innovation.

4. A letter of support from the appropriate unit director(s).

Deadline to apply: Friday, March 20Submit application materialsCreate one document for your application and include your name in the title of the submitted document.

Tracy Viselli

Director of Communications and Marketing, Graduate College


ASU Graduate College announces 2019-20 Outstanding Faculty Mentors

January 28, 2020

For 32 years, the Graduate College has asked Arizona State University graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to nominate their mentors for what has become a prestigious and time-honored award.

“What we’re looking for in nominees are faculty members that can demonstrate a long-standing commitment to mentoring excellence,” said Zachary Reeves-Blurton, program manager of mentoring initiatives and professional development engagement at the Graduate College. outstanding_faculty_mentor_award_winners 2019-20 Outstanding Faculty Mentoring Award winners Gregory Dawson, Mirka Koro, Tess Neal and Yang Weng. Download Full Image

Kathleen Oakes nominated Gregory Dawson, her mentor at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

“I know if not for him, I would not be a graduate student, pursuing my passion and my dreams. Like Greg's parents, my parents did not go to college. If not for someone like him to help mentor me throughout this process, I would have been lost. His mentorship at the graduate level is the continuation of a long relationship.”

“To me," Dawson said, "our highest calling as educators is to help our students become successful in life and in their chosen fields. As such, this is, to me, the highest honor that the university can bestow, and I am humbled and honored to receive it.”

The Graduate College is hosting the 2019-2020 Outstanding Faculty Mentor Awards from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 24. Attendees can RSVP here.

The ceremony is not only a way to recognize deserving mentors, it’s also a way for professors and faculty to connect and learn from each other about mentoring philosophies and practices.

“This event demonstrates that ASU places an extremely high value on mentorship,” said Gabriel Shaibi, an associate professor and Southwest Borderlands Scholar at the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, and the winner of last year’s Outstanding Postdoctoral Mentor award.

The Outstanding Faculty Mentors for 2019-20 are:

• Outstanding Doctoral Mentor, Mirka Koro, professor and director, doctoral programs, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

• Outstanding Master's Mentor, Tess Neal, assistant professor, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

• Outstanding Instructional Faculty Mentor, Gregory Dawson, clinical associate professor, School of Accountancy, W. P. Carey School of Business.

• Outstanding Postdoctoral Mentor, Yang Weng, assistant professor, School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The Graduate College is dedicated to professional development, of which mentoring is a central pillar. A good mentor is essential to the success of students in their transition to a career, their ability to be a leader and their pursuit of knowledge mobilization.  

A faculty mentor invests a significant amount of time and effort in their mentees. Not only do they help students navigate their academic colleges and scholarly communities, they also typically offer personal support. If students are struggling emotionally or with work/life/school balance, mentors can serve as a support and guide.

“Through these awards we are recognizing faculty mentors that take a much more holistic approach to the mentoring relationship, to the personal, to the career and to the long term,” Reeves-Blurton said.

Faculty mentors include all levels of faculty, including tenured, tenure-track and non-tenure-track clinical and instructional faculty and postdoctoral advisers.

“This year’s nominations are the strongest we’ve had yet — the quality and depth of the student testimonials are very impressive,” Reeves-Blurton said.

Tracy Viselli

Director of Communications and Marketing, Graduate College


Human rights activist Nadia Murad to receive O’Connor Justice Prize from ASU

January 27, 2020

Nadia Murad, the acclaimed Yazidi human rights activist who founded a global initiative to advocate for survivors of violence and genocide, has been named the sixth recipient of the O’Connor Justice Prize.

The award, administered by the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, was established in 2014 to honor the legacy of the school’s namesake, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. It recognizes those who have made extraordinary efforts to advance rule of law, justice and human rights. photo of Nadia Murad Nadia Murad, the acclaimed Yazidi human rights activist who founded a global initiative to advocate for survivors of violence and genocide, has been named the sixth recipient of the O’Connor Justice Prize. Download Full Image

“I am grateful to receive this award and to be included among the prestigious past recipients of the O’Connor Justice Prize,” Murad said.

The 26-year-old is a member of the Yazidi community, an ethnoreligious minority in Iraq. Yazidis have faced centuries of persecution and were targeted by ISIS militants in a campaign that began in 2014. Murad was among the thousands of women taken captive. ISIS murdered six of her brothers and her mother. She was held captive before escaping and eventually resettled in Germany as a refugee.

She became a voice for survivors, writing a New York Times bestselling memoir, “The Last Girl,” and founding Nadia’s Initiative, which is dedicated to rebuilding communities in crisis and advocating globally for survivors of sexual violence.

In 2018, she became the first Iraqi and Yazidi to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She was a co-recipient with Congolese advocate Denis Mukwege for “their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”

She advocates throughout the world, meeting with global leaders to raise awareness of ISIS and its genocidal campaign against the Yazidis. Nadia’s Initiative works to persuade governments and other international organizations to support survivors of sexual violence and to invest in the sustainable redevelopment of the Yazidi homeland of Sinjar, Iraq.

She said prestigious recognitions such as the O’Connor Justice Prize help bring awareness to her causes.

“As with every award I receive, this prize symbolizes a continued global awareness of the plight of Yazidis and survivors of sexual violence and the ongoing need to work to end both the genocide of my people and sexual violence in conflict,” Murad said. “I hope the global community will take up their responsibility to recognize the Yazidi genocide, protect women and invest in efforts like those we undertake at my organization Nadia’s Initiative — to rebuild the Yazidi homeland of Sinjar and invest in the healing and development of the Yazidi community."

Nadia’s Initiative also takes aim at inaction, warning world leaders that they must go beyond promises and effect change, or share in the blame. The organization says words without action inflict the same harm and suffering as the perpetrators of mass atrocities and sexual violence.

Among the specific projects Nadia’s Initiative is spearheading in Sinjar: building a new hospital; rehabilitating hundreds of farms that were burned or destroyed by ISIS; building a new school and rehabilitating destroyed schools; providing water, sanitation and hygiene services; and working with the U.S. State Department to remove thousands of land mines. The organization also teamed with human rights lawyer Amal Clooney to bring to court the world’s first prosecution of international crimes committed by ISIS against Yazidis.

Murad will be presented with the O’Connor Justice Prize in a ceremony on Feb. 15 at the Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Montelucia.

She is the third Nobel Peace Prize winner to receive the honor. Previous recipients of the O’Connor Justice Prize are:

• Inaugural recipient Navanethem Pillay of South Africa, the former U.N. high commissioner for human rights. She was honored for her fight against apartheid, as well as her championing of international human rights.

• Ana Palacio, the first woman to serve as the foreign affairs minister of Spain. Member of the Council of State of Spain and former senior vice president and general counsel of the World Bank Group.

• Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, for his humanitarian work since leaving office. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his efforts to find peaceful solutions to conflicts, advance democracy and to promote economic and social development.

• Anson Chan, the former chief secretary of Hong Kong. Known as “Hong Kong’s conscience” for her decades of devotion to social justice and democracy, she helped oversee the transition from British control in 1997.

• FW de Klerk, the former South African president who led the dismantling of that country’s apartheid system and co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela in 1993.

Nicole Almond Anderson

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law