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An uncommon commencement

May 3, 2020

ASU's spring 2020 ceremony — reimagined with a virtual format — to feature first cohort of graduates through partnership with Uber

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

Arizona State University's May 11 commencement will celebrate many firsts and milestones: the university's first virtual ceremony because of the novel coronavirus, the first graduating cohort of ASU's partnership with ride-share company Uber, and the first time thousands of Sun Devils will have a chance to turn their tassels from the air-conditioned comfort of their own homes.

Of the nearly 16,400 graduates — projected to be the largest class yet — approximately 4,200 are ASU Online students, and almost 700 earned their degree through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan partnership. And of those graduating this May, nearly 6,600 will do so with honors, the most ever for an individual class. 

The graduation rolls also count Uber scholars for the first time, with five members of the first cohort earning their degree.

MORE: Meet outstanding grads from across ASU

The virtual ceremony will highlight accomplishments of both undergraduate and graduate students.

"Obviously this is a departure from our usual format, but ASU's desire to celebrate our students remains the same," said ASU President Michael M. Crow, who will provide keynote remarks. "Our students have worked hard and demonstrated amazing resilience to reach this milestone. We are excited to recognize their achievements and acknowledge those who helped them thrive."

This graduating class has much to reflect on. They:

  • Helped ASU make a historic pivot from in-person classes to interactive remote learning. Some 12,000 of the more than 16,000 graduates were in on-campus classes before the shift.
  • Joined the fight against the coronavirus, whether by volunteering in their home cities, in research working on virus-fighting tools, or by continuing to study, learn and keep the university moving forward.
  • Were part of a staggering shift that included 84,457 on-campus students participating in 4,918 courses in Canvas. 
  • Showed their resilience. Zoom sessions alone totaled 437,790 this semester, not to mention 1,929 Slack workspaces and more than 5.45 million Slack messages. Classes, lecture series, workouts, mindfulness sessions and even athlete training sessions had to move to a digital environment.

The May 11 ceremony will also include congratulatory messages from former ASU commencement speakers, notable alumni and the undergraduate student government president. A “year in review” video will highlight big wins from the football field to the research lab and spotlight student achievement, university awards, campus life, service projects and more.

In addition to the virtual ceremony, graduates will have the opportunity to attend future ceremonies in person if they choose in December 2020 or May 2021. Colleges and schools will also host virtual convocations for their graduates and highlight their outstanding graduates May 11 and 12. At those smaller ceremonies, there will be a special moment for each graduate with their name, photo, degree and a comment from them about their future.

The links to all ceremonies will be available at by May 9; ceremonies can be viewed at anytime after they premier on May 11 or 12. 

First Uber cohort takes a smooth ride towards graduation

Man in cap and gown with son

Randy Clarke and his 1-year-old son, Jodye, in front of Tempe's Sun Devil Stadium. Clarke is one of a handful of people from the first cohort of the Uber and ASU education partnership who will graduate on May 11. Clarke, an Uber driver since 2015, will receive degrees in political science and communication.

The ASU and Uber Education Partnership formed in November 2018 provides a pathway to a fully funded college degree to eligible Uber drivers through ASU Online, or nondegree courses, such as entrepreneurship and English language learning, through ASU’s Continuing and Professional Education Program.

The program was offered to drivers who completed at least 3,000 rides and achieved gold, diamond or platinum status on Uber Pro. The partnership also allows drivers to pass tuition coverage to spouses, domestic partners, children, siblings, parents, legal guardians and dependents.

Five members of its first cohort will earn their degrees this May.

Twenty-five-year-old Randy Clarke has been driving for Uber since 2015 and to date has accumulated 15,000 rides. He was already attending ASU and made the switch from attending classes on the Tempe campus to learning online to take advantage of the tuition program. He said the learning format suited him well, with the exception that his social life has suffered for the last two years.

“I studied from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and then drove at night, which is where the real money is anyway,” said Clarke, who double majored in political science and communication in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Staying at home also enabled me to watch my 1-year-old son. This all happened at the right time.”

Clarke said after graduation, he intends to start a multimedia production company, producing videos, podcasts and articles focusing on how government works and bias in the media.

Forty-five-year-old Kelly Hnasko took advantage of the program through her husband, who is an Uber driver. Hnasko is a paralegal at a boutique firm in Bridgewater, New Jersey, and will receive her bachelor’s degree in English through The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She said the program was helpful in two ways.

“We have two children. One is in college, and the other just finished,” Hnasko said. “That was extremely helpful in terms of finances. The other reason I did it was to prepare for my next step in life. I believe it will broaden my career path.”

The program was also a financial lifeline for Gabrielle Messina, a Monterey County, California, resident who will receive her Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies from the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts this month.

“My Uber experience was a serious blessing because I was so overwhelmed with student debt,” said Messina, who is getting her degree courtesy of her dad, an Uber driver. “It made me so incredibly happy that my dad could share his education benefits with me.”

Messina said she intends on pursuing her master’s degree in psychology with plans to become a counselor. She said she is thankful to ASU and Uber for providing her with a pathway to graduation.

“I am still blown away that this happened,” she said. “I will forever be grateful.”

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU ranked top in US, 5th in world pursuit of UN sustainability goals

April 22, 2020

Of 17 goals, the university earned its highest scores in environmental stewardship and education

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

In 2015, world leaders agreed to establish 17 objectives aimed at achieving a better world by 2030: among them, an end to poverty and hunger, clean water and energy, gender equality and decent work. Together, they are called the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

It was announced Wednesday that Arizona State University ranks top in the U.S. and fifth in the world out of 766 institutions in achieving those goals, beating out the University of British Columbia in Canada and the United Kingdom's University of Manchester and King's College London. The global ranking is a jump from last year’s 35th place.

In the annual rankings published by Times Higher Education magazine, ASU scored 96.3 out of 100 points. It was the top American university in the rankings. Only three American universities placed in the top 100.  ASU beat the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Penn State.

“This is more than a target to motivate behavior, this is a commitment Arizona State University has made to demonstrate that sustainability is achievable." said ASU President Michael Crow.  “It reflects the focus and dedication of people across the university and we are proud to be leading a new wave in the evolution of higher education. As an emerging service university, we are designed to be adaptive, nimble and skilled in leveraging ideas and technology to create impactful solutions to complex global challenges, and take responsibility for continuing to move this pioneering work further every day.”

Many of the ranked institutions do not participate in all 17 goals. For example, only 372 institutions out of 766 work on eradicating poverty. ASU participates in all 17 categories, pursuing these goals in every aspect of education and operations for almost two decades. Research in each category also is conducted at the university.

"Being ranked as the No. 5 university in the world for impact reflects that Arizona State University, our faculty, staff and students, consider it our fundamental responsibility to inspire positive change and contribute to the overall health of our global community," said Mark Searle, executive vice president and university provost. "Alongside our charter commitments to excellence and access, making an impact in the world is intrinsic to our organizational DNA."

Research alone is only one component of each ranking. In the first goal — eradicating poverty — ASU conducts research (score of 88), provides financial aid (69.4), and runs antipoverty programs both within the university and in the community (100 each).

Among the 17 goals, ASU ranked highest in eradicating poverty; zero hunger; affordable and clean energy; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; peace, justice and strong institutions; and support of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

Graphic courtesy United Nations.

Supporting aquatic ecosystem education and action and water-sensitive waste disposal all earned perfect scores of 100. Maintaining the local aquatic ecosystem earned 86.7 points. Research in the category scored 91.6.

Terrestrial ecosystem education and land-sensitive waste disposal both earned perfect scores. Research earned more than 88 points. Support of land ecosystem action earned 85 points.

In sustainable cities and communities, ASU scored 88.2, with arts and heritage support scoring 100, sustainable practices 92.6, research 90.6, and arts and heritage expenditures 56.6.

ASU’s myriad partnerships supporting the goals scored 89.6, with education about the goals earning a perfect 100. Publication of sustainable development goal reports earned 91.1, relationships supporting the goals earned 86.7, and research 79.6.

In the category of peace, justice and strong institutions, ASU scored 85 points. The university’s work with government won a perfect score of 100. Research and governance measures scored more than 96 each, while the percentage of graduates with degrees in law and civil enforcement scored 43.6.

Top photo: Maligne Lake, Canada by Rich Martello, courtesy of Unsplash.

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


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Caribbean coral reef decline began in 1950s and '60s from human activities

April 22, 2020

Not long ago, the azure waters of the Caribbean contained healthy and pristine coral reef environments dominated by the reef-building corals that provide home to one-third of the biodiversity in the region.

But the Caribbean reefs of today pale in comparison to those that existed even just a generation ago. Since researchers began intensively studying these reefs in the 1970s, about one half of Caribbean corals have died. The iconic elkhorn and staghorn corals that once dominated Caribbean reefs have been hardest hit, with only 20% of their populations remaining today.

Although researchers believe climate change, fishing and pollution are to blame, the lack of baseline data prior to the 1970s has made it hard to determine the precise reasons for these coral die-offs. Arizona State University researcher Katie Cramer wanted to document when corals first began dying to better understand the root causes of coral loss. 

Now, in a new paper in Science Advances, Cramer has combined fossil data, historical records and underwater survey data to reconstruct the abundance of staghorn and elkhorn corals over the past 125,000 years. She finds that these corals first began declining in the 1950s and '60s, earlier than previously thought. This timing is decades before climate change impacts, indicating that local human impacts like fishing and land-clearing set the stage for the widespread coral declines that are now accelerating in response to warming oceans.

"I am interested in going back to the scene of the crime when humans first began to significantly impact coral reefs centuries ago, to understand when, why and how much reefs have been altered by humans,” said Cramer, an assistant research professor at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and an Ocean Science Fellow at the Center for Oceans at Conservation International.

The earlier, local roots of declines of elkhorn and staghorn corals in the 1950s and '60s highlight the urgency of mitigating local human impacts on reefs to allow these corals to recover. “In an era where coral reefs are being hit with multiple human stressors at the same time, we need to resolve why and how much coral reefs have changed over human history to inform our responses to the current reef crisis," said Cramer.

“Recent studies are showing that reefs are better able to cope with climate change impacts when they are not also stressed from overfishing and land-based runoff. So let’s get a handle on these tractable problems now to give reefs a better chance of weathering the current climate crisis."

Joe Caspermeyer

Manager (natural sciences) , Media Relations & Strategic Communications


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ASU achieves carbon neutrality, ranked among most sustainable universities in the world

April 21, 2020

After achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations 6 years early, ASU earns AASHE Platinum rating

Carbon dioxide emissions likely will decrease in 2020 in the wake of COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders. However, those emissions surely will rise again once the pandemic passes unless significant steps are taken to tackle human-caused climate change.

In 2007, Arizona State University was ahead of the curve when it came to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That’s when ASU pledged to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations by 2025. To underscore the urgency to act, ASU reached that goal six years early — on June 30, 2019.

Increased energy efficiency in both new buildings and campus retrofits; on-site solar generation; renewable energy purchases from large-scale, off-site generation facilities; and purchase of carbon offsets and renewable energy were all deployed while growing the student population and undertaking a physical expansion of all ASU’s campuses.

This action is one key element of many initiatives that have helped ASU also earn the STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) Platinum sustainability rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. STARS is a framework for colleges and universities to measure their comprehensive sustainability performance.

Platinum is the highest certification awarded in the STARS program and ASU is one of only six universities in the world to achieve the STARS Platinum rating.

“Our goal is to make sustainability innovation and leadership a hallmark of Arizona State University,” ASU President Michael Crow said. “ASU’s ambitious choice to pursue climate neutrality and our early realization of that aspiration, as well as our success in earning a STARS platinum rating, demonstrate the comprehensive commitment of our university community to lead in sustainability education, operation and practice.” 

“The commitment to reducing ASU’s carbon footprint is an important first step that already has significant impacts,” noted Peter Schlosser, ASU vice president and vice provost of the Global Futures Laboratory. “We are working to ensure that the combination of concrete action and increased awareness of our planet’s boundaries will rapidly translate into more meaningful action on a national and global scale.”

STARS evaluates emissions, facilities, operations, academics, research, planning, engagement, investments and more. Significant clarifications and improvements regarding sustainability in ASU’s academics and investments also contributed to earning Platinum certification, even as the rating system has become more stringent.

ASU has reduced total net emissions by 80% per 1,000 gross-square-foot of building space and 65% per student compared with 2007. Of note, the university has reduced carbon emissions while increasing building space on campuses by 39.5% and the number of on-campus students by 24.3%.

“ASU has a distinguished track record of climate action along with a vibrant culture of sustainability, from serving as an original signatory of the Presidents’ Climate Commitment, to establishing the first and largest School of Sustainability in the country, to playing a key leadership role in launching the commercial solar power purchase agreement marketplace in Arizona,” said Morgan Olsen, ASU executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer. “The elite STARS Platinum rating and climate neutrality are major milestones in ASU’s leadership in helping society move toward sustainability and thoughtful stewardship of our planet.”

Mick Dalrymple, director of University Sustainability Practices and a senior sustainability scientist, added that ASU will continue to seek out opportunities to strengthen its climate neutrality such as electrifying ASU’s fleet, exploring additional collaborations with utility and energy technology companies, expanding alternative transportation and telecommuting programs, planting a native forest carbon sink at ASU's West campus, and implementing a carbon neutral new construction policy.

ASU’s additional operational climate goals include reaching neutrality for emissions related to commuting and air travel by 2035.

With many other ongoing initiatives, ASU will also continue to work on improving its overall sustainability as measured by STARS and ASU’s eight sustainability goals.

“We seek to serve as both a ‘living laboratory’ and a living example of sustainability to demonstrate to our communities and the world what is possible with dedication and innovation,” Dalrymple said.

Green Building Infographic

Graphic by Alex Davis/ASU Media Relations and Strategic Communications

Science writer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

ASU business school recognized for learning labs

April 21, 2020

Today, AACSB International — the world’s largest business education network — recognizes Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business among 25 business schools as a highlight of its Innovations That Inspire member challenge.

An annual initiative, the challenge recognizes institutions from around the world that serve as champions of change in the business education landscape. This year’s theme, “Catalysts for Innovation,” emphasizes business education’s efforts to elevate entrepreneurial thinking and new business creation. Interdisciplinary Applied Learning Lab Download Full Image

The W. P. Carey School of Business is recognized for its Interdisciplinary Applied Learning Labs, which is an immersive course that pairs full-time MBA students and non-business graduate students with local organizations to solve real-world problems in fields such as biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, social work and public school financing.

“I’m so proud this course has been recognized,” W. P. Carey School Dean Amy Hillman said. “It represents the ingenuity and innovation that makes this university great — and it reminds us of the enormous impact a few good ideas can have when these creative qualities are put together in an entrepreneurial environment, in the hands of students with diverse backgrounds and experience.” 

Now in its fifth year, the Innovations That Inspire challenge has highlighted more than 120 business school efforts that exemplify forward-looking approaches to education, research, community engagement or outreach, and leadership. To date, members of AACSB’s Business Education Alliance have shared nearly 1,000 innovations, creating a robust repository in AACSB’s DataDirect system to inform and inspire fellow members and the industry.

“The demand for innovation that engages experts across disciplines and addresses the needs of both local and global communities has never been more apparent than in these unprecedented times,” said Thomas R. Robinson, president and CEO of AACSB. "We are honored to feature the W. P. Carey School of Business for its valuable role in elevating entrepreneurship through research, teaching and community engagement.” 

Shay Moser

Managing Editor, W. P. Carey School of Business


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ASU names new McCain Institute executive director

April 16, 2020

Former Ambassador Mark Green to head up Washington, D.C.-based organization

The Arizona State University character-driven leadership program based in Washington, D.C., has found a new chieftain.

Man in suit and tie with flag behind him

Mark Green. Photo courtesy of U.S. Agency for International Development.

ASU President Michael M. Crow and board chair Cindy McCain announced Thursday that Ambassador Mark Green will serve as the new executive director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership at ASU’s Barrett and O’Connor Washington Center in the nation’s capital. Green starts his new position on April 20.

“Ambassador Green’s selection continues our unwavering commitment to securing the absolute best talent available,” Crow said. “His leadership style, vision, and global success match up superbly with the ASU Charter.”

Green joins a long line of ambassadors at the McCain Institute, which is named for Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Green was the former administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) since August 2017. His other posts include heading the International Republican Institute, serving as ambassador to Tanzania from 2007 to 2009 and representing Wisconsin in the United States House of Representatives for four terms.

“Character-driven leadership, in America and around the world, has never been more important,” Green said. “At USAID, I helped strengthen our humanitarian and global development tools. At the McCain Institute, I’ll have an opportunity to reinforce the leadership needed to use these and other tools at a critical moment in our history.”

The selection comes after an extensive search facilitated by Korn Ferry and led by Fran Townsend, McCain Institute board member and former homeland security advisor. Cindy McCain, the late senator's widow, applauded the selection.

“Mark Green’s hallmark is inclusive, character-driven leadership that produces remarkable results,” said McCain, board chair of the institute. “I’ve known and admired him for a long time, and am so proud we now get to work with him directly as our executive director. I know my late husband would approve.”

Based in Washington, D.C., as part of ASU since 2012, the McCain Institute is a unique, action-oriented policy institution with major programs that advance character-driven leadership based on security, economic opportunity, freedom and human dignity.

Green holds a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. In 2012, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from Georgetown University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies. Two years later, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania presented him with a special Presidential Certificate of Recognition and Appreciation.

Top photo: The Barrett and O'Connor Washington Center in Washington, D.C. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now 

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU spring 2020 graduation to celebrate student achievements virtually

April 2, 2020

Arizona State University's spring 2020 commencement and convocation ceremonies will have many of the familiar feelings as past commencements: Graduates will hear their name called; relatives will smile or cry, or both; and the moment will mark the end of one chapter and the exciting start of another.

And though many graduates will likely still decorate their caps and turn their tassels, this commencement will be unique. The May 11 event will be an online celebration, a break from tradition forced by the spread of the novel coronavirus that is making its way around the globe.

ASU President Michael M. Crow will provide opening remarks, and the ceremony will include virtual messages from commencement speakers, notable alumni and the undergraduate student government president.

“We may not be able to share the same space, but we will share the same spirit of accomplishment. Sun Devil Nation is going to celebrate,” Crow said. “We will continue with the same spirit that drove us earlier in the semester when classes were moved to an online format. We will continue to move forward.” 

In addition to the virtual ceremony on May 11, graduates will have the opportunity to attend future ceremonies in person if they choose, including the December 2020 or spring 2021 ceremonies.

Colleges and schools will also host virtual convocation ceremonies for their graduates and highlight their Outstanding Graduates for spring 2020. 

All ceremonies will be on YouTube where viewers can watch, participate and experience the event together.

“This is an important event for ASU to recognize student achievement,” Provost Mark Searle said. “It is the culmination of hard work, fulfillment of personal commitments and a celebration of significant accomplishments by our students.”

“This decision was inevitable considering the life-altering conditions we are facing, but it is still an outcome we wish we could avoid,” he said. “By our nature though, ASU is an optimistic community. We want students to know that we believe that the future will be better and we will not allow our current circumstances to stop us from celebrating your success.”  

If students choose not to take part in any ceremony and all university academic requirements are met, graduating students will receive their diplomas in the mail. 

“As we push forward to make this happen, I am mindful of the disappointment that graduating students and their families likely share in this moment,” Crow said. “As a first-generation college graduate who came from a family where college graduation was a life-changing achievement, I can appreciate the anticipation of reaching this defining milestone. This will mean celebrating our graduates in a different way, but we will be celebrating our graduates.” 

The virtual ceremony will include:

  • A “year in review” video including messages from students looking toward their futures.
  • Congratulatory video messages from high-profile alumni and special guests.
  • A virtual cap and gown photo.
  • A moment for each graduate with their name, photo, degree and a comment from them about graduation. 

The May ceremony will also highlight a diverse spring 2020 class that includes more than 18,000 graduates.

Find more information — including regalia ordering information and how to register for commencement — at and

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ASU passes milestone of 100,000 Zoom sessions in March

April 2, 2020

University community members finding their way to success in the transition to remote learning, teaching and working

For Leena Tohaibeche, an undergraduate student in the College of Health Solutions, ASU’s move to online modalities has meant attending class and working from home — alongside four siblings. Tohaibeche is among the more than 100,000 students relying on ASU’s array of convenient digital tools to keep students learning.

“All of my professors have been recording their lectures and posting (them) afterwards so that has been useful,” she said.

Tohaibeche also works at the University Technology Technology Office, where she continues to work remotely thanks to tools like Zoom, ASU’s universitywide video/audio conferencing solution.

March marked a milestone for surpassing 100,000 Zoom sessions, with the actual number to date now approaching 150,000. An equally if not more remarkable benchmark is the fact that 60 million minutes' worth of these interactions transpired throughout these nearly 150,000 Zoom sessions. That amounts to roughly 115 years of Zoom. Over this staggering period, the Sun Devils have been busy living out new possibilities for work and learning. 

“I miss the students and my studio, but I have to say I have been so pleased with how our Zoom delivery has turned out,” said Penny Dolin, faculty member at the Polytechnic School. “Students who may not have spoken up much before, appear empowered to do so now. I feel like we are laughing more and I get to see my students’ pets.” 

Each Zoom session — a class, a meeting, office hours, a virtual coffee catchup — has encompassed the learning experiences, collaborative strategizing and personal connections that have helped the university thrive during a challenging time. In a silver-lining turn of events, the move to online meetings has often fostered a greater sense of community than was sometimes possible face-to-face.

“Zoom meetings invite me into everyone’s dining room, thanks to all my colleagues for the fellowship and intimacy,” said Jennie Blair, an ASU adjunct instructor and the assistant director of Enrollment Services, where she oversees the strategic implementation of an integrated front-counter service.

For those who aren’t as keen on giving everyone a glimpse of their natural habitats, custom virtual backgrounds in Zoom are transporting Sun Devils everywhere — including on campus. The ASU Marketing Hub recently released more than 40 virtual backgrounds that capture ASU’s spirit. Regardless of the backdrop, community members are seizing this opportunity as a way to build camaraderie.

“It truly makes business personal when you can be natural and wearing a T-shirt and talk about our new world of work and how everyone and their families are doing before jumping into the project,” said Shay Moser, managing editor at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

“I love using Zoom to meet with my employees one-on-one and to check in with them or meet their pets or children, which is something that was unlikely to happen in the former modality,” echoed Art Hernandez, customer service supervisor for the ASU Operations and Experience Center at the University Technology Office. 

In addition to helping community members form these closer connections, the accelerated use of Zoom is prompting people to rethink their meeting structures. Zoom allows for small-group breakout discussions, instant screen sharing, whiteboarding and more.

“I think that we have different meetings for different purposes: Zoom meetings for coffee talk, Zoom meetings for general updates and acknowledgements and then other meetings that are focused on getting projects done or figuring out how to solve an urgent need,” said Erika Lankton, learning services manager at the Polytechnic School.

For instructional designers at ASU, intentionally selecting a medium for any kind of experience is part of the daily job. The learning design community across ASU has been vital in helping to support faculty needing some guidance on how to leverage a combination of available tools to enable deep, interactive learning. 

“I like that Zoom helps keep me from having long ... conversations typing back and forth. A back-and-forth conversation on Slack or email can take 20 minutes, (whereas) I can accomplish the same discussion via Zoom in five minutes,” said Vicki Harmon, instructional designer and manager of professional development at ASU’s EdPlus. “So the question of synchronous benefits versus asynchronous benefits comes to play in each decision I make whether to Zoom, email or Slack.”

In the end, this is all in service of students like Tohaibeche, who admits that getting comfortable in the shift online took a couple weeks — but understanding faculty have made it easier. 

“My classes are in full swing and I have been able to manage my online classes to the best of my ability,” she said. “I understand that all of us are going through this together, and I thank and appreciate all the ASU professors who are trying their best to make this a smooth transition for their students.”

Faculty are finding new ways to encourage student agency and allow for deeper dives into learning materials, which has been a huge part of this transition.

“I get to watch the lecture videos even after the class (and) if i have any questions, this has been really helpful to go back and check what happened,” said RJ Gopinath, a graduate student in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and a student worker for the ASU Learning Futures Collaboratory. “The Zoom classes are more student-friendly; I can take small breaks when I want (and) that helps me keep focused in the class.” 

For ongoing guidance with Zoom and other resources, students and faculty can look to the remote teaching and learning pages hosted by the University Office of the Provost. Staff members can also get started right away by visiting and logging in with their ASURITE. Select the Meetings option on the lefthand menu to schedule a future session, or launch an instant meeting by navigating to the Profile section and finding your sharable Personal Meeting link at the top.

Written by Samantha Becker/UTO

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ASU receives 15 NSF CAREER awards

March 30, 2020

$9.5M in funding for research spanning robotics to locusts to augmented reality

Arizona State University has to date earned 15 National Science Foundation early faculty career awards for 2020. The awards total $9.5 million in funding for ASU researchers over five years.

The NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program identifies the nation’s most promising young faculty members and provides them with funding to pursue outstanding research, excellence in teaching and the integration of education and research. Often, these awards spur the creativity of the faculty member and helps set them on an innovative career path.

“The number of NSF CAREER Program awardees at ASU this year speaks to the excellence and creative aptitude of our junior faculty, from a range of academic disciplines,” said Mark Searle, university provost and executive vice president. “Each was selected for their innovative research and potential for leadership in their field. They are outstanding scholars, and their dedication and commitment to their research is rightly rewarded with these prestigious awards.”

This year’s ASU NSF CAREER award recipients to date:

Daniel Aukes, assistant professor, Polytechnic School, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

This grant will make it possible to develop cost-effective, “specialist” robots that can be quickly prototyped by a non-expert. The goal is to make robots more ubiquitous; accessible and tunable for newcomers to robotics; and for applications in industry, education and academic research. The results will impact fields in which specialization is desirable, such as assistive robotics for the elderly, custom agricultural applications and trash pickup in smart cities. Access to robotics will also benefit education and provide higher access to robots and robotic technology.

Bruno Azeredo, assistant professor, Polytechnic School, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

This grant investigates methods of scaling the production of three-dimensional structures in electronic-grade inorganic semiconductors. Patterning beyond two-dimensional structures is critical to enable the design of novel metamaterial-based infrared optical devices.

Samantha Brunhaver, assistant professor, Polytechnic School, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

This project develops the means to characterize, measure and promote adaptability as a key meta-competency for engineering graduates. Fostering adaptable engineers strengthens the economic competitiveness of the U.S. technical workforce and improves recruitment and retention for engineering, particularly among underrepresented groups.

Arianne Cease, assistant professor, School of Sustainability

This project will combine local and international educational opportunities, as well as lab and field research to test how nutrition, population density and historical habitat variability interact to affect migration, immune function and reproduction of locusts. The results will be used to develop sustainable management and policy recommendations and will be given to global partners to improve livelihoods and human and environmental health.

Richard Kirian, assistant professor, Department of Physics, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

This award focuses on the development of new biomolecular imaging techniques that exploit the unique capabilities of ultrabright X-ray sources. The research aims to enable broadly applicable methods of visualizing dynamic motions of proteins and other biomolecules in solution at physiological temperature. The research targets the general need for measurement techniques that can reveal detailed three-dimensional structures and functional dynamics of biomolecules such as proteins.

Jennifer Kitchen, assistant professor, School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

This project will employ a novel paradigm for automating the design of analog systems, in particular, integrated power electronics. The automation of these closed-loop systems will be achieved through novel analytical and statistical modeling of architectures and circuits, development of analog circuit component libraries, integrated built-in self-test to collect in-field data and update models, and development of a computationally efficient and accurate optimization approach.

Robert LiKamWa, assistant professor, School of Arts, Media and Engineering, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts 

An augmented reality (AR) system allows for virtual objects to be overlaid visually in physical spaces through the use of AR glasses or through the camera/screen of a mobile device. However, current AR systems suffer from high energy consumption and limited performance due to the high data rates associated with visual computing with high image frame resolutions and high frame rates. The proposed project aims to reduce the sensing data rate of visual computing, enabling more compact augmented reality devices with smaller battery sizes and higher precision placement of virtual objects in physical spaces.

Ariane Middel, assistant professor, School of Arts Media and Engineering, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

The goal of this grant is to advance understanding of how the built environment impacts heat and human thermal exposure in cities. The project will use MaRTy (a mobile weather station) and novel modeling approaches (deep learning) to assess how people experience heat in the summer. The work will reframe how heat is assessed in urban areas by using radiation-based metrics and indices. New academic-practitioner partnerships with cities will yield research that translates into best practices for infrastructure management and human-centric heat hazard mitigation.

Brent Nannenga, assistant professor, School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

One of the most well-studied proteins that controls the growth of inorganic materials is ferritin, a protein responsible for controlling the growth of iron oxide nanoparticles and maintaining proper levels of free iron in the cell. This project will make significant contributions to both the understanding of how the ferritin protein functions and the general molecular interactions of biomolecules with nanomaterials.

Yulia Peet, assistant professor, School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

The goal of this project is to develop new theories that help explain how the interaction between flexible surfaces and near-wall turbulence will change the structure of flow. Surfaces that deform under the influence of fluid forces occur in practical situations, such as those involving vibrations of aircraft wings, human blood vessels and compliant coatings.

Christian Rabeling, assistant professor, School of Life Sciences, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

This research will unravel the evolutionary history of a complex parasite-host system; specifically, ant species that are parasites of the colonies of other ant species. This parasite-host system has evolved many times across ant species, but it is unknown how this convergently evolved behavior has affected speciation patterns in the social parasites.

Abhishek Singharoy, assistant professor, School of Molecular Sciences, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

His research seeks to understand the chemistry of the molecular motor, and how it translates into cell function.

Barbara Smith, assistant professor, School of Biological and Health Systems, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

The aim of this research is to develop and apply a new technology that integrates photoacoustics (sound generated by light) and fluorescence to precisely target neurocircuits activated by addiction.

Xuan Wang, assistant professor, School of Life Sciences, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Product export is an important but elusive research area for renewable biochemicals production. Characterization and optimization of product-export systems will help increase the production metrics of microbial processes and eventually enhance economic viability for microbial production of renewable chemicals. The goal of this project is to provide a systematic understanding of export and efflux systems in Escherichia coli for renewable chemicals, including short-chain mono- and dicarboxylic acids, as well as small aromatics.

Wenlong Zhang, assistant professor, Polytechnic School, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

This project addresses the challenges of physical human-robot interaction. The application is that of a powered knee exoskeleton used for gait rehabilitation. The goal of the project is to develop novel algorithms for the robot to estimate the user’s intent and signal its own strategy when physically interacting with the user. A key to this project is the creation of a framework that leverages models of human cognitive and motor dynamics such that an intelligent robot can dynamically adjust its behavior to simultaneously facilitate human learning and provide physical assistance when needed.

Top photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Science writer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

ASU’s W. P. Carey School announces STEM-designated MBA program

March 26, 2020

The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University has announced a significant enhancement to its highly ranked MBA program. This week, the W. P. Carey MBA has been designated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency within the Department of Homeland Security as a STEM-eligible degree program. This designation is effective immediately, giving those graduating in 2020 and beyond a STEM-designated MBA.

“This designation shows W. P. Carey’s continual focus on the growing worldwide demand for well-rounded, analytical thinkers in the workforce,” Dean Amy Hillman said. “As companies and our business partners rely more on analytics, we evolved our programs to stay future-oriented, making sure our students graduate with the technical skills employers need.” Download Full Image

The benefits of a STEM education are tremendous for international students, because it comes with up to 36 months of optional practical training, compared to 12 months for non-STEM degrees. That also means longer work authorizations and more opportunities to gain invaluable skills in the U.S.

The designation is also incredibly valuable for domestic students. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that demand for STEM jobs will grow by 13% by 2027, with higher wages than non-STEM jobs: The national average for STEM salaries is $87,570, while non-STEM jobs earn roughly half as much, with an annual average of $45,700.

The new designation applies to all five W. P. Carey MBA platforms: full-time, professional flex, executive, online and the new fast-track MBA. Students interested in pursuing a W. P. Carey MBA should visit to learn more about curriculum, application deadlines and schedule choices.

Shay Moser

Managing Editor, W. P. Carey School of Business