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ASU receives $2M to boost coronavirus rapid research response

March 30, 2020

Donation in emergency grants from Piper Charitable Trust will increase efforts to coordinate preparedness responses to the coronavirus pandemic

A $2 million donation in emergency grants from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust will vastly increase efforts now underway at Arizona State University to coordinate preparedness responses to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The grants will support the university’s work in three areas:

• Testing of critical workforce including health care workers, first responders and infrastructure personnel.

• Assembling of nose- and throat-swab test kits in short supply for health care providers.

• Manufacturing of personal protective equipment including face shields through its 3D printing rapid-response services.

“Now is the time for those who can — individuals and public- and private-sector organizations — to step in quickly and support our nonprofits,” said Mary Jane Rynd, president and CEO of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. “They are serving on the frontlines and are essential to our economic vitality.”

“The university is moving forward,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said, “and we have mobilized our research efforts in every way that we possibly can to serve our students and the Arizona community, through thick and thin here, to ensure their health, safety and continued success in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will all get through this together.”  

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Scaling up

ASU’s Biodesign Institute will utilize Piper Trust support to increase its capacity for automated, rapid diagnostic testing to mitigate the viral spread and potential reoccurrence of COVID-19.

“ASU is in a unique position to scale up our testing efforts to support round-the-clock testing and analyze hundreds of samples daily,” said Joshua LaBaer, director of ASU’s Biodesign Institute, who also serves as the Piper Chair in Personalized Medicine and leader of the Biodesign Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics. “We have an urgent window right now to make an impact through testing and save lives in our community.”

As capacity for COVID-19 testing became problematic and plagued by shortages in the supply chain for testing kits and reagents, LaBaer’s team of 100-plus core scientists, staff and students sprang into action.

Dr. Josh LaBaer

Joshua LaBaer

In just two weeks, the Biodesign Institute shifted its research capabilities to support a clinically approved and certified COVID-19 testing center, a COVID-19 swab test kit production facility capable of assembling 2,000 kits per day, production of personal protective equipment such as face shields, and supporting drive-through COVID-19 testing currently underway at area hospitals.

This rapid shift was made possible by a Department of Defense $40 million investment in ASU back in 2009 as the lead contractor on a multi-year project aimed at helping to triage a population in the event of a nuclear emergency. The test developed by ASU could tell how much radiation a person was exposed to after a single explosive event.

"This particular tool was specifically for measuring the absorbed dose of gamma radiation exposure to civilians if a nuclear bomb were detonated in a city or populated area," LaBaer said. “Now, we just swapped out the genes for radiation detection for the coronavirus ones to do the test. We have all the automation and robots in place, and everything’s ready to go now.”  

The Biodesign Institute’s high throughput platform will run 400 samples a day at first, gathered from visitors experiencing COVID-19 symptoms who have been seen at various Valley-wide health care providers or their drive-in sites. The ASU team’s robotic system has the ability to run 1,000 samples a day at full capacity, greatly increasing Arizona’s COVID-19 local testing capabilities.

Blur of activity

The Piper support will further catalyze the flurry of activity within the ASU research community to help blunt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In Arizona, state health officials estimate that COVID-19 cases will peak in mid- to late April, with hospitalizations likely to quickly follow in May.

Additional ASU research efforts underway include:

• Just a week after the first U.S. case of the new coronavirus was confirmed in Washington state, ASU Biodesign Institute and School of Life Sciences researchers Brenda Hogue, Bert Jacobs and Qiang “Shawn” Chen began efforts toward developing a coronavirus vaccine.

• In addition to COVID-19 testing, LaBaer’s Biodesign Institute team is also in the early stages of developing a simple blood test against all seven strains of coronavirus, including the new SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. This will aid vaccine development efforts, help detect asymptomatic carriers and help understand why some people get very sick and other individuals have no symptoms from a COVID-19 infection.

• ASU scientists Hogue and Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Regents Professor Paul Westerhoff are developing ways to use heat treatment and UV light to find ways that critical supplies of personal protective equipment can be rapidly sterilized and reused for medical personnel and first responders.

• ASU’s modeling and epidemiological team, led by pandemic modeler Tim Lant, in collaboration with University of Arizona epidemiologist Joe Gerald, are working daily with the Arizona Department of Health Services to better predict and understand the full impact of COVID-19 positive cases on Arizona’s population. ASU College of Health Solutions and Fulton Schools of Engineering biomedical informatics Professor George Runger and Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions Dean Jonathan Koppell are leading an AI-based modeling approach to train on Medicare and Medicaid data to identify and set up a response for the state’s most vulnerable individuals.

• Nadya Bliss, executive director of ASU’s Global Security Initiative, is looking at ways to combat coronavirus misinformation that is causing undue fear and panic in the public. Her team is also working on ways to protect the public from opportunistic hackers, agents or scammers that propagate disinformation or want to steal personal information.

Community first

All of ASU’s research efforts are being coordinated with daily updates from meetings with Arizona health care providers in association with ASU’s clinical partnerships team, led by Sue Pepin, managing director, Health and Clinical Partnerships, and Tamara Deuser, associate vice president and chief operating officer, Knowledge Enterprise operations. Todd Hardy, ASU managing director of Innovation Zones; Mark Naufel, director of strategic partnerships; and Tyler Smith, associate director of the Luminosity Lab, are leading ASU’s 3D printing and manufacturing network to coordinate the hospital needs with the network’s ability to respond in real time.

ASU will also be reaching out to several municipalities, first-responder networks and the Arizona business community to help with COVID-19 preparedness in the days ahead.

"I am very proud of our faculty, staff, and students who are demonstrating the ability, capacity and commitment to take on this immense challenge — searching for innovative solutions to address the COVID-19 crisis," said Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, executive vice president of ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise and ASU’s chief research and innovation officer. “At ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise, we have been working tirelessly, and doing our best to replace community fears and anxiety with hope and a sense of unity to get through this crisis together.”

It’s a message LaBaer echoes every day to his team of hundreds of scientists, graduate students, technicians and freshly recruited volunteers as they deal with doing real-time, seat-of-the-pants science in a highly fluid COVID-19 pandemic environment.

“Let’s go save some lives.”

Top photo: ASU is assembling thousands of COVID-19 nose and throat swab test kits that are currently in short supply for health care providers. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Joe Caspermeyer

Manager (natural sciences) , Media Relations & Strategic Communications


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At a time of social distancing, ASU continues to promote social embeddedness — virtually

March 25, 2020

For the first time, Arizona State University’s Social Embeddedness Network Conference was hosted virtually, via Zoom on March 24, due to social distancing recommendations because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the conference looked different than in years past, the mission remained the same: to build connections and share strategies for advancing ASU as a socially embedded institution.

“This change lent itself to greater accessibility and inclusion for those who may have not been able to join us on the ASU Tempe campus initially,” said Christina Ngo, University Innovation Fellow with the Office of Applied Innovation. “We see this as an opportunity to adapt to the public health needs of our university and community.”

By hosting the conference virtually, Ngo said ASU was able to increase the number of attendees by more than 150 participants.

The Social Embeddedness Network Conference began in 2014 as a luncheon focused on connecting K-12 education and community partnerships across the university. Since then, it has expanded into a daylong conference.

“At ASU, we define social embeddedness as mutually beneficial partnerships between the university and communities,” Ngo said. “We have recognized the need for new ways of engaging with the community and for the development of infrastructure to support our students, staff and faculty in doing so.”

The 2020 conference’s keynote speaker was Maria Rosario Jackson, an institute professor at ASU with appointments in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. Jackson’s expertise is in comprehensive community revitalization, systems change, dynamics of race and ethnicity and arts and culture in communities.

In her opening remarks, Jackson said, “As we meet today, we must remember that this is a moment of crisis and hardship and it is also a moment of possibility and transformation.”

Although communities may temporarily suffer through the current public health crisis, Jackson explained three core functions are the pillars of social embeddedness and restoring communities.

• Reframing: The way a problem/challenge is framed and the response that is crafted.

• Retooling: Thinking differently about how we rely on current structures to implement solutions.

• Repairing: Recognizing harm was done and that healing must take place, especially to restore marginalized groups.

“I think these functions are also relevant to aspirations in the sustainability field. And at their best, they’re carried out in partnership with communities we aspire to serve,” Jackson said.

ASU graduate student uses social embeddedness as framework for research

Julia Colbert, a master’s degree student in the School of Sustainability, is working on her graduate research with Echo Canyon School in the Scottsdale Unified School District to explore how sustainability literacy can be supported through nature journaling in school gardens. Originally, ASU was partnering with the school to research its Chef in the Garden Program — a program where local chefs come to school and teach students how to cook healthy, nutritious foods. In January 2019, ASU took its research another step forward, developing the nature journaling project with four classes at Echo Canyon School to see how journaling might connect students more to their gardens at school.

Four teachers at the school helped pilot the program and the project eventually evolved into Colbert’s master’s thesis. Colbert said social embeddedness helped to take down the curtain that often seems to be between the researchers and the researched, inspired children and adults to connect more to the natural world and spurred a sustainability movement at the school.

“We quickly learned that this was a really collaborative learning process and there was no way that we could do research together without building a relationship over time.”

The four teachers, who joined the conference via Zoom, echoed those sentiments, saying constituency was key. The more students interacted with Colbert, the more they felt comfortable to share their experiences and further the research project.

“We learned a lot about our students because Julia came to our school,” said Lisa Espinosa, kindergarten teacher at Echo Canyon School. “Through that social embeddedness, everybody was learning something different. It was really incredible.”

In January 2020, Colbert said the four teachers who participated in the pilot program led a nature journal training for the rest of the school faculty, encouraging signs that the project may sustain itself over time.

Building sustainable futures through social embeddedness

Social embeddedness can have a positive community impact not only in schools, but other places of learning, like museums or cultural institutions.

During the 2020 Social Embeddedness Network Conference, Rae Ostman, an associate research professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, and Nicholas Weller, a postdoctoral research associate in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, helped highlight the progress of a fellowship program at ASU meant to empower museum professionals to make sustainable changes.

Since 2016, about 200 museum professionals from around the world have participated in the fellowship program, which is made possible through ASU’s Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service and in partnership with the National Informal STEM Education Network.

Partners like the Arizona Science Center have been empowered to reduce waste and create educational programs focused on sustainability, while connecting with broader audiences and establishing new relationships with underserved communities.

“Museums want to help build better futures for the communities they serve, and the concept of sustainability aligns with these goals,” Weller said. “Museums are great at taking big topics and making them fun and accessible, meaning cultural institutions are great places to start conversations about sustainability.”

Weller believes social embeddedness is helping museums and cultural institutions understand their role as shifting from one-way communicators to places for community dialogue around societal challenges like climate change.

“This shift highlights how museums are prioritizing the communities they serve,” Weller said.

Top photo by Deanna Dent/ASUNow 

Jimena Garrison

Copywriter , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

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Social connections can ease 'toxic parenting' behaviors, experts say

Social support key to easing "toxic parenting" effects, experts say at ASU forum
March 20, 2020

Online forum at ASU explores causes, outcomes of neglect

Parents need strong social support because poor parenting not only damages children, but also leads to negative consequences for the larger community, according to a panel of experts who spoke at an Arizona State University event on Thursday.

Parents must be able to lean on relatives, neighbors and friends to help with the overwhelming task of raising children, the parenting experts said. Their message is especially relevant in these times of social distancing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as children are home from school and families are isolated together.

The discussion, called “Toxic Parenting Behaviors,” was held online by Humanity 101 on the Homefront, an initiative of ASU Project Humanities.

The main definition of “toxic” parenting is behavior that’s repetitious, not occasional, according to Elisa Kawam, a lecturer in the School of Social Work at ASU and the moderator of the panel.

“If you have one or two or three moments where you’re not your best parent, that’s expected,” she said.

“Toxic parenting is any long-term or ongoing pattern of behavior that’s rooted in manipulation, unhealthy boundaries, guilt or fear.”

The Zoom format allowed audience members to continuously interact with the panelists, and everyone was asked to give examples of toxic parenting behavior. They included:

• Disrespecting boundaries, such as forcing physical contact (“kiss your uncle”); excessive phone and social media monitoring; oversharing; forcing children to finish food they dislike or forcing them into adult behaviors.

• Actions and words that cause a child to feel shamed, guilty, unsupported or fearful, such as public humiliation; being compared to siblings; being punished for bad grades; having feelings minimized; being told, “When I was your age …” or “You’re just like your mother/father.”

• Neglecting a child’s emotional needs by ignoring them, telling them to “suck it up” or “man up,” or withdrawing affection or attention as a form of punishment.

Many parenting behaviors from previous decades are unacceptable now, according to Chussette Oden, director of community resources and training at Beia’s Place, a Phoenix-based agency that works to keep families intact.

“It used to be, ‘be seen and not heard,’ but we really need to hear kids so they’re not going into their rooms and stuffing their feelings,” she said.

“We live in a day and age where not everyone is the same and we have to be open to children being expressive with their clothing, their sexuality and how they communicate their needs.”

Children deserve the same level of respect as friends or even strangers, said Harold Branch, an entrepreneur who works with at-risk youth and who is co-parenting two children.

“You have to look at what’s appropriate for a 7-year-old, and I shouldn’t lose my mind when I have to tell them something over and over again,” he said.

“We hold our kids to higher standards than we hold ourselves. We can be more understanding of our friends than of our kids.”

All the experts agreed on the importance of expressing love and affection to children.

“We just had a group about this and the verbiage we use,” said Oden, who works with foster parents and caregivers.

“One person said, ‘My child is an attention seeker.’ Well, everyone on Earth needs attention. We talked about how adults need attention, I can give my puppy attention and children need attention.”

The effects of ignoring a child can be lifelong, she said.

“It’s detrimental when we label children ‘attention seekers’ because they go into the adult world and feel like, ‘I don’t want to be seen.’ You want to be invisible because you don’t want to be known as an attention seeker.

“Let the kids see how you feel. Little kids need that so much. We want to feel wanted and appreciated and that someone is happy that we were born.”

All toxic parenting behaviors carry long-lasting and reverberating effects.

“The biggest one for children is the inability to practice boundaries as they get older,” Oden said.

“They lack empathy because of the harshness they faced. If you’ve had harsh words thrown at you on a regular basis or were not afforded the ability to have a voice or to be spoken to in a respectful manner, you won’t be able to do those things yourself, and can have a lack of respect for authority figures or yourself.”

Neal Lester, Foundation Professor of English and founding director of Project Humanities, said that toxic parenting becomes intergenerational.

“Whatever is not quite whole in us, we want to make whole in our children, which can lead to toxic behaviors,” he said. “‘I want you to be the athlete I wasn’t or the student I wasn’t.’ There are those who need to fill whatever was empty or missing.”

Kawam said that in her work with child abuse, one effect she’s seen is children who become oversexualized at a young age.

“They lack appropriate intimacy and an understanding of their own body,” she said.

Branch said that parents set the stage for future relationships.

“We learn how to be treated. It’s hard to accept someone yelling at you in a relationship if your parents never yelled at you, versus being conditioned to abusive behavior.”

The panelists also highlighted the importance of culture. Branch, who is black, has two children, including a 15-year-old son.

“I have to prepare them not just to be happy but to survive,” he said.

“We hear judgments outside the culture about how parenting is done. I need to have a level of sternness. This is not just my child throwing a tantrum in a store — it can turn into my child not knowing how to engage publicly and if I’m not around, he can get arrested.”

The sponsor of the event was the Come Rain or Shine Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to “conscious parenting,” co-founded by ASU alum Michelle Mace. She said that parents should recognize that everything they do is a teachable moment.

“It’s recognizing that 24/7, you have an observer with you,” she said.

“They are paying attention to your behavior as much or more than your words. Do you yell at their father? Do you drive with road rage? Even as adults, we carry pain from our own childhood and we have to recognize that we’re not perfect.”

Good parenting lasts forever, she said.

“When we’re successful, we get to do it for the rest of our lives. They’ll be asking for advice when they’re 20 or 30 or 40 and they’ll welcome us into their lives.”

Social support is key for raising children, Kawam said.

“Social scientists have looked at the evolution of families over time and it wasn’t a long time ago that we lived in groups of extended families,” she said. “And most people now don’t have more than five or six close contacts at any given time if they need help. The No. 1 thing you can do is help people get connected to social supports.”

Lester said the lessons apply to everyone.

“We’re not just talking about parents, but also extended families and also those who nurture and care give,” he said.

“Parenting doesn’t have to be legal or biological. It’s anyone for whom we’re caring.”

Top image by Pixabay

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU’s School of Public Affairs secures 6 top 10 spots in US News and World Report rankings

4 graduate programs rise on this year’s list

March 19, 2020

Four Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions graduate programs rose in U.S. News and World Report’s 2021 rankings, according to an announcement this week. The college's School of Public Affairs’ public management and leadership, environmental policy, public finance, and public policy analysis programs all climbed above their respective 2020 rankings.

Overall, the school ranked 19th, higher than Duke University, the University of Wisconsin and Cornell University, according to the 2021 rankings, released Tuesday. The rankings employ a wide variety of criteria to compare 282 graduate programs. ASU Watts College graduates celebrate their achievement at the college's fall 2019 convocation in downtown Phoenix. Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions graduates arrive at the start of the college's Fall 2019 Convocation in downtown Phoenix. Download Full Image

The school's public management and leadership program’s rank rose from seventh to sixth for 2021, while its environmental policy program ranked eighth, up from 11th. The school’s public finance program is 11th, up from 14th, and its public policy analysis program is 17th, up from 20th.

School of Public Affairs programs have six U.S. News and World Report 2021 rankings of 10th or higher — more than any member school of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration except Harvard University, the University of Southern California, Syracuse University and Indiana University, said school Director Donald Siegel.

“The School of Public Affairs continued its excellent performance in U.S. News and World Report’s 2021 rankings. We are currently ranked 19th in the U.S., tied with Columbia University,” Siegel said. “More importantly, the School of Public Affairs had six top 10 U.S. rankings in the following specializations: third in emergency management and homeland security, third in local government management, fifth in urban policy, sixth in public management and leadership, eighth in environmental policy and ninth in nonprofit management.”

Siegel praised the school’s six top 10 rankings, saying all of the rankings reflect “an enormous breadth and depth in quality of our world-class faculty and students.”

Mark J. Scarp

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


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ASU's graduate schools hold impressive spots in 2021 rankings

March 12, 2020

Postgraduate education across the university continues to score high marks on U.S. News and World Report list

Arizona State University’s graduate schools continue to hold high positions in the latest U.S. News and World Report annual rankings.

The 2021 analysis includes rankings on fine arts and health schools, which were last published in 2016. 

The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, which offers more than 70 graduate degrees, came in at No. 15 out of 226 in overall fine arts education — moving up five spots over its 2016 rank and tying with Michigan’s Cranbrook Academy of Art and New York’s Parsons School of Design, ahead of Rutgers, the University of Texas, Austin and Temple University. The institute’s ceramics program ranked fourth and its photography program ranked sixth.

“Graduate programs in ASU’s School of Art continue to be globally recognized,” said Steven J. Tepper, dean of ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “Our faculty and students are working at the highest levels of creativity here in the desert, and Grant Street Studios in downtown Phoenix is, hands down, the best studio and exhibition space for MFA candidates in the country. Importantly, we are preparing artists who are socially engaged, technologically empowered, and have the mindset and opportunity to collaborate across disciplines.”

Read more: ASU Law achieves highest-ever ranking | 30 W. P. Carey disciplines rank in the top 25 | Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College ranked among nation's best | School of Public Affairs secures 6 top 10 spots

The College of Health Solutions, which offers 25 graduate degrees, moved up in best speech pathology programs, ranking 16th out of 260 and tying with Ohio State University, ahead of Florida State University and the University of Colorado, Boulder. The AuD in audiology program ranked 18th.

“These programs are central to our mission of optimizing health for people and communities,” said Deborah Helitzer, dean of the College of Health Solutions. “We are pleased to again be recognized among the nation’s top 20 programs in audiology and speech-language pathology and remain dedicated to providing value to our students and the organizations that hire them. These programs prepare students for careers that make a real difference in the quality of life.”

The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, offering 15 graduate degrees, moved up three spots to come in at No. 13 out of 255 in overall education, besting Johns Hopkins and the University of Virginia. The normal school edged up in secondary education to 14th from 16th, and in special education from 18th to 17th.  

The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering moved up in overall engineering to No. 41, tying with the University of Virginia and besting Brown University. Its aerospace program rose five spots to No. 22 from No. 27. Chemical engineering jumped three spots to 47th. Computer and electrical engineering both rose four spots, to 30th and 27th respectively. Materials science rose five spots to 36th. Mechanical engineering rose three spots, coming in at No. 40.

The Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law moved up in full time law from No. 27 to No. 24, besting Fordham University and Boston College. The college’s trial advocacy program leaped 66 spots, from 144th to 78th. Environmental law nudged up to 20th. Tax law rose six spots to No. 37. Intellectual property and international law both rose two spots.

The W. P. Carey School of Business ranked 35th in the nation, beating the University of Arizona at 46th. The accounting program rose 11 spots to 20th. Finance rose eight spots to 31st. Management edged up three spots to No. 13. Entrepeneurship climbed seven spots to arrive at the 17th place. Marketing rose to 18th and production shot up eight spots to No.12.

The Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions had category gains in environmental policy, public finance and public policy analysis. Overall Watts ranked 19th overall, besting Columbia, Duke and Georgetown. Its information technology management program was No. 2 in the nation.

The widely touted set of annual rankings was released Tuesday by the news magazine, which compared hundreds of graduate programs on a variety of metrics.

The magazine evaluated the graduate programs on measures including surveys of deans and hiring recruiters; student selectivity; faculty resources, including the ratio of full-time doctoral students to faculty, for education programs; research activity, including expenditures; overall rank and specialty rankings.

Top photo by Deanna Dent

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU students step out of the classroom and into the venue for real-world lessons on event planning

March 5, 2020

To help students get an authentic feel for their subject matter, some teachers will abandon the lecture hall in favor of a real-world learning environment that exists under actual game conditions.

Such is the case with PRM 487: Advanced Special Event Management. Students recently walked through gates used by football fans at Sun Devil Stadium to gather inside the newly constructed San Tan Ford Club overlooking Frank Kush Field. PRM 487, special event management, students, SCRD, Strong Beer Fest From left: PRM 487 students Aziah Whitfield, Taylor Clinton and Emma Montague pose for a photo during event management work at the recent Strong Beer Fest. Download Full Image

There, the 12,000-square-foot club space seamlessly became a classroom, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, comfortable seating for group work and discussion, restrooms, patio space and great views of the surrounding area.

"I believe holding class in the San Tan Ford Club at the Sun Devil Stadium fit perfectly with a special event management class,” said Alaina Lass, a senior theater major. “It complemented the course really well, allowing students to view an event space and see the behind-the-scenes aspects of sporting events. It was really exciting to be up there and I hope to have more classes in that space."

Holding classes inside Sun Devil Stadium is a part of the vision for ASU 365 Community Union. ASU officials hope that the 365 Community Union will be a place where diversity and community are celebrated all year long.

“Our vision is for the 365 Community Union and Sun Devil Stadium to be a dynamic cultural hub that operates every day of the year and acts as a model for venues around the world,” said Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU vice president for cultural affairs and executive director of ASU Gammage. “We want to create a place where you can imagine Sun Devils of all ages starting their day with yoga on the Sun Deck or a breakfast meeting at a café and ending their day with a film festival or concert under the stars.”

By developing special event partnerships along with free public programming (like the Stadium Yoga Series and Movies on the Field) ASU hopes to welcome students, staff, faculty and community members to eat, play, learn, connect, build relationships and create and innovate inside the stadium space.

Students get experience at wide variety of events

Innovation is a concept of PRM 487 where students who have proven mastery in lower level special event classes have the opportunity to spend two six-week sessions working for an event agency or venue in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

In that short period of time, students are given an orientation with their new team and are put to work planning and executing at least one event in the equivalent number of hours they would have spent in the classroom. They come back to the San Tan Ford Club to report on their experience, share event details and lessons learned and then they repeat the criteria for a different agency for the next six weeks.

Students are working on events such as the Arizona Renaissance Festival, Banner Hospital Foundation’s Children’s Open Golf Tournament, Arizona Bike Week, Scottsdale Culinary Festival, the 20th annual Arizona Strong Beer Festival, FanShield 500 NASCAR Weekend, the Devour Culinary Classic, First Friday, and several concerts, shows and other events at Desert Ridge Marketplace and Celebrity Theater, in addition to many more.

“Our students have the opportunity to work with some of the Valley’s most talented event professionals,” said Erin Schneiderman, clinical assistant professor in the School of Community Resources and Development.

“They are learning firsthand what it takes to work as a part of a team to plan and execute some of our most popular events. We feel they are ready to enter the workforce and this class gives them the chance to build their confidence and explore different types of events and roles in hopes they will find their passion and continue to pursue their goals.”

David Widoff, events marketing manager at Arizona Boardwalk (formerly OdySea in the Desert) is an enthusiastic supporter of the advanced special event management class being offered at ASU.

“This inaugural class of students has shown just why this was a much-needed addition to the current course offerings,” he said. “The passion and excitement of students who have spent their hours assisting me here at Arizona Boardwalk have demonstrated a clear desire and aptitude to absorb all aspects of planning and executing live events.”

Bringing 'new life to our community events'

Allison Mullady, program manager at the Design Studio for Community Solutions at ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, agrees.

“The interns from PRM 487 are such an asset to our team, they are bringing new life to our community events,” she said.

Mullady helps oversee students working on the Community Conversations with residents and business owners in the west Phoenix neighborhood of Maryvale in support of the Maryvale One Square Mile Initiative.

“Our team is small, and having the support for events planning and management has allowed us to do things we were only dreaming of before,” she said. “In addition, the student interns give us a fresh perspective, particularly for our events focused on engaging youth in the community. Also, they come in with exciting new ideas and considerations we may not have thought about.”

Students are really enjoying the variety of this hybrid class, as well.

"Since my freshman year of college, all I ever wanted was experience and connections,” said senior Terraney Griffin Hightower. “This internship is giving me just that. Interning with ASU Career and Professional Development Service offices has given me an opportunity to volunteer at the ASU Film Spark LA Entertainment Career Fair and Hollywood Sun Devil Mixer. There were a variety of ASU and entertainment industry professionals that I got the chance to network with. I am honored to have gotten this opportunity.” 

The special event management program offers students with an interest in working in the special event industry an opportunity to learn fundamental principals of producing a wide range of events including concerts, festivals, weddings, conventions, sporting events and more. Students can pursue a minor that ties their degree into event management or the six-credit certificate to add to their degree, which puts them at a competitive advantage entering the workforce.

“Our courses are experiential. Yes, we spend time discussing fundamentals inside the classroom, but we pride ourselves on the hands-on experiences our students are developing outside of the classroom,” Schneiderman said. “Students will take several visits throughout the community, hear from experts and have several opportunities to develop their own events and volunteer in areas that interest them. Our ultimate goal is to place students in the event industry who have experience and can make an immediate impact.”

Written by Erin Schneiderman

ASU wins grant to establish interdisciplinary training program to fight the opioid epidemic

February 28, 2020

Each day, 130 Americans die from opioid or prescription drug abuse. In Arizona, nearly 15% of adults know someone who died from a prescription painkiller overdose, according to the Morrison Institute at Arizona State University.

The opioid epidemic has been a national public health crisis since 2017, yet most providers are not equipped to handle the scope of the problem. Opioid taskforce The opioid epidemic has been a national public health crisis since 2017, yet most providers are not equipped to handle the scope of the problem. Photo: Haley Lawrence from Download Full Image

“There is such a gap between the science of the field and what we know is effective to what is actually being done in the community. We need to disseminate science-based treatment to everyone who is coming into contact with addiction,” said Matthew Meier, associate director of the ASU Clinical Psychology Center and director of the Addiction and Substance-use Related Disorders Graduate Certificate.

To close this gap, ASU recently launched the Interdisciplinary Training Academy for Integrated Substance/Opioid-Use Disorder, Prevention, and Healthcare with a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grant will fund student training at ASU, allowing them to experience how the opioid epidemic is currently being addressed and better preparing them to make a difference in the future.

“Addiction has to be treated using a holistic approach — just providing therapy and teaching coping skills isn’t enough if someone is homeless, or dealing with pain. It really has to be approached from every possible angle,” Meier said. “What makes the Interdisciplinary Training Academy for Integrated Substance/Opioid-Use Disorder, Prevention, and Healthcare program so unique is that we are looking at opioid addiction from the perspective of social work, psychology and nursing to address each of those aspects of addiction.”

The initiative is multidisciplinary and will be led by Natasha Mendoza, director of the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy, along with Cady Berkel, associate research professor in the REACH Institute. Colleen Cordes, clinical associate professor and director of the Doctor of Behavioral Health Program, Wendy Wolfersteig, director of evaluation and partner contracts at the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center, Judy Krysik, director of ASU’s Center for Child Well-Being, and Bonnie Ervin, instructor in the School of Social Work, will also oversee student training.

“We were faced with the question, what does a behavioral health provider need to know to really impact and address the opioid epidemic?” Mendoza said. “The truth of the matter is they need to know so much more than they currently do.”

In addressing the opioid epidemic, each community agency focuses on a different problem and solution, like how different individuals navigate recovery, treatment options or policy.

“The perfect behavioral health provider is someone who has experience across all relevant areas,” Mendoza said.

The ASU training program spans prevention and treatment with the goal of improving how different disciplines work together.

This new model of addressing the problems associated with addiction includes solving environmental and institutional problems. 

Over three years, the HRSA grant provides a full year of training for ASU doctoral students in psychiatric nursing and master's degree students in social work programs. The grant also funds psychology postdoctoral fellows. The long-term goal of the program is to set the national standard for training students by developing a curriculum to share with other universities and training programs.

“Our systems in health care and support for individuals had been siloed in the past, so having this series of experiences will allow our students to see the full breadth of resources, gaps and duplications. It really paints a more accurate picture for them,” Berkel said.

The training program includes 30 weeks of field experience. The students will spend two-week rotations at nine participating community agencies like the Recovery Empowerment Network, the ASU Clinical Psychology Center and Shot in the Dark, gaining broad experience in treating addiction and associated problems.

Students wanting additional training in the treatment of substance use disorders can also complete ASU’s online Addiction and Substance-use Related Disorders graduate certificate, which provides the foundational knowledge required to become a licensed addiction counselor in Arizona and most other states.  

“Our goal is for ASU to be a national leader in training students and professionals to help solve the opioid crisis,” Meier said. 

Robert Ewing

Marketing and Communications Manager, Department of Psychology


School of Community Resources and Development celebrates 15 years

The school was born from assembling several fields of study

February 25, 2020

In the 15 years since Arizona State University’s School of Community Resources and Development was created, it has blossomed from its origins as a recreation program into a fully sustainable community that equips students with the tools necessary to create meaningful community partnerships.

In 2004, a new school was approved to combine several disciplines including parks and recreation, tourism, and nonprofit leadership and management. Interim Director Christine Buzinde, 15th anniversary, ASU School of Community Resources and Development Interim School Director Christine Buzinde (left) greets a visitor to a recent luncheon celebrating the 15th anniversary of the ASU School of Community Resources and Development. Download Full Image

Originally, the name “School of Community Service and Development” was suggested, said Randy Virden, who was the school’s founding director.

But it didn’t go very far, said Virden, now an emeritus professor who attended a Feb. 6 luncheon celebrating the school’s anniversary. Eventually, the school’s present name won out.

School’s origins trace back more than four decades

The school's roots lie in ASU’s recreation program, which was originally located in the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. Virden said in 1979 the program was invited to join the then-new College of Public Programs and became the Department of Leisure Studies.

By the 1980s, both the tourism and nonprofit management academic areas were added to the department’s traditional parks and recreation emphasis. In 1994, Virden said, the department was renamed the Department of Recreation Management and Tourism, which is what it was known for until the school was created 10 years later.

Emeritus Professor Tim Tyrrell, 2007 alumnus Ted Martens, former School Director Randy Virden, ASU School of Community Resources and Development, 15th anniversary

Emeritus Professor Tim Tyrrell (left) joins 2007 alumnus Ted Martens, center, and former school Director Randy Virden (right) in celebrating the School of Community Resources and Development's 15th anniversary at a Feb. 5 luncheon.

Original ideas to locate the school at either ASU’s West or Polytechnic campuses were dropped when the School of Community Resources and Development was approved to move from the Tempe campus, Virden said. In 2008, it relocated to the Downtown Phoenix campus as part of the College of Public Programs, now the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

First tries weren’t confined to only the name of the school. Another emeritus professor who attended the luncheon, Tim Tyrrell, said he originally headed what was called the “Megapolitan Tourism Research Center.” The cumbersome first word was later dropped, said Tyrrell, who helped set up the school’s PhD program.

Virden said over the years the fields taught by the school’s faculty have changed significantly, particularly in the use of technology. The school itself has changed as well, he said, in that it is a fully sustainable community, with core classes even more aligned to the skills students need.

More interdisciplinary approaches

School Interim Director Christine Buzinde said one of the most noticeable changes in the school over the years is its transformation toward a more interdisciplinary approach that equips students with multidimensional tools necessary in creating meaningful community partnerships, which facilitate the co-creation of effective solutions. 

"If you want a career through which you can make a difference in society, SCRD is the place to be."

— School Interim Director Christine Buzinde

Students from parks and recreation management, tourism development, nonprofit leadership and management, community sports management and recreation therapy take core courses familiarizing themselves with the fields. Students studying parks and recreation, for example, are discovering better ways to help citizens learn how to use their parks to lead healthier lives, and recreation therapy students are learning how to use recreation to rehabilitate individuals with disabilities.

Community sports management students are learning about the role of sports in, for example, youth development while those whose emphasis is in tourism are finding out how tourism can contribute to the sustainable development of communities. The nonprofit leadership and management students are oriented to the dynamics of working with nonprofits to champion community initiatives.

The school is accepting more socially and environmentally conscious students who not only want a good-paying job upon graduation, but one that effectively helps others.

“If you want a career through which you can make a difference in society, SCRD is the place to be,” Buzinde said.

’07 grad today promotes ‘conservation travel’

The featured speaker at the Feb. 6 luncheon was 2007 school graduate Ted Martens, vice president for marketing and sustainability at Boulder, Colorado-based Natural Habitat Adventures (NHA), where he promotes his company as a leader in what it calls “conservation travel.”

While at ASU earning his master’s degree in tourism development, Martens researched ecotourism development in Central America. Before joining NHA in 2011, he was outreach and development director for Sustainable Tourism International, a nonprofit dedicated to applying sustainability solutions to the tourism industry.

15th anniversary logo, Arizona State University, School of Community Resources and Development 

In an interview after his talk, Martens said during his time at ASU he was able to combine his own travel history into research that opened up the field to him.

He said that since he graduated, the idea of sustainable tourism has been growing and merging into the larger travel industry.

“Today there is a lot more pressure as the industry has evolved for purveyors and curators of these types of experiences to have some meaning and teeth behind those experiences,” he said. He said NHA has focused on providing a positive impact on the communities where they lead tours.

Students contemplating careers in tourism should foster the passion for travel they’ve gained from their own experiences, Martens said.

People who deeply love travel dominate the tourism industry, he said. “If you care about the planet, you’ll want to go see it.”

Martens said he and his fellow NHA employees fit that mold, combining their individual passions to create unforgettable experiences for their customers.

“You should have a passion for the planet, the environment, for sustainability,” he said. “It’s an amazing combination.”

Sustainable tourism is still a small part of the overall travel industry, so there is room for it to continue to grow, Martens said.  “So, you have to set yourself apart. Get a degree in sustainable tourism, that really helps. Put the time in and work your way up even after you get your degree.”

Mark J. Scarp

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


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2 ASU projects among top 100 proposals for MacArthur $100 million grant

February 21, 2020

Youth substance abuse prevention, satellite biodiversity monitoring aiming to expand their global impact through 100&Change

The MacArthur Foundation on Wednesday announced that two Arizona State University projects are among the highest-scoring proposals, designated as the Top 100, in its 100&Change competition for a single $100 million grant to help solve one of the world's most critical social challenges.

The two ASU proposals — keepin' it REAL, a youth substance abuse prevention program, and a Global Biodiversity Observatory, a system of satellites, analytics and decision-support tools to monitor real time changes in Earth’s natural capital in unprecedented detail — are both aiming to expand their impact globally.

The recipient of the $100 million grant will be announced in fall 2020.

'keepin' it REAL'

School of Social Work Regents Professor Flavio Marsiglia and the Global Center for Applied Health Research developed keepin' it REAL (kiR), an adolescent drug prevention program based on scientific data and respect for local cultures. The program teaches a repertoire of drug-resistance strategies: refuse, explain, avoid and leave (REAL).

It has been used in a number of nations, including the U.S., Guatemala, Mexico, Spain and Uruguay. The center is soliciting support to expand its outreach into sub-Saharan Africa.

Video by ASU Research

"Epidemiological data shows that young people in sub-Saharan Africa are in an upward trajectory in terms of their use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs," Marsiglia said. "This is the right time ...  Governments and NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa are ready to take action and are ready to collaborate and make it happen."

Time and funding are the main challenges, he said.

"Often governments or NGOs approach us to replicate one of our evidence-based interventions like kiR. They want to do it quickly because of their pressing needs," Marsiglia said. "The challenge is to convince them about assessing the cultural appropriateness of the intervention before implementing it widely. Once we identify what needs to be changed and what components need to be adapted, we have to make those changes in a systematic way and test for the effectiveness of the new adapted program. All this takes time and money."

The group recently completed such an adaptation in Mexico with kiR, with more than 6,000 middle schoolers from three cities participating. Because many programs tend to be male-centered and because current levels of violence in Mexico affect many teens, Marsiglia said, the program added violence prevention and a gender component. Working with a team of Mexican investigators, their study found stronger results as a result of grounding the intervention in local context.

"We cannot make the mistakes of the past and import solutions developed in the rich north and expect that those solutions will be acceptable, effective or sustainable in other contexts," he said. "Investing in creating capacity within country and taking the time to do it right will have a lasting effect that will benefit all of us. Each time we engage in joint projects with partners in other countries, we learn as much from the experience as they do."

Global Biodiversity Observatory

Greg Asner, director of ASU's Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, is behind the Global Biodiversity Observatory project. Asner's team currently maps land biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions and coral reef health from a "super plane" equipped with 3D mapping tools. With additional funding, the observatory project will employ Earth-orbiting satellites with miniaturized imaging spectrometers connected through artificial intelligence to drive a new internationally accessible decision-support system, empowering a rapid reversal of biodiversity loss.

“Our team and colleagues have done the math, the analysis, and the vetting of the world's climate and biodiversity data. We know this: We cannot solve the climate change problem without simultaneously saving biodiversity,” Asner said. “Biodiversity is a huge part of the solution because nature pulls a large amount of excess carbon that we've put in our atmosphere back into the ground. 
“Think about this: All of the fossil fuel we continue to burn today is literally the carbon we've pulled out of the ground that was previously placed there via photosynthesis by ancient plants. Fossil fuel is past photosynthesis. We need to put it back in the ground, and nature is one of our best chances we have to do it."

Video by Asner Lab

The goal is not to compile academic data, but to provide information that is immediately actionable. This past summer, the center teamed with Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a massive community effort to constantly monitor Hawaii's coral reefs as the Pacific Ocean experienced record-breaking temperatures. Such conditions can lead to coral bleaching, stressing the reef and causing irreparable damage.

The team was able to give real-time updates of the coral conditions across the islands, recieve coral reef reports from citizen-science efforts and worked quickly with a number of community groups to get the message out about ways to help mitigate damage, such anchoring away from reefs and using reef-safe sunscreen.

Asner says that at this stage, they have the elements lined up to create a new kind of observatory that brings biodiversity and related issues such as carbon and water security into the hands of researchers and the public. Additional resources will allow building out additional satellites and the application of their AI techniques.

"We cannot do this work alone at GDCS,” Asner said. “We are deeply partnered with the world's most innovative aerospace company, called Planet Labs, as well as our impact partner, One Earth. And that's just the inner part of the inner circle. We are teamed up with the U.N., a global network of NGOs and national and subnational governments. We will need to make this information obvious, accessible and everyday to every planetary citizen possible, and that will mean teaming up with the world.”

100&Change vetting

The top 100 represent the top 21% of competition submissions. The proposals were rigorously vetted, undergoing MacArthur’s initial administrative review, a peer-to-peer review, an evaluation by an external panel of judges and a technical review by specialists whose expertise was matched to the project.

Each proposal was evaluated using four criteria: impactful, evidence-based, feasible and durable. MacArthur’s board of directors will select up to 10 finalists from these high-scoring proposals this spring.

The competition cycle repeats every three years. In December 2017, the Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee were awarded $100 million in the competition's inaugural round to educate young children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Middle East.

“MacArthur seeks to generate increased recognition, exposure, and support for the high-impact ideas designated as the top 100,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change and MacArthur managing director, 100&Change. “Based on our experience in the first round of 100&Change, we know the competition will produce multiple compelling and fundable ideas. We are committed to matching philanthropists with powerful solutions and problem solvers to accelerate social change.”

Since the inaugural competition, other funders and philanthropists have committed an additional $419 million to date to support bold solutions by 100&Change applicants. Building on the success of 100&Change, MacArthur created Lever for Change to unlock significant philanthropic capital by helping donors find and fund vetted, high-impact opportunities through the design and management of customized competitions.

The top 100 are also now part of the Bold Solutions Network. Launched this week, it's a searchable collection of the top 100 with fact sheets and project overviews that aims to connect donors with projects that align with their goals.  

Top photo by NASA

Urban Playground

Have you ever wondered what it’s like being a kid in San Francisco? Are you raising a kid in this or another urban center? San Francisco life is full of thrills and bummers, both for kids and the adults who love them.

In "Urban Playground: What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco," Katie Burke explores the experience of kids ages five to nine living in this place — what makes San Francisco special for kids and why some are over it.