Home Page Display: 

ASU a top producer of Teach for America teachers 5 years running

October 11, 2019

For the fifth consecutive year, Arizona State University has been ranked as a top producer of educators by Teach For America, the national nonprofit that recruits, trains and places recent college graduates to teach for two years in high-need schools around the country.

There were 43 Teach for America corps members from ASU in 2019. This year’s cohort was one of the most diverse in Teach for America history: More than half of the incoming corps members identify as people of color, 43% come from low-income backgrounds and 1 in 3 were first-generation college students.  Kiley Cronin teaching in her classroom in front of kids at desks Kiley Cronin in her classroom at Maryvale Preparatory Academy in Phoenix. Download Full Image

Julia Tebben, senior program coordinator for strategic initiatives and university partnerships for ASU Career and Professional Development Services, said ASU’s consistent top ranking for Teach for America’s indicates the dedication to service and innovation at Arizona State University. 

“The fact that Arizona State University continues to be a top producer of Teach For America corps members is a testament to the impact-driven mindset of our university and its alumni,” Tebben said. “We know that students care deeply about effecting change at all levels. TFA provides a wonderful platform to take all of that drive and energy and turn it into something truly incredible. Every child deserves to reach their highest potential, and we are proud that Sun Devil alumni continue to be a part of that realization each year.”

Kiley Cronin, who graduated from ASU in December 2018 with one bachelor’s degree in psychology and another in communication, is a current corps member. Cronin, who is originally from Medway, Massachusetts, teaches second grade at Maryvale Preparatory Academy in Phoenix. 

Cronin said she joined TFA because she knew she loved working with children as a gymnastics coach and because she had cousins who were corps members in Denver and Phoenix. 

“When deciding what I wanted to do after graduating, TFA seemed like a clear choice since I was familiar with the program and it would allow me to continue working with and teaching children. I wanted to serve in Phoenix specifically, because throughout my time at ASU I had fallen in love with the community, and I wanted to help people within that same community that I had become a part of,” Cronin said. 

Cronin said she grew up with excellent public schools in Massachusetts and is passionate about making sure every student has access to high-quality education, regardless of zip code or socioeconomic status. She has seen education gaps firsthand in her experience as an educator.

“TFA truly made me realize that education is treated as a privilege in our country. But it shouldn’t be,” she said. “My hope is that the corps members of TFA not only teach their students but inspire them to become leaders and educators in the next generation so that in the future, every educator is an excellent educator, and every student has the opportunity to learn without limits.” 

Jesus Vega-Valdez is a corps member who teaches special education and sophomore English at Mesa High School. He graduated from ASU in spring 2019 with one bachelor’s degree in transborder studies and another bachelor’s degree in anthropology. He also minored in economics.

Originally from Pomona, California, and the Maryvale area of Phoenix, Vega-Valdez said his experience as a peer mentor made him realize the scope of educational inequity in the United States and inspired him to pursue educational policy. But he didn’t just want to research educational issues — he wanted to understand what’s going on in classrooms firsthand. 

“Acknowledging that my academic research understanding is not enough to truly analyze the issue as a whole, I joined TFA. My plan is to one day take my personal experiences from the classroom and provide a voice for my students and those in my community. I want to make sure that those in power are making decisions that are truly based on the needs of each community,” Vega-Valdez said. 

The classroom experience is both amusing for Vega-Valdez (like the time he spotted a puppy in a student’s backpack in the back of his class) and edifying, building his understanding of how education can improve and inform his career path. 

“Joining TFA has strengthened and reassured me that I desire to work in education policy. Being part of a community with many like-minded individuals that are all continuously working to fight against education inequity is inspirational,” he said.

Both Vega-Valdez and Cronin agree that though the job is hard, it’s an invaluable community and career experience.  

“My students have also taught me a lot about themselves and about myself,” Cronin said. “I know now more than ever that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. And although it takes a lot of work and even a few tears here and there, I wouldn’t trade this job for the world.” 

Hannah Moulton Belec

Marketing content specialist, Educational Outreach and Student Services


ASU Biodesign Institute executive director urges health care forces to 'go beyond discovery' at Arizona Wellbeing Commons conference

October 8, 2019

With organizations the caliber of Mayo Clinic, TGen, the Flinn Foundation, Arizona BioIndustry Association and the state’s universities, Arizona boasts a multitude of talented scientists, health professionals, life science entrepreneurs, nonprofits and government leaders committed to contributing to the quality of life in our state. Arizona’s bioscience sector is adding jobs at a rate that outpaces the nation. And its public universities are seeing increases in bioscience research funding, expenditures and tech transfer.

But for more than 300 people who came together last week for the Arizona Wellbeing Commons, that’s just not good enough. Created three years ago, the commons is all about making connections. conference room full of people sitting at tables More than 300 people from Arizona’s health and bioscience-related organizations convened Sept. 27 for the annual Arizona Wellbeing Commons conference. Download Full Image

“Historically, the biological sciences were studied in individual labs, each using its own particular expertise,” said Joshua LaBaer, leader of the commons and executive director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. “And that approach is fine if the goal is discovery alone. But we want to go beyond discovery to implement these discoveries into practices that have impact. Real-world impact is a higher bar that requires input from many dimensions and a team approach. This is an opportunity to build these teams — to learn about what’s happening outside our own walls and discover new ways to put our resources together to address the health and medical challenges of our community more expediently and efficiently.”

According to group leaders, the organization serves as “an umbrella group that facilitates the development of strong working partnerships to create new opportunity, build capacity and grow influence in Arizona.”

“I am inspired by this conference,” said Larry Penley, chair of the Arizona Board of Regents. “Together, you are a powerful network and your collaboration is applauded by the board.

“Because of this new ‘innovation economy,’ the Arizona Board of Regents has structured its budget requests to the state this year around this very issue; around a workforce that comes from the sciences, engineering, biomedicine and allied health; around the state’s capacity to match major university research grant proposals that will drive new ideas and new businesses in our economy.”

Penley noted his enthusiasm for the new Phoenix Biomedical Campus, a 30-acre medical and bioscience campus that will bring together the resources of ASU, the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, TGen, Flinn Foundation, the city of Phoenix and the Arizona BioIndustry Association.

“Not only will we be able to expand the availability of biomedical degrees, but also accelerate biomedical research and translation of those new ideas into new technologies that will drive our community forward,” Penley said.

Keynote speaker Alan Leshner, interim CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the executive publisher of the Science family of journals, discussed the globalization of science and emphasized the need for multidisciplinary solutions. He proposed that revolutionizing the structure of our graduate education and funding strategies is important to achieving a multidisciplinary mindset.

“Multidisciplinary science is the leading edge in discovery,” he said.

David Sklar, an emergency room physician and senior adviser and professor in ASU’s College of Health Solutions, shared his concerns about pedestrian deaths in Arizona, noting that Arizona has the highest rate of pedestrian fatalities in the nation. A review of factors contributing to this public health challenge — road conditions, alcoholism, speed, pedestrian walkways and emergency response — indicate that solutions to the problem will require a multidimensional effort.

Recognizing both the issues we face and the intellectual capital we have here in Arizona, the commons is organized in seven divisions, attracting those most interested in addressing specific issues:

  • Cancer prevention, detection, management and treatment.
  • Public health and health care services law, policy and equity.
  • Nutrition, obesity, exercise and lifestyle.
  • Viruses, immunity, microbiomes and infectious diseases.
  • Mental health, substance abuse, crime and behavior change.
  • Neurobiology, aging, dementias and movement disorders.
  • Culture, arts, design and humanities in health.

The culture, arts, design and humanities in health division was added this year. Tamara Underiner, associate dean for academic affairs in ASU's Graduate College and associate professor in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre, welcomed a standing room-only crowd, explaining that although our nation spends more on health care than most countries, we still suffer lower life expectancy and higher mortality and disease burden rates. She said that adding elements of art and culture to health care programs can alleviate this disparity, citing cases where art has cured chronic depression and how introducing music to care homes has improved mental health among patients and their caregivers.

“These are just some of the things that happen when you add heart and art,” Underiner said. “It shows real vision on the part of the commons’ organizers to recognize out loud the key role culture plays in health and well-being for all Arizonans,” she added. “Finding ways to collaborate with and across the divisions will help us develop more holistic approaches to some of the biggest challenges we face.”

“I came to Arizona about the same time the Flinn Foundation started the Biosciences Roadmap,” said Jennifer Barton, director of Bio5 at University of Arizona. “I remember coming to my first Flinn meeting as a young assistant professor and thinking, ‘I’ve come to the right place. And now, some 18 years later, we’ve shown how that collaborative gene is important, and the Wellbeing Commons is a great way to bring everyone together and create tangible outcomes.”

Written by Dianne Price and Gabrielle Hirneise

Gabrielle Hirneise

Assistant science writer , Biodesign Institute


image title

ASU's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute to provide Peace Corps experience for members

ASU's lifelong learning program for adults offers weeklong Peace Corps trip.
October 8, 2019

Older adults can travel to Belize, become 'citizen scientists,' expand world views

Every semester, when thousands of students move their graduation cap tassels from right to left, it doesn’t mean education has ended for them. Arizona State University has committed to offering opportunities for community members to be lifelong learners — not just by earning credits and degrees, but by expanding their experiences and world views. 

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at ASU has enlisted faculty to teach short, high-level, noncredit courses to adults over 50 for more than a decade. And now, beyond classroom learning, Osher members have a chance to make a difference in the world through the new OLLI Corps — a partnership with the National Peace Corps Association and Discover Corps.

Later this week, the inaugural group of 25 OLLI Corps members will be the first to travel abroad to help Peace Corps volunteers teach English, distribute health information and visit ecological research centers in Belize.

OLLI is intended to connect older adults to the university, building a sense of community and providing a way to engage with each other and the knowledge, according to Richard Knopf, who is director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at ASU.

“All the literature on older adults says people who have a sense of purpose, a sense of giving back, live longer and have all the biomedical markers of being healthier,” said Knopf, who also is a professor in the School of Community Resources and Development, which houses the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at ASU.

OLLI at ASU is the first of the 126 Osher university-based programs in the nation to offer a volunteer travel program affiliated with the Peace Corps.

“We take a lot of pride that ASU incubated this idea, and it’s going national,” Knopf said. “All eyes will be looking at ASU and saying, ‘This is an amazing idea, but will it really work?’

“And if we’re successful, we’ll launch other destinations and it won’t be long before it’s picked up by the entire network.”

Claire McWilliams, an instructor in the School of Community Resources and Development, will be one of the ASU faculty members leading the weeklong trip.

“The idea is not to ask the members, ‘What would you like to do?' — but to find out the missions of the Peace Corps in that area,” she said.

“Our members will be directly assisting the Peace Corps members, mostly with health education in school environments. This makes sure the activities are relevant to the community and not just ‘feel good.’”

McWilliams will lead the OLLI Corps members in reflection exercises before, during and after the trip.

She believes the trip will be a chance for self-discovery for the older adults, who want to stay engaged with the world.

“The first Osher class I taught, I left with ideas for how to make my undergrad presentations better," she said. "They came to the table with so much and they had so much of their own life experiences to offer.”

Creating ‘citizen scientists’

OLLI at ASU has worked to integrate older adults into the ASU community in several ways, including through soliciting ideas from ASU students. The Intergenerational Learning Service Scholarship is awarded to students who come up with ways to have younger college students and older adults engage in projects together.

woman taking photo with cell phone at petroglyph reserve

ASU archaeology senior Bailey Cacciatore demonstrates how to take video for the photogrammetry technique at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute's class at the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve on Oct. 2. She won the OLLI Intergenerational Learning Service Scholarship for her proposal to coordinate archaeological learning. Associate Professor Matthew Peeples guided the three-hour session on 'The Art of Rock Art.' Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Virginia Miller won the scholarship in 2018 for her project in helping to create OLLI Corps, which started with her vision of an intergenerational “study abroad.”

“It was my vision to fuse traditional-age students with Osher members and to see how transformative travel happens on both sides,” said Miller, who studied abroad in Fiji and Australia in 2015. She is pursuing a master’s degree in social science, community resources and development.

“So we took the study abroad model and scaled it into an OLLI-type course, mixing service learning with transformative travel,” she said. “It’s still our long-term goal to eventually have ASU students go along on these trips.”

Other scholarship winners’ projects include a mural about immigration painted near the Downtown Phoenix campus, an intergenerational ukulele club and a theater experience.

Bailey Cacciatore, a senior majoring in archaeology, was a student worker at the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve in north Phoenix last year when she came up with the idea that won her an intergenerational scholarship.

“I found there was a disconnect between archaeology and the general public and I wanted to find a way to connect the two. The scholarship allowed me to create this class and bring different people with different backgrounds and ages and ideas together to show them that they can contribute and make them feel like they’re archaeologists,” she said.

So last week, about a dozen OLLI members spent a morning at the preserve learning how to harness new technologies in documenting rock art. The class, called “The Art of Rock Art: Hands-On Methods for Archaeological Photography,” was led by Matthew Peeples, an associate professor and the co-director of the Center for Archaeology and Society in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, along with Kendall Baller, a graduate research associate in the Center for Archaeology and Society, and Cacciatore.

The OLLI members walked the preserve trail, taking photos and videos of petroglyphs — images chiseled into the basalt by indigenous people hundreds to thousands of years ago. The Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve has one of the largest concentrations of rock art in the country. Cacciatore explained to the members that one reason is probably because the area, near the Skunk Creek, was an ancient “pit stop” on a trading route.

Back in the visitor center, Peeples showed the group how to use free or low-cost software and smartphone apps to turn murky photos and low-quality videos into stunning images of rock art that can then be used to create three-dimensional models. He also showed how the technology can enhance an image to make a petroglyph that’s nearly invisible to the naked eye show up in a photo.

“You don’t need fancy equipment to do these things,” Peeples told them. “And now we can take our laptops into the field and process these images in real time.”

Frank Grinere, a physical therapist from Scottsdale, has loved archaeology since he was a child and took the class because he was excited to learn new techniques.

“It’s amazing what you can do with even limited technology,” said Grinere, who’s taken several other Osher courses.

“They’re interesting and accessible and what really impresses me about Osher in general and this class in particular is how generous the instructors are. It’s like we’re regular students,” he said.

The benefits go both ways.

“Archaeology is one of those fields where nonprofessionals can and do make big contributions to the field,” Peeples said.

“If we can harness the energy of interested people, it’s a great way to find volunteers. Having students do work is great but a lot of the Osher people are retired and they have the time, willingness and ability to help at any time of the year.”

OLLI as a window into the community

Knopf said that the OLLI Corps model could be scaled up, depending on its success. One measure of success is financial viability for future trips. The members paid $2,500 each for the Belize trip, which includes housing, food and transportation for the week. With a limited number of seats, the trip sold out almost immediately, said Knopf, who hopes to be able to offer travel scholarships in the future.

Other measures of success will be scholarly. Miller will be working with the members to quantify their experiences and how it changed them. Her research will be added to the wealth of studies that exist on OLLI members. Studies done at ASU of OLLI populations at ASU and elsewhere have found:

  • A review of more than 7,000 registrations over four semesters found that older adults, called “third agers,” wanted “breadth and depth” in their learning experiences, and courses in global issues and social issues drew high enrollment.
  • Women outnumber men in OLLI programs at all age ranges, less than 6% of participants identify as nonwhite and nearly 90% had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher, leading to questions on how the program can be more accessible to a wider range of people.
  • A survey of 5,500 participants found that the members valued the “learning experience” the most, followed by “socializing,” and they valued “collaborative learning” more than community-building activities.

OLLI at ASU offers about 150 courses taught by faculty this semester, including tough topics like the antivaccination movement, plastics pollution in the ocean, the right to die, gender identity and the use of force by police. More traditional classes include crafting, art, literature, music, history, self defense, health, personal finance and the desert ecology. Most courses are one or two sessions and vary in cost from $14 to $65. Most are less than $30 and some are free. Course locations are around the Valley.

The OLLI model is expanding to include more member-driven projects, according to Abby Baker, program coordinator for OLLI at ASU.

“The classes are awesome. We know how to produce outcomes,” she said. “And there’s a power in shifting from these outcomes to the process and allowing our membership to have a voice.”

Last year, the members produced an anthology of writing, artwork and photography, with help from Rosemarie Dombrowski, principal lecturer of English and the first poet laureate for the city of Phoenix.

“It was completely member-driven. They populated the board, and were the editors and submitters,” Baker said. “It’s a work that’s ASU-branded and ASU-caliber.

“And it transformed people along the way.”

Another initiative is Learning Enrichment Groups, which are led and managed by members. Current groups include “Acting on Climate Change” and “Me Too and Beyond.” One group reads and discusses fiction with middle schoolers and another explores restaurants in the Valley.

Knopf said that there are about 2,400 members in the OLLI network, and he has done a lot of research on what drives them.

“One fundamental truth is, they are anxious to see the world through a different lens. They’re anxious to have their own truths be questioned,” he said. “These are not naïve folks.”

Top image of Belize by Pixabay

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


Public service with a crown: ASU alumna becomes Miss Navajo Nation

October 4, 2019

Last month, Arizona State University alumna Shaandiin Parrish stood in front of a crowd at the annual Navajo Nation Fair and waited to learn whether she’d become Miss Navajo Nation 2019.

Over the previous five days, her traditional knowledge had been put to the test with a series of rigorous competitions focused on Navajo language, culture and practices. She’d spent months preparing, making regular trips back to her family home in the Navajo Nation’s Kayenta, Arizona, to hone her skills under the watchful eye of her grandmother. To Parrish, participating in the pageant was about more than a title. It was about upholding a traditional way of life and giving back to a community she’d spent time away from while at ASU.  ASU alumna Shaandiin Parrish wearing a crown standing in front of a desert backdrop Shaandiin Parrish graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science and a minor in educational studies in 2018. This September, she became Miss Navajo Nation 2019. Download Full Image

Discovering she’d won, Parrish felt a flood of emotions.

“It was such an honor, but also very overwhelming,” she said. “This is a title that means so much to our people — I think in that moment I felt all the responsibility of it, and the crown was suddenly very heavy.” 

Parrish is no stranger to the pageant world. She’s been competing since she was young and has already held Miss Indian ASU and Miss Indian Arizona titles. But in the mosaic of pageants across the U.S., Parrish said the Miss Navajo Nation title is unique. 

Winners spend a year visiting over 27,000 square miles of tribal land. Because the Office of Miss Navajo Nation is a branch of the tribal government, the titleholder also serves as a goodwill ambassador, promoting community health, economic development and other initiatives. 

“To become Miss Navajo, you must butcher an entire sheep in an hour, all in the traditional way, cook traditional dishes and complete interviews in both Navajo and English,” she said. “As the titleholder, you are responsible for visiting communities in our tribal lands in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, making sure people feel like their concerns are being heard and they matter.”

Parrish’s run for Miss Navajo Nation is the latest milestone in what she says is a lifelong commitment to public service that she began cultivating at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the School of Politics and Global Studies and a minor in educational studies from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College in 2018.

Forging a new path

A passion for community service initially attracted Parrish to education. She came to ASU as a Gates Millennium Scholar with plans to teach in a bilingual Navajo-English classroom. But when she was unable to complete her teacher aid training with Navajo-speaking students in her final year, she began rethinking her life’s path, and her major.

A call to a new kind of service came to her at the 2015 Navajo Nation Fair, watching the then-Miss Navajo Nation pass on her title. 

“She delivered her entire farewell speech in Navajo and talked about how all her work in the role had been for the benefit of her people,” Parrish said. “To me, her humility was such a display of community and public service — I think that day I realized that maybe one day I could actually be Miss Navajo, too.” 

The speech inspired Parrish to start engaging her community through public policy and government. Back at ASU, it marked the beginning of a new degree path in political science and a host of achievements over the next few years. 

In the fall semester of 2015, she earned a CAP/Udall ScholarshipThe CAP/Udall Scholarship was created by the Central Arizona Project and the Udall Foundation that funds students who are interested in careers focused on the environment, American Indian health care, or tribal public policy, and who display leadership potential, academic achievement, and a record of public service. and transitioned into a political science major at The College. Outside the classroom, she worked as a page intern in the Arizona State Senate for three years before taking a position as a public information officer for Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee.

smiling woman kneeling next to smiling, seated elderly woman

Parrish during a visit with Navajo elders at a community center on the Navajo Nation. Photo Courtesy of Shaandiin Parrish

Melding tradition and service

Parrish said working for and meeting state representatives made her feel part of something larger than herself. 

“At 24, I was the youngest Native American working at the Arizona State Senate on a daily basis, and it made me see how much impact one person can make,” she said. “The College played a huge role in my finding that internship and advancing professionally, especially during a hard transition changing majors.” 

Still, living far away from the community she’d long planned on serving was taking its toll. The Miss Navajo Nation pageant was one way to bridge the gap. And standing on stage to accept the title last month, Parrish felt like she was entering a new phase of her journey that was bringing her closer to home. Now living in the Navajo Nation’s capital Window Rock and having the opportunity to visit communities full time, Parrish said the role feels like a new phase that’s bringing her closer to home.

“People don’t realize that the Navajo Nation is kind of like its own country, and the Miss Navajo title has a huge influence on our people,” she said. “I’m coming to this position from a very different government setting, and I think one of the best parts is being able to serve my community directly, every day.” 

Now, she aims to help a new generation of Native Americans develop their futures while holding onto their history.

“I’d like to go back to ASU for a master’s degree and eventually law school,” she said. “As the eldest female child in my family, I’m also responsible for maintaining our Navajo traditions — I think my biggest motivation now is making sure I do that for my siblings, while also being someone who they can look up to in the world.”

Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Teens learn to ‘call the game’ at Cronkite School camp

October 3, 2019

Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication has a unique fall break opportunity for teens interested in sports journalism. Middle and high school students are invited to learn the basics of sports broadcasting and play-by-play reporting at a two-day camp Oct. 10–11. The camp is offered in partnership with FOX Sports Arizona and the Arizona Coyotes.

Middle school students will spend both days at the Cronkite School’s state-of-the-art facility, learning from Cronkite faculty. They’ll also have the opportunity to hear from legendary sportscaster Dick Stockton in a conversation moderated by Cronkite School professor Mark Reda, who has more than 35 years' experience in sports broadcasting. Middle and high school students learn broadcasting basics at the Cronkite School. Middle and high school students are invited to learn broadcasting basics at the Cronkite School. Download Full Image

High school students will spend the first day of the camp at Gila River Arena. There, they’ll meet FOX Sports Arizona and Arizona Coyotes on-air talent, watch the team practice, learn the basics of play-by-play, practice calling a game, and perform on-location standups. On day two, they’ll visit the Cronkite School for activities including play-by-play critiques and storytelling instruction.

Each camp is limited to 20 participants, and the cost is $300 for middle school students and $350 for high school students. The fee includes all materials as well as a light breakfast, full lunch and snacks for both days. Don’t let your kid spend fall break bored. Register now

image title

Turning Phoenix green

September 30, 2019

Study shows how urban agriculture can push the sustainability of Phoenix

A community garden occupies a diminutive dirt lot in Phoenix. Rows of raised garden beds offer up basil, watermelons and corn, making this patch of land an agricultural oasis in a desert city of 1.5 million people. In fact, this little garden is contributing in various ways to the city’s environmental sustainability goals set by the Phoenix City Council in 2016. The goals consider matters such as transportation, water stewardship, air quality and food.

With these goals in mind, a group of researchers led by Arizona State University assessed how urban agriculture can help Phoenix meet its sustainability goals. For example, urban agriculture could help eliminate so-called “food deserts” — communities that lack retail grocers. It also can provide green space, as well as energy and CO2 emissions savings from buildings.

“Our analysis found that if Phoenix used only about 5% of its urban spaces (2% of its land, and about 10% of its building surfaces) for urban agriculture, the city could meet its sustainability goal concerning local food systems,” said Matei Georgescu, associate professor in the ASU School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and co-author of the study. “Urban agriculture would also contribute towards the city’s goals of increasing open spaces, and reducing environmental impact from buildings and land use.”

Through the use of public records and high-resolution satellite imagery, the researchers analyzed the potential benefits of growing crops in three types of urban areas in Phoenix: vacant lots, rooftops and building facades.

The data-driven analysis indicated that 71% of Phoenix’s available areas for urban agriculture would come from existing buildings as opposed to vacant lots.

Overall, the study estimates that nearly 28 square miles (5.4% of city space) are available for urban agriculture in Phoenix. This can supply the city with nearly 183,000 tons of fresh produce per year, allowing for delivery of an assortment of fruits and vegetables to all of Phoenix’s existing food deserts. That means the city’s own urban-agriculture output could meet 90% of the current annual fresh produce consumed by Phoenicians.

Greener Phoenix

The use of vacant lots would increase green space by 17% and reduce by 60% the number of areas lacking public parks. This brings the added benefit of more open green spaces accessible to Phoenicians. The study identifies “walkability zones” around open green spaces that are expanded by 25% to cover 55% of the study area through the use of vacant lots for urban agriculture.

In addition, rooftop agriculture could reduce energy use in buildings by 3% per building per year and potentially displace more than 50,000 metric tons of CO2 annually. This is the equivalent of nearly 6,000 homes’ energy use for one year.

“These findings highlight the importance of place-based analysis,” said Nazli Uludere Aragon, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. “Context and geography are critical,” Aragon explained. “The integration of local data applied to locally meaningful desired outcomes is the essence of applied research and can transform communities in beneficial ways.”

The paper, “Urban Agriculture’s Bounty: Contributions to Phoenix’s Sustainability Goals,” was published Sept. 30 in the online edition of the Environmental Research Letters Special Issue on Sustainable Cities: Urban Solutions Toward Desired Outcomes.

In addition to Aragon and Georgescu, co-authors of the paper include ASU researchers Michelle Stuhlmacher and Jordan Smith, and Nicholas Clinton of Google. 

“Our work demonstrates the multitude of ways that urban agriculture can serve cities, beyond merely the somewhat limited focus on food production,” said Georgescu, also a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU.

“A key highlight of our work,” said Aragon, “is that it can be adopted for other cities that have developed or are in the process of developing their own sustainability goals and want to explore the extent to which urban agriculture can contribute. We want to perform similar analyses for cities across the United States and the world with similar interests in determining co-benefits associated with urban agriculture.”

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Science writer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

Celebrating strong pathways to college during National GEAR UP Week

September 27, 2019

Arizona State University joined with thousands of students, parents, educators and college access partners around the country to celebrate National GEAR UP Week Sept. 23–27.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs is a federally funded grant program that helps local partners — K–12 schools, higher education institutions, state agencies and community organizations — increase college readiness and enrollment, increase graduation rates and educate students and families about postsecondary options, preparation and financing. Students in GEAR UP shirts and teachers at Kino Junior high in Mesa, Arizona Students, educators and parents at a GEAR UP Week 2019 event at Kino Junior High in Mesa. Download Full Image

In its inaugural year, GEAR UP served a cohort of 1,390 underserved students in Arizona through tutoring, mentoring, test preparation, social-emotional learning, cultural field trips, college visits, job shadowing, academic and career advising and more. Nationally, GEAR UP serves nearly 708,000 students in 44 states

Throughout the United States, GEAR UP Week featured local proclamations, social media campaigns and other celebrations. Valley schools such as Kino Junior High School, Gililland Middle School, Desert Horizon Elementary School and Don Mensendick School planned activities such as goal setting, writing aspirations on a large “dream wall,” donning college gear and vlogging about making a difference in the community. GEAR UP also brought in a nationally recognized vendor, Paradigm Shift, to provide students at Maryland Elementary School and Porfiro H. Gonzales Elementary School opportunties to cultivate grit, resilience and a growth mindset during the week's events. 

The week’s celebrations incorporated evidence-based activities that improve student success. Arizona students wrote letters to their future selves giving advice, an activity that has been shown through research to improve young people’s confidence and motivation.

Some of the advice Kino Junior High students gave to their future selves:

  • “Keep trying on hard things until you get it right.”

  • “Be happy, be good and work hard.”

  • “Don’t give up, and keep trying.”

  • “Don’t worry, you can achieve every one of these goals if you try hard enough.”

GEAR UP programming starts in seventh grade and goes through students’ first year of postsecondary education. GEAR UP senior coordinator Ricardo Villa-Sanchez, who worked with the program as a tutor at Sullivan Elementary School when he was a student at ASU and also worked at Carl Hayden High School, says that the impact on students lasts beyond the official programming.

“My favorite part of GEAR UP has been the bond formed between staff and students. These relationships turn into meaningful and long-lasting mentorship. I still actively work with a handful of graduated GEAR UP students from my tenure as an academic tutor,” Villa-Sanchez said.

He and senior coordinator Jasmine Dean lead Arizona's programs by supervising tutors and mentors and working with administration and staff on programming, events and services. Though he earned his degree in psychology, Villa-Sanchez said that his first experience in GEAR UP pushed him in the direction of education.

“The time spent with students is still the most enjoyable part of my job and always serves to reinvigorate my drive for doing the job that we do,” Villa-Sanchez said. “Programs like GEAR UP will often serve as a long-lasting, impactful experience that helps to drive future opportunities.” 

ASU earned a $1 million U.S. Department of Education State and Partnership GEAR UP award to provide seven years of funding for the program. Districts participating in the GEAR UP grant include Tempe Elementary, Tempe Union, Mesa Public Schools, Pendergast Elementary, Tolleson Elementary, Tolleson Union, Glendale Elementary, Washington Elementary and Glendale Union. Community partners include the Be A Leader Foundation, APS, Glendale Community College, the Arizona College Access Network, MidFirst Bank, Mesa Counts on College, Tempe College Connect and many others who are committed to improving postsecondary outcomes for Arizona students and families. Many of these partners are also part of the Achieve60AZ goal that by 2030 60% of Arizona adults will hold a postsecondary credential or degree.

Sylvia Symonds, ASU associate vice president of outreach for ASU’s Educational Outreach and Student Services, said that ASU is proud to celebrate the impact of GEAR UP with the national community.

“This is a program that is transforming the lives of more than 1,000 families in Arizona every year by providing family engagement and rigorous coursework that opens up the college-going pathway for students. GEAR UP students, educators and partners should be proud this week and every week about making higher education possible and more accessible for more Arizonans,” Symonds said. 

Sharon Smith, dean of students at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, said that GEAR UP is a program that has a real and sustained impact on students’ lives and Arizona’s goals for higher education.

“The GEAR UP program provides rigorous academic, personal development and career preparation tools for students to access higher education, receive professional development and gain mentorship and friendships that have a lasting impact on students’ lives,” she said. 

Hannah Moulton Belec

Marketing content specialist, Educational Outreach and Student Services


Phoenix mayor speaks at ASU workshop for junior high students on leadership, service

September 23, 2019

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego faced a room of middle schoolers from Phoenix’s Creighton School District as she shared a few candid stories about when things didn’t go exactly as she planned in her life, and how she turned those defeats into learning opportunities. 

“I did run for student government, but I didn’t win. Though look where I ended up,” said Gallego, now mayor of the nation’s fifth largest city. “Sometimes things don’t go the way we planned, but that is a test for our strength. It’s important to keep pursuing our goals.”  Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego Speaks with Creighton district middle schoolers about service and leadership. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego speaks with Creighton School District middle schoolers about service and leadership. Download Full Image

Gallego was a guest speaker at a day of workshops Arizona State University’s Mirna Lattouf had organized in partnership with the Creighton Community Foundation and Rotary International, for which she serves as director of youth services for the Southwest. Lattouf, a principal lecturer in ASU’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, wanted to create a relationship with these groups to help introduce students in the community to ideas, skills and opportunities.

“Students worked on exercises that advance their own well-being and were introduced to helpful skills that build community, service, and leadership,” Lattouf said, in summarizing the goals of the “Leadership Through Service: Living Our Humanity” workshop.

Duane Roen, dean of the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, introduced Gallego to the students. He emphasized that it’s important for students to start thinking about leadership now.

“It’s crucial that we do these types of workshops to help young people understand that they are the leaders of tomorrow and that they can make a positive impact in their communities,” said Roen, who also believes that it’s important for young people to see role models like Gallego.

“Mayor Gallego brings lots of optimism and people skills and resilience to this work — and a joy that serving your community brings. She also exemplifies additional leadership characteristics that I admire: compassion, empathy, respect for others, a sense of humor, humility, integrity and self-awareness,” he noted.

Both Lattouf and Roen agree that it’s important for ASU to be embedded in the community.

“The ASU Charter states that we have a fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities we are in. It’s important that we teach that by example,” Roen said.

“At the Downtown Phoenix campus, it is part of our mission to do outreach in our community. ASU, Rotary and the Creighton Foundation all have similar interests in civil awareness and helping children develop their potential,” Lattouff said.

Lattouff plans to make the workshop a yearly event and involve more community partners, services and other schools.

Kelley Karnes

Marketing Content Specialist, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


image title

Intellectual discourse takes center stage at ASU literary salon

The next Get Lit salon takes place at 7 p.m., 10/3 at Valley Bar.
Check out Revolution (Relaunch) from 8 a.m.-noon, 10/5 at Phoenix Public Market.
September 20, 2019

The Piper writers center revives Get Lit salon series to encourage community discussion, activism

Every first Thursday in downtown Phoenix, a revolution is stirring at the Get Lit salon series, a recently revived community literary event facilitated by ASU’s Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.

To attend is to feel as though you’re part of a clandestine secret society meeting in a speakeasy. From Monroe Street, you turn down the alley between Cornish Pasty and the U.S. Bank building and walk until you come to a door crowned in glowing red letters that read “Valley Bar.” You enter and immediately descend a creaky wooden staircase. Two hard lefts and you find yourself at an almost hidden doorway, tucked away in a corner beside a wine shelf. The room is small and dimly lit with old-fashioned lamps. The vintage furniture, the wall of books and tchotchkes and the exposed joists and pipes overhead evoke the comfort and familiarity of a friend's parent’s basement in some bygone decade.

At the event’s inaugural revival salon Sept. 5, the topic of conversation is radical newspapers, independent publishing and social justice. The evening’s host is Rosemarie Dombrowski, principal lecturer of English in ASU's College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, and it’s fitting; when Get Lit was in its first iteration, Dombrowski served as the permanent host. Now, under the new model, each salon has a different host and anyone can submit ideas for the next salon’s discussion.

Inspired by 17th century salons that provided a space for intellectual discourse, Get Lit also now has a place to call home in this cozy underground corner of Valley Bar, something Piper Center communications specialist Jacob Friedman is grateful for.

“Having this space affords us the opportunity to grow and make this event more inclusive,” he told the crowd of about 30 who had gathered that first Thursday in September.

Things kicked off that evening with Dombrowksi announcing the completion of the first full issue of her latest publication venture, The Revolution (Relaunch). She describes it as “a revisionary, radical and creative resurgence of the weekly women’s rights newspaper founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in 1868.”

The goal of the paper (or “zineA zine is a small-circulation, self-published work of original or appropriated text and images.,” as Dombrowski is wont to call it) is to be a space for creative activism that highlights the local, grassroots social justice work of the community. It features everything from poetry to cultural criticism to creative nonfiction to interviews with activists and covers such topics as women and reproductive rights, indigenous rights, the Latinx community and the border, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights and disability rights.

The Revolution (Relaunch) publishes the first of each month online and quarterly in print. Print copies are available for free at coffee shops and other small stores in and around Phoenix. They accept submissions year-round and encourage community members to contribute.

During the discussion that followed Dombrowski’s announcement, both the issue of accessibility and diversity were addressed, with salon attendees suggesting the publication also consider distributing via public transportation, where it might reach more people who could identify with its message, and also that the publication consider diversifying its editorial board, something Dombrowksi stated it is already aware of and strives for, even though she acknowledged it is mostly female at the moment.

“We don’t consider ourselves a feminist newspaper,” she said. “We’re certainly a place for the most inclusive kind of feminism, but we really consider ourselves a social justice paper.”

But what is social justice, anyway? Or, at least, what do we mean when we say something is a social justice issue?

“It has to grapple with something that is impacting a population negatively,” Dombrowski said, and that’s what she hopes The Revolution (Relaunch) will do.

“Every city needs a revolutionary publication,” she said.

At that point, one salon attendee asked those present if they’d ever heard of the Arizona Informant. A couple people raised their hands. The attendee, Phoenix resident Kirk Ivy, then explained that the Arizona Informant is an African American-owned newspaper published weekly in Phoenix.

“Black newspapers have been very important to social justice movements,” Ivy said. “We have to get out of the small universes that we live in. If we don’t reach out as individuals, we’re going to stay where we are.”

Dombrowski echoed Ivy’s sentiment regarding the role of publications in fueling social change.

“Zines have always been part of the cultural revolution,” she said, adding that she believes Emily Dickinson was a “zinester,” because even though she was only published in a newspaper four times in her life, “she was doing really radical work.”

“From Dickinson to Riot GrrrlRiot Grrrl is an international underground feminist movement that emerged from the West Coast American alternative and punk music scenes of the 1990s using zines as its primary method of communication., zines have been part of so many social revolutions; they’re a way to publish radical literature and a way to publish radical thought,” Dombrowski said. “But they have to be in and of the community.”

The Revolution (Relaunch) will be participating in the Piper Center’s Meet Your Literary Community event Saturday, Oct. 5, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Phoenix Public Market.

The next Get Lit salon will be held Thursday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m. at Valley Bar. The topic is “Whose Gaze Is It, Anyways?,” and attendees can expect to ask themselves and each other such questions as, “How does colonization affect the creative process?”; “What is the white gaze?”; and “How do political, social and cultural discourses around specific ethnicities, races and groups shape the marketplace for literature?” Phoenix-based writer Rogelio Juarez will host.

Top photo courtesy of Pixabay

Partnership advances semiconductor innovation in Phoenix

ASU, ON Semiconductor professorships developing the next generation of talent

September 20, 2019

Industry and academic partnerships are critical to strengthening innovation, talent and economic development in the Phoenix metro area.

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council reports a widening gap between the number of jobs in the region in microelectronics fields, including in the semiconductor industry, and active candidates with the skills needed to fill them. The report also notes the importance of attracting experienced early career professionals needed for the industry to continue to innovate. Bertan Bakkaloglu and Dale Rogers, ON Semiconductor Endowed Professors of Engineering and Business Bertan Bakkaloglu and Dale Rogers, ON Semiconductor Endowed Professors of Engineering and Business, are two years into five-year endowed professorships from leading semiconductor-based solutions supplier ON Semiconductor. Together, Bakkaloglu and Rogers are addressing pressing engineering and supply chain challenges as well as attracting and retaining top local business and engineering talent. Photo by Marco-Alexis Chaira/ASU Download Full Image

Arizona State University, the nation’s leading university for innovation, and ON Semiconductor, the Phoenix-based global semiconductor supplier, recognize the need for a skilled and talented workforce and have partnered to ensure the pipeline of engineering and business professionals and technological development remains strong.

ASU offers a deep well of expertise in semiconductor technology among the faculty of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and the nations' second- and third-ranked undergraduate and graduate supply chain and logistics programs, respectively, in the W. P. Carey School of Business. ON Semiconductor offers a portfolio of products to help engineers solve electronic design problems and boasts a reliable world-class supply chain.

“Hubs of innovation and talent generation will feed the local companies and draw others in,” said Hans Stork, senior vice president of research and development at ON Semiconductor. “This in turn drives the economy and spurs further reinvestment.”

ON Semiconductor committed $2 million to ASU for the ON Semiconductor Endowed Professorships in 2017. The five-year award supports two professors’ efforts to help address pressing engineering and supply chain challenges as well as attract and retain top local talent.

The faculty members selected for the endowed professorships are expanding the frontiers of research in these fields and growing the next generation of semiconductor industry professionals.

ON Semiconductor Endowed Professor of Engineering Bertan Bakkaloglu and ON Semiconductor Endowed Professor of Business Dale Rogers are now two years into the professorships.

Engineering the future of the semiconductor industry

Bakkaloglu works in the areas of analog, mixed-signal and power-management integrated circuits, fields that are playing an increasing part in the revenue streams of semiconductor companies in metro Phoenix. These are technologies integrated onto semiconductor “chips” that enable our increasingly sophisticated electronics to function.

“Most semiconductor companies are expanding their business in these areas, and a majority of our research group’s graduates are securing jobs at these companies,” Bakkaloglu said. “We also have active research programs with semiconductor companies that are increasing their competitiveness.”

The professorship funding has supported a doctoral student in Bakkaloglu’s lab and the purchase of a programmable electronic load and current probe, which he and his team use to expand characterization and testing for semiconductor technology research.

Bakkaloglu’s electrical engineering graduate students are also helping to research power management integrated circuits and other efficient power delivery technology used in smartphones and automotive sensors.

“With feedback from industry experts, we provide realistic and innovative solutions that target a wide range of applications,” said Bhushan Talele, an electrical engineering graduate student. “My current graduate research gives me a holistic view and approach to solve the problems at hand. This will be the most vital aspect for an industrial or academic research role in my future.”

Through his graduate course on advanced analog integrated circuits, Bakkaloglu helps about 200 students each academic year to develop skills in high demand by the semiconductor industry. He also offers a 45-hour online version of the course, which has attracted more than 180 students in the first two years of the program.

Bakkaloglu applies his extensive industry experience in his teachings, which is evident to ON Semiconductor as the company interacts with his students through internships and industry meetings.

“We can tell from how well-grounded his students are and the understanding they show pertaining to the needs of industry,” Stork said.

Over the past two years, Bakkaloglu has graduated five doctoral students, four master’s degree students and guided dozens of nonthesis graduate students in research pursuits. Most of them are now working in the Phoenix area.

Bakkaloglu recently earned major grants for semiconductor research from industry and is looking to expand his analog and power management research through additional funding from the Semiconductor Research Corporation.

“I am very interested in an active research collaboration with ON Semiconductor with funded graduate students working on analog design problems specifically important for the company’s strategic growth areas,” Bakkaloglu said.

Shaping strategies for semiconductor supply chain challenges

Today’s tumultuous economy has made studying supply chain management especially important to minimize disruptions to the global supply chain.

“We’ve got lots of folks scrambling to figure out where to source goods that are currently manufactured in China and now they need to change the shape of supply chains,” Rogers said. “That’s all very relevant for the semiconductor industry.”

Rogers’ expertise in reverse logistics, sustainable supply chain management, supply chain finance and secondary markets combined with the partnership with ON Semiconductor have given him an edge in innovating supply chain strategies.

Along with AVNET Professor of Supply Chain Management Elliot Rabinovich, Rogers leads the Internet Edge Supply Chain Lab at ASU. There, the research team examines supply chain management at the intersection of the internet and physical systems.

“We're working directly on innovations in the tech sector that apply to the supply chain,” Rogers said. “We’ve worked on a ‘warehouse of the future’ project to figure out what technologies are being brought inside the warehouse and warehouse networks.”

Rogers has expanded the supply chain curriculum at ASU and developed programs to increase access to supply chain education, including the formation of a stackable master’s degree in supply chain to support Massachusetts Institute of Technology MicroMasters students in finishing their studies at ASU.

He has also worked with ON Semiconductor to host competitions in which undergraduate and graduate students formulate solutions and present their cases for supply chain business challenges pitched by the company.

“We have formed a holistic partnership with Professor Rogers and the W. P. Carey Business School at ASU,” said Brent Wilson, senior vice president of global supply chain and procurement organizations at ON Semiconductor. “We participate in curriculum development, sponsor and judge team competitions on case problem solving and employ a pipeline of interns from the supply chain department, of which several become full-time employees every year. ON Semiconductor is happy to partner with a college that is focused on solving the problems of the future in the supply chain space.”

Around the world, Rogers is enhancing supply chain talent through the Frontier Economies Logistics Lab, which develops innovative supply chain strategies and solutions to improve quality of life and reduce poverty in remote economies.

Through his involvement with ASU’s international development programs, Rogers helped to start the MiniMasters certificate in global supply chain management program to support more than 350 Chemonics International employees, many of whom live and work in Africa, to become next-generation supply chain leaders.

As Bakkaloglu and Rogers continue their work, ON Semiconductor looks forward to generating ideas and discussions with professors and students, and engaging with a “refreshing source of academic enthusiasm.”

“The professorships have generated increased interaction between ASU and ON Semiconductor, and not just with the two professors,” Stork said. “Multiple faculty have come to our Phoenix site to give seminars, and we have toured labs and reviewed work in progress at ASU. This has led to a better grasp of the capabilities of ASU and developed a network of contacts, allowing us to find a match quicker when the need arises. We also have gained valuable insights and recommendations on hiring student interns and graduates.”

Supporting student success

Arizona State University and ON Semiconductor have a long history of collaboration dating back to 1999, with numerous initiatives to foster academic and industrial advancement. In addition to supporting faculty through the ON Semiconductor Endowed Professorships, the company has funded scholarships for W. P. Carey School of Business students and Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering students to pursue opportunities in supply chain and electrical engineering.

Richard Rigby, an electrical engineering undergraduate student, received the ON Semiconductor Engineering Scholarship in the 2018–19 academic year, allowing him to continue his education and avoid debt. The support has inspired him to pay it forward.

“I am grateful that I have been able to just focus on school and on improving my educational experience,” Rigby said. “In the future, I plan to give back to students in similar ways, which will give more of them the ability to increase their power through education.”

Samuel Perez was one of the first recipients of the ON Semiconductor Engineering Scholarship in fall 2016 when he was a junior studying electrical engineering. The two years of support he received was more than a scholarship — it felt more like mentorship to him.

“I remember having conversations with [then ON Semiconductor University Relations Program Manager] Kayla Snyder about different paths, like getting an MBA or going into power electronics, and she mentioned how valuable that would be for semiconductor companies,” Perez said.

The encouragement they provided is what he remembers most, now that he has graduated and embarked on his professional career.

“It was all about them encouraging me to pursue whatever I’m passionate about,” Perez said. “That helped me more than anything.”

ON Semiconductor often hires ASU students as interns, where they learn valuable skills and apply their education to real-world challenges.

Syona Singh is a supply chain management student at ASU who interned at ON Semiconductor over the summer. She says the experience allowed her to apply theoretical knowledge and explore her passion for the field.

“I now know how to relate my classroom knowledge to a corporate setting,” Singh said. “Working alongside senior executives and knowing they had confidence in my work and abilities was truly a morale and confidence booster.”

ASU supply chain management senior Ryan Dong started interning at ON Semiconductor in May and has earned valuable hands-on experience.

“I am able to work with supply chain concepts that I first learned only months ago,” Dong said. “I have been able to build relationships with the internal teams at ON as well as external vendors, gaining great experience and communication skills in the process.”

Beyond hands-on experience, ON Semiconductor conducts several activities to get to know ASU undergraduate and graduate students through tailgates with executives, on-campus information sessions with student organizations, professional development events and lunch mixers with hiring managers.

The company also has an increased presence on campus with ON Semiconductor Day. At the event, company executives have breakfast with engineering and business students and professors. ON Semiconductor representatives also play "Jeopardy!" games with engineering students and host supply chain competitions with business students.

The relationship pays off with an influx in talent come hiring season. In 2018, ON Semiconductor hired 77 interns from ASU out of a total 233 intern hires across the U.S. Out of 27 new college graduate hires out of ASU, 19 were recent interns.

Monique Clement

Communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering