Synthetic Fuel Technology Development in the United States

Direct coal liquefaction, a synthetic liquid fuel process, is one of the major developmental alternatives for meeting the anticipated fuel demands for the twenty-first century. This work provides a retrospective assessment of past attempts in this century to develop synthetic liquid fuel and applies the findings to produce reliable and pertinent data for the future. Retrospective technology assessment, a recent methodological invention, is used by the authors to analyze the past synthetic liquid fuel programs and the reasons for their failures.

Public safety leadership graduate plans to help first responders

May 7, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement.

Peder Humlen-Ahearn is in the business of saving lives. An emergency medical technician by training, he is now a deputy chief for Ada County Paramedics. Humlen-Ahern is responsible for field training and hiring for the 139-person agency that serves the city of Boise and surrounding communities in southwestern Idaho. Humlen-Ahearn credits his recent promotion to deputy chief from battalion chief to the Master of Public Safety Leadership and Administration (MPSLA) program offered online by Arizona State University. He graduates from the ASU College of Public Service and Community Solutions as the spring 2018 outstanding graduate of cross-college programs with a 4.0 GPA. Peder Humlen-Aheard Peder Humlen-Ahearn, a deputy chief for Ada County Paramedics in Idaho, earned his master of public safety leadership and administration degree. Download Full Image

His hard work, selfless attitude and abundant humor stood out to professors and classmates, said Melanie Gall, co-director of ASU’s Center for Emergency Management & Homeland Security. Gall taught a graduate class that taught students to use geographic information mapping systems to track biohazards.

“When Peder submitted assignments, he didn’t just submit the required documentation,” said Gall. “He also reflected on what he had learned, how much fun he had completing the assignments and how he could apply it in his daily work as a battalion chief last fall.”  

Humlen-Ahearn also helped his fellow students with their studies by providing feedback or answering questions on the discussion boards and lab chats.

“I am going to miss the atmosphere as an ASU student as the professors were fantastic and an unbelievable resource,” said Humlen-Ahern. “The student population at ASU in the MPSLA program also have a wealth of knowledge and personal experience that makes learning from each other just as rewarding as learning from our professors.”

Humlen-Ahearn plans to use his newly acquired knowledge and skills to address a problem that affects first responders nationwide. Some take their own lives as a consequence of the tremendous physiological and psychological stress they endure as part of their job.

"Ada County has tragically lost three of our own since 2015," said Humlen-Ahearn. "I want to find ways to make sure our first responder community never experiences the pain of losing one of our own again."

QUESTION: Why did you choose your particular degree at ASU?

ANSWER: I chose the Master's of Public Safety Leadership and Administration (MPSLA) for a few reasons. First, Arizona State is a prestigious university that ranks as one of the best schools in the nation in criminal justice, public affairs, and public safety programs. Secondly, the MPSLA program was exactly what I needed if I wanted to promote within my agency. More specifically the MPSLA program has the specific coursework I needed to make a difference for my employees. Lastly, a major draw was for the Counter-Terrorism Study Abroad Program in Israel. The study abroad program was one of the highlights of my academic career.

Q: What’s something you learned during your program (in the classroom or otherwise) that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: What surprised me the most was policy analysis. I learned to find the intended and unintended consequences of each potential policy and to develop multiple alternatives. I found that I have a passion for policy analysis and evaluation. In fact, my capstone project and thesis was to perform a policy analysis for creating a postretirement health care plan for first responders secondary to their chances of increased mortality and morbidity.

Q: You took classes online and I’m told you went out of your way to help classmates master the material and technology you were learning. Can you talk about that?

A: Being in the MPSLA program, we already have a brother- and sisterhood with our classmates. Most of us work in the field already and are trying to make a difference for not only ourselves but our co-workers and brethren. Helping out each other was very natural and easy. Luckily, we have the ability to communicate with each other using discussion boards, YellowDig, phone calls, and hallway conversations. Technology has allowed us to communicate and interact with people from all over in unprecedented ways.

Q: What piece of advice would you give your past self when you were first starting school?

A: The advice I would give to myself would be to remember that it was all worth it. Getting a master's degree at ASU is an accomplishment, one to be proud of, and a very difficult journey. But it was all worth it.

Q: What will you miss most about your experience at ASU?

A: I am going to miss the atmosphere. The professors are fantastic and an unbelievable resource. But the student population at ASU in the MPSLA program also have a wealth of knowledge and personal experience that makes learning from each other just as rewarding as learning from our professors.

Q:  What’s next now that you have your degree?

A: I am now two months into my new position as deputy chief. I look forward to taking the knowledge I've learned and applying it to my agency to improve the lives of my co-workers and other first responders. I one day hope that I can be an adjunct lecturer for ASU to give back to the future MPSLA students. I am also contemplating applying for a doctoral program to further my studies, too bad ASU does not have an online program.

Q:  What is one issue/problem close to your heart that you would want to solve first if you had all the time and resources you needed?

A: Nearest and dearest in my heart is to further conduct research on the health impacts of first responders and evaluating ways to reduce their chances of increased morbidity and mortality. I would love to create specific policies, founded by research and peer-reviewed articles, to improve the benefits and life of our country's first responders. … First responders have a great deal of physiological and psychological stress that they endure, and finding ways to mitigate the negative effects would be the greatest accomplishment of all.

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


A new tradition: ASU Online celebrates graduates with welcome reception

May 7, 2018

Every semester, thousands of Arizona State University students walk across the famed graduation stage to claim their hard-earned diploma. For many ASU Online students, this is not only the moment they have been waiting for, but also their first time visiting the university they attend.

This semester, over 3,000 ASU Online students — including close to 470 Starbucks employees enrolled through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan — will graduate from ASU, and around 1,500 of them will travel to Phoenix from around the world to partake in graduation celebrations. ASU Online Success Coach Felecia O'Neal (left) and student Wilson Peng. Download Full Image

Online students are welcomed and encouraged to attend as many ceremonies as they are eligible for, including commencement, convocations and events that their colleges, campus groups and ASU Online host.

A newly forming tradition for online graduates is a welcome reception hosted by ASU Online. This semester the event took place May 6 at the Memorial Union on ASU's Tempe campus. Over 600 graduates, family and friends enjoyed snacks, cap decorating, campus tours, a photobooth, kids activities, gift bags, and meeting classmates and support staff that helped them reach this milestone. The event also featured a large map where students could put a pin in their hometown, with strings tied later to connect them all to ASU. Students that could not attend graduation participated in the map activity through social media campaigns.

One of these long-awaited meetings was between criminology and criminal justice student Wilson Peng and Success Coach Felecia O’Neal. Peng and O’Neal have worked together for over two years to overcome challenges, strategize for academic and personal success, navigate a change in major, apply for scholarships and more.

“I am so proud of him. I know how hard he has worked on his academics, to find money to pay for college, juggling work, school and volunteering and overcoming his fears about what he is going to do next. I feel like this validates my job. I’m so thrilled that he’s graduating,” O’Neal said.

While Peng has mixed feelings about graduating and leaving ASU, he feels strongly about his relationship with O'Neal.

“My success coach is like my best friend who tells it like it is. Felecia and I talk on the phone weekly and will exchange emails or chat on Pitchan ASU instant messaging platform throughout the week. We talk about how I’m doing in classes, connecting to different campus resources, my personal life and big decisions I'm making, like choosing a career.”

At the welcome reception O’Neal and Peng sat and chatted about their relationship, the value of coaching and what comes next for Peng. They agreed that even though he will no longer be a student at ASU after this semester, they will absolutely stay in touch.

This is just one of many meetings that took place at the ASU Online welcome reception. Coaches, executive staff, financial aid advisers and other ASU staff were able to meet students in person that they have worked with and supported for years. For students, these meetings create a more personal relationship and belonging to the university and for staff, they bring deeper purpose and sense of pride.

Story by Hanna Friess, digital marketing manager for EdPlus at Arizona State University.

Campus, community involvement connects first-generation grad to her career

May 6, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

For some time, Patty Santillanes-Soto thought she wanted to be a history teacher; but in studying history, her priorities shifted.  Patty Santillanes-Soto ASU spring 2018 graduate Patty Santillanes-Soto has advocated for others through a handful of groups both on and off campus. Photo by Courtney McCune/ASU Download Full Image

“In one of my classes, I realized I wanted to help people in ways that other professionals couldn’t. I wanted to be there for people who need the most support and advocate for them,” she said. “Now more than ever, marginalized groups need advocates to promote social justice and equality.”

Santillanes-Soto put this desire to work while at ASU and will soon graduate magna cum laude with a degree in social work and minor in criminology and criminal justice from ASU’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Not only is she graduating with honors, but she will be the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Santillanes-Soto transferred to ASU from South Mountain Community College, where she was part of the TRIO Student Support Services program. TRIO SSS provided her with essential skills and resources to help her transfer to the university successfully and excel in achieving her degree.

While at ASU, she was a member of and student worker for the TRIO SSS program at the Downtown Phoenix campus, providing her the opportunity to help other first-generation college students pursue higher education.

Along with TRIO, Santillanes-Soto demonstrated her commitment to supporting and advocating for others on and off campus.

For two semesters, she gained professional experience as an intern at the Chicanos Por La Causa De Colores domestic violence shelter, where she assisted case managers and legal advocates. 

On campus, she was a member of Sparky’s Welcome Team, where she welcomed ASU freshmen and their families to the university and assisted them with moving into their residence halls. She also volunteered at many events with Changemaker Central, including Devils in Disguise, ASU’s largest student-led day of service.

After graduation, Santillanes-Soto will continue on at ASU in the Master of Social Work Child Welfare Education Program and will work for Arizona’s Department of Child Safety for 18 months after she completes her master’s.

Ultimately, she would like to work with children and families through Chicanos Por La Causa, carrying on her Sun Devil spirit of service and support for those in need.

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective? 

A: As a social work major I was taught to recognize my biases and to not let them get in the way of working with clients. I was also able to truly learn the difference between sympathy and empathy and how knowing this difference can build rapport with clients and help them reach their goals. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU? 

A: I chose ASU because it is very close to home and was not as expensive as other universities. In high school and at the community college level I was also able to speak to many ASU representatives that made me feel comfortable with choosing ASU. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: My advice would be to get an internship to obtain some experience even if your major does not require it for graduation. Getting hands-on experience will help you so much in the long run, and it will give you an edge when you start your career. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: The TRIO Downtown Office is always my go-to place because most of my friends are a part of the program. I'm able to heat up my lunch there, or go into the computer lab and print something out or hang out in the lobby and just talk to other students.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: A week after graduation I will begin my graduate school courses to obtain my Master of Social Work degree in a year from ASU.  

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: The problem I would like to solve would be to increase educational opportunities for both children and adults.  

Copy writer and editor, Educational Outreach and Student Services


Triple major pursues passion for social work

May 4, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

For Corina Tapscott of Phoenix, serving the community is a family tradition — and one that would ultimately shape her future. Corina Tapscott ASU Spring 2018 graduate Corina Tapscott will graduate with a triple major in social work, psychology and philosophy (law, morality and politics), with honors from Barrett, The Honors College. Photo by Savannah Harrelson Download Full Image

Her path to service wasn’t clear to her, though, until an illuminating conversation with her mother that helped her realize she was meant to continue the tradition through her education and career.

“I was talking with my mom over dinner and I realized I wanted two things: I wanted to help people and I wanted to go to school for it,” Tapscott said. “I wanted to do what my grandpa and my dad were doing — which was working at their local homeless shelters. I shared this with my mom and she said, ‘Well, honey, that's social work!’"

Tapscott did some research and immediately fell in love with the social work ideology. She says she has been enamored with the field ever since. 

She will graduate in May with a triple major in social work, psychology and philosophy (law, morality and politics), with honors from Barrett, The Honors College.

Along with her rigorous triple major, Tapscott took advantage of the many opportunities to get involved at ASU and gain a wealth of professional experience through serving others in the campus community.

During her time at ASU, Tapscott served as the undergraduate student government president and vice president of services at the Downtown Phoenix campus, led a student organization committed to advancing health and wellness for students and was a lead peer educator for the Sexual and Relationship Violence Prevention program.

She also served as chair of the Programming and Activities Board of Student Health Outreach for Wellness and was a member of the University Hearing Board and Parking & Transportation Committee. Last summer she received funding to travel abroad to five different countries and completed a research study on bystander intervention from a global perspective.

As she moves on to her career (and ultimately a master’s degree) in social work, Tapscott is carrying on the legacy of those who came before her and setting an example of leadership and service for those who come after.

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective? 

Answer: I loved what I was beginning to learn about the social work ideology. One thing that really struck my fancy, and has stuck with me, is the tenet of social work that always requires us to honor the client and to empower the client. The social worker does not provide the client with any answers or opportunities they weren't already capable of achieving. I picture it as if the social worker is walking alongside their client every step of the way, rather than leading them. The social worker doesn't have the answers, they merely help guide the client to the answers they already had within them. It is a very empowering lens to come from when you do this work. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU? 

A: I chose ASU because it was not only affordable but offered me the experience of Barrett, The Honors College. Plus, I would be able to stay close to home!

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school? 

A: To absolutely apply to and go after every single thing you want to. Even if you want to apply for that scholarship just a little or only have a small interest in that job — apply! You don't realize how much more there is to yourself until you allow your community to show you what you're capable of. ASU is chock full of opportunities, so go after them. And if there isn't an opportunity, an opening, to do what you want to do, create one! Talk to people, network and create the opportunities that you think should be there. Lastly, do this immediately, right after you step onto the campus! I feel so grateful for all my years at ASU partly because I had someone who believed in me right from the start and made sure I hit the ground running.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: I love studying in the lower level of the Student Center at the Downtown Phoenix campus. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation? 

A: I will be taking a year or two off to work full time within (hopefully) macro social work. During this time, I hope to read and study on my own as I further specify my interests within the field. After that time, I will pursue a master's degree in social work with potentially a concurrent degree in public health. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle? 

A: To abolish hate and ignorance (potentially through research and supporting those who are already doing amazing work in this area through grants, etc.). To remove hate and ignorance from the world would be to create a foundation in which true equity, when it comes to having the opportunity to thrive in our world, would be possible. 

Copy writer and editor, Educational Outreach and Student Services


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New veterans program gets $100,000 kick start

May 2, 2018

Initiative to provide post-graduation grant with aim to improve veterans academically, prepare them for workforce

A new collaboration between Arizona State University’s Pat Tillman Veterans Center and the Public Service Academy will now move forward after receiving a $100,000 grant from Women & Philanthropy — an ASU Foundation engagement program.

During the Women & Philanthropy yearly appreciation luncheon Tuesday at the Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale, the Veterans Scholar Program was one of four recipients of a sizeable grant that aims to improve veteran graduation rates and prepare them for the workforce.

“The focus is to leverage our student veterans to improve academically,” said Michelle Loposky, Pat Tillman Veterans Center assistant director for outreach and engagement. “But also to get them engaged with the ASU community and discover their potential.” 

Veterans going into their senior year could be eligible for up to a $1,000 grant after graduation if they satisfy the program’s three components: an improved GPA, community service and professional development.

“The amount of money awarded to the students will be determined by their ending GPA,” Loposky said.

Students earning a 3.8 GPA or better will get $1,000, Loposky said. A 3.5 or above gets $750, and anyone with 3.1 or higher gets $500.  

“We would like to see those veterans with lower GPAs reach 3.0 and above,” Loposky said.

Students should receive the funding after they apply for graduation, Loposky said. The grant will be approved once the Pat Tillman Veterans Center confirms that students have met the GPA requirements and satisfied the other two program components.

“The earned funding is supposed to go to something that adds to their professional brand,” Loposky said. “For example, buying a suit, paying for a professional certification, covering the cost of a conference, etc.”

A key part the program is the partnership with ASU’s Public Service Academy, as it unites the academy’s Next Generation Service Corps with student veterans to work jointly on community service projects.   

“This is an incredible opportunity to both directly train veteran leaders and my civilian student leaders side-by-side,” said Brett Hunt, Public Service Academy executive director, “thereby transmitting the leadership experience that veterans have beyond their years in the military to my civilian students who are emerging potential leaders in the future.”

Student veterans will have the opportunity to work with the Public Service Academy in community projects through ASU’s Changemaker Central; Devils in Disguise; Red, White and Serve; and other “direct service opportunities.”

“What we’re doing at the end of the day is building leadership infrastructure,” Hunt said. “The Veterans Scholar Program gives us the ability to transform our student veterans into that leadership infrastructure for the nation.”

Behind the new program is a bigger notion that speaks to the heart of many veterans and that they often miss after they leave the military.

“It’s about instilling a higher purpose other than going out and getting a job,” said Hunt, a former Army captain and State Department Foreign Service officer. “That is what has drawn many of us veterans here to ASU, doing something purpose-driven that when you leave the military you don’t have to leave service behind. This is a way to translate that into purpose in the civilian sector.”

Women & Philanthropy celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2017. In total over the years, the group has donated $3.7 million to 87 different ASU programs.

Jerry Gonzalez

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

Andrea Whitsett named director at ASU Morrison Institute

April 23, 2018

Andrea Whitsett has been named director of Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University. She has served as interim director since August.

“After a national search, Andrea emerged as the best candidate to continue the important work of Morrison Institute,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of the ASU College of Public Service and Community Solutions. “Her experience, leadership and connection with the community — visible in the overwhelming support expressed by a diverse group of Arizona leaders — made this key appointment a clear choice.” Andrea Whitsett is the director of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy Andreat Whitsett is the new director of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University. Download Full Image

Whitsett, 37, fills the top position vacated by Thom Reilly, who become chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. Whitsett joined Morrison Institute in 2007 and served as associate director, management research analyst senior and special projects manager prior to her interim appointment.

“I am excited that Andrea has been selected as director,” said Richard Morrison, a co-founder of the public policy center launched in 1982. “She has twinned a passion for public policy with a dynamic personality. With her great team, the institute will continue to offer important service for the benefit of Arizonans throughout the state.”

Betsey Bayless, chair of the Morrison Institute Advisory Board and a member of the search committee, said Whitsett’s longtime ties to Arizona benefit both Morrison Institute and Arizona.

“Too often we look outside Arizona for people with ideas and solutions for Arizona when there are many talented individuals here already,” Bayless said. “Andrea being a native Arizonan is a real plus. She understands the state’s challenges and culture, along with its tremendous potential. She has great leadership instinct. Her collaborative spirit draws diverse constituents to the table for meaningful conversations that will shape Arizona for generations to come.”

During her tenure at Morrison Institute, Whitsett has guided the publication of numerous policy briefs, led Morrison Institute’s flagship State of Our State Conference and launched the first Citizens’ Initiative Review in Arizona — a multi-day, intensive citizen engagement project.

Whitsett assumes leadership of a research organization that has produced several recent high-profile reports: "Finding & Keeping Educators for Arizona’s Classrooms," which examined teacher recruitment and retention challenges; the "Spotlight on Arizona’s Kids" series, which provided original data on subtypes of child neglect; and "Gamechangers? Independent Voters May Rewrite the Political Playbook," which explored disruption of the two-party system. An upcoming report, "Arizona’s Voter Crisis," is part of a voter education and engagement project via Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

“I am honored to serve at the helm of an enduring Arizona institution that works to inform sound public policy across a broad range of issues,” Whitsett said. “Whether the focus of our policy work is water, education, human services or economic development, we impact Arizona by bringing facts and nonpartisan analysis to further the conversation.”

She also noted her appreciation of its previous directors — Reilly, Sue Clark-Johnson and Rob Melnick — all of whom she worked under at Morrison Institute.

“I’ve benefitted greatly by learning from all three, including their distinct styles, shared vision and collaborative approaches to examining public policy,” Whitsett said.

Whitsett is a member of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s DATOS Research Committee and has co-edited multiple background reports for Arizona Town Hall. Whitsett previously served on the board of directors for the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence and as board secretary for Florence Crittenton. She is currently a member of the Collective Impact Group for Child Safety and Well-Being.

Whitsett’s passion for service traces back to her grandmother, Julieta Bencomo, who was the first Latina to serve on the Arizona State Board of Education.

“My grandmother was a tireless community leader who held herself and her community to the highest standard of excellence. I have always been inspired by her fierce spirit and her commitment to the principles of access, equity and public service — values that I am fortunate to carry forward under the ASU charter,” she said.

She graduated from Arizona State University with a master’s degree in nonprofit studies and has been a faculty associate in ASU’s School of Community Resources and Development. She holds a bachelor of arts in American studies from Yale University, where she was awarded an Amy Rossborough Fellowship through the Yale Women’s Center.

Whitsett and her husband, Timothy Whitsett Jr., reside in north Phoenix with their two young children, Ben and Jack.

Morrison Institute is commemorating its 36th year as Arizona’s premier think tank for public policy. Its motto of “policy, not politics” is a mantra for nonpartisan research, analysis and public outreach on such issues as education, the economy, water, changing demographics, criminal justice reform, social policies, and governance and elections. In addition to its general policy operations, Morrison Institute features two centers — the Kyl Center for Water Policy and the Latino Public Policy Center. Morrison Institute also oversees the Arizona Legislative Academy, which launched in 2016 to provide new lawmakers with a stronger base of knowledge about Arizona governance and policy. The Arizona Capitol Times named Morrison Institute as one of its Leaders of the Year in Public Policy for contributions to education in 2016 and to government in 2017.

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


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ASU conference to address needs of children of incarcerated parents

An estimated 2 million children in the U.S. have an incarcerated parent.
Roughly 13% of Arizona children have an incarcerated parent.
April 19, 2018

Like many children who grow up with an incarcerated parent, it took Deborah Jiang Stein years to step out from the shadow of societal stigma and personal shame, eventually detailing her experience in the book “Prison Baby.”

What she went through happened decades ago. Today, although an estimated 2 million children in the U.S. — and roughly 13 percent of children in Arizona — are currently experiencing parental incarceration, resources to help them and their families cope are still scarce.

“We’re a culture of secrecy and shame,” Jiang Stein said. “So if a child has a parent in prison, that falls into the category of ‘Let’s not talk about this.’”

This Sunday through Wednesday, April 22-25, hundreds will gather at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Phoenix to challenge that notion at the inaugural National Children of Incarcerated Parents Conference, hosted by ASU’s Center for Child Well-Being.

Jiang Stein will be on hand to deliver the keynote lecture.

The Center for Child Well-Being was founded in 2016 to bring more attention to the needs of vulnerable kids, focusing their work on three areas: research and evaluation, development and facilitation of professional training, and bringing in speakers from community organizations to deliver talks.

Research at the center is carried out by faculty, graduate and undergraduate students from disciplines that include engineering, computer science and nutrition, among others.

The idea for the upcoming conference grew out of a smaller, regional event held in 2014, where center director Judy Krysik realized something more permanent and sustainable needed to be established.

“I didn’t know how many people I knew who were touched by this issue until we started planning the conference and people I’ve known for a long time suddenly were telling me they had an incarcerated parent,” Krysik said. “This isn’t something that people talk about. So we hope this conference will raise awareness and allow people to have an open conversation about it.”

The conference will focus on four themes: impact on children and families, training and support for professionals, evidence of program and policy effectiveness, and empowering change through system building. Panel discussions will include trauma impact, reducing harm, visitation practices, providing maternal health services in corrections, resiliency, family-sensitive practice, and addressing gender and racial assumptions and biases.

Those in attendance will include children and families, advocates, practitioners and researchers.

Catherine Tijerina and her children, Brandon and Blake, will be speaking about their personal experiences as the family of a formerly incarcerated husband and father. When Ron Tijerina was released from prison, he and Catherine founded the Ridge Project, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower generational responsibility to ensure the strength of future generations.

The Ridge Project reaches out to families, youths and individuals touched by incarceration and offers services and support, something Catherine wishes she had more of while Ron was incarcerated.

“You just feel so discarded and unwanted,” she said. She hopes the Ridge Project and the upcoming conference will encourage more people to reach out and mobilize around the cause.

“The very best programs in the world don’t change people,” Tijerina said. “People change people. Having those connections is so important.”

Jiang Stein founded a similar organization to address the needs of those in the prison system. The unPrison Project provides drug and alcohol treatment, as well as mental health resources for incarcerated individuals.

“If we stopped warehousing people in prisons and provided resources for healing, trauma recovery, employment and adequate housing, we’d see recidivism drop,” Jiang Stein said.

One of the deliverables of the conference is a publication based on the topics covered, which will be distributed to help increase knowledge on the subject.

“We’re very fortunate that because of the center, we have the resources to offer this to the community,” Krysik said.

Top photo courtesy of Pixabay

ASU student's team earns second place in global public policy simulation competition

April 18, 2018

A team of five students, including one from Arizona State University, tied for second place in the 2018 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition — the largest student public policy simulation competition in the world.

Teams made up of graduate students from 159 universities and 27 nations competed at host sites, including ASU, in February and March. The simulation put students in leadership positions of fictitious countries and tasked them with minimizing the impact of a deadly infectious disease. They were given extensive real-world data, and with little time, asked to work together to prevent the outbreak from becoming a pandemic on a continent with four very different countries. Team from ASU regional site that placed second in the 2018 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition From left to right: Benjamin Bass of the University of Southern Utah; Victoria Laskey of the University of Colorado, Denver; Rebecca McCarthy of Arizona State University; Hayden English from the University of Texas, Austin; and Breck Wightman of Brigham Young University. The team placed second among 139 competing in the 2018 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition. Download Full Image

The winning team from the ASU regional round was comprised of students from five schools: Rebecca McCarthy of ASU's School of Public Affairs; Breck Wightman of the Romney Institute of Public Management at Brigham Young University; Victoria Laskey of the University of Colorado, Denver School of Public Affairs; Benjamin Bass of the University of Southern Utah and Hayden English from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin.

“The competition provided an incredible experience to network and work with students from other universities in a fast-paced, intellectual team environment,” McCarthy said. “To be part of the regional winning team was exciting to begin with, but when I found out that our team was the second place global winner, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!”

The team from the ASU School of Public Affairs regional site tied for second with a team that competed at the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. A team of Northern California graduate students hosted by San Jose State University’s College of Social Sciences won first place. Third place went to a team competing at Cornell University Institute of Public Affairs. Cash prizes of $1,500, $500, and $150 will be awarded to first, second and third place students from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) and the University of Virginia’s Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

A team of “super judges” evaluated the simulation scores, negotiation skills, and presentations that 22 winning regional teams made to site judges. Yushim Kim, an associate professor in the ASU School of Public Affairs and an expert on public health services and management, served as a regional site judge. She praised the ASU regional site team members for their ability to adapt their proposals during the competition.

“Two policy memos written by the ASU site winning team showed that the group slightly changed their recommendations based on the characteristics of the countries involved,” Kim said.

Giving students the ability to make such important decisions in a rapidly-evolving situation will help them as they seek careers in developing and implementing public policy,

"My goal in designing this computer simulation and the overall educational outcome for the competition was simple: to make it immersive so that each student can benefit from experiential learning prior to going out into the real world,” said Noah Myung, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. “Students had to make complicated analytical decisions with limited information, were required to write multiple policy memos, and finally make a decision briefing to world-class experts. It was a policy boot camp for our students."

And it’s a boot camp that ASU School of Public Affairs graduate student Rebecca McCarthy hopes benefits many more students in future competitions.

One of those who watched her team compete was Don Siegel, director of the ASU School of Public Affairs. He was impressed by the team’s ability to analyze data and present well thought out recommendations. He gives McCarthy kudos for her role in helping earn her team second place among almost 130 teams competing worldwide.

“The most notable aspect of Rebecca’s performance was her ability to blend theory and practice to develop a practical solution to a difficult problem,” Siegel said. “We strive to develop this skill in our students and it’s a real joy to see them display it before a large audience.”

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


ASU hosts conference to reduce violence in Latin America and the Caribbean

April 9, 2018

Criminal justice experts from the Western Hemisphere will examine the impact of violence in Latin America and the Caribbean and how to prevent it at a two-day conference held at the Arizona State University Tempe campus April 11–12. The free event is sponsored by the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, part of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at ASU in downtown Phoenix.

The event takes place as National Guard troops have been deployed to the U.S./Mexico border in advance of the arrival of a caravan of migrants from Central America that is making its way north through Mexico. Researchers from the center have studied violence in Honduras, El Salvador and nations throughout the Caribbean and are working on solutions to help governments and communities reduce violence. Charles Katz, a criminology professor and director of the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, talks to ASU Now about the conference.  Unidos Por La Justicia in Honduras From left to right: Jonathan Hernandez from the ASU Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety with Vivian Pavon, Ana Karina Suazo and Faiz Velazquez of Unidos Por La Justicia (United for Justice) at a community event in Tegucigalpa, Honduras held to establish a better relationship between the National Police and the citizens they serve. Download Full Image

Question: Why hold a leadership conference on violence and its prevention in Latin America and the Caribbean?

Answer: Over the past 10 years, our faculty and staff have focused much of their effort on projects that diagnose problems associated with violence and have been collaborating with governments in these regions to identify and evaluate best practices to respond to violence in Latin America and the Caribbean. Today, these nations are at a critical point where they are about to embark on a major shift in policy and responses to violence. Given the relationships we have developed and the progress we have seen we believe that there is a unique opportunity for ASU to play an important role in the development and institutionalization of citizen security in the region.

Q: Can you talk about ASU’s role in researching violence in these regions?

A: ASU has played both large and small roles in examining violence in the region. From 2004 to 2010 we worked under contract with the Ministry of National Security of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to reform the Trinidad and Tobago Police Services. We have also completed a project funded by the United Nations Development (UNDP) program to assess citizen insecurity throughout the Caribbean; and completed work for the Eastern Caribbean’s Regional Security System (RSS) to diagnose the gang problem in nine Caribbean nations and develop a regional approach to responding to gangs.  We have also completed several research projects for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to examine violence and responses to in El Salvador and Honduras.

Charles Katz

ASU criminology professor Charles Katz speaks at the 2017 American Society of Evidence Based Policing Conference held in Phoenix.

Q: You’ve been interviewed a lot by major news organizations about the MS-13 gang. What kind of threat does the violence of gangs in Latin America and the Caribbean pose to the United States?

A: That is a complicated question with multiple issues interwoven through it. First, the violence in Latin America and the Caribbean has an effect on the U.S. in terms of the fact that people in those nations are driven from their countries to the United States in the hopes of finding a safer place for themselves and their families. The violence in those nations also has a substantial impact on those countries' economies, which also drives people to the United States in the hopes of better employment opportunities. While the vast majority of these immigrants have nothing but positive intentions and seek a better life for them and their family, a small minority of those who come have a deeply disturbing past and have ill intentions. These are the people that federal and local officials need to identify quickly to prevent violence from occurring in the U.S.  

Q: Who will be attending the conference and what do you hope they come away with?

A: We have a variety of people who will be attending the meeting. Some of these folks are from USAID, UNDP and various organizations that attempt to work within developing nations to improve their security and decrease violent crime. Faculty from Brazil, Jamaica and the United States, as well as graduate students will be attending. We have also noticed some local criminal justice officials who will be attending the event.

Conference registration: Future of Violence and Its Prevention in Latin America and the Caribbean

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions