image title

What to expect AFTER you've finished expecting

Parenting nonprofit to hold inaugural conference Saturday in Mesa.
March 8, 2018

ASU faculty Jennie Bever founded 4th Trimester Arizona, a nonprofit that supports parents after they welcome baby

Giving birth is one of the most universal yet life-changing experiences, and every culture deals with it differently.

In the United States, rates of postpartum depression in women have been shown to be as high as 1 in 5; 60 percent of mothers do not breastfeed as long as they intend to; and it is the only country among 41 nations that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents.

Jennie Bever thought perhaps we could do better. Last year, the mother of three and assistant research professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University founded 4th Trimester Arizona, a nonprofit organization that provides community support for parents both during pregnancy and through the first months and years after a baby is born.

This Saturday, 4th Trimester Arizona will hold its inaugural conference at Mesa’s i.d.e.a. Museum, offering classes and workshops on topics such as conscious parenting, finance, postpartum depression and anxiety, sex and intimacy after baby, and changing identity.

“It’s time for a revolution in how we see ourselves and each other as parents,” Bever said. “4th Trimester Arizona was founded to support all parents, to be real about the challenges we face, talk about the stuff that never gets talked about and connect the village to support each other.”

The conference will also feature a “Truth Booth,” where parents can share their lived experiences of the postpartum period. Bever will be using the stories collected as research to inform intervention strategies.

“What are their challenges? What do they need support with?” she asked. “We can come up with all these interventions but if we’re not actually asking them what’s going on, we’re not creating the right interventions.”

In addition to workshops, revitalization opportunities such as yoga, massage, sound healing and dance will be available, and Teri Pipe, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation and founding director of the Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience, will open the conference with a meditation session entitled "Loving Kindness for Self and Others."

ASU Now chatted with Bever ahead of the event to learn more about the fourth trimester — both the organization and the concept.

Question: What exactly is the “fourth trimester”?

Answer: There are three trimesters of pregnancy, and each trimester is three months. As a species, it’s believed that human babies are born before they’re ready to survive well in the world. Most mammals are born ready to walk around. Our babies are born very immature. So those first three months after you have a baby, you’re essentially in the fourth trimester, where the baby needs you all the time. That can be very demanding just physically but also during that time, moms are becoming moms, and it’s a dramatic transition, physically, mentally and emotionally. They go through a kind of breaking up with themselves. The person they were before, they’re never going to be again. And that can be pretty jarring.

I think a lot of people feel like having a new baby is like getting a new car; it’ll just fit right into your life, and everything will be great. But when you actually have one, you realize what an enormous undertaking it is to raise a human being. I think the fourth trimester is when you start realizing that, and that’s, a lot of the time, what contributes to postpartum depression, because we’re just not prepared.

When you go on maternity leave, people act like you’re going on vacation. Our society doesn’t support families the way they need to be supported during that time. Throughout the rest of the world, other cultures have very specific, defined periods of time when others come help out after a baby is born. We don’t have that in the U.S.

bever family
ASU Assistant Research Professor Jennie Bever (left) and her family. Bever's organization 4th Trimester aims to help parents through the transition from pregnancy to parenting. Photo courtesy Jennie Bever

Q: What’s the story behind why you founded 4th Trimester Arizona?

A: I have a private practice in the community as a lactation consultant, and the longer I did that work, the more I kept noticing the same thing. I have four children, the youngest is 3, and he had just been born at the time, and I was starting to notice that with every baby, we kind of cocoon ourselves away from everyone for a time. We’re always kind of shocked by how dramatic the change is, by how much sleep we don’t get, etc.

I had moms in my office who were dealing with that but at the same time pushing down the emotions that come with it because they felt like they had to act like everything was wonderful. “I have a baby, so I don’t get to be upset that I don’t sleep, or that my nipples are torn up or that I’m bleeding from several orifices.” They feel like they have to be warriors. What shows up on social media is only pretty pictures and happy stuff, and that takes away from our experience as a person, to only be able to talk about the parts that are beautiful.

Then I found out about the Seven Sisters Program, and I was gifted the privilege of caring for three women after they gave birth, going to their homes, bringing meals and caring for them in some way. That made me realize that the fourth-trimester experience could be different. So 4th Trimester Arizona came out of that realization.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is about to have a baby or who just had a baby?

A: Finding a tribe of other moms is really important. Having a place where you can be real is super important. Maybe it’s just one person who you can call and say, “Oh my God, the baby just puked on me and I need to take a shower but now the baby is screaming, I don’t think I can do this.” I feel like every day I have something to share, like, “Can you believe this is my life?” Whether my kid is having a tantrum and won’t get off the floor, or refuses to get dressed, or something else — you need someone you can share those things with that are not always pretty.

That’s my number one piece of advice: Find someone to share with. If you can set up yourself so you either have a plan for who’s going to care for you during that postpartum period, or if you’re already in it, set up a way for you and a friend to do that. Maybe just show up at each other’s house and sit on each other’s couches and talk. That mother-to-mother support is critical. It’s where all of our power as mothers comes from. When we’re all alone, we can start to feel like we’re doing it wrong because we don’t have anyone to relate to. But when we come together, suddenly we can come up with solutions or even just offer a shoulder to lean on.

Q: Why is it important as a society, even for those who choose not to have children, to care about the well-being of parents?

A: Moms, and even dads, who have less support often develop postpartum depression, and we know that postpartum depression results in children who are more disconnected and have more behavioral issues. So dealing with postpartum depression or making it less likely has huge repercussions for what our society looks like. All of that starts with the parents. We have all these interventions for children, which is great, but at the end of the day, the kids go home to parents. Almost all the time, moms who have new babies are really starved for connection, or they feel like they’re not doing it right, or they’re struggling half the time to feed themselves. So maybe if your neighbor just had a baby, walk them over something to eat. It’ll be so appreciated, to a level you don’t even know. And it goes a long way in building community, too.

The 4th Trimester Arizona Conference is sponsored by the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at ASU; Agave Pediatrics; i.d.e.a. Museum; Image Legends; RBInsurance group; and Arizona Breastfeeding Center.

Emma Greguska

Reporter , ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

ASU Parking and Transit Services assistant director named a city of Tempe 2018 Bike Hero

March 8, 2018

The city of Tempe will name JC Porter the recipient of its 2018 Bike Hero award this April. Porter is assistant director of Arizona State University Parking and Transit Services and promotes bike safety and bicycling as an alternate method of transportation. 

The Bike Hero award recognizes individuals and organizations that advocate for bicycling. bike valet Bike valets on campus are just one of the programs overseen by JC Porter (right), the assistant director of Arizona State University Parking and Transit Services and the 2018 Tempe Bike Hero. Download Full Image

Porter leads by example and rides his bicycle a total of 40 miles each workday from home to work and back. 

"The trip helps me clear my mind and think about things I need to do at work," said Porter. "It also helps me think about ways to keep the cycling community safe since it directly affects me as a cyclist."

Porter has implemented multiple bicycle-riding safety initiatives at ASU. For instance, he spearheaded the creation of green bike boxes at several campus intersections, a contra-flow bike lane along College Avenue and sharrow lanes to provide shared access for bicyclists and vehicles along the Tempe campus and campus-adjacent city streets. 

Since his arrival to ASU in mid-2014, the League of American Bicyclists designated the Tempe campus as a gold-level Bicycle Friendly University. The Downtown Phoenix, Polytechnic and West campuses earned the bronze-level distinction soon after.

One of Porter’s more significant undertakings are bike valet stations, which served more than 30,500 bicycles on the Tempe campus during the 2016–17 academic year. The three stations on the Tempe campus provide free, secure storage for ASU students, faculty and staff. He also helped develop a bike video to help ASU community members understand rider etiquette, regulations and safety tips.

jc porter
JC Porter

Porter’s accomplishments additionally include the International Parking Institute's Emerging Leader of the Year award, and for his establishment of the bikeASU program, Parking and Transit Services’ President's Award for Sustainability.

"JC is deserving of this award since he uses a bicycle as a significant mode of transportation, consistently implements bike-friendly ASU facilities, organizes bike events, and is an advocate for bike safety and bicycle-friendly roads,” said Melinda Alonzo, PTS director. “I am proud to have him on our team.”

Learn more about bicycling on campus.

image title

ASU students empower women with at-home health test

ASU students look to improve women's health care with at-home Pap smear test.
March 8, 2018

Industrial designers use ingenuity to create more effective vision of future of women’s health care; product heads to national show

In the wake of the flagship Women’s March in January 2017 and the bombshell #MeToo movement that followed in October, women’s issues have experienced a resurgence in society’s collective consciousness.

Hoping to keep the needle moving in the right direction, recent Arizona State University industrial design graduate Lauren Emmerson and current senior Anastasia Miller created Domi Care"Domi" is Latin for "home.", an at-home Pap smear test designed to reduce anxiety associated with the procedure and give women more control over their health without interfering with their work or social life.

“Watching all the women’s marches made us think a lot about the future of women’s health care and reproductive rights,” Miller said. “We wanted to create a product that allows women to have more bodily autonomy and still get the care they need.”

Anastasia Miller

Domi Care was recently awarded first place in the International Housewares Association Student Design Competition. As part of their prize, Miller and Emmerson received $2,500 for their design and an all-expenses-paid trip to the International Home and Housewares Show, taking place March 10–13 in Chicago. There, they will have the opportunity to present their product to 60,000 visitors from more than 125 countries, which could lead to a job in industrial design or the licensing of their product concept.

With Domi Care, women can perform a Pap smear test in the comfort of their own home, and then access the results and dialogue with their doctors through the Domi Care app. All they have to do is order the kit, then when it arrives, take a self-sample — which is a similar experience to using a tampon — then pack it back up and mail it to their doctor.

Lauren Emmerson

They can keep track of the progress of their test with the Domi Care app, which will give them updates along the way to let them know when the lab received their test and when the results are in, as well as what those results are. Throughout that time, they can also use the app to ask questions and talk to their doctor about any concerns.

Professor Mary Margaret Fonow of ASU’s School of Social Transformation studies transnational labor activism, women and work in the global economy and feminist methodology. She is glad to see Miller and Emmerson’s success with Domi Care, especially considering industrial design is a relatively new field for women, and said it shows what can happen when women have a place at the table.

“Innovative ideas relevant to women's lives and experiences have a better chance of coming to the foreground,” she said. “We thrive as a society when all are included.”

Similar at-home tests already exist in Europe but, Miller and Emmerson said, they’re much less user-friendly. They wanted to create a product that was not only easy to use but accurate. That required a lot of research and testing.

“Research was a pretty important part of informing our decision process,” Miller said. “Especially with industrial design, the program at ASU really emphasizes research in the curriculum, and that’s something that’s also true in the industry.”

She and Emmerson started out by conducting group interviews in which they asked women about their experiences with Pap smear tests in order to get a better perspective on the matter and question any assumptions they may have had.

Domi Care at-home pap smear test
With Domi Care, a woman can perform a Pap smear test in the comfort of her own home, and then access the results and dialogue with her doctor through the Domi Care app. Photo courtesy of Lauren Emmerson

One key insight was that women were not as stressed out about the actual exam as they were about waiting for the results. One woman told them about how she received an email late in the day saying there was an issue with her test results and spent the whole night tossing and turning, imagining the worst. As it turned out, the results were inconclusive and her doctor just wanted her to schedule another appointment to take another test.

That in itself can be a challenge, though, because of how many appointments insurance policies will cover per year.

“A lot of people just opt not to do it,” Miller said. “So that was an area where we really saw an opportunity.”

“With Domi Care, if you’re ever unsure of the test results, you can have an actual dialogue with your physician through the app,” Emmerson added. “And if necessary, you can always just order another test.”

The pair tested a variety of designs, taking into account users’ different body types and needs. They wanted a product women would be familiar with and not afraid to use, which would both reduce stress and instances of user error; that’s how they landed on the tampon-like design.

“A lot of key differentiators between our product and ones that already exist have to do with the research we conducted,” Emmerson said.

They already have a patent pending, so the next step is to license Domi Care, something they hope to do at the upcoming showcase.

“It’s been a very emotional time for a lot of people,” Emmerson said. “There’s a lot of fear and a lot of concern about what the future of women’s health care is going to look like. This was one way for us to feel like we could actually do something about it.”


Top photo: Domi Care prototype. Photo courtesy of Lauren Emmerson

image title

Why Arizona opts out of daylight saving time

March 8, 2018

Who needs an extra hour of heat in the Sonoran desert? ASU professor explains state's history with turning the clock

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2018 here.

Daylight saving time is right around the corner, and it's time to set those alarm clocks and watches forward again … Er, wait. Arizona doesn’t do have to do that. And neither does Hawaii.

The Copper State’s independence from the annual time change started 50 years ago. Multiple theories abound as to why: More daylight meant more heat and less sleep. It also meant soaring energy bills for businesses and schools, or anyone who owned an air-conditioning unit.

To get to the truth, ASU Now asked Calvin Schermerhorn, a history professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, why Arizona is one of two states that do not participate in this century-old practice.

Man in stripped tie
Calvin Schermerhorn

Question: When was daylight saving time established and why?

Answer: The Standard Time Act of 1918 included a provision for daylight saving time. Daylight saving time was meant to save fuel during World War I by extending the day by one hour. The law was repealed in 1919, but Arizona participated in daylight saving for a few more years. At the time, some far western counties observed Pacific Time while most of the state remained on Mountain Time. A World War II measure briefly put the state again on daylight saving, again to save fuel. But Congress standardized time zones with the Uniform Time Act of 1966. It let states opt out, but Arizona adopted daylight saving time from April to October 1967. And then it refused to participate since.

Q: Why did Arizona stop participating?

A: Arizona participated in daylight saving time in 1967, but energy consumption soared. In most of the country, an extra hour of daylight supposedly saved fuel used to heat and light buildings. But in most of the state, the scheme worked in reverse: air conditioners had to run longer. Businesses and schools paid more, farmers did not benefit, and parents also resented an extra hour of scorching sunlight for kids since the saving lengthened the hot afternoon. There were some supporters in finance and interstate or international business who preferred tighter syncing with markets (who pointed out) the logistical problems of moving Arizona back and forth relative to daylight saving. Outdoor entertainment and recreation establishments like daylight saving since it extends the time one can play golf. Crime appears to go down too, with more daylight. But since Arizona stopped participating in 1967, the Copper State is officially on Mountain Standard Time year round.

Q: Given Arizona’s non-participation, has it served the state well given the shorter winter days and long summer nights?

A: Yes, non-participation makes sense for most of the population living in the Sonoran and other desert environments. Simply put, it’s more eco-friendly in terms of power usage to start the day earlier rather than later. Businesses, schools and vehicles require more energy consumption to air-condition spaces. As the experience of a half-century ago illustrates, most of the population prefers it that way too. And Arizona is not running afoul of any laws since federal legislation allows states to opt out.

Q: Somehow it doesn’t seem neighborly that Arizona is the only state that doesn’t honor daylight saving time. Does the state receive complaints as a result or have you ever heard of any?

A: Both Hawaii and Arizona opt out. Other U.S. territories do as well, like Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands. Arizona’s non-participation is a badge of honor for a place reputed to be fiercely independent. But it still causes problems for anyone doing business or scheduling across time zones. FaceTiming the grandparents on the East Coast? We’ll have to make sure it’s a two-hour and not a three-hour difference. And you’ll have to adjust your car’s clock when it wants to switch to Pacific Daylight Time going over the Colorado River.

Q: Does everyone in Arizona opt out?

A: No, the Navajo Nation in Arizona participates in daylight saving, which applies to most of the northeast corner of the state, keeping in sync with the neighboring parts of the Navajo Nation in Utah and New Mexico. But since U.S. authorities in Arizona follow the state’s non-participation, government offices in the Navajo Nation operate on Mountain Standard Time while Navajos observe Mountain Daylight Time. Making things more confusing still, the Hopi Nation, surrounded by the Navajo Nation, does not observe daylight savings. So, driving from Flagstaff to Kykotsmovi Village one would have to change the clock twice, once driving into the Navajo Nation and then into the Hopi Nation. And don’t ask a police officer for the time unless you know where you are.

Professor Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy elected to National Academy of Education

March 8, 2018

Arizona State University School of Social Transformation Professor Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy was elected as a member of the National Academy of Education — a nonprofit organization working to advance high quality education research and its use in policy and practice. The Academy is considered by many to be the most prestigious membership body for those studying education.

Nine new members, including Brayboy, were announced on Feb. 28 by NAEd president Gloria Ladson-Billings. Professor Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy Professor Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy. Download Full Image

The eight other new members are:

  • Walter Allen, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Wade Boykin Jr., Howard University
  • Dorothy L. Espelage, University of Florida
  • Ofelia Garcia, City University of New York
  • Walter C. Parker, University of Washington
  • Yossi Shavit, Tel Aviv University
  • Vanessa Siddle Walker, Emory University
  • Frank C. Worrell, University of California, Berkeley

These exceptional education scholars were first nominated by individual NAEd members, then elected by the organization’s membership. Brayboy’s election is a recognition of his outstanding scholarship and contributions to education.

Brayboy, an enrolled member of the Lumbee tribe, is a President’s Professor, senior adviser to the president, director of the Center for Indian Education, associate director of the School of Social Transformation, and co-editor of the Journal of American Indian Education at ASU. His research focuses on the role of race and diversity in higher education, and the experiences of indigenous students, staff, and faculty in institutions of higher education.

“I am honored to have been elected to membership in the National Academy of Education. The recognition of my work is humbling. That this honor comes after being able to work at ASU is an indication of how much I enjoy working here and the freedom provided to pursue my scholarship,” Brayboy said.

Brayboy and the other new members will be inducted at a ceremony during the 2018 NAEd Annual Meeting Dinner in November. They join NAEd’s existing 215 U.S. members and 13 foreign associates.

Communications specialist, School of Social Transformation


ASU professor recognized for advancing gender equality in Phoenix theater

The Bridge Initiative named Lance Gharavi 2018 Ally of the Year

March 7, 2018

When Lance Gharavi finalized the 2015–16 theater season for the School of Film, Dance and Theatre in Arizona State University's Herberger Institute, he made it a point to include women’s voices.

Five of the seven theater productions told stories that focused on female characters, and the majority of the plays were written by women.

“This is nothing to be smug about,” Gharavi said at the time. “This shouldn’t be the exception. It should be the rule. It should be the it-goes-without-saying normal. But sometimes leading, sometimes innovating, can just mean doing the obvious.”

In his role as artistic director of theater for the school, Gharavi has continued “doing the obvious” and selecting works that advance the representation of gender and diversity on the stages of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre and on the broader stages of Phoenix and the American theater. Actors performing on stage in "She Kills Monsters" “She Kills Monsters” was one of several plays focusing on female characters featured in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre’s 2015–16 season. Photo by Tim Trumble Download Full Image

For instance, last season’s production “Men on Boats” featured an all-female cast. In the script, playwright Jaclyn Backhaus noted, “The characters in ‘Men on Boats’ were historically cisgender white males. The cast should be made up entirely of people who are not.”

The guest director of that play, Tracy Liz Miller, is also the co-founding producing artistic director for The Bridge Initiative: Women in Arizona Theatre, an organization that recently recognized Gharavi for his contributions toward gender parity in the theatrical field in the Phoenix Valley region. 

“The Bridge Initiative understands that if we all work together, regardless of gender identity, we all go further,” Miller said. “Lance embodies the selfless determination to serve all of his students but also to address the disparity of voices that are represented in contemporary theatre around the country.”

Formed a few years ago, the Bridge Initiative is an incubator for professional women theater artists, promoting gender parity across all theatrical disciplines and contributing to the national conversation around equal representation and inclusion. This year the initiative created the Ally of the Year award, and presented it to Gharavi during the Building More Bridges Gala Celebration on Feb. 24.

“When we launched and raised the issue of so few female playwrights being produced, Lance's response was to present a 100 percent female-penned season,” said Brenda Foley, co-producing artistic director for the Bridge Initiative. “While we have experienced other men turn tail upon our introduction as the Bridge Initiative: Women in Theatre, Lance instead ran towards us.”

The Bridge Initiative winners pose with their awards.
The Bridge Initiative presented Lance Gharavi with the Ally of the Year award at its 2018 gala on Feb. 24. Pictured, from left: Tracy Liz Miller, The Bridge Initiative; E.E. Moe, Leader of the Year recipient; Gharavi; and Brenda Foley, The Bridge Initiative. Photo by Laura Durant, courtesy of The Bridge Initiative

Gharavi said he supports the Bridge Initiative because different representation — different stories, from different voices — are needed to help bring about change.

“Awards are given to individuals, but this isn’t really about me,” he said. “Patriarchy and white supremacy are not the products of individual acts of sexism or bigotry. They’re produced and sustained by systems and institutions. That means that individuals acting virtuously won’t overthrow patriarchy and white supremacy, even if we give them awards. Systems have to change. Institutions have to change.”

Gharavi said he was honored to receive the award, but did so on behalf of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre and the Herberger Institute.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve done — faculty, staff, students — in programming our school’s seasons. I’m proud to be to be part of the Herberger Institute and ASU, proud of our mission of inclusion, and of projects like Projecting All VoicesProjecting All Voices, an initiative of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts supported by ASU Gammage, aims to support equity and inclusion in arts and design. Together, we’re building new structures and systems. We’re telling new stories.”

Sarah A. McCarty

Communications and marketing coordinator, School and Film, Dance and Theatre, Herberger Institute


Lithium-related discovery could extend battery life, improve safety

ASU researchers find new solution for mitigating dendrite growth, which shows promise for all batteries

March 7, 2018

Lithium-metal batteries are among the most promising candidates for high-density energy storage technology in an expanding range of digital “smart” devices and electrical vehicles, but uncontrolled lithium dendrite growth, which results in poor recharging capability and safety hazards, currently tempers their potential.

Dendrites are needle-like growths that appear on the surface of lithium metal, which is used as the anode, or negative electrode, of a battery. They induce unwanted side reactions that reduce energy density, and at worst, cause shorting of the electrodes that can lead to fires or explosions. Lithium-metal battery stress relief Adding a silicone "wrinkle" layer to lithium metal batteries relieves stress and mitigates dendrite formation. Download Full Image

New research from Arizona State University finds that using a 3-D layer of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), or silicone, as the substrate of the lithium metal anode can mitigate dendrite formation and both dramatically extend battery life and diminish safety risks. The paper, “Stress-driven lithium dendrite growth mechanism and dendrite mitigation by electroplating on soft substrates,” was published today in Nature Energy.

According to Hanqing Jiang, a professor in ASU's School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and a lead researcher on the paper, the findings have relevance for both lithium-ion and lithium-air batteries, as well as implications for other metal-anode-based batteries.

“Almost all metals used as battery anodes tend to develop dendrites,” Jiang explained. “For example, these findings have implications for zinc, sodium and aluminum batteries as well.”

Jiang said he and the research team, rather than approaching the problem from a materials or electrochemical perspective, looked for solutions as mechanical engineers. “We already know that tiny tin needles or whiskers can protrude out of tin surfaces under stress, so by analogy we looked at the possibility of stress as a factor in lithium dendrite growth.”

The first round of research involved adding a layer of PDMS to the bottom of the battery anode.

“There were remarkable reductions in dendrite growth,” Jiang said. 

The researchers discovered that this is directly related to the fact that stress accumulated inside the lithium metal is relieved by the deformation of the PDMS substrate in the form of “wrinkles.”

“This is the first time convincing evidence shows that residual stress plays a key role in the initiation of lithium dendrites,” Jiang said.

Fulton Schools of Engineering
Professor Hanqing Jiang

In addition to obtaining a fundamental understanding of the lithium dendrite growth mechanism, Jiang’s group also came up with a smart way to utilize the phenomenon to extend the life of lithium-metal batteries while maintaining their high energy density. The solution is to give PDMS substrate a three-dimensional form with a lot of surface.

“Envision sugar cubes that contain a lot of small internal pores,” Jiang explained. “Inside these cubes, the PDMS forms a continuous network as the substrate, covered by a thin copper layer to conduct electrons. Finally, lithium fills the pores. The PDMS, which serves as a porous, sponge-like layer, relieves the stress and effectively inhibits dendrite growth.”

“By synergistically combining with other lithium dendrite suppression methods such as new electrolyte additives, the finding has broad implications for making lithium-metal batteries a safe, high-density, long-term energy storage solution,” said Professor Ming Tang, a research team member at Rice University. “Potential applications range from personal electronic devices to powering electric cars for exceptionally longer periods to being the back-up electric supply for solar power grids.”

Partners in the research include members of Jiang’s group at ASU: Xu Wang, Wenwen Xu and Haokai Yang; Wei Zeng, a visiting ASU scholar co-advised by Jiang and Professor Huigao Duan at Hunan University, China; and researchers from Rice University including Liang Hong, Fan Wang and their adviser Ming Tang. Funding was provided in part by the Department of Energy.

Terry Grant

Media Relations Officer, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


ASU School of Social Transformation co-organizes international social pedagogy conference

March 7, 2018

The Social and Cultural Pedagogy master's degree program of the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University co-organized "Social Education and Social Pedagogy: Bridging Traditions and Innovations," an international conference held Feb. 22–24, in Puebla, Mexico.

In organizing this conference, the School of Social Transformation partnered with the Social Pedagogy Association (SPA), the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP), and the Red Mexicana de Pedagogía Social (REMPES).  representatives from the School of Social Transformation From left: Daniel Schugurensky, Elizabeth Swadener, Dana Keller and Kara O'Neil Download Full Image

This was the first conference that brought together academics and practitioners from the fields of social education, social pedagogyThe method and practice of teaching. and public pedagogy from different parts of the world.

Many of the national associations of social pedagogy and social education from different countries (including Brazil, Czech Republic, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay, the United Kingdom and the United States) and important international associations — like AIEJI and Sociedad Iberoamericana de Pedagogía Social — collaborated to make the event a success. The conference attracted approximately 350 participants from 17 countries, and presentations were made in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Editors from the major international academic journals related to the field also attended.

A delegation of 16 participants represented the School of Social Transformation, including four faculty members (Angela Arzubiaga, Jennifer Sandlin, Beth Blue Swadener, and Daniel Schugurensky), six students (Holly Nicolaisen, Jorge Morales Guerrero, Casey Khaleesi, Julia Tebben, Emily Nunez-Eddy, and Tanaya Dempsey), and six graduates from the Social and Cultural Pedagogy program (Kara O'Neill, Dana Keller, Tara Swanholm, Joanna Henderson, Angeles Maldonado, and Nayara de Sousa). 

"ASU students, graduates, and faculty were key to making this conference successful." — Jennifer Sandlin, associate professor in the School of Social Transformation.

For Keller, who graduated from the Social and Cultural Pedagogy MA program in 2015 and is currently the president of the Social Pedagogy Association, the conference was a tremendous success.

"When we, as a group of MA SCP graduates and faculty, started the Social Pedagogy Association in 2015, the international conference was one of our first ideas. To see it come to fruition with hard work from our SPA team and then through our partnership with the team in Mexico, was truly exciting," she said. "It was a tremendous opportunity to connect with other professionals around the world. We can’t wait to see how the future study and practice of social pedagogy and social education will be impacted by those connections."

Swadener, associate director for graduate studies in the School of Social Transformation and a faculty member in the Social and Cultural Pedagogy master's degree program, agreed: “It was inspiring to witness the leadership roles and scholarship of our alumni and current graduate students. To have participation from so many countries for an inaugural conference was also impressive.”  

For Schugurensky, coordinator of the Social and Cultural Pedagogy MA Program, this conference was very important because it strengthened and deepened existing international collaborations in the areas of research, policy, and practice in social pedagogy, and opened new opportunities for further cooperation.

Along the same lines, Sandlin, associate professor in the School of Social Transformation and a faculty member in the Social and Cultural Pedagogy master's degree program, said: "I was thrilled to see participants from across the globe, and energized by the commitment to social justice revealed in so many of the research projects that participants shared. I was excited to connect with colleagues from Finland and Australia and am already planning papers and panels for the next conference that will happen in two years. ASU students, graduates, and faculty were key to making this conference successful. I’m so proud of them and honored to be part of this program."

social pedagogy conference banner
The conference attracted approximately 350 participants from 17 countries, and presentations were made in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

For Jorge Morales Guerrero, a current student in the program, the conference was a great opportunity to share the main findings of his thesis with an international audience in his home town.

“This conference was a great opportunity to meet scholars from all over the world with whom I share similar interests," he said. "I was particularly amazed by the work activists and scholars are doing in México, and I am grateful that I had the chance to meet with them and get to know about their work. I was also able to share the work that we do at ASU in Local to Global and my personal research! Additionally, the music, food, streets and people of Puebla were extra treats that made the conference an incredible experience.”

At the closing session, a motion to hold this international conference every two years was approved, and currently there are plans to organize the 2020 conference in Cyprus (organized by the University of Central Lancashire, U.K.), and the 2022 conference in Barranquilla, Colombia, organized by the Universidad del Norte.

For more information on the master's degree program in Social and Cultural Pedagogy at the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University, visit the program website or contact Brianna Casillas at

For more information on the Social Pedagogy Association and to register for free membership, visit the association website

image title

Sinking ground in San Francisco Bay will worsen flooding from rising sea levels

March 7, 2018

ASU-led research using radar imaging to measure elevations uncovers important gap in planning for sea level rise in Bay Area

New research shows that sections of the San Francisco Bay shoreline are sinking at rates of nearly half an inch (10 millimeters) a year.

But knowledge of where the ground in the Bay Area is sinking, and by how much, is not included in the official planning maps that authorities use to assess the local flooding risk from rising sea levels.

The new findings appear in a paper published March 7 in the journal Science Advances. The lead author is Manoochehr Shirzaei, assistant professor in Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration and a member of NASA's Sea Level Change planning team. His co-author is Roland Bürgmann of the University of California, Berkeley.

The scientists measured how much the land along the bay's shoreline has sunk with interferometric imaging using synthetic aperture radar from Earth orbit to detect elevation. The technique is sensitive enough to measure year-to-year changes in local ground elevation as small as a millimeter. Their study used data from 2007 to 2011.

"Although we found that most of the bay's shoreline is sinking by less than 2 millimeters a year, in several areas we discovered subsidence rates of 10 millimeters a year and more," Shirzaei said.

He points to San Francisco Bay's Treasure Island as an example of land that is subsiding at a relatively high rate. The island, located in the bay midway between San Francisco and Oakland, was created as landfill for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, but is now mostly a mix of historic buildings. The northwest corner of Treasure Island is sinking at a rate of half an inch to three-quarters of an inch (13 to 19 millimeters) a year.

It is, the scientists said, typical of most areas of land subsidence in the Bay Area. Many are former landfills that are slowly compacting, while others are places where streams and rivers are depositing successive layers of mud as they flow into the bay.

Not on FEMA's planning maps

The scientists note that state, county, and municipal administrations currently use maps prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to make plans for dealing with possible flooding.

FEMA's Increased Flooding Scenario Maps brochure and FAQ use data from the agency's San Francisco Bay Area Coastal Study to estimate how the coastal floodplain would change with a 1-foot, 2-foot, and 3-foot rise in bay water levels.

When Shirzaei and Bürgmann examined different sea-level rise scenarios, they found that for the San Francisco Bay shoreline by the year 2100, some 20 to 160 square miles (52 to 414 square kilometers) face a risk of flooding.

But that was just from rising sea levels. When they added the effects of sinking ground along the shoreline, they found the area threatened by rising water was notably larger: 48 to 166 square miles (124 to 430 square kilometers).

"There are many estimates and models for sea-level rise," Shirzaei said, "but they all fall short because they don't take into account land elevation changes."

These estimates are conservative, the researchers add. Extreme high tides, major storms and periods of high runoff from rain and snowmelt in the rivers that feed into the bay can raise its water level temporarily above that projected from rising sea levels.

“Flooding from sea level rise is clearly an issue in many coastal urban areas,” co-author Bürgmann said. “This kind of analysis is probably going to be relevant around the world, and could be expanded to a much, much larger scale."

Map of Foster City and and San Francisco Airport showing areas of potential flooding
Foster City and San Francisco International Airport both have high economic value combined with heightened risk from flooding by 2100. Areas in dark blue indicate where the local land is sinking (LLS), yellow shows what is at risk from sea-level rise (SLR), and areas in red show the impact of both processes combined. Image by Manoochehr Shirzaei/ASU

High economic impact

When formerly dry land becomes flooded, it causes saltwater contamination of surface and underground water and it accelerates coastal erosion and wetland losses. 

But the scientists spotlight two areas of sinking ground on the bay's shoreline where flooding would have a high economic impact: San Francisco International Airport and Foster City. 

The airport, built mostly on landfill, handles more than 200,000 annual landings and sees 56 million passengers passing through it each year. The airport is both a destination for travelers to the Bay Area and a hub for domestic and international flights. The scientists' data show that when land subsidence is combined with projected rising sea levels, water will cover nearly half the airport's runways and taxiways by the year 2100. 

Foster City, which lies halfway between San Francisco and San Jose, was built in the 1960s, partly on engineered landfill. It has become home to a growing number of high-tech and IT companies because real estate is limited and expensive in the Bay Area to the north and south. However, the parts of the city that were built on landfill are subsiding and, coupled with rising sea levels, significant parts of the city will be at risk of flooding by 2100.

Looking forward

The researchers note that the FEMA maps of the Bay Area need to be updated with the measurements of land subsidence as well as recent projections of rising sea level so that local authorities can make better flood resilience plans.

Unfortunately, Shirzaei said, sinking ground along the shoreline greatly magnifies the effects of sea level rise because the processes work together to worsen the situation.

"The ground goes down, sea level comes up, and floodwaters go much farther inland than either change would produce by itself."


Top photo: San Francisco International Airport is one of several high-economic-impact areas along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay that are at doubled risk of flooding. In addition to the threat from rising sea level, the ground itself is sinking as the landfill it was built on becomes compacted with age. Image courtesy of Calbookaddict at English Wikipedia

Robert Burnham

Science writer , School of Earth and Space Exploration


New ASU psychology professor studies how we learn language

March 7, 2018

Most of us enjoy meeting a friend for a cup of coffee and a chat, but few of us pause to think about how we learn to have a conversation.

Viridiana Benitez, a new assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University, thinks a lot about how people learn language, and not just because she learned a second language as a young child. Viridiana Benitez, Associate Professor ASU Department of Psychology Viridiana Benitez, assistant professor, ASU Department of Psychology. Photo by Robert Ewing Download Full Image

Benitez joined ASU this year and heads the Learning and Development Lab, which uses language to study how young children learn in general. Participants in Benitez’s experiments range in age from six-months-old to early elementary school ages.

Benitez is currently testing how children learn to map words onto objects. Children hear a constant stream of words but do not always receive exact information about which words match objects. A parent might tell a young child it is time to put on shoes but does not point to a shoe. To test how children learn pairings between words and objects, Benitez uses unfamiliar objects and made-up words.

The Learning and Development lab is currently collecting data from families in the community, through ASU’s partnership with the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. In the experiment at the museum, children aged 3–5 years look at a series of pictures that show two unfamiliar objects. At the same time the two objects appear on the screen, the children also hear two words. One of the words is always the name of a pictured object. For example, the word “modi” might always be paired with a red object, the word “blicket” with a green object, or the word “dax” with a yellow object. By asking a child to point to the “modi,” the researchers can track how children connect the words and objects.

There is only one novel word per unfamiliar object in the current experiment. Next, Benitez plans to test how children map words onto objects when the objects have more than one name. Objects having more than one name is similar to what a bilingual child experiences while learning what objects are called in different languages.

Growing up bilingual 

Benitez was born and raised in Texas, and her first language is Spanish. Her parents grew up in rural farming communities in Mexico, and Benitez started her education in ESL classes outside of Houston.

“Many times, I felt like I wasn’t good at English because I was bilingual,” she said. “I thought it was a negative.”

By the third grade, Benitez had placed out of the ESL classes, but it would take many more years and a newfound love of psychology for her to understand the positive aspects of growing up bilingual.

During her junior year of high school, Benitez signed up for an elective course on the basics of sociology and psychology. It was a defining moment in her life.

“I remember that I thought, ‘I want to be a psychologist,’ because I wanted to understand how people think,” she said.

Benitez describes herself as an observant, quiet person who has always been interested in people, particularly why people do what they do. As a high schooler, she was surprised that there were actually careers in what she was interested in.

“At some point, someone said that to work in psychology, you have to get a PhD. I didn’t even know what that was, but I thought, ‘I’ll do a PhD,’” Benitez, who is a first-generation college student, said. “Someone else said, to do a PhD, you have to have research experience. So, I went and looked for a research opportunity in psychology.”

Benitez figured it all out, and she started by attending a community college near her home. Two years later she transferred as a junior to the University of Houston to study psychology.

Benitez started looking into research opportunities, which she knew were necessary for a doctorate, and met a new psychology faculty member who was studying how babies and young children learned language.

“I grew up speaking two languages, but I didn’t realize what it meant to be bilingual” Benitez said. “Then I started reading cool research about what it takes to learn two languages and that can tell us how powerful the brain can be. It blew my mind.”

Finally, a psychologist in training

Benitez worked in the lab of Hanako Yoshida, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Houston. Yoshida introduced Benitez to many different ways to study psychology. She encouraged Benitez to complete an honor’s thesis and to apply widely to doctoral programs in psychology. Benitez initially thought she would stay in Houston, or at least Texas. At the urging of her mentor, she applied to the Cognitive Development Lab at Indiana University, where Yoshida herself was also an alumna. At Indiana, Benitez felt an instant connection with Linda Smith, a professor of psychology who ran the Cognitive Development Lab.

So Benitez moved to Bloomington.

She was excited and scared to move away from home, and moving to the Midwest was a culture shock.

“Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the country,” Benitez said. “In Bloomington, it felt like a different planet. I had a hard time finding avocados and tortillas in the grocery store and had to figure out places where those things were sold.”

It was one of Benitez’s passions outside of the lab that soon helped Bloomington feel more like home. While out dancing one night, Benitez met another graduate student who was from Texas and who had a parent from Mexico. She and Edward Vargas were married just over three years later in San Antonio, before they both moved to the University of Wisconsin – Madison for postdoctoral studies. Vargas joined ASU at the same time as Benitez; he is an assistant professor in the School of Transborder Studies.

Science writer, Psychology Department