Promoting Hispanic education, recognizing achievement

More than 2,100 Hispanic graduates attain their educational goals this semester

May 12, 2016

A 32-year Arizona State University tradition continues as nearly 400 Hispanic students will take the Wells Fargo Arena stage on Saturday to be recognized for achieving their academic goals.

Local TV reporters Karla Navarrete and J.R. Cardenas will emcee the Spring 2016 Hispanic Convocation — an always festive celebration that draws the largest per capita number of graduation-ceremony guests and concludes ASU’s commencement activities for the semester. Download Full Image

ASU alum and former U.S. Representative Ed Pastor is also expected to attend this year’s convocation to present his namesake award, said Rhonda Carrillo, assistant director for the ASU Office of Community Relations.

“We’re very honored to have Mr. Pastor presenting the outstanding graduate award and proud of all the graduates’ academic success,” said Carrillo. “Our projection is that over 4,000 family members, friends and supporters will be on hand to celebrate their achievements.”

The convocation will also honor two outstanding students who have demonstrated scholastic excellence and leadership during their academic journey at ASU. 

The recipient of the Ed Pastor Outstanding Graduate award will be Katie Curiel, a master's in global technology and development major from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. The other honoree is Grace Ordonez, who will receive the Cecilia Esquer Outstanding Undergraduate award. She’s graduating with a bachelor's in accountancy from the W. P. Carey School of Business.

portrait of Katie Curiel

Phoenix native Curiel (left) made her mark at ASU through involvement in countless initiatives, to include being the founder of Women on the Move, an international network supporting Arab women to be empowered and find success in the U.S. and in their home countries. She also served on the advisory boards for ASU’s Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute and DREAMzone — a program that helps undocumented students.

Curiel also interned with the U.S. Agency for International Development, helping to establish the world's first online platform for innovative global development initiatives. She mentored more than 20 of her sisters in Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority both locally and nationally. Through the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, she also mentored two Ugandan women. Despite managing work and school while sustaining significant community involvement, Curiel maintained an impressive 3.9 grade-point average and garnered various scholarships and awards during her time at ASU.

“As someone who works closely with Katie on several projects, I’ve seen the impact she has on the lives of students and community members,” said Davier Rodriguez, coordinator for the Downtown Phoenix Campus Dean of Students Office. “She is a living representation of all that ASU celebrates in its rankings and recognitions; a global leader, change agent and scholar.”

Scottsdale Community College transfer Ordonez (left) is the founding president of the Pre-Law Society at ASU. By working with the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, the W. P. Carey School of Business and various ASU alumni, the Phoenix native built recognition, support and connections for the group.

In addition to amassing numerous scholarship and awards, Ordonez maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA and gave selflessly of her time by mentoring more than 100 students in rigorous accounting and economic courses. She also produced a series of YouTube tutoring videos to provide an around-the-clock assistance platform reachable by other students across the U.S. and abroad.

“Grace immediately distinguished herself as a superior student,” said Nancy Cassidy, senior lecturer with the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Grace’s strong commitment to academic excellence, an impeccable work ethic and high standards of personal integrity make her not only an outstanding individual, but also a student who has earned the respect of her peers and professors alike.”

Just over 2,100 Hispanic students graduated this semester, according to university statistics.

The ASU Hispanic Convocation is a signature event that honors the accomplishments and commitment of ASU’s Hispanic students pursuing higher education.  Participation is open to all students graduating in the current semester. This semester’s convocation begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday May 14, at Wells Fargo Arena on the Tempe campus. 


Jerry Gonzalez

Media Relations Officer, Media Relations and Strategic Communications

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A noteworthy gift of music

ASU alum shows his gratitude toward alma mater with piano provisions.
Annual discounted piano sale starts May 19.
May 11, 2016

ASU School of Music alum keeps piano practice rooms full, raises money for the school with annual piano sale

Jason Sipe’s largesse is as big as a grand piano — each year, the ASU alumnus raises money with an annual piano sale and keeps the School of Music’s practice rooms full of the sounds of tinkling ivory.

It’s his way of saying thank you for the music and to show his gratitude towards his alma mater.

Sipe, who graduated from the School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts in 1993 with two degrees, said music professor Walter Cosand changed his life nearly a quarter-century ago by giving him a scholarship and, later, offering sage advice.

“I was contemplating a career as a music instructor or owning my own piano store,” said Sipe (pictured above), who recently celebrated his 25th anniversary as the owner of AZ Piano, the largest retailer of pianos in the Southwest United States.

“Walter is a straight shooter and is very direct. He looked at me and said, ‘How many people own a piano store? You should give it a try.’ He saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself.”

Sipe never forgot that kindness and began giving back to ASU in several ways. Each year since 2006, he provides, free of charge, more than $200,000 worth of pianos to the School of Music to ensure student practice rooms and a handful of teaching studios are equipped with quality pianos.

He also hosts an annual piano sale at the end of each school year at deep discounts — first to the ASU community and then to the general public. A share of the proceeds from the sale goes toward purchasing new pianos for the school. That sort of generosity is worthy of recognition, said Rick Florence, manager of keyboard technology and event services for the School of Music.

“Jason has always been supportive in the best way he can,” Florence said. “Not only does he help us through the loan program, and the accompanying fundraising sale, he’s also been heavily involved in establishing music competitions, funded prize money, and provides pianos for many of our off-campus events at no charge.

“He just wants to help. Jason may have graduated in 1993, but he never really left the School of Music.”

This year’s sale will feature more than 300 pianos ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. Brand names include Kawai, Schimmel, Mason & Hamlin and Pearl River, plus a few used Steinways.

“The beauty of this sale is that everybody wins,” Sipe said. “The buyers win because they get a great price. ASU wins because the music program gets a boost, and I win because I get to help my school.”

There is no cost to attend the piano sale, which is being held at the AZ Piano showroom at 4134 E. Wood St., Suite 200, Phoenix.

All new and loaned pianos come with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty. Local delivery is included, as well as a bench and first tuning in the home.

Beginning May 14, interested buyers can call 480-727-6770 to book an appointment to view the sale items from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 19-20. The sale is then open to walk-ins May 21-22.


Top photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Reporter , ASU Now


Cronkite professor Tim McGuire encourages graduates to dream big at convocation

May 11, 2016

In his final act as a professor at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Tim McGuire challenged the school’s newest graduates to unabashedly chase their dreams.

McGuire, who retired Tuesday after 10 years as the Cronkite School’s Frank Russell Chair for the Business of Journalism, was the keynote convocation speaker at ASU Gammage, where 329 students received degrees with 2,000 guests in attendance. Tim McGuire, Cronkite School Tim McGuire, the Cronkite School's Frank Russell Chair for the Business of Journalism, challenges graduates to pursue their dreams. Photo by Ryan Santistevan Download Full Image

In his address, McGuire, former longtime editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, charged graduates to dream big and take risks. Recalling personal discussions with graduating seniors about their careers, he urged graduates to follow their passions in life by taking risks.

“Understand our life on this blue marble is short,” McGuire said. “Too damn short to do something we’re not passionate about.”

McGuire capped his keynote speech with the trademark football call often heard in his lectures. “I am convinced that if you dream big and push to meet those dreams and understand that you, and only you, are responsible and accountable for making a good life, then one day you will be able to stand back and declare, ‘Touchdown!’” he said.

Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School and University Vice Provost, said McGuire’s arrival to the Cronkite School established a new era, with a focus on innovation and the future of media.

“Our goals as professor are to teach and inspire,” he said. “And no one has done that better than Tim McGuire.”

In all, the Cronkite School graduated 270 bachelor’s degree students, with 203 earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication, 61 receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies and six earning a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Journalism. The Cronkite School also graduated five master’s degree students and 53 students who earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Steven Garry received a doctoral degree, the fourth awarded by the school.

Student speaker Erica Lang of Overland Park, Kansas, encouraged the graduating class to embrace and drive change in their careers. She said the Cronkite School through its faculty and innovative professional programs has positioned them for success. 

“The truth is that our graduation is not the end, but rather the beginning of our journey,” said Lang, who graduated with both her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the Cronkite School. “And we each get to decide the path our own story takes.”

Callahan said nearly half of the graduating class earned high academic honors. Fifty-four students graduated summa cum laude status with grade-point averages of at least 3.8; another 50 graduated magna cum laude with GPAs of 3.6 to 3.79; and 46 graduated cum laude with GPAs of 3.4 to 3.59.

In addition, 22 students were inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, a national college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism. The top 10 percent of the graduating class is inducted into the society each semester.



Outstanding Graduate Student

Theresa Poulson

ASU Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate

Miguel Otárola

Outstanding Undergraduate Students

Nicole Fox

Jacob Garcia

Taylor Holmes

Samantha Incorvaia

Kimberly Koerth

Benjamin Margiott

Brooke Stobbe

Highest Grade-Point Average in Journalism

Molly Bilker

Highest Grade-Point Average in Media Studies

Karyn Alexander

Top Innovator Award

Carolina Marquez

Cronkite Spirit Award

Kerry Crowley

Sydney Glenn

Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society

Molly Bilker

Skylar Clark

Alexandria Coleman

Carolyn Corcoran

Nicole Fox

Jacob Garcia

Kristen Gioscia

Kimberly Koerth

Tamara Kraus

Erica Lang

Emily Lierle

Cattarina Lovins

Emily Mahoney

Miguel Otárola

Theresa Poulson

Morgan Rath

Alexa Salari

Jessica Schultz

Katherine Sitter

Shelby Slade

Emma Totten

Kristina Vicario

Moeur Award

Alexandria Coleman

Jacob Garcia

Emily Mahoney

Miguel Otárola

Morgan Rath

Student Speaker

Erica Lang

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication


ASU alumna named chancellor of Maricopa Community Colleges

Maria Harper-Marinick is the 1st woman and 1st Latina to become a chancellor in Arizona

May 11, 2016

On May 4, Maria Harper-Marinick, a two-time graduate of ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, was named chancellor of the Maricopa Community Colleges (MCC). MCC’s 10 colleges and 21 specialized education centers make the system one of America’s largest providers of higher education.

Announcing Harper-Marinick’s appointment, MCC Governing Board President Alfredo Gutierrez heralded “a new era” for the colleges that will “elevate their standing as an institution dedicated to high achievement and successful student outcomes.” Maria Harper-Marinick is the new chancellor of Maricopa Community Colleges ASU alumna Maria Harper-Marinick is the new chancellor of Maricopa Community Colleges. Download Full Image

ASU President Michael Crow said the board’s decision will “propel Maricopa Community Colleges to the next level.”

The post of chancellor is the pinnacle of Harper-Marinick’s nearly 25-year career at MCC. She has been executive vice chancellor and provost since 2010, and served as interim chancellor during the search for a successor to the retired Rufus Glasper. Now confirmed in the leadership role, she will oversee system-wide operations that serve 200,000 students with 10,000 faculty and staff members.

In addition to her tenure at MCC, Harper-Marinick has been a leader in education advocacy, working with organizations such as Expect More Arizona, the Arizona Minority Education Policy Analysis Center and the Arizona Business and Education Coalition. Outside the state borders, she has served on the National Community College Hispanic Council and was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance by the U.S. Secretary of Education.

“There is an unprecedented demand for skilled workers among employers not only here in Arizona, but across the nation, making it vital for higher-education institutions to educate, train and prepare the next generation of employees to be workplace-ready,” Harper-Marinick said.

She said MCC will “continue to deliver an exemplary education that equips students with the foundational skills they need to excel in their careers and in life.”

Harper-Marinick came to ASU as a Fulbright student in 1982 after receiving her license in school administration and pedagogy from La Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña in her native Dominican Republic. She earned a Master of Education degree in educational media and a doctorate in educational technology from ASU.

“We are proud that our alumna will continue to have such a strong impact on Maricopa Community College students," said Mari Koerner, dean of ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. "She is a longtime advocate for them and for the entire educational community. Of course, Maria is intelligent and persistent, but it is her humor and optimism which make her extraordinary.”

“Dr. Harper-Marinick excelled among the candidates we interviewed and identified as national leaders in terms of understanding the unique and complex education landscape in Arizona, and the need for innovation and collaboration," said Crow, who co-chaired the search committee with Salina Bednarek, president of the MCC Faculty Association. "Her commitment to strengthening the quality of education in Arizona and keen insights on major issues make her perfectly poised to propel Maricopa Community Colleges to the next level.”

Copy writer, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College


ASU Alumni Association adds 6 new groups to chapter network

May 11, 2016

The Arizona State University Alumni Association recently added six new groups to its chapter network, bringing the total number of groups operated by the association and its alumni volunteers to 160.

At its May 6 meeting, the Alumni Association board approved the creation of an alumni club for Sun Devils who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS); the upgrade of the alumni club in Portland, Oregon, to an alumni chapter; and the establishment of four international connection groups, located in Ecuador, Liberia, Switzerland, and Hamburg, Germany. Leaders from some of the 160 alumni chapters, clubs and connection groups sponsored by the ASU Alumni Association gather on the steps of Old Main during a recent conference. Download Full Image

These groups will join a network that now includes 45 geographically based groups within the United States, 23 academic affiliates focused on graduates of specific degree programs at the university, 20 special interest chapters or clubs representing alums of registered student organizations, and 72 international connection groups, representing Sun Devil alums worldwide.

The primary goal of chapters is to keep alumni connected to ASU, whether it be through their academic program, their current geographic location, or the registered student organizations or university sponsored student groups in which they participated. Chapters sponsor a range of activities for their members, including networking events, Sun Devil game-watching celebrations, outdoor recreational activities, and service-oriented volunteer projects. Many chapters give back to the next generation of ASU students by providing mentoring services, by hosting Sun Devil Send-Offs for incoming ASU students, or by awarding scholarships.

To learn more about the association’s chapter network, including how to organize a new group, visit

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Golden Graduates take the field

May 10, 2016

Class of 1966 gets front-row view at Undergraduate Commencement

There was a gold-robed group of honored guests at Monday's Undergraduate Commencement at Chase Field in Phoenix: the Golden Graduates of 1966.

The Arizona State University alumni got front-row seats to the festivities, after meeting Sunday night for a special reception at the Memorial Union. Watch the graduation fun below.


Golden Graduates of 1966 - 2016 Spring Commencement from ASU Now on Vimeo.

Ken Fagan

Videographer , ASU Now


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ASU astronaut headed to Hall of Fame

Scott Parazynski calls spacewalking the ultimate human exploration experience.
ASU prof Parazynski to be inducted into Astronaut Hall of Fame on May 14.
May 10, 2016

Scott Parazynski logged more than 8 weeks in space, performed 7 spacewalks — including 1 hailed as most dangerous ever

When rookie astronauts go on their first spacewalk, it’s common to hear them oohing and aahing when they go out the hatch.

Being awestruck may diminish with experience, but the sense of wonder never does, said astronaut Scott Parazynski.

Parazynski will be inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame on May 14. A veteran of five space shuttle flights, he has logged more than eight weeks in space, including 47 hours during seven spacewalks. One of his spacewalks is celebrated for being the most dangerous and difficult ever carried out.

“It was quite a sporty day out there,” he recalled of that task.

Parazynski is a University Explorer and a professor of practiceThe School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering is part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. The School of Earth and Space Exploration is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. within both the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering and the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University.

Spacewalking is like nothing else, he said.

“You’ve actually moved off the planet,” he said. “You’re sort of disconnected from it to a degree. You look out the window and see this beautiful planet floating below. It’s a surreal, out-of-body experience to know that all of humanity and everyone you’ve ever met in your life is below you on planet Earth. It’s a strange mental perspective to have. You’re drawn out to the cosmos, but you’re always drawn back to the beautiful blue planet below you.”

With nothing but the black void of the universe below their feet, some people, especially on their first spacewalk, have a sense of falling, Parazynski said. Even astronauts, despite being highly trained and highly focused on mission tasks, can’t resist succumbing to the wow factor every so often.

“Every once in a while you look up and there’s the Great Barrier Reef above you,” Parazynski said. “Then you get back to work.”

Astronaut Scott Parazynski on a spacewalk.

Scott Parazynski on a spacewalk during
the 2007 STS-120 mission to the International
Space Station. Top: Parazynski repairing a
damaged solar array on that mission,
considered the most dangerous spacewalk ever.

Photos by NASA

There are some downsides. Lack of gravity makes life more difficult. “You can’t just put things down and expect them to be there,” Parazynski said, adding that everything is Velcroed down in place. If not, “you’ll find it in the cabin air cleaner in a couple of days because of the air flow.”

There will be a fitting twist to Parazynski’s induction. The night before the ceremony, about 400 guests will dine at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida beneath an enormous Saturn V, the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built.

Parazynski’s father was a Rocketdyne engineer who worked on designing and testing the F-1 engines for the Saturn V.

“My father worked on the Apollo program when I was very young,” Parazynski said, imbuing him with the passion to become an astronaut.

Now Parazynski will join the ranks of astronauts who have made significant accomplishments in space or contributions to the advancement of space exploration. They include John Glenn, Jim Lovell, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Walter Schirra, Michael Collins, Donald K. (Deke) Slayton, Fred Haise and L. Gordon Cooper Jr.

“It came as a surprise out of left field, but I’m really thrilled to be included amongst all the folks I’ve looked up to for so many years,” Parazynski said. He flew with Glenn as the senator’s crewmate and personal physician in 1998 on a Discovery mission when Glenn became the oldest person to fly in space.

The event supports the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which awards $10,000 scholarships to students at universities around the country to help defray educational costs in the pursuit of science, technology, engineering and math fields. The foundation was created more than 30 years ago by the surviving six members of the Mercury Seven, America’s first astronaut corps.

“You look out the window and see this beautiful planet floating below. It’s a surreal, out-of-body experience to know that all of humanity and everyone you’ve ever met in your life is below you on planet Earth. It’s a strange mental perspective to have. You’re drawn out to the cosmos, but you’re always drawn back to the beautiful blue planet below you.”

— Scott Parazynski, NASA astronaut and ASU University Explorer

Parazynski said he misses the teamwork the most, “working with America’s best and brightest on things that are of great consequence. The sense of purpose was amazing. It was a dream come true.”

In October 2007, Parazynski led the spacewalk team on a highly complex space station assembly flight, during which he performed four spacewalks.

His fourth and final spacewalk is widely regarded as one of the most challenging and dangerous ever performed. He was positioned by a 90-foot robotic boom farther than any orbiting astronaut had ever ventured from the safety of the airlock. It was an unplanned emergency repair to a fully energized but torn solar array wing. He spent 45 minutes getting to the tip of the space station.

The array couldn’t be powered down. Everything on Parazynski’s suit had to be specially insulated so electricity couldn’t arc into it. Space suits contain 100 percent oxygen. He could have been electrocuted if he touched a solar cell. The other risk was how far out he went. Mission planners usually want spacewalkers to be able to execute an emergency return to the airlock within 30 minutes of a failure. If his suit failed, he wouldn’t be able to make it back in time.

Mission Control and the crew agreed a higher degree of risk had to be accepted. In the related photo on this page, Parazynski’s feet appear clamped into the boom. They weren’t. He had to concentrate to keep them wedged in.

He attached five devices called “cuff links” on the array, which kept the torn section folded and prevented further tearing. The feat has been called the “Apollo 13 moment” of the space shuttle and space station eras because of the tremendous coordinated effort in orbit and on the ground by Mission Control and other engineering experts.

“That was quite unusual,” Parazynski said.

“It’s the ultimate human exploration experience, to float above your planet, and see it from that perspective and to go on a spacewalk,” he said. “I really miss that and I wish I hadn’t had to hang up my space suit. It was time for me to get out of the way of the new recruits and to move on to other things.”

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Launching on a nuclear path

May 10, 2016

Honors student with 4.0 GPA lands highly selective Navy job

Editor’s note:  This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2016 commencement. See the rest here.

It’s rare for an entry-level job in a large organization to require a personal interview with the top boss. But when Arizona State University student and Navy ROTC Midshipman James Feddern applied for a position as a Naval Reactors engineer, that’s exactly what he had to do.  

Feddern pursued a job in what Lt. Austin Hancock, ASU Navy ROTC nuclear programs officer, describes as the Navy’s most intellectually selective community. 

The few applicants meeting the high initial entry requirements are invited to the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., for interviews. The first two are grueling questioning sessions with the engineering team. Feddern also underwent a third two-hour specialized interview on such esoteric topics as astrophysics.

Those who make it past all the technical interviews then sit down for a one-on-one with the top boss. In this case, Feddern faced Admiral James F. Caldwell Jr., director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, for final screening. The four-star military officer weighed in. 

Feddern made it.   

Following his May 9 graduation and his commissioning into the Navy two days later, Feddern will head to his new job as a Naval Reactors engineer at the Navy Yard. Naval Reactors is an agency that researches, designs, regulates and operates nearly 100 nuclear reactors and power plants that drive many U.S. warships, including submarines and aircraft carriers.  

“Initially, I will be going through more intensive training and education related to nuclear engineering,” said Phoenix native Feddern. “After that I could be assigned to do a variety of engineering jobs. I am very excited about this assignment. It was my first choice, and I am honored to have been selected to work at Naval Reactors.”

Feddern, a Barrett, the Honors College student who will be receiving his Bachelor's of Science in physics, shares some insights that led him to his current path and some other helpful views for readers. 

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I have a passion for science in general and really enjoyed studying physics in high school. When I started at ASU, though, I was enrolled in the flight program at the Polytechnic Campus. It was only after my first year, though, that I discovered I really had a passion for physics and a desire to learn more about it. Even though I liked learning to fly, I realized that it was something I would like to do as more of a hobby, rather than as a career. So I switched my major. I also thought I could serve the Navy with a degree in physics if I became an officer within the nuclear power community — which includes the opportunity to be an officer at Naval Reactors, a submarine officer, or a surface warfare officer on an aircraft carrier.     

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

A: One of the most important things I learned at ASU is that it’s more important to know what to do when you don’t know the answer to a problem than it is to immediately know the answer. Often it is simply not possible to know the answer to every problem or situation. But it is really important to know how to begin and approach a problem when you have no idea how to do it at first. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I really wanted to stay in Arizona. It’s definitely my favorite place to live, and it’s close to home. ASU in particular had so many different opportunities and a good flight program. This along with the financial benefits made ASU the best choice. ASU is also my father’s alma mater. 

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

A: The best advice I think I could give is to actively find things you enjoy learning about outside of your field of interest and take classes in that subject, even if they do not relate to your major. For example, I took quite a few classes related to the philosophy of science. I found I really liked to explore and learn about the history and philosophy of science, so much so that I actually completed my senior honors thesis in this area. I definitely recommend that students in Barrett take advantage of senior thesis as an opportunity to expand their knowledge in different fields.

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

A: My favorite spot on campus has to be the upstairs patio at Barrett. This was the best place to study and meet people, especially when the weather was nice. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Initially, I plan to travel around Arizona a little bit before I leave, try to see some places I haven’t yet. Once I commission into the Navy I will go to work in Washington, D.C., at the Navy Yard. 

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

A: I think one significant problem in our society is access to quality education. I would use that money to invest in scholarships for particular people around the world so they can obtain the best education possible. I think getting talented people great education is the key to solving other prevalent problems in society. Education is at the heart of society. Without developing and sustaining it, nothing can be accomplished.


Top photo by Deanna Dent

Jerry Gonzalez

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

Researchers announce new way to explore mathematical universe

Online resource reveals deep relationships and provides a guide to previously uncharted territory

May 10, 2016

An international group of mathematicians at Arizona State University and other institutions have released a new kind of online resource to help discover uncharted mathematical worlds.

The “L-functions and Modular Forms Database,” or LMFDB, is an intricate catalog of mathematical objects and the connections between them. Both beautiful and functional like an atlas, the LMFDB reveals deep relationships and provides a guide to previously uncharted territory that underlies current research in several branches of physics, computer science and mathematics. This coordinated effort is part of a massive collaboration of researchers around the globe, and includes developing new algorithms and performing large calculations on an extensive network of computers.  A Maass form, one of the 20 different types of objects in the LMFDB A Maass form, one of the 20 different types of objects in the LMFDB. Image by Fredrik Streoemberg Download Full Image

"We are mapping the mathematics of the 21st century," said project member Brian Conrey, director of the American Institute of Mathematics. "The LMFDB is both an educational resource and a research tool, one that will become indispensable for future exploration."

Massive computations

The scale of the computational effort that went into creating the LMFDB is staggering: a total of nearly a thousand years of computer time spent on calculations by multiple teams of researchers. One recent computation used more than 72,000 cores of Google's Compute Engine to complete a tabulation in one weekend that would have taken more than a century on a single computer. The objects in the LMFDB are all connected to the area of mathematics known as number theory. Related computations are often amenable to massive parallelization, and this allows for scaling to the cloud. Some of the calculations are so intricate that only a handful of experts know how to do them, and some are so big that it makes sense to run them only once, and then share the (verified) results.

"Many of us have made extensive computations, and we wanted to make this data available to other researchers and to link these projects together to aid mathematical progress. By joining forces, we now have a site for one-stop shopping of big data," said LMFDB project member John Jones, a professor of mathematics in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at Arizona State University.

Professor John Jones
ASU professor John Jones is a pioneer in providing mathematical data via the web. Starting in the 1990s, he wrote a series of papers with David Roberts of the University of Minnesota at Morris on techniques for novel number theoretic computations, and would provide results on his website. Since 2011, he has been a regular contributor to the LMFDB. Photo by Rhonda Olson/ASU

Mathematical interconnections

Large­-scale cloud computing is just one of the ways in which the project is changing the way mathematics research is done. The LMFDB provides a sophisticated web interface that allows both experts and amateurs to easily navigate its contents. Each object has a “home page” and links to related objects, or “friends.”

Just like explorers, mathematicians become excited when they discover a connection between two areas that at first appear to be unrelated. The discovery leads to further breakthroughs in research when those connections are made explicit. Researchers following different paths may be heading toward the same destination, but unless they communicate with each other, the explorers on those paths may not realize how close they are. 

The LMFDB includes researchers from more than a dozen areas, all of whom are building connections between their seemingly separate specialties.

“Each mathematician is an expert in their own area and knows one path really well, but the LMFDB helps to demystify the other paths by providing the possible interconnections in clear and navigable terms. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities for mathematical research,” said Jones.

The LMFDB also includes an integrated knowledge database that further clarifies relationships to mathematicians by explaining the contents of the site and the mathematics behind it.

Uses for today’s high-tech world

All mathematics is eventually useful. One of the great triumphs in mathematics of the late 20th century was achieved by British number theorist Andrew Wiles with his proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem, a famous proposition by Pierre de Fermat that went unproven for more than 350 years despite the efforts of generations of mathematicians. The proof has been the subject of several documentaries, and it earned Wiles the Abel Prize earlier this year.

The essence of Wiles' proof was establishing a long-conjectured relationship between two mathematical worlds: elliptic curves and modular forms. Elliptic curves arise naturally in many parts of mathematics and can be described by simple cubic equations; they also form the basis of cryptographic protocols used by most of the major internet companies, including Google, Facebook and Amazon. Modular forms are more mysterious objects: complex functions with an almost unbelievable degree of symmetry. Elliptic curves and modular forms are connected via their L-functions. The remarkable relationship between elliptic curves and modular forms established by Wiles is made fully explicit in the LMFDB, where one can travel from one world to another with the click of a mouse and view the L-functions that connect the two worlds.

A team effort

There will be several simultaneous events happening May 10 in North America and Europe to celebrate the launch of the LMFDB, including public presentations and lectures at the American Institute for Mathematics in San Jose, California; Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire; and the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

The LMFDB project has been funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the American Institute of Mathematics, the EU 2020 Horizon OpenDreamKit Project, and the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics, and it involves researchers from Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, MIT, Oregon State University, the University of Bristol, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Paris, the University of Sydney, the University of Warwick, the University of Waterloo and other institutions. 


Rhonda Olson

Manager of Marketing and Communication, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences


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Hats off to these graduates!

Relive ASU's commencement and convocations with our photo galleries. #ASUgrad
Spring grads are all smiles during ASU's commencements and convocations #ASUgrad
May 9, 2016

Celebrate ASU's newest alumni with these graduation galleries

Graduation season — time to break out the decorated mortar boards, try to time that selfie onstage with ASU President Michael Crow, and celebrate all you've accomplished at Arizona State University ... and all the possibilities to come.

Get a glimpse of all the pomp and smiles as Sun Devils turn their tassels and head into a bright future. And don't forget to bookmark this page and return as we add photos from the convocations all week long.


Undergraduate Commencement


Graduate Commencement


Friday, May 13-Saturday, May 14: College of Letters and Sciences Convocation; College of Health Solutions Convocation; Hispanic Convocation


Thursday, May 12: College of Public Service and Community Solutions Convocation; Black and African Convocation; W. P. Carey School of Business Convocation; School of Sustainability Convocation


Wednesday, May 11: Air Force Commissioning Ceremony, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law Convocation, Naval Science Commissioning Ceremony, Army Commissioning Ceremony, American Indian Convocation, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts Convocation, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Convocation


Tuesday, May 10: Barrett, the Honors College; College of Nursing and Health Innovation; College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences; Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Indian Legal Blanket Ceremony


Friday, May 6-Monday, May 9: Thunderbird School of Global Management, Veterans Stole Ceremony, Lavender Convocation, School for the Future of Innovation in Society



Penny Walker

Director , Media Relations and Strategic Communications