ASU math grad selected for competitive Woodrow Wilson fellowship

June 12, 2014

Arizona State University graduate Bethany Fowler of Uvalde, Texas, is among the first 50 Woodrow Wilson New Jersey Teaching Fellows announced this week by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

The highly competitive program recruits recent college graduates with strong science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) backgrounds to teach those subjects in high-need high schools. Bethany Fowler Download Full Image

New Jersey is one of five states participating in the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships. It is funded by a consortium of New Jersey donors, including the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, with initial funding of $11.4 million.

Fowler just completed her master’s degree in mathematics at Arizona State University’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. “In my time at ASU I had the opportunity to study mathematics education with professors Kyeong Roh, Marilyn Carlson and Pat Thompson. This group of individuals is highly experienced and successful in their field, and I learned so much from them about focusing on student understanding.”

Professor Marilyn Carlson says Fowler is an exceptional mathematics instructor: “Her research perspective and genuine curiosity about student thinking and learning is driven by a desire to make mathematics learning accessible to all students, including those who haven’t previously viewed themselves as being mathematically talented. She sets high standards for student learning and supports them in persisting to make sense of novel problems.

“Last semester, a precalculus student came by her office and was upset because Bethany was making her think in her class," says Carlson. "When the student claimed that she had never had to think in a math course before, Bethany politely informed the student that she needed to change her view of mathematics.”

Fowler enjoyed teaching precalculus classes at ASU. “I learned so much by working with so many students from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds," she says. "My students continually inspired me to want to teach.”

Fowler and the other Fellows each receive $30,000 to complete a specially designed master’s program based on a yearlong classroom experience. She will attend Rowan University in New Jersey. In return, Fellows commit to teach for three years in urban and rural New Jersey schools most in need of STEM teachers. Fellows receive ongoing support and mentoring throughout their three-year commitment. Fowler will teach math and engineering at Millville High School in Millville, New Jersey.

“I have been paired with two veteran teachers with 12 and 13 years experience each. I feel that working with them in their classrooms over the next school year is an invaluable opportunity to learn how to be an effective teacher,” said Fowler. “I hope to learn as much as possible about helping my future students be as successful as possible.”

“Study after study has shown that the single most important in-school factor in student achievement is access to excellent classroom teachers,” said Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. “These fellows are bringing real science and math expertise to the kids who most need them.”

“Bethany will be an exceptional teacher and leader of other teachers. She has strong mathematical abilities and understands how foundational ideas are learned and connected,” said Carlson. “Bethany recognizes that every class of students is unique, and she works tirelessly to support her students in becoming more powerful and confident mathematical thinkers. She doesn’t just teach mathematics, but she teaches students mathematics.”

Fowler is honored to be named a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. “I have the opportunity to join a group of highly motivated individuals working together to improve the quality of STEM education for many, many students in this country,” she said.

Rhonda Olson

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


ASU startups pitch their products to SoCal investors

June 13, 2014

Hoping to join the ranks of Arizona State University startups that have raised more than $120 million in funding the last two years, two young ASU-linked companies flew to Los Angeles this week to pitch potential investors at First Look LA.

This annual showcase for technologies and ventures put ASU startups NextPotential and Pollen-Tech in the mix with five Southern California research institutions: UCLA, USC, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and Saban Research Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. NextPotential pitching at First Look LA Download Full Image

ASU’s participation in the event results from work by Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), ASU’s exclusive intellectual property management and technology transfer organization. AzTE operates out of the ASU California Center in Santa Monica to build connections to the broader West Coast innovation ecosystem beyond Arizona.

“AzTE spends a lot of time working to cultivate relationships with investors and serial entrepreneurs in Southern California and then connecting them with ASU startups looking for funding or expertise,” said Charlie Lewis, vice president for venture development. “It’s a long-term strategy to expand the university’s entrepreneurship networks beyond Arizona, and provides a lot of unique opportunities for ASU’s faculty and student entrepreneurs.”

NextPotential presented at First Look and is an ASU spinout with a technology that converts carbon dioxide produced by power plants into clean-burning natural gas. The recapture process, developed by engineering professor Jean Andino, substantially decreases greenhouse gas emissions and provides a constantly replenished source of energy.

NextPotential is targeting larger coal-fired power plants that also have the capacity to burn natural gas on site. These sites collectively generate more than 400 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, representing about 9 percent of total U.S. emissions.

“Human-caused climate change is the defining public policy issue of our time,” said Jack Blanchette, NextPotential’s managing director and president. “Our revolutionary CO2-to-methane conversion process is exactly the kind of radical leap forward society needs to reverse the warming trend while preserving and improving global living standards.

“First Look LA has been a great opportunity to meet a concentrated group of California-based investors looking to fund cleantech initiatives.”

Pollen-Tech was co-founded by four ASU students and launched via the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, which provides funding, office space and training for student-created ventures. Edson is managed by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group (EIG) in the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development (OKED).

Pollen-Tech has created a high-tech way to pollinate crops that involves machines rather than bees. The spraying technology has been shown to increase crop yields when used alongside traditional bee pollination and could someday eliminate the need to transport large colonies of bees between agricultural areas. In 2013, the Pollen-Tech team won the inaugural Arizona Startup Territorial Cup.

“From our start as part of Edson to the entrepreneurial assistance offered by EIG and AzTE, Pollen-Tech has benefited greatly from all of the resources the university offers high-potential startups,” said David Wade, CEO. “Our technology is being proven in the field every day, and this kind of investor exposure is exactly what we need right now to achieve scale and continue our rapid migration into new plant types and products.”

ASU startups presenting at last year’s First Look LA included HealthTell, Breezing and IMANIN. In total, start-up companies that have licensed ASU IP (or their sublicensees) have attracted nearly $450 million in funding from venture capital firms and other investors, with much of this financing achieved during the last five years.