Holistic approach needed to gain energy independence

April 1, 2010

“There is no magic bullet and no great breakthrough, or even a few great breakthroughs, on the horizon that will lead the U.S. to energy independence and reduce our use of fossil fuels,” said Gary Dirks, director of LightWorks at Arizona State University.

Dirks was speaking at the “New energy forum: Can we achieve energy independence in our lifetime?” that took place April 1 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The forum included key leaders discussing energy independence and exploring options to move away from dependence on fossil fuels, toward environmental, economic and energy security. Download Full Image

In addition to Dirks, forum panelists included Arun Majumdar, director of the ARPA-E program at the U.S. Department of Energy; James Rogers, chairman, president and CEO Duke Energy; Sunil Paul, founder, Gigaton Throwdown Project; and Lisa Margonelli, director, Energy Policy Initiative, New America Foundation; and John “Skip” Laitner, director of economic and social analysis, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The discussion was moderated by Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University.

The United States is considering its options to move away from fossil fuels as its primary energy source. Fossil fuels have been tied to global climate change and their use pose national security issues.

Dirks, a former president BP Asia-Pacific and BP China, said one of the great energy policy failures over the last 30 years was that the United States continually sought the major breakthrough that would lead the country out of its use of fossil fuels. Fusion and paintable rooftop solar panels are examples.

Three things will be needed to be successful this time around, Dirks said.

“We need to acknowledge that there is no magic bullet that will reshape our energy use portfolio,” Dirks said. “We will need to rely on co-evolution of new technologies – new technologies will need to evolve into existing technologies and infrastructures as well as evolve from existing technologies.

“Finally, we need to take a holistic policy approach,” he explained. “This includes taking into consideration the social and political aspects of the new technology candidates, making sure people want them and that they are politically expedient to be sure they dovetail with the most promising new technologies.”

The new energy forum was co-sponsored by ASU and the New America Foundation.

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


Road to medical school paved with stepping stones from ASU

April 1, 2010

A car accident 20 years ago set Adrienne Azurdia on the path toward medical school, though she was only three years old at the time. Her father was paralyzed in the accident, and his resulting health problems over the years gave her an exposure to medicine and a desire to help.

Today she is a first-year student on a full-ride scholarship at the prestigious Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago, after graduating from ASU last spring. She was accepted into eight medical schools, getting assistance from ASU’s health professions advising office at every step of the process. Download Full Image

A graduate of Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Azurdia followed her fascination by volunteering in the emergency room at Chandler Regional Hospital in 2005. Soon she was hired as a scribe, interviewing new patients to get their history and symptoms, learning how to interact with them and put them at ease. Over the next three years she became so proficient that she trained other scribes.

The opportunities to participate fully in community work and extracurricular activities were instrumental in her decision to attend ASU.

“ASU is an excellent school for a pre-med student to attend,” she says. “It’s in a prime location to create extremely well-rounded students, a quality that I’ve found medical schools see as very valuable. It’s central to an unbelievable number of different hospitals and other opportunities that students would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.”

While at ASU she helped found Camp Kesem, a summer camp for children whose parents have cancer or have died from cancer. She helped raise $35,000 so that 40 children could attend the camp free of charge, and she spent a year planning their activities. As a camp counselor she helped kids heal by showing them empathy. She even let them cover her in shaving cream and honey.

Azurdia also became one of the most active members of the pre-med honors society, and she did undergraduate research in neuroscience. She immersed herself in taking science classes from top faculty, graduating in biology with a 4.0 GPA.

“ASU absolutely prepared me for medical school,” she says. “I got to take rare and interesting classes like ‘HIV and AIDS in Society,’ which has proven not only to be helpful in my immunology course, but has made my medical school classmates envious that their universities didn’t offer unique courses like that.

“Dr. Ian Gould’s organic chemistry classes were phenomenal. His enthusiasm and passion made me love a subject that I was nauseous to think about before I took his classes. After taking his courses, my ASU classmates and I didn’t even need to study for the organic chemistry component of the MCAT because he had prepared us so well.”

She says her first year at medical school been an amazing time, juggling multiple classes and activities. Her father is doing well, though he suffers from “empty nest” syndrome because she’s so far away. Azurdia hopes to return to Arizona after graduation to do her residency in emergency medicine.