Home Page Display: 
image title
'We Need to Talk' series at ASU to tackle tough, complicated health topics.
September 19, 2017

ASU series to feature experts on the medical, ethical and legal issues surrounding hot-button health topics

It’s a conversation no one wants to have: telling a patient that it’s time to turn in his car keys. Driving means freedom, and for many people it’s part of their identity.

But however uncomfortable, it’s a crucial talk to have when certain health conditions have reached a point where driving is unsafe, both for the patient and others sharing the road.

A man in medical scrubs sits in a chair
Joseph Sirven

“I will always remember this very sweet grandmother who told me where I could go when I told her she shouldn’t be driving,” said Joseph Sirven, a physician specializing in seizure disorders and co-creator of an upcoming six-part series at Arizona State University called “We Need to Talk: A Series of Tough Conversations About Health.”

Taking away someone’s keys is the first subject in the series, which launches Oct. 17. A project of the College of Health Solutions’ School for the Science of Health Care Delivery, the series brings in experts to discuss the medical, ethical and legal issues surrounding hot-button health topics such as artificial medical devices, end-of-life care decisions, and medical mistakes.

“People in medicine or in ethical or legal areas all deal with these issues, but we’re not in the same room together,” said Sirven, a new SHCD faculty memberSirven is also a professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic School of Medicine and an adjunct faculty member of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU.. “We’re talking about them in different places, and our approaches don’t always get us to the same place, but we’re supposed to be doing what we do for the individual person. These talks give us an opportunity to put all the vantage points together.”

Sirven created the series series with School for the Science of Health Care Delivery colleagues Greg Mayer and Swapna Reddy. Their mission is to bring together ASU units, such as Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the College of Health Solutions, and the medical community at large to examine important issues in health care and offer solutions.

Sirven spoke with ASU Now about Tough Conversations, which launches Oct. 17 (event details at the end of this story).

Question: What do you hope happens with this series?

Answer: I hope it realistically reflects the way how, when the doors are shut, the very unfiltered way people talk about these things. Like, for the topic about driving, I used to think that wasn’t a very important topic, medically speaking. My specialty is seizures, and I thought my goal would be discussing with my patients how to cure or manage their condition, but it turns out that their ability to drive is the thing they are most concerned about. That drives the conversation, no pun intended. They get animated. They get upset. The number one reason why people do elective brain surgery is so that they can get a driver’s license. Driving is everything.

Q: How many of these topics are based on personal experience?

A: All of them. I’ve been told off on every one of these issues we’re discussing. I will always remember this very sweet grandmother who told me where I could go when I told her she shouldn’t be driving [laughs].

These are conversations that aren’t contrived. I’m getting this while I’m standing in the middle of Starbucks. One time a barista at Starbucks starting talking to me about her elderly father who suffered from dementia and had just gotten word that he might have kidney cancer. She’s wanting to know about palliative care and whether or not it’s OK to pursue a lot of care. And she’s crying and asking my opinion.

This is real life. This is how people talk and what they’re asking about. We want to have the conversations that real people are having, but we want the conversations that we’re having to move us somehow toward a solution.

Q: Can you give us a preview of some of the topics you’ll be discussing and a little about who will be speaking?

A: Joseph Drazkowski is our first speaker for the Can I Drive discussion. He’s a neurology doctor and is on the medical advisory board at the Arizona Department of Transportation. He has published extensively about driving and medical issues.

[For the talk about artificial medical implants] Frank Fischer is a very successful CEO of a medical device company that has an EEG chip that can be implanted in the brain to disrupt seizures. He’s been in the business for 30 years, so he understands the regulatory, financial and health-related aspects of these devices and can make sure we ask the questions and understand the issues.

A lot of these questions are things that people don’t think about. When my father-in-law died, he had an (medical device) implant, and suddenly we’re asking about things we had never thought about before: Who owns it? What do we do with it? And we need to talk about the financing disparity — will only people with good insurance get these devices? And the cybersecurity issue — there was a recent warning about how pacemakers are vulnerable to being hacked. [Note: This is a reference to an Aug. 29 safety communication by the U. S. Food & Drug Administration safety communication about cybersecurity vulnerabilities of one type of implantable cardiac pacemaker.]

Q: What are some of the issues with the third talk you’re doing about patients who can’t get seen by a specialist for certain medical conditions?

A: I work in neurology, and the reality is that you get a lot of doctors on the primary-care side who don’t feel comfortable managing any neurological condition.

Q: Because it’s specialized, or because the system requires you to go through a general doctor before you’re allowed to see a specialist?

A: Both. Plus, there are very few specialists in a lot of areas. Pediatric neurology has a huge demand, and there are a total of eight pediatric neurology doctors in the entire state of Arizona, so the wait list is three to seven months. 

Sanjeev Arora [professor of internal medicine at the University of New Mexico and the guest speaker for the third lecture] has pioneered a solution of bringing education and care within rural New Mexico. It’s not always about the referral. It’s really more about having access to the expertise, and medicine just keeps expanding out in terms of specialties and sub-specialties.


We Need to Talk: A Series of Tough Conversations About Health

Each event will be preceded by a 30-minute reception beginning at 4:30 p.m. The discussions will begin at 5 p.m. with a short video outlining the issue, followed by a moderated lecture and a Q&A session concluding at 6 p.m. All sessions are free and open to the public with online registration at https://chs.asu.edu/weneedtotalk.

“Can I Drive? Taking Away the Keys: Legal & Medical Quandaries” — Oct. 17, Health North, room 110, ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. Guest: Joseph Drazkowski, professor of neurology, associate dean of Mayo Clinic School of Medicine and a member of Arizona Department of Transportation Medical Advisory Board.

“The Bionic Man and Woman: Can I Be Hacked? Security, Ownership and Costs of Artificial Medical Devices” — Oct. 24, Health North, room 110, ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. Guest: Frank Fischer, CEO of NeuroPace.

“I Can’t See a Specialist: Disrupting the Specialty Primary Care Paradigm” — Nov. 13, Health North, room 110, ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. Guest: Sanjeev Arora, professor of internal medicine, University of New Mexico; director of Project ECHO, Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes.

“Saying Goodbye Doesn’t Have to be a Struggle: Dignity, Quality and Expense at the End of Life” — Feb. 7, 2018; location and guest TBD.

“Our Bipolar Mental Health System. It’s Ailing. Can It Be Fixed?” — March 14, 2018; location and guest TBD.

“Medical Errors: How to Say Sorry for Medical Mistakes” — April, 18, 2018; location and guest TBD.

Barb Millman

Communications Manager , College of Health Solutions


image title
ASU Cybersecurity Education Consortium hopes to help fill industry talent gap.
September 18, 2017

'Evening of Cybersecurity' event at ASU West for students looking to become cybersecurity professionals and help fill field's talent gap

The recent Equifax data breach is just one in a growing list of businesses experiencing cybersecurity failures. So how are they dealing with it?

Professor of Practice and Director of ASU’s Cybersecurity Education Consortium Kim Jones doesn’t want to be cynical but feels businesses are “using a risk-versus-return attitude toward exposure of data.”

That said, Jones does believe they’ve made great strides in understanding the value of data and the threat posed by hackers. But with a 300,000-job talent gap in the cybersecurity arena, there’s definitely room for improvement.

On Wednesday, Sept. 20, ASU West will host “An Evening of Cybersecurity” for students looking to become cybersecurity professionals and help fill that talent gap.

ASU Now spoke with Jones ahead of the event to learn more about how businesses are dealing with the threat and what students can expect from a career in the industry.

Question: How are businesses responding? Are they stepping up their cybersecurity defenses?

Answer: I hate to sound cynical … I do believe businesses are beginning to better understand the value and need of data on one end, which is better than when we talked one year ago. They’re spending a lot more time understanding the threat and ways people can get into their data. But, as much as I hate to say it, I think they’re also using a risk-versus-return attitude toward exposure of data. Name the last organization that went out of business because of data breach. [We couldn’t.] So from a reputation-risk standpoint, has this sort of thing become passé? Is the consumer going to respond in any sort of negative fashion? To date, unfortunately, consumers have become more accepting of the fact that their data is going to be out there. So in my opinion, businesses are beginning to look at security, instead of being something essential, as something that is a value add. We’re at the point where, if I’m more secure than my competitor, I might be able to draw more customers, but it’s still not seen as essential as one might hope it would be. And that’s being driven by the fact that the consumer has accepted that more of their data are out there and they’re continuing to put more out there in the name of convenience.

I’ve had friends approach me about the Equifax breach saying, "My data has been exposed so many times, I can’t even count anymore." In that sort of environment, where data has been compromised three or four times over, it depends on what the demand will be by the consumer to take additional action.

Q: What advice would you give to startups or businesses with limited resources?

A: The Cybersecurity Education Consortium is actually in the midst of putting something together for small businesses to give them practical skills. In Arizona, a majority of businesses are classified as small to medium, so we’re putting together some practical knowledge workshops for them that should be available in the next few months.

For me, it’s important to understand that you can’t create Fort Knox, but you can get to a heightened level of care associated with your network and data. And that mind-set of care will help. Think about it: A retailer looks at his or her foot traffic with that kind of care on a day-to-day basis. They look at things concerning availability of inventory, quality of inventory, how the inventory is positioned, how that affects foot traffic of the store. I’m not saying that it should overshadow everything else, but the care of understanding your data is an asset and a resource. And businesses usually meet about 80 percent of the threats out there. So I can’t give you Fort Knox; just because I have a sign out front saying I have a security system doesn’t mean someone won’t try to rob me, and they might succeed. But I can at least make it harder for them.

Many network providers have packages with basic security tools out there that are available as part of a business subscription, and there are small firms out there that provide different levels of protection, such as Terra Verde, an Arizona-based cybersecurity firm. And those will allow you to scale to certain levels of protection. You need to understand your data hygiene and treat your data and network as resources within your environment that need care and feeding.

Q: What can students looking to become cybersecurity professionals expect to be dealing with when they enter the field?

A: Two things: The term "typical day" is an oxymoron because every day is different. To quote the Navy SEAL team, the only easy day was yesterday. It won’t grind you into the ground, but it’s not just a career — a big portion of it is a calling. Cybersecurity people are absolutely the biggest optimists in the world. Every day, there is someone out there threatening to get access to resources and data you are trying to protect. And for every thousand of them, there is one of you. And you have to plug those holes. But you make people safer every day, and there are very few careers that are that rewarding. It’s also mentally engaging for me; it’s like playing three-tier chess. Every day you have to think like the bad guy, but you also have to think how to make something secure and work in an environment without just shutting the environment down.

There is a huge talent gap in cybersecurity of about 300,000 jobs in the U.S. Part of the reason it exists is because security technologists don’t really do a good job of taking about what we do and how we do it. When my kid was younger, he wanted to go into the gaming industry. Well, what does that mean? Coding? Design? He didn’t know. Lots of folks think it sounds sexy and cool, but they don’t know how to get in there.

Cybersecurity is the same way. There’s a lot more to it than hacking. It requires skills beyond just technical; it requires creative thinkers who know how to communicate, who understand business and policy. All these interdisciplinary things we teach at this university go into forming a great cybersecurity team. So a lot of what this event is about is showing kids, hey, the fact that you haven’t hacked by the time you’re 15 doesn’t mean you’re not good for cybersecurity. And we have lots of fun; we expose them to people from all walks of life who found their way into the field. It’s a good step if we’re going to try to close that 300,000-job talent gap.

Answers edited for clarity and length. Top photo: Professor of Practice and Director of the Cybersecurity Education Consortium Kim Jones at his office on ASU's West campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

image title

ASU students win top media award for American Indian coverage

Virtual-reality experience on historic school earns ASU students top media prize
September 15, 2017

Team of Cronkite School journalists honored by Native American Journalists Association for Phoenix Indian School project

A team of Arizona State University students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication won a top multimedia award from the nation’s leading professional organization dedicated to American Indian coverage.

Cronkite students in the New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab took first place in the 2017 Native American Journalists Association media awards in the Student Category – TV for Best Feature Story. The award-winning project, “Walking in Two Worlds — The Phoenix Indian School,” is an interactive virtual-reality experience that uses 360-degree video to showcase life at the historic Phoenix Indian School.

Under the direction of Cronkite faculty member Retha Hill, director of the New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab, students work side by side with computer engineering, design and business students to create cutting-edge digital media products for regional and national media companies and other organizations.

“We wanted to show the impact of newer technology in bringing history alive using tools that aren’t super expensive,” Hill said. “VR gives us the ability to take viewers into a world they might not be familiar with and to take them back in history in an interactive way.”

The Cronkite students involved in the project included Terrnekia Collier, Weldon Grover, Stephanie Holland and Greg Walsh. They worked with the Heard Museum in Phoenix to add an interactive feature to the museum’s exhibit on the school.

Grover said the project hit home for him because his grandparents met at the Phoenix Indian School.

“It was very interesting to hear other personal stories from former students,” he said. “Working with 360 gave our group new perspectives and approaches to tell stories.”

For the project, the students interviewed three individuals who went to the school — which opened in 1891 and closed in 1990 — during different eras. The school was operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Phoenix and was the only non-reservation BIA school in the state. It became part of the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

The Cronkite students created 360 video, incorporating old photographs and photos from online and turning 2-D images into a 3-D experience. They also stitched together photographs of old school buildings with structures that remain on-site today to transport audiences back into that world. The students also captured audio and scenes from a reunion among those who had attended the school.

“This award-winning project shows the world a side of our history that was seemingly lost,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “We’re extremely proud of the hard work and amazing creativity of our students in using cutting-edge technologies to tell powerful stories of our past.”

The project was recognized at the NAJA’s Sept. 7–9 conference in Anaheim, California. The annual competition recognizes excellence in reporting by Native and non-Native journalists across the U.S. and Canada. There were more than 700 entries across the following categories: Student Division, Associate Division I, Associate Division II, Associate Division III, Professional Division I, Professional Division II and Professional Division III.

The NAJA serves and empowers Native journalists through programs and actions designed to enrich journalism and promote Native cultures. For more than 30 years, NAJA has remained committed to increasing the representation of American Indian journalists working in media, while encouraging both mainstream and tribal media to attain the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and responsibility.

Find the Cronkite students' video here.

Communications manager , Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication


Tempe leaders, ASU engage again with resilience scenario game

September 15, 2017

What kinds of work and recreation will the residents of Tempe experience in 2040? Will residents be using electric, self-driving cars for mobility? Will giant structures shade the pavement and keep temperatures below triple-digits?

A group of municipal executives and leaders discussed these and other visions of Tempe in 2040 at ASU’s University Club as the university hosted the second in a series of resilience and sustainability workshops with the City of Tempe. The first event was in November 2016, and ASU will host a third resilience workshop for the City of Tempe later this fall. City officials play AudaCITy game City of Tempe executives and leaders play AudaCITY on Aug. 30 at ASU’s University Club. Download Full Image

The August event focused on urban sustainability and resilience, with the primary workshop activity being a new and innovative game called AudaCITY, created by Professor Lauren Withycombe Keeler of the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

“The goal of the AudaCITY game is to help participants — in this case, municipal executives in the City of Tempe — develop sustainability ways of thinking to enable them to set audacious sustainability goals and develop strategies capable of making those goals a reality,” said Withycombe Keeler.

Through five rounds of game play that progressed from large vision statements through tangible issues and actions that can be taken today, participants drew cards and discussed alternate trajectories that could lead to a radically transformed and sustainable future city. In the end, each of the teams presented a short story about their vision of a sustainable Tempe in 2040 and what can be done to make it a reality.

“By playing the game, we were able to put city executives together who don’t typically spend time together, thinking about problems they don’t typically think about,” said City of Tempe sustainability manager Braden Kay. “Sustainability affects all aspects of city operations, from parks to police and fire.

“The game helps demonstrate for our leadership how they are affected by sustainability issues and how they can be a part of helping us achieve our sustainability goals,” Kay said.

The game enabled players to understand the transformations that need to take place within the community to achieve sustainability and build resilience.

Withycombe Keeler said the game exceeded their design expectations. “It was a creative way for city officials to grasp the kinds of catalytic actions necessary to make Tempe a global model of sustainability,” she said. “We are looking forward to continuing to work with Tempe to implement the results from this workshop and ultimately get to a Climate Action Plan that can make the city more sustainable and resilient to future shocks.”

Withycombe Keeler and Kay are already planning a third workshop for City of Tempe executives that will occur this fall. That workshop will be supported by the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes in cooperation with ASU’s School of Sustainability and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

Corporation for Public Broadcasting awards grant for regional journalism collaboration in sustainability

September 13, 2017

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has awarded five public media stations, led by Arizona PBS, a grant to establish a regional news collaboration to enhance and expand coverage of sustainability issues.

Arizona PBS, a member-supported community service of Arizona State University based at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will serve as the lead station of the Regional Journalism Collaboration for Sustainability. Big globe, small globes Arizona PBS, a member-supported community service of ASU, received a Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant to establish a regional news collaboration to enhance and expand coverage of sustainability issues. Download Full Image

The partnership, comprised of public television and radio stations in key western cities, will produce multimedia reports on four important sustainability issues: water, renewable energy, climate change and urbanization. Joining Arizona PBS in the reporting partnership are PBS SoCal and KPCC Southern California Public Radio in Los Angeles, KJZZ radio in Phoenix and Denver’s Rocky Mountain PBS, which includes five TV stations and KUVO radio.

“Collaboration is a force multiplier; together stations can do more and innovate faster to provide the local journalism that is part of the bedrock of public media’s valued service to our country,” said Kathy Merritt, CPB senior vice president, journalism and radio. “We’ve seen the importance of our investments in collaboration when, for example, stations in the Texas Station Collaborative were better prepared to serve their communities throughout the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.”

The RJC for Sustainability will be a single news entity comprised of 20 journalism professionals. This includes the hiring of a full-time executive editor who will lead the RJC (Regional Journalism Collaboration) from Arizona PBS. Each of the stations also will provide one journalist dedicated to sustainability coverage.

“This generous grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will enable us to cover some of the most critical challenges of our time,” said Arizona PBS CEO and Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. “Sustainability matters to everyone, and the Regional Journalism Collaboration for Sustainability can spur civic engagement on issues of political, economic, cultural and social importance.”

The RJC for Sustainability will produce broadcast and digital news content that helps the public better understand the complexities of water, energy, climate and urbanization issues. “As these issues become hot topics for debate, serious journalism is required to keep the public aware and informed,” Callahan said.

The content will be shareable across the five partner stations and will be available to national public media programs, including NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered,” “Marketplace” and “PBS NewsHour.” The initiative also will experiment with new forms of digital video to provide better coverage of sustainability issues.

The RJC for Sustainability includes an oversight committee, charged with setting the strategic vision for the collaborative. Joining Callahan are KPCC President and CEO Bill Davis, KJZZ Vice President Jim Paluzzi, PBS SoCal President and CEO Andrew Russell and Laura Frank, president and general manager of news at Rocky Mountain PBS.

Since 2009, CPB has invested more than $32 million to help launch 29 local and regional news collaborations, creating 127 newsroom positions supporting the collaborations. This included the funding of Local Journalism Collaborations, multimedia centers that cover particular issues such as energy. CPB-funded LJCs include EarthFix based in the Northwest and Fronteras in the Southwest.

Regional Journalism Collaborations were established by the CPB to increase high-quality original and enterprise journalism through reporting partnerships between multiple station newsrooms in a state or region. The RJC for Sustainability received a 27-month CPB startup grant of $691,854.

As the lead RJC station, Arizona PBS has great access to expertise on sustainability issues. ASU is home to the nation’s first school of sustainability, which offers transdisciplinary degrees and research on real-world solutions to environmental, economic and social challenges. ASU also is the home of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, the hub of university’s local and global sustainability initiatives.

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication


Broadway-touring actress returns home to perform at ASU Gammage

Tickets on sale now for 'Something Rotten!' and other select Broadway shows

September 11, 2017

Autumn Hurlbert is returning home to Arizona and taking an entire theater company with her. The actress plays the role of Portia in the Broadway touring company of “Something Rotten!” coming to ASU Gammage Oct. 31–Nov. 5.

“Growing up in Arizona, and especially deciding to do this as a profession, I’ve been waiting for this time,” Hurlbert said. “I’ve been waiting to be able to perform in my hometown theater. It’s an honor.” something rotten Former Mesa resident Autumn Hurlbert (left), performs with Josh Grisetti in "Something Rotten!", which will open at ASU Gammage on Oct. 31. Download Full Image

Single tickets go on sale to the public on Sept. 11 for all shows in the ASU Gammage 2017–18 Broadway season with the exception of "Hamilton."

“You can come in with no expectation,” Hurlbert said. “It’s great because it’s original book, original music, it’s an original story, so no ones knows anything about it. Everyone will be surprised and delighted all together, and the music is really wonderful and catchy.” 

Hulbert moved to Mesa, Arizona at the age of six. She grew up in the Valley and attended Dobson High School until the end of her junior year when her parents moved the family to Flagstaff.

“I’m really excited to be back in Arizona,” Hurlbert said. “I’m excited to reconnect with people that I went to school with. It’s going to be so interesting to see how much it has changed because New York can feel like a different world sometimes. It’s so far away from, you know, my hometown in Arizona.”

Hurlbert caught the performing bug while living in Arizona. She participated in her school theater, took choir class and performed in local productions. Hurlbert even attended performances at ASU Gammage and remembers seeing “Oklahoma!” at the theater. 

“Gammage is such a beautiful facility,” Hurlbert said. “The staff and all of the programs and the season that makes up Gammage is really vital and important to keeping a community connected.”

Hurlbert is on tour with her husband and her son. She is a mother of a two-year-old boy and is thrilled for him to experience the same quality performances and beautiful facilities she did growing up.

“It will be kind of surreal to watch him running around our set and hanging out at Gammage as like a little local,” Hurlbert said. “It will be so special. A true full-circle, wonderful moment for us.”

Hurlbert’s family has had the opportunity to travel all over the United States with “Something Rotten!”

“Seeing so many parts of the world and the country is such a huge perk of our job,” Hurlbert said. “By the time this tour is done, there’s only four states that I won’t have been to, and I might be able to sneak a couple in while we’re on the road, so it could be even less than that.”

Although bringing her family on tour is an adventure, traveling with a toddler while working as a Broadway actress can make for a unique parenting experience.

“I think the beautiful thing about being in this business and having your family, is that it gives you a constant, daily opportunity to stay humble,” Hurlbert said. “When I’m running around, chasing my toddler nobody cares if you’re Katy Perry or your next-door neighbor. When your toddler is screaming through a public space and you have to focus on your family and just be real.”

Hurlbert loves raising her son with her “Something Rotten!” cast members by her side.

“It’s such a good opportunity to stay grounded and not get too self-centered,” Hurlbert said. “It’s just such a good experience for my son to be growing up in this community because the arts community is just such a loving, generous, familial community. We rarely have to ask for help. People are always lending hands. It’s just so supportive and wonderful.” 

She hopes the community will come out to support her in a show she feels is incredibly entertaining for all audience members.

“I think it doesn’t matter what mood you come in to see our show, you’re going to walk out with a smile on your face,” Hurlbert said. “It’s just such a funny show. There’s such diverse humor. There’s really something for everyone in the show. It’ll tickle anybody’s funny bone."


image title
September 11, 2017

ASU co-hosts IT Awareness Day at Tempe campus, one of a pair of job events focused on giving military vets meaningful work

Military veterans are disciplined, task-focused, team-oriented and get the job done.

These are the same traits required in the information technology field.

Arizona has one of the fastest-growing economies for IT careers, with more than 17,000 full-time career positions currently unfilled, according to experts at ASU and networking hardware company Cisco Systems. At the same time, there is strong need for career support for veterans transitioning to civilian life.

“Far greater than saying to a veteran, ‘Thanks for your service,’ is to hire a veteran and give them meaningful work,” said Benjamin C. Freakley, former commanding general for the U.S. Army and special adviser to ASU President Michael Crow for leadership initiatives at Arizona State University.

“I can train someone to fix a computer, but I can’t train them to show up to work on time, to be a valued member, to be a leader. The military trains and imbues all those positive traits in the men and women who served our country.”

Now ASU and Cisco are hoping to serve veterans by hosting the inaugural IT Awareness Day on Thursday, Sept. 14, at ASU's Tempe campus. This six-hour event starts 1 p.m. at the Memorial Union and will feature Cisco, Amazon, Intel and other prominent members of the community and tech sector. Panelists from veterans service organizations and career representatives from industries such as health care, manufacturing, energy, transportation and logistics will also provide insights into trends in IT, work culture and a look at what the future holds for professionals within the state of Arizona.

Designed with veterans in mind, the free event is open to the public and will be streamed for those who can’t attend in person. Registration is encouraged.

The IT Awareness Day will be followed up by a Nov. 10 hiring event at the Phoenix Convention Center, where job seekers can be pre-matched with jobs and potentially have interviews on the day of the event.

Steve Borden, director of the Pat Tillman Veterans Center, said pairing veterans with the IT and STEMscience, technology, engineering, math sectors is a seemingly natural fit, but a few gaps still do exist.

“Veterans get a lot of hands-on experience using high-tech equipment and are really primed for the IT field because in a lot of ways, it’s what they do in the service,” Borden said. However, he added, often what they are lacking is the civilian-equivalency certification to leverage their experience.

Borden said veterans are also not aware of the importance of branding and marketing themselves as they enter civilian life.

“Joining the military is seen as a selfless service, and an individual trying to advance themselves too openly is often looked down upon and usually does not do well in the military,” Borden said. “Helping veterans in that aspect of transitioning and appropriately advancing themselves in the civilian sector needs to take place.”

The two events were prompted in part by co-sponsor Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT and networking. Its leaders decided at a June 2011 meeting to make it a priority to hire veterans.

“The question asked at that meeting was, ‘We give hundreds of millions of dollars around the world for charitable causes, but what are we doing for our veterans?’” said Michael Veysey, director of veterans programs at Cisco Systems.

Veysey said Vietnam-era veterans such as himself were not often the beneficiaries of today's goodwill, but employers have changed their attitudes over time. He said companies like Cisco recognize the value veterans bring to jobs and are doing what they can to help.

He said Arizona’s veteran population, estimated around 650,000 people, can put the state at a great advantage by sending a message that vets can be a force after their careers in the military.

“We would like to establish Arizona as a national center of excellence for veterans in employment innovation.”

IT Awareness Day

What: A day dedicated to raising awareness of career possibilities in information technology, featuring industry panelists and hiring managers.
When: 1-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14.
Where: Memorial Union, ASU's Tempe campus.
Admission: Free and open to the public.
Details: Event schedule can be found here. RSVP here.

Reporter , ASU Now


image title

ASU Prep Digital promotes college-going culture in rural Arizona high school

High school in Miami, AZ, using blended learning with ASU Prep Digital in class.
September 11, 2017

New program provides rigorous content to existing schools and to online students

When Miami Junior-Senior High School in eastern Arizona wanted to boost its students’ chances of going to college, it found a partner in the new ASU Prep Digital online program, which is seeking to fill learning gaps in schools around the state and the country.

This school year, about 95 sophomores are taking English and biology using the ASU Prep Digital curriculum while sitting in their Miami classroom with their own school’s teachers.

“Almost all my kids, if they go to college or formal vocational training, they are the first in their family to do so,” said Glen Lineberry, the principal.

“So that postsecondary training is like a cliff and we’re trying to build a ramp up to it.”

Arizona State University is blurring the line between high school and college with ASU Prep Digital, a new program that is offered in two ways — as an a la carte offering to boost curriculum in partnership with existing schools, and as a full- or part-time online charter school that can accelerate the time it takes for students to earn a degree.

“We’re here to impact national college attainment and help students prep for college, prep for careers and prep for life,” said Amy McGrath, chief operating officer for ASU Prep Digital.

“That doesn’t just happen when you turn 18 and come to ASU. ASU can help you do that when you’re in ninth grade and someplace where you don’t have access.”

Miami, a small mining town about 70 miles east of Phoenix, has struggled with unemployment and poverty, and the junior-senior high school was underperforming. About four years ago, the district launched a new initiative called “There’s no D in Miami” to increase achievement and help pave the way for students to go to college. Lineberry said that the faculty restored upper-level courses like physics and the school added a career and technical education program, which students are required to complete for graduation.

Partnerships have been key. The school joined forces with Northland Pioneer and Prescott colleges for juniors and seniors to take courses that earn college credit.

“But in order to have students do college work as juniors, we needed to step up the level for freshmen and sophomores, so ASU Prep Digital is helping us to do that,” Lineberry said of the blended-learning model.

The district decided to make the investment in the ASU Prep Digital classes, which use the Cambridge International Curriculum, a rigorous and popular qualification system around the world. The teachers in Miami have been able to tweak the content as needed, for example, adding a lesson in lab safety that’s customized to the school.

“We’re getting great curriculum, and the kids are engaged and we think it’s a key part of getting the kids ready for college,” said Lineberry, who added that he would like to expand the offering next year.

ASU is connecting with the Miami students in other ways as well. Parents can take advantage of the American Dream Academy, an eight-week program for families to increase achievement and prepare for college. The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is working with students who have expressed interest in becoming teachers, helping them with the application process.

“Part of the reason we’re trying to do this is because in 2012, a study came out that found that most high school teachers actually teach within 40 miles from where they went to high school. So we’re trying to recruit locally,” said Nancy Perry, associate dean for the Office of Grants and Partnerships and a clinical associate professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

And Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College student-teachers in Miami will learn how to educate in a blended-learning environment.

“We have many teachers around the state who are trying to be trained in that now, so our partnership is cutting-edge,” Perry said.

Miami is the first blended-learning partner with ASU Prep Digital, which a month after rolling out has 1,500 students in its digital high school, mostly from Arizona but also in 11 other states and China. ASU Prep Digital joins the network of ASU Preparatory Academies, which include campuses in Casa Grande, Mesa, downtown Phoenix and — also new this year — ASU Prep Tempe, on the campus of Compadre High School.

The online classes use the Cambridge International Curriculum as an add-on feature, and students can opt out of the Cambridge components, according to Julie Young, deputy vice president and CEO of ASU Prep Digital. Students can potentially earn college credit by scoring proficiently on the Cambridge end-of-course exams.

ASU Prep Digital offers the core high school classes, as well as Latin, Arabic, entrepreneurship and leadership. Students also can take college courses such as sustainability, criminal justice and modern social problems at a reduced tuition rate.

“I like that the courses are online and I can work on them at other places rather than just at school, anytime I want,” said Riley Guthrey, a sophomore at Miami.

When Young first became involved with digital education in 1996, access to the internet was via dial-up. Now it’s a critical component to lifelong learning.

“We believe that for students to be career, college, and life-ready, they need to know how to learn in this environment,” she said. “When they graduate from high school, whether they decide to become a mechanic, a chef, a real estate agent or a Wall Street banker, they will be continuing their education online. It's a life skill."

Miami Junior Senior High School is holding a kickoff celebration of its new partnerships and academic initiative at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11, in the school gym, 4739 Ragus Road. For more information on ASU Prep Digital, click here.


Top photo: Janaya Sullivan (left) looks at the large monitor at the front of the class as students log into the ASU Prep Digital lesson in biology class at Miami Junior-Senior High School. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


image title
ASU a key player in new statewide initiative to tackle complex diseases.
September 6, 2017

ASU a key player in Arizona Wellbeing Commons, an umbrella group that aims to tackle complex disease issues

Arizona State University is a key player in a new health research initiative designed to harness the expertise of scientists across the state to treat diseases like cancer and address such problems as unequal access to health care.

The Arizona Wellbeing Commons is a statewide collaboration of the three public universities, health providers, practitioners and community partners such as the Mayo Clinic and TGen.

The main goals of the project are to provide opportunities for experts around Arizona to align their research, share resources, mentor young researchers and get the word out.

“Collaboration is an advantage in Arizona, where biosciences research is still growing,” said Joshua LaBaerLaBaer also is director of the Biodesign Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics and is a professor in the ASU School of Molecular Sciences and an adjunct professor of medicine at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic., who is leading the umbrella group. LaBaer is  executive director of the Biodesign Institute at ASU.

“What makes a good collaboration is having people from different backgrounds and different approaches come together. That’s where a clinician might note an unmet need that a basic researcher might not be aware of.”

LaBaer (pictured above) spoke at the kickoff meeting for the Arizona Wellbeing Commons, held Wednesday at the Tempe Center for the Arts. The group will meet every year, and the six specialty divisions also will meet. Those are:

  • neurobiology, aging, dementias and movement disorders, led by Salvatore Oddo, an associate professor in the School of Life Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU
  • cancer prevention, detection, management and treatment, led by Karen Anderson, an associate professor at ASU’s Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics, in the Biodesign Institute
  • viruses, immunity, microbiomes and infectious disease, led by Grant McFadden, the new director of the Biodesign Center for Immunology, Vaccines and Virotherapy at ASU
  • nutrition, obesity, exercise and lifestyle, led by Steven Hooker, associate dean for research and professor in the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion in ASU's College of Health Solutions
  • mental health, substance abuse, crime and behavior change, led by Michael Shafer, director of the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy at ASU and a professor in the School of Social Work in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions
  • public health and health-care services, law, policy and equity, led by James Hodge, director of the Center for Public Health Law and Policy in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU

Each division will include an array of specialists, from basic researchers to practitioners, and the categories are intentionally broad, LaBaer said.

“Viewing well-being through multiple perspectives allows fresh approaches to any number of health issues, including those that are grand challenges in Arizona, like heart disease and diabetes,” he said.

This type of collaboration can potentially lead to funding sources, Oddo said.

“Often we don’t even know within our institutions what the people on the floor below us are working on,” said Oddo, who studies the molecular mechanisms underlying Alzheimer’s disease.

He said that the most impactful research will happen only when the research is complementary.

“We are in a unique position to do that,” he said. “This is a critical moment. There are many centers, from NIH to NSF, that have brain programs and are contributing large amounts of funds to this. They are looking for synergy across different disciplines and institutions.”

Complex diseases such as cancer and diabetes have complex origins and will require a multi-layered approach to research, Anderson said. For example, some cancers are related to obesity and others are linked to viruses.

“All of these efforts nationally and locally are starting to show improvements in the number of lives saved,” said Anderson, who also is an associate professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic Arizona. “But it’s happened as a result of collaboration and of large-scale implementation projects.”

ASU already has some high-impact collaborations, whose participants are part of the Arizona Wellbeing Commons initiative.

Anna Barker, co-director of the Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative at ASU and a professor in the School of Life Sciences, speaks at the kickoff meeting of the new Arizona Wellbeing Commons. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

For example, the Adaptive Global Innovative Learning Environment Clinical Trial had its roots in a think tank developed at ASU several years ago, according to Anna Barker, the director. The think tank evolved into AGILE, which is creating a new way of producing clinical trials for the most common form of adult brain cancer. Starting with 30 people, AGILE now includes neurosurgeons, oncologists, researchers and advocacy communities. The clinical trial will begin next year with 50 patients.

“We had hundreds of meetings. Nobody gave up, nobody walked away and everyone is still engaged,” said Barker, who also is co-director of the Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative at ASU and a professor in the School of Life Sciences.

“It’s a remarkable crowd-sourcing effort of the knowledge we needed to do this trial, and it’s an example of what can happen when we brought the right people to the table, supported the process and celebrated the victories.”

Another example is the REACH Institute, in the Department of Psychology, which bridges the gap between research and practice and includes several units at ASU.

“This group of scientists has been engaged in research for more than 25 years, studying what promotes resiliency in families and children,” said Anne Marie Mauricio, an assistant research professor and implementation scientist in the institute. The team developed successful interventions including Bridges to High School, a school-based prevention program shown to reduce high-risk behaviors such as substance use, and the Family Bereavement Program, which addresses the complex needs of children after the death of a parent.

“We had all of these great programs, but the communities weren’t using them. So how do we get them out there?” said Mauricio. “We work with community partners to understand from the users’ perspective how the programs need to work to fit the community.”

McFadden, who recently came to ASU from the University of Florida, said he’s planning a symposium of virologists in the state for November.

“One of the things I learned in moving here is that there is no repository of information,” he said. “Who are the scientists in the state, and what are they working on?

“This is a remarkable idea, and there’s nothing like it in Florida.”


Top photo: Joshua LaBaer, executive director of the Biodesign Institute at ASU, is leading the new Arizona Wellbeing Commons, a statewide health-research collaboration. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


image title
ASU center focuses on human values through filmmaking.
ASU center to host public screening of new documentary on transgender life.
ASU center approaches 12th year of connecting film to issues of race, gender.
August 31, 2017

Group focuses on how film and media shape society's ideas about human values

For nearly a dozen years, ASU’s Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture has prompted scholarly discussions on the role of cinema, media and music in society and has paid tribute to some of the 20th century’s most enduring entertainment icons. Faculty and students have performed countless hours of community outreach.

The center focuses on the roles film and media play in shaping popular culture, including ideas about race, gender, sexuality, human values and other social issues embedded in entertainment.

“It’s not our job to say if something’s good or bad, but it is important for people to be aware of the full context and complexity of what they see and hear,” said Peter Lehman (pictured above), founding director of the Center for Film, Media and Popular CultureThe Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture resides within the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.. “With good critical analysis, we can challenge misconceptions, help make distinctions and contribute to the evaluation and re-evaluation of popular entertainment as serious art.”

Since its inception in 2005, the center has brought together a team of ASU faculty and experts to build partnerships with the Phoenix-metro community and the entertainment industry. The center sponsors community film screenings, lectures and special events; supports students through scholarships and internships; pursues research grants and entrepreneurial industry partnerships; and hosts faculty fellows from around the world.

This month the center will screen a new documentary called “TRANS*CEND: A Journey from Gender to Self,” about transgender or nonbinary people struggling for authenticity, acceptance and equality in Memphis, Tennessee.

The free Sept. 15 screening at Sun Studios in Tempe will be the fifth time the documentary has been screened publicly, according to Shelby Elwood, the director of the film.

“Filmmakers are just as thoughtful, innovative and socially conscious as novelists or poets and have helped erase the distinction between so-called ‘fine art’ and popular entertainment,” Lehman said. “It’s a superficial distinction that doesn’t do film, television and popular music justice."

The center mixes scholarly pursuits and has fun at the same time. Last year it co-hosted with Arizona HumanitiesArizona Humanities is a non-profit organization that fosters discussions on books, films and poetry; provides grants to humanities education; and promotes literacy through reading events for children and families, according to its website. the U.S. premiere of “Roy Orbison: One of the Lonely Ones” at a nearby movie theater, followed by a discussion with British documentary filmmaker Jeremy Marre. 

“Peter has such a wonderful way about himself where he can use conversation and engage people in a non-threatening way where it has the potential to open up safe questioning and dialogue,” said Ellie Hutchinson, program manager for Arizona Humanities, who has partnered with the center since 2015.

Hutchinson said working with the center offers Arizona Humanities' audience more well-rounded programming.

A few years before, they honored filmmaker Blake Edwards with a tribute concert in collaboration with the ASU symphony, which played music selections from his films at ASU Gammage. During the concert, ASU President Michael Crow awarded Edwards an honorary degree. His wife, actress Julie Andrews, was on hand to enjoy the festivities.

The center became part of a major ASU initiative in the Western film genre in 2016. Lehman, a Western film scholar, was invited to join a group of ASU faculty and administrators to create a partnership between the university and Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West to acquire a 5,000-piece Western film memorabilia collection valued at $6 million. The purchase puts ASU in position to boost research from several fields and help dispel stereotypes and misconceptions of American Indians.

Museum CEO and Director Mike Fox called the center “an excellent collaborative partner” and says the Rennard Strickland Collection of Western Film history is a good starting point. 

“We want the collection to serve as a catalyst for conversation and reflection that deepens people’s understanding of the West and themselves,” Fox said.

The center and museum will team up again in a few months to co-host a Nov. 2 screening of “Redskin,” a historically important 1929 Western film about Native Americans.

Lehman emphasizes that building relationships between the center, the Phoenix metro arts and museum community, its advisory board and industry partners is a key part of who they are.

“We’ve laid the foundation for expanding to the next level, including attracting business and corporate sponsors and donors both within the local community and in Hollywood,” Lehman said.

Trans*cend: a Journey from Gender to Self

What: The Southwest premiere of the documentary, followed by a discussion.

When: 7-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15.

Where: Sun Studios of Arizona, 1425 W. 14th St., Tempe.

Admission: Free.

Details: azhumanities.org/event/transcend-film-screening-discussion-tempe


Top photo: Peter Lehman, founding director for the Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture, stands with pieces from the Rennard Strickland Collection of Western Film inside the Scottsdale Museum of the West on Aug. 10. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now