ASU News

Sci-fi author Alan Dean Foster to appear at ASU

September 11, 2012

Event to help launch ASU's Center for Science and the Imagination

Celebrated science fiction author Alan Dean Foster, a contributor to the Star Trek, Star Wars and Alien franchises, and story writer for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), will appear at two events at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, Sept. 12. Download Full Image

The first event is the opening of “End of the Golden Age: Science Fiction Before and After the Atomic Bomb,” a new exhibit at ASU’s Noble Science Library. The opening takes place from 1-2 p.m. in the Noble Library’s front lobby, and the exhibit will be on display in the library through Oct. 12.

The exhibit chronicles the emergence of the modern genre of science fiction in the pages of Astounding Science-Fiction in the late 1930s and early 1940s. It features original fiction from ASU Libraries’ Special Collections by Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and others, along with materials from ASU’s collection of Alan Dean Foster’s papers.

During the opening event, Foster will give a short talk about working with the legendary science fiction editor John W. Campbell, and guests will be able to tour the exhibit and converse with the author in a relaxed, low-key environment.

The second event is the launch of the Science Fiction TV Dinner Series, a series of science fiction television show screenings and discussions hosted by ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination that will recur throughout the year. The event also takes place from 5:15-7 p.m., Sept. 12, in Bateman Physical Sciences Center F-123.

The event features the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Arena,” based on a short story by the famed science fiction writer Frederic Brown. Following the screening, Foster and ASU’s Braden R. Allenby, Lincoln Professor of Engineering and Ethics, professor of civil and environmental engineering, and professor of law will discuss the episode and its implications for cultural conversations about science, exploration and encounters with the Other.

The Science Fiction TV Dinner series is designed to provide spaces for transdisciplinary conversations about science, technology and possible human futures. The series pairs classic and contemporary science fiction television shows with open discussions that engage scientists, humanists and artists in key issues around scientific inquiry, the social and cultural impact of technological advances and the kind of future that we want to create.

“We are thrilled to welcome Alan Dean Foster to campus,” notes Ed Finn, director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English. “He represents a living connection to the Golden Age of Science Fiction as well as the cutting edge of contemporary storytelling across film, television, fiction and non-fiction.”

Both events are presented by the Center for Science and the Imagination, the ASU Libraries and Project Humanities. The events are part of the Project Humanities fall kickoff, which features a series of film screenings, scholarly conversations, public forums and other events confronting the question, “Are We Losing Our Humanity?”

The Center for Science and the Imagination is a new initiative at ASU that brings writers, artists and other creative thinkers into collaboration with scientists, engineers and technologists to reignite humanity’s grand ambitions for innovation and discovery. To learn more about the Center and its official launch event on Monday, Sept. 24, visit

ASU News

ASU to lead first-ever national algae testbed, awarded $15M grant from Department of Energy

September 12, 2012

The U.S. Department of Energy has selected the Arizona State University led Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) for a $15M award for its Advancements in Sustainable Algal Production opportunity.

“This algae national testbed will provide high quality data and a network of sites that will speed the pace of innovation,” said Gary Dirks, director of ATP3 and ASU LightWorks, the university initiative that pulls light-inspired research at ASU under one strategic framework. “The network will support companies and research institutions as they work to meet the nation’s energy challenges.” Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) Download Full Image

"ASU is committed to advancing research and economic development," said Sethuraman Panchanathan, senior vice president with ASU's Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development. "We are proud of the work being done at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation on our Polytechnic campus and are looking forward to increasing our impact on the advancement of the algae-industry in collaboration with the newly established ATP3 partnership."

The ATP3 partnership is led by the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) housed at ASU’s Polytechnic campus with support from national labs and academic and industrial partners, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Sandia National Laboratories, Cellana LLC, Touchstone Research Laboratory, SRS Energy, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Texas at Austin, and Commercial Algae Management.

“This is a critical step for DOE’s support of the growing algal biofuel industry,” said Philip Pienkos, principal manager of the applied biology group at NREL and director of integration for ATP3. “The productivity data generated by the ATP3 testbeds will flow into techno-economic and lifecycle assessment models and provide a basis for tracking progress toward goals in production economics and sustainability. By making high quality testbed capabilities available to researchers and technology developers, they will allow rapid testing of novel concepts at scale and greatly accelerate commercialization. 

"NREL is proud to play a key role in the establishment and operation of the ATP3 testbed in a manner that will allow DOE to achieve its long term goals towards production of advanced biofuels.”

ATP3 will function as a testing facility for the algal research community supporting the operation of existing outdoor algae cultivation systems and allowing researchers access to real-world conditions for algal biomass production for biofuel. Testbed facilities for the partnership are physically located in Arizona, Hawaii, California, Ohio and Georgia.

DOE’s investment from its Biomass Program in ATP3 means companies and research institutes will now have access to facilities and data from long-term algal cultivation trials for use in establishing a realistic and coherent state of technology for algal biofuels.

“This multi-regional testbed will address a major gap currently hindering the scale-up of algal biofuels,” said Blake Simmons, the biomass program manager for Sandia. “This partnership will provide validated data on algal growth and biofuel production across multiple sites in the USA, and will provide essential data related to the scale-up and commercialization of algal biofuels.”

AzCATI was created by grants from Science Foundation Arizona and its president and CEO William Harris. AzCATI and algae research and development also benefitted from the strong support of Arizona Gov. Janice Brewer.

Two new algae-related bills passed in Arizona classify algae as agriculture and allow for growth and harvest of algae on state trust lands. These advancements in the state create a more attractive environment for industry. Arizona is poised to be a preferred destination for new algae-based companies to form and flourish.

For more information about AzCATI visit