ASU News

West campus events series features diverse artists

August 16, 2012

The fall 2012 arts events season at ASU’s West campus, with the theme “,” will feature concerts, plays, performances, nationally known authors, and art installations. The wide variety of artistic events reflects the rich artistic and cultural life on the West Valley campus, anchored by the Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance (IAP) program in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

“We have planned a diverse selection of events and activities to entertain and enlighten ASU students, faculty and staff as well as members of our surrounding communities,” said Jeff Kennedy, campus artistic director. Penatonix Download Full Image

New College is contributing its events series in support of ASU's Project Humanities initiative.

In the experimental arena, John Cage’s 100th Birthday Party will celebrate the work of this seminal 20th century composer and theorist about art, with performances of his unique work, including the radio drama “The City Wears a Slouch Hat” (7:30 p.m., Sept. 5) and "Travelon Gamelon," the 30th anniversary of IAP professor Richard Lerman’s work for amplified bicycles (4 p.m., Sept. 27). 

Pentatonix is the wildly popular a cappella group that won Season 3 of NBC’s “The Sing-Off” and whose new recording debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes Pop charts. Penatonix is selling out concerts around the country. ASU’s West campus is the group’s only stop in Metro Phoenix on their first national tour (7 p.m., Sept. 21).

The West Valley Symphony performs Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, with guest soloist and ASU professor Katherine McLin (7:30 p.m., Nov. 3).

Second Stage West, the campus’s playhouse and performance space, will host “Underneath the Lintel” by Glen Berger, a play in which a librarian investigates the return of a book 113 years overdue (7: 30p.m., Oct. 18-20; 3 p.m., Oct. 21), and Bill Cain’s award-winning play, “Nine Circles,” which presents a soldier accused of shocking crimes in Iraq as it looks at the many sides of war (7:30 p.m., Nov. 15-17). 

Two celebrated authors will visit campus this fall. Best-selling author of “A Long Way Gone,” Ishmael Beah will recount the riveting story of his childhood in Sierra Leone where he was forced to serve as a child soldier and ultimately found a life of redemption and hope (7 p.m., Sept. 18). Beah’s appearance is presented in conjunction with New College’s ThinK (Tuesdays here in the Kiva) series.

National Book Award winner Maxine Hong Kingston, author of “Woman Warrior” and many other celebrated books, will speak about her recent work guiding U.S. war veterans to take their experiences and write their way to personal peace (7 p.m., Nov. 1).

As a campus where cultural diversity is celebrated on a continuing basis, the West campus will welcome the Calle 16 Mural Project to create a new mural with students, designed by the group’s brilliant artists, and will mark its completion with a Fiesta that also celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month. The outdoor event will feature performances by folklorico, mariachi, flamenco and salsa groups, and delicious food (6:30 p.m., Oct. 5).

The campus installation gallery, ArtSpace West, will present Chicago-based artist Paula Palmer’s “constructed” photos, unique digital art titled “The Four Elements” opening at 6 p.m., Aug. 28 (running through Sept. 21); “Call and Response: War and Peace,” art work created by students and faculty in response to this year’s academic themes, opening at 6 p.m., Sept. 25 (running through Oct. 19); and “nests,” an interactive installation using a 3-D games that explores the places we live by IAP professor Barry Moon, opening at 6 p.m., Oct. 23 (running through Nov. 9). ArtSpace West is open to the public from noon to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays and located in the University Center Building, room 228. Admission is free; visitor parking is $2 per hour. 

Many of the upcoming events and performances are free of charge; others have an admission fee. More information about the season can be found online at, on Facebook, or by calling the Arts Information line at 602-543-2787.

ASU News

$3M NSF award to launch alternative energy research, PhD program

August 17, 2012

A new effort at Arizona State University to educate and train students in renewable and solar energy is receiving backing by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Through its Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, the NSF is providing $3 million to ASU to help develop a doctoral program in energy and to equip students with the skills needed to find solutions to the energy challenges of the future by establishing the IGERT Solar Utilization Network (SUN) program.  ASU Professor Willem Vermaas Download Full Image

“ASU is taking a leadership role regarding research, education and policy issues in renewable energy utilization,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “We are working at the leading edge of transforming our society from a fossil-fuel-focused energy consumer to a sustainable, renewable-energy based consumer.”

The IGERT SUN program will focus on four key research areas including biological conversion, photovoltaics, solar thermal and sustainable policy. Over a period of five years, some 24 graduate students will complete in-depth core courses in these four SUN research concentrations, as well as conduct research and interact with local, national and international sustainable energy stakeholders.

The program will provide the groundwork necessary to create an energy doctoral program by 2016, offered through ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

“At ASU, we are strong in three important areas: biological energy conversion, photovoltaics and solar thermal energy conversion,” said Willem Vermaas, Foundation Professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and lead scientist in the program. “Because we have those three, we are in a unique position to say, ‘Now let’s train students so they are not only experts in those areas, but also so they can understand the pros and cons of the various ways of creating alternative energy.’ We also need to teach them about the social, environmental and economic contexts of emerging solar technologies so societal transformation can happen,” he added.

Until the doctoral program is established, students will choose a PhD in a traditional degree program within engineering, the natural sciences, or the social sciences, with a concentration in energy. 

ASU’s goal is to attain 25 percent minority participation, effectively doubling the current levels in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields at ASU by recruiting underrepresented minority students through its existing, extensive network of mentorship relationships with minority education programs. 

“We are trying to build on people’s strengths, and develop their thinking and their understanding of this complex issue, so they can make contributions that others haven’t,” said Vermaas. “We want to teach students to use this type of broad training and knowledge of energy issues in their own unique ways to help secure energy supplies and improve conservation in the coming decades.”

“This is exactly the kind of transdisciplinary program we are committed to,” said Gary Dirks, director of LightWorks. “With our combined efforts, we can solve our grand energy challenges.”

LightWorks is a university initiative that pulls light-inspired research at ASU under one strategic framework. This effort leverages the university’s strengths, particularly in renewable energy fields including artificial photosynthesis, biofuels, and next-generation photovoltaics.

The IGERT Solar Utilization Network program begins this fall semester.

ASU’s commitment to solar

Solar energy reaching the Earth is several orders of magnitude larger than human energy consumption, and conversion of a small part of solar energy to electricity or fuels could significantly help in sustainable energy generation.

Arizona State University is a logical place for solar energy research and education. Because of its long-standing emphasis on this area starting in the 1970s, the university established the Center for the Study of Early Events in Photosynthesis (now the Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis) in 1988 and the Photovoltaics Test Laboratory in 1992.

Today, the university exceeds 15 megawatts (MW) of solar energy capacity, which is more than 20 percent of ASU’s peak load – and the most solar capacity of any university in the United States. ASU’s goal is to reach a university-wide total of 20 MW of solar energy capacity by 2014.

Sandra Leander

Manager, Media Relations and Marketing, School of Life Sciences