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ASU, SRP partner to research renewable energy, conservation

September 25, 2013

Salt River Project (SRP) and the Conservation and Renewable Energy Collaboratory (CREC) at ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation (CTI) have partnered for a second year to award a $170,000 grant to fund research initiatives in renewable energy and conservation.

This year the SRP-CREC research program selected four projects for funding. Projects include: reliability and performance testing of batteries in hot and dry climates; solar hot water system testing and evaluation; use of algae for bioremediation of water; and evaluation of solar photovoltaic performance and degradation. Download Full Image

“CTI faculty and students collaboratively work with our industry partners like SRP to define important, use-inspired research problems,” said Mitzi Montoya, vice provost and dean of the college. “Industry partners like SRP are the foundation of the college and provide an important component of our project-based learning and applied research model.”

In addition to its sponsorship of the CREC research program, SRP has been a long-standing supporter and sponsor of the iProjects program at the college. The program pairs students with mentors and companies to find solutions to real-world challenges. This year, two student teams will work on projects that will benefit SRP and the electric utility industry.

One team will develop an electrical model that will allow the utility industry to better plan for and forecast the impact of distributed generation and energy storage methods on high penetration utility systems. A second team will work to develop a portable battery impedance tester for battery technicians to monitor battery state of health on solar installations and substations.

“During our partnership with CTI, we have engaged in innovative research with talented faculty and students on important issues affecting SRP and our customers,” said John Sullivan, SRP’s associate general manager and chief resources executive. “We are pleased with the collaborative relationship that SRP is developing with CTI and we look forward to continuing to develop this important partnership in the coming year.” 

Use of algae for bioremediation of water:

Researcher: Milt Sommerfeld

Maintenance and regulation of water quality is an essential tenet of environmental sustainability. This project investigates the feasibility of utilizing algae to capture contaminants from water and wastewater. The project will also evaluate whether the resultant algae can be converted into a usable biomass product such as fuel, feed or fertilizer. The research will be conducted at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation, ASU’s state-of-the-art algae test center. 

Solar hot water system testing and evaluation:

Researchers: Brad Rogers and John Rajadas

Over the past three years, SRP and ASU have co-developed a testing facility at the Polytechnic campus to study the performance of solar thermal hot water systems in a desert climate. The primary goals of the research are to determine how much energy can be saved using these systems and to assess the challenges that might be encountered in operating and maintaining the systems over time. This year, researchers will continue to evaluate the performance of commercially available solar hot water systems over a full annual solar cycle.

Evaluation of long-term solar system performance:

Researcher: Govindasamy Tamizhmani

As the number of solar photovoltaic system installations continues to rise, the measurement and prediction of their performance, reliability and availability is becoming more critically important to installers, integrators, investors and owners. Researchers at ASU’s Photovoltaic Reliability Laboratory are developing a model to predict the performance of photovoltaic systems over their life span. The researchers are using data collected from actual photovoltaic system installations to build their model. With a better understanding of how the performance of the systems changes over time, investors and owners will be able to more effectively plan for maintenance and more accurately assess the overall economics of these systems.

Reliability and performance evaluation of batteries in a desert climate:

Researchers: Arunachalanadar Madakannan, Nathan Johnson, Scott Pollat

Batteries represent a promising technology for the storage of energy generated by intermittent resources, such as wind farms and solar plants. To maximize the performance and life span of a battery, it is important to be able to assess its state-of-charge and state-of-health. At elevated temperatures like those in desert climates, states of extremely high or low state-of-charge can lead to irreversible damage in the battery. The focus of this research is to correlate performance measurements typically collected to evaluate battery life to state-of-charge and state-of-health values, so that a more complete picture of a battery’s overall status at a given time can be assessed. Researchers are also working to develop a field tester that measures state-of-charge and state-of-health values, which will allow operators to more effectively manage battery systems.

ASU professors named Outstanding Doctoral Mentors

September 25, 2013

Three Arizona State University professors, with multiple awards, honors and publications among them, are also distinguished by commitment to their students’ academic and professional success.

Graduate Education has recognized James Blasingame, Marilyn Carlson and Elizabeth Segal as Outstanding Doctoral Mentors of 2013-2014. Outstanding Doctoral Mentors Download Full Image

The award honors mentors who have demonstrated excellence in areas such as graduate teaching excellence, chairing doctoral committees with timely completion rates, attracting doctoral students to ASU, a commitment to diversity and guiding student professional development.

“These three extraordinary mentors have guided and inspired their doctoral students through graduate studies and degree completion,” says Andrew Webber, vice provost for Graduate Education. “It is also clear from nomination letters that these mentors have become life-long advisors and colleagues to their former students.”

James Blasingame, associate professor in the Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

“Knowing how talented, devoted and knowledgeable our doctoral students are, I have always thought it was my job to help put them in the right place at the right time, so they could show the world what they know, what they are learning and how they are trying to change the world,” says Blasingame, who focuses on young adult literature, literacy, secondary writing instruction, preparing pre-service teachers and cowboy poetry.

Known affectionately by his students as “Dr. B,” his numerous teaching innovations include relationships forged with local high schools and literacy projects in which ASU doctoral students helped struggling readers, as well as programs such as the Mesa Writing Project – an experiential workshop on the teaching of writing for K-12 teachers, directed and co-directed by ASU English faculty and doctoral students.

“Professor Blasingame is a prominent national and international voice in the area of young adult and adolescent literature, teacher education, writing instruction and the Six-trait Writing Model,” writes Maureen Daly Goggin, a professor in the Department of English.

Before joining ASU in 2000, Blasingame spent 24 years in secondary education and is past president of the Arizona English Teachers’ Association.

Among his honors and awards are the 2008 ASU Foundation Parents' Association Professor of the Year; the 2008 International Reading Association Arbuthnot Award winner for outstanding professor of children's and young adult literature; and the 2007 ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award for the Humanities. He is also one of 11 ASU professors to be given the 2007 Arizona State University Parents’ Association Professor of the Year Special Recognition Award.

His current and former students credit him with helping them to network in the field, publish and develop experience as teachers and scholars. Students also describe him as compassionate, unpretentious, inspirational and committed to the success of his students.

Blasingame has authored and co-authored more than 45 publications, including eight books, as well as book chapters, articles and editorials. Interviewed numerous times online and in print, he is also a book reviewer of young adult literature.

Marilyn Carlson, professor in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Carlson’s students praise her not only as a motivational force, but also for the extraordinary ways in which she champions their academic and future careers as math educators – from publishing, to independent research, to collaborative opportunities.

“Despite her position as one of the top members in our field, she never treats her graduate students as inferior to her,” writes Kevin Moore, a former student who is now assistant professor of mathematics education at the University of Georgia. “Instead, she treats them as equally contributing and valuable colleagues. This approach to mentoring sets high expectations for her students, and she helps her students meet these expectations by always interacting in a constructive, energetic and pleasant way.”

After joining ASU faculty in 1995, Carlson served as the director of the Center for Research on Education in Science, Mathematics and Technology (CRESMET) from 2003 to 2008 and also led the development of a doctoral concentration in mathematics education.

Under her leadership, CRESMET increased its supported research projects by 600 percent and she has been an investigator on a dozen projects funded by the National Science Foundation. Carlson has been invited to speak at numerous national and international conferences, and is a respected consultant to universities seeking to improve mathematics education.

Among her honors are a National Science Foundation CAREER award and the ASU President’s Medal for Team Excellence (awarded with distinction). She has also served as a member of the Eisenhower Advisory Board for the State of Arizona, on a National Research Council panel investigating advanced mathematics and science programs in U.S. high schools, and has participated in policy deliberations at state and national levels.

In addition to more than 150 publications and presentations, she has sponsored 45 graduate research assistants since she joined ASU, and served as major advisor or committee member for over 30 doctoral students.

Elizabeth Segal, professor in the School of Social Work, College of Public Programs

Segal is described by her students as a tireless and enthusiastic mentor who instills confidence and the motivation to achieve their dreams, as well as encouraging the highest standards of academic excellence.

Since joining ASU in 1995, countless students have benefited from her counsel as she has chaired and served on dissertation committees as well as informal mentoring.

“Professor Segal, in fact, has been our most influential faculty member in terms of working with students to initiate their publishing and research careers,” writes Steven Anderson, director of the School of Social Work, in his nomination letter. “She also treats students as adults and as colleagues; she is an active learner who values real collaborations with students in research development, as well as in idea generation more generally.”

As a strong proponent of diversity and social justice, Segal is credited with inspiring and attracting underrepresented minorities to ASU’s College of Public Programs, including women, all ethnic minorities, sexual orientations and ages.

“As a first-generation college student of Mexican immigrant parents who did not graduate from high school, it was difficult to find a faculty mentor at a large university during my bachelor’s and master’s degree programs,” says doctoral graduate David Becerra, now an assistant professor in the School of Social Work.

“Dr. Segal took the time to listen to my concerns and gave me the confidence I needed to complete my PhD. She has the unique ability to challenge students and push them to reach their full potential, but in a caring and supportive way.”

Social justice, poverty and inequality are major areas of Segal’s research and publications, as well as public service in institutes such as the Southwest Poverty Consortium and Arizona Human Rights Foundation.

During her professional career, Segal has delivered presentations worldwide and been interviewed on social issues such as immigration policies, promoting social justice, homelessness, social empathy and childhood poverty. She has authored or co-authored 10 books and over 90 other publications.

”One of my most rewarding academic experiences is working with doctoral students,” says Segal. “One of the most exhilarating points in my work is when one of my doctoral students challenges my thinking and we debate multiple sides of an issue. That academic exchange is priceless.”

Editor Associate, University Provost