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It’s summer, so let’s talk water...

June 21, 2019

ASU professor would like to see water empathy levels rise among consumers

Summer is at hand, and water is a key element in beating the heat.

For Phoenix-area residents, that means cold showers, dips in the pool, visits to water parks and lakes and lots of beverage consumption.

According to the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, demand for water spikes in the summer with usage often doubling as temperatures soar past 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

“While Arizona is considered a leader in water conservation efforts, residents must also practice common sense, learn good habits and become more informed about the systems that supply their water and the users who rely on it,” said Arizona State University's Claire Lauer, an associate professor of technical communication and user experience in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.

Her current research investigates how people interact with and read data visualizations and how we effectively engage public audiences in learning about sustainability science and water policy. 

ASU Now recently spoke to Lauer about Arizona’s water system, how residents view our most precious commodity and what can be done to cut down on consumption and waste.

Claire Lauer

Question: Even though it’s obvious that Phoenix is a desert city, does the general public know enough about our state water supply and how our system works?

Answer: In our research when we’ve asked people about their personal water use and their understanding of the sources and uses of water, we have found that people don’t generally have a true sense of how much water they use nor do they have a real understanding of the complexities of where the water comes from, how it's delivered, and what laws and agreements govern water management on a regional scale. Of course, these things can be pretty complex, and as long as people have a consistent and dependable water supply into their homes, it may be the case that people don’t feel as though they really need to know much about water beyond the general concept of not being wasteful with it on a personal level.

People we’ve interviewed from more rural areas tend to have a deeper understanding of our limited water supplies. I can see this being the case because people from rural communities typically access water differently (e.g., individual wells) and may live in closer proximity to agriculture, for which water is essential.

Q: What’s something you want people to know about Arizona’s water system?

A: When we asked people about saving water, many we spoke with could only think of taking shorter showers as a way they could help conserve water in a time of drought. I think people should move beyond thinking about water in primarily personal terms and think instead of water as a supply-and-demand system that affects all facets of their communities, including their food supply, industry, economy, environment and even recreation opportunities.

People should know that our water system is complex and that there are multiple sources from which we get water and many stakeholders who use water. When people understand how water directly affects our economy, via our industries and farms who use water, they will also see how the water available to these users affects what products and services are available to us as consumers. In this way, people might begin to see any personal sacrifices more holistically and have greater empathy for the sacrifices that will need to be made across sectors in times of drought.

Q: Where does Arizona’s water supply come from and how is it used?

A: Arizona gets about 40% of its water supply from groundwater, 36% from the Colorado River, 21% from in-state rivers, and 3% from processing reclaimed water. Some people may be surprised to know that in Arizona, about 74% of our water supply goes toward agriculture, 21% goes toward municipal use (cities and towns) and 5% goes toward industrial use.  People can find out more information about our water system at a variety of websites, including the Arizona Department of Water Resources and Salt River Project.

Q: Phoenix had a great year in terms of water and wetness. Does this mean our 19-year drought is over or close to being over?

A: I wish it were that easy! Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than a single wet season to make up for the deficiencies of the past 19 years, and our lower water levels may be permanent. A group of scientists, water managers and advisers called the Drought Interagency Coordinating Group gather twice a year to advise the governor on Arizona’s drought conditions. In 2019 they recommended that the governor renew the long-running Drought Emergency Declaration for Arizona.   

Q: Arizona is part of a large regional body that recently came to an agreement with other Western states on a Drought Contingency Plan (DCP). How does this new plan affect Arizona residents? 

A: In the immediate term, the DCP doesn’t change the general public’s ability to access the water they need. The DCP actually helps keep Arizona from feeling the effects of the continued drought in the near future. It was a really important next step in getting the people who manage and make use of the Colorado River into the same room to discuss solutions to our regional water supply and demand imbalance. Unfortunately, the DCP is not a long-term solution or a magical silver bullet, but it does give the lower-basin states that rely on the Colorado River (Arizona, California and Nevada) and the many municipalities within those states some breathing room to work toward more sustainable solutions. A real success of the DCP, in my opinion, is that it demonstrated an understanding of the sacrifices that need to be made across all sectors and that we will need to continue to work together to further negotiate our water management solutions over the long term.

Q: Is there anything individual consumers can do to make a dent in water conservation in times of drought?

A: We should all be aware that water is a finite resource and that having a sustainable supply is essential to a stable economy and environment. Despite our best attempts, the potential for a Colorado River water shortage is still very real and, in some scenarios, may occur in the near future. Individual citizens need to continue to utilize commonsense water conservation strategies in their homes and make additional strides in conserving more water outdoors. With nearly 70% of residential water being used outdoors, this is the biggest area where residents can make individual gains.

Up to this point, our water managers and policy makers have done much of the difficult work in making sure that we have enough water. But as we “max out” the ways in which technology can help make our water use more efficient (e.g., low-flow toilets and showerheads and high-efficiency agricultural irrigation systems), people will need to better express their opinions about the kinds of choices and sacrifices they are willing to make — as a community — to manage a diminished supply. And to do that, they will need to be informed.  

People should make it a priority to learn more about how we manage this vital resource. Understanding the complexity of our water system can help people become more empathetic to the challenges of different water users. This goes for agricultural interests, environmental advocates, municipalities, tribal communities and rural and urban Arizonans, among others. The solutions we develop in the near future will require buy-in from everyone. We are all in this together.

Top photo courtesy of Getty Images 

Reporter , ASU Now


Arizona Teachers Academy provides tuition scholarships to ASU teacher-prep students

June 19, 2019

Arizona’s new state budget includes $15 million for the Arizona Teachers Academy, which provides tuition scholarships to students pursuing teacher certification at Arizona’s three public universities and selected community colleges. Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College operates the largest teacher-preparation program in the state, and ASU is aiming to fund more than 1,000 undergraduate and master’s degree students pursuing degrees that lead to initial teacher certification.

Gov. Doug Ducey first proposed an Arizona Teachers Academy in his 2017 State of the State Address. Since fall 2018, ASU has operated an Arizona Teachers Academy at ASU, using funds already allocated to the university to support more than 300 students pursuing degrees that lead to teacher certification. Teaching Photo credit: Sheila Santa Maria Download Full Image

In a statement regarding the 2020 state budget, ASU President Michael Crow wrote, “We welcome the state’s investment of $15 million to help develop the depth and breadth of teachers that Arizona families need in this vitally important profession. It is a wise and meaningful use of state revenue that will provide a return on investment over the years ahead.”

At ASU, the tuition assistance will take the form of a tuition scholarship, which will cover tuition and fees for students enrolled in programs that lead to initial teacher certification. Students who receive the tuition scholarship will be expected to teach in an Arizona public school for a length of time equal to the number of years the student was funded. A student who receives two years of funding will be expected to teach for at least two consecutive years in an Arizona public school.

If a student does not meet that condition, the scholarship will convert to a loan that the student will be obligated to repay. Students will be required to sign a contract as part of the scholarship process.

ASU will offer scholarships to Arizona resident students entering the professional experiences portion of teacher-preparation programs.

“Those students entering internships and apprenticeships in schools will have first priority,” said Nicole Thompson, director of the division of teacher preparation at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “They are at the critical point in their program where they spend more time in schools, and we want them to focus on that experience and not have to worry about anything else.”

The scholarship will be offered to undergraduate juniors and seniors, including transfers who enroll with junior standing; master’s degree students; and students who enroll in the nondegree secondary education certificate at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. This last group includes ASU undergraduates enrolled in colleges other than Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College who wish to earn a teaching certificate in addition to their undergraduate major.

“We hope this inspires some great ASU science majors and humanities majors to take a look at our certification pathways,” Thompson said. “Now, if you’re willing to teach, you can receive an Arizona Teachers Academy scholarship, whether you choose to pursue a concurrent education degree or earn a nondegree certificate.”

Kevin Laack, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College’s director of student recruitment, hopes the scholarship will attract more students into teacher preparation programs.

“Many of our teacher-prep students come to us as undergraduate transfers from community colleges or as career-switching master’s students," he said. "For both these groups, we think the Arizona Teachers Academy can lower the barriers to entry. So we are thrilled to be able to offer these tuition scholarships to transfers and career changers applying for fall 2019 and spring 2020 admission.”

Carole Basile, dean of Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, welcomes the state funding: “The Arizona Teachers Academy at ASU is wonderful. It moves us toward a day when no one who wants to teach declines to do so because she can’t afford the preparation. And that is great.”

Basile further notes that the state commitment to the Arizona Teachers Academy comes at a time when the college is “building richer, more relevant pre-service experiences for our students.”

The main innovation, Basile said, “is that we are working with school partners to form teams of professional teachers and teacher candidates working across multiple classrooms, under the leadership of a teacher leader in a school.”

Last year, 52 Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College students worked in teams in two districts. This fall, 300 students will work in teams across 11 districts and ASU Prep.

“ATA has the potential to support this new model by providing more teacher candidates who can be exposed to more professional expertise and opportunities to really understand how to support the learning of all students," Basile said. "We want to provide teachers and our teacher candidates with more agency and efficacy. And we want to infuse the work of teaching with more of the rewards of adult collaboration and creativity that young professionals expect and deserve from their work.

“So there’s the Arizona Teachers Academy covering tuition for many of our students. We’re working with schools to redesign teacher preparation to work better for educators and learners. And education continues to be at the center of public discussion in Arizona.

“If you’re considering becoming a teacher in Arizona, has there ever been a more exciting time to explore that path?”

Written by Paul Gediman, executive director, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

The College honors Pearce family legacy with conference room unveiling

June 19, 2019

In 1899, when Arizona had not yet gained statehood and Arizona State University was a fledgling institution known as the Tempe Normal School, Zebulon Pearce was freshly graduated with teachers credentials and looking toward the future.

In the years that followed, he became a household name in Mesa, first as the owner of a produce and feed store on Main Street, then as the Arizona distributor of Colorado’s Coors Brewing following the end of Prohibition in 1933. He would also leave his mark in public service as a member of the Mesa School Board and as the city’s mayor from 1944 to1946. Arthur "Art" Pearce II poses in front of the newly-unveiled Zebulon Pearce and Family Conference Room at Armstrong Hall. Arthur "Art" Pearce II poses in front of the newly unveiled Zebulon Pearce and Family Conference Room at Armstrong Hall. Download Full Image

Arthur Arthur "Art" Pearce II poses in front of the newly unveiled Zebulon Pearce and Family Conference Room at Armstrong Hall.

Zebulon died in 1969, but his legacy lives on at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences through the Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Awards. Established in 1973, the annual endowment honors standout teaching from across The College’s 23 departments and schools.

The awards are an important part of The College’s history. Now, enshrined on a plaque at Armstrong Hall, they’ll also be a permanent part of the future.

The College unveiled the plaque inside the newly designated Zebulon Pearce and Family Conference Room this week. The event also honored the family’s continued support of student success and access programs, and their recent backing of research initiatives at The College’s Institute of Human Origins.

For his grandson, Arthur “Art” Pearce II, Zebulon’s time at ASU is the seed from which subsequent Pearce generations grew their own Arizona successes.

“If it wasn’t for Tempe Normal, I don’t know where I would be today,” said Pearce, who became a third-generation ASU alumnus after graduating with a business degree in 1975. “That’s why we choose to give back; everything we have can be traced back there.”


With Pearce at the helm of their philanthropic support, the family pledged a five-year fund to support PhD students working through programs at the Institute of Human Origins. Founded in Berkeley, California in 1981 by famed paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson, the institute found a new home at ASU in 1996.

PhD students work hand in hand on research with several world-renowned faculty members from The College’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Doctoral tracks last up to 5 years. Philanthropic efforts like those made by the Pearces are essential building blocks to driving research forward.

“The Pearce family has a long legacy of philanthropy at ASU and throughout Maricopa County,” said Patrick Kenney, dean of The College. “Art’s most recent gift will advance our efforts to ensure student success and further research initiatives at the Institute of Human Origins; as an expression of our gratitude, it is our privilege to rename the most prominent conference room in Armstrong Hall in honor of Art’s grandfather, Zebulon Pearce, and the Pearce family.”

This is not Pearce’s first interaction with the institute. He and his family have participated in a number of its benefactor trips to global anthropology hotspots spanning the Galapagos Islands,  Ethiopia and, most recently, the Grand Canyon.

He said learning about the history of humankind is something he’s always been passionate about. Fueling that research philanthropically is a way to keep it going.

“ASU’s stature and the research it conducts have gone worlds above many institutions now,” he said. “It’s fascinating learning more about where we come from and how we survived, and it’s great to see that at The College.”

Pearce said he likes to think another way the Pearce’s family legacy shines on is through the work of his own children. After graduating from The College with a degree in anthropology and a minor in art history in 2010, his daughter Jessica Pearce went on to pursue a master’s degree in education at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Today, she works at ASU in the Study Abroad Office.

His other daughter, Meghan Alfonso, is the founder and CEO of the Scottsdale-based Pearce Family Foundation, which helps Arizona families who have children with chronic diseases.

The family has also given back to the university in other ways. Pearce commissioned local artist Jeff Carol Davenport to create both the Pat Tillman Statue and the towering bronze pitchfork now found at Sun Devil Stadium. He said his efforts both at The College and ASU are driven by a core motivation — saying thank you.

“My grandfather is the one who made my daughter’s foundation possible and our family’s success come to life,” he said. “We now have the means to give some of that back to ASU, so why not recognize the man that started it all?”


Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Community connections lead to invaluable opportunities for ASU nursing students

June 18, 2019

Health wasn’t something Maza Wasi ever thought about. But the young resident of Crossroads Flower, a licensed substance abuse treatment center in Phoenix, says she’s starting to become more interested in it.

“I’m here to change my life and have a better life one day instead of doing drugs,” Wasi said. ASU nursing students talk with a Crossroads resident during a Health Fair ASU nursing students Sienna Yturriaga (left) and Madeline Aaron (right) discuss healthy eating with Crossroads Flower resident Maza Wasi at a student-run health fair at the facility on June 11, 2019. Download Full Image

Helping to introduce her to elements of self-care and overall wellness were eight students from Arizona State University’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation.

The cohort was at the Crossroads facility last week hosting a health fair for the residents who all are working toward recovery. It was the culmination of serious hard work on the students' part that spanned two semesters, and it paid off.

“Seeing this and having the students explain it to me was great because I learn by seeing,” Wasi said.

Over the course of the afternoon, Wasi and more than a dozen other residents stopped in to visit with the students and learn about each of the subjects, which were specifically chosen for the women.

“We focused on four topics; exercise, nutrition, sexual health and community beautification," said senior nursing student Randy Wagman. "We felt that these really targeted those areas that maybe Crossroads wasn’t focusing on. So we are looking at providing additional resources and information which could help them succeed here and maybe remaining sober going forward."

This event came about through community-health focused nursing courses. Students who take these interprofessional classes are tasked with identifying a group in the community who would benefit from additional education and resources around disease prevention and health promotion.

Thanks in large part to Edson College connections the cohort was able to partner and work with Crossroads — which doesn’t just open its doors to anyone — to create and host this health fair for current residents.

“ASU does provide unique opportunities in Phoenix. The relationships ASU has with not-for-profits and other organizations are great because they allow us to be able to go to these facilities and see how we can help and what we can do as nursing students,” Wagman said.

These health fairs also give students the opportunity to interact with people of all different ages, backgrounds and health levels while focusing on the education aspect of nursing versus just the clinical component.

Or as Wagman put it, it’s a return to the root of nursing, and it's quite rewarding.

“The basis of nursing is to promote health and prevent disease and really that begins with the community and doing community-centered interventions and that’s where prevention begins as well. So thanks to this class, we get to see what we need to do to get those prevention measures out there to keep people healthier.”

The women of Crossroads who attended the health fair offered high praise for the students' efforts to make the event interactive, informative and for taking an interest in Crossroads to begin with.

“What they’re doing is important and it's helping the community. It’s giving back, paying it forward I would say. I appreciate them coming out, they’ve been awesome,” said Crossroads resident Stephanie (last name withheld).

“This is amazing and it makes me feel like they do care about others. You know this is beyond just a school project,” Wasi said.

Amanda Goodman

Media relations officer, College of Nursing and Health Innovation


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Tariffs, threats sow uncertainty, dampening business climate

Tariffs, threats sow uncertainty, dampening business climate, ASU experts say.
June 14, 2019

ASU professors describe how small businesses, real estate are hurt

President Donald Trump has backed off his threat to impose tariffs on Mexico over the immigration crisis, but he later said that China could face additional tariffs to the ones he imposed on goods including steel and aluminum from there last year. Two Arizona State University experts say that the ever-changing tariff situation is driving the one factor that businesses hate: uncertainty.

Tariffs are essentially taxes imposed on the American importer of a foreign product, according to Jenny Brown, an associate professor of accountancy in the W. P. Carey School of Business.

“I think sometimes people think the foreign government or the foreign company is going to pay the tariff. That’s not true,” she said.

The idea is to make the imported product costly and therefore give American suppliers an advantage.

“The idealistic notion is that these companies are going to turn to some U.S. supplier, but the fact of the matter is that manufacturers of these low-cost goods have long since left the U.S.,” she said.

“So it’s prohibitively costly to build a plant or reopen a plant in the U.S. to start manufacturing these component parts. That’s not really going to happen.”

Brown said it appears as though the threat of tariffs is being used by the administration as a bargaining chip.

“But the threat of them being imposed is enough to hurt businesses because they have to deal with this uncertainty,” she said.

That uncertainty is affecting all types of businesses and reaching the commercial real estate market in the Valley, according to Mark Stapp, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice and the Fred E. Taylor Professor in Real Estate in the W. P. Carey School of Business.

The real estate market was emerging from the recession with increased demand for labor and materials when the tariffs hit, creating problems.

Brown and Stapp answered some questions from ASU Now about the uncertainty sowed by tariffs and threats.

Question: How does the uncertainty around tariffs affect companies?

Jenny Brown: If you were manufacturing cars and you didn’t know how much the steel was going to cost, it’s hard to figure out how much product to produce and the price to set it at.

Jenny Brown

And then there’s the effect of the tariff itself, once it’s been imposed, which is the higher cost of goods.

How can I deal with that? I might try to change my supply chain. There’s a tariff on goods coming out of China so now I find somebody in Vietnam. Or I pay more to get the good from abroad and I increase the price I charge to the consumer.

Mark Stapp: It really began with the tariffs on softwood lumber. Just as the housing industry is starting to really recover, you throw these tariffs on the No. 1 building material used in housing construction — not just single family but multifamily too.

You have these tariffs on steel, aluminum and other products, including household appliances. When you’re building houses and apartments, you have stoves and refrigerators. Even the cabinets come from overseas sometimes. Commercial real estate uses steel framing.

Nearly the entire spectrum of the schedule of values, the cost associated with building, has been affected by the increase in demand and exacerbated by these tariffs in a substantial way.

Q: So would it be cheaper to lease commercial space rather than build?

Stapp: Those costs also have a big impact on the leasing market when an owner has to make improvements for a tenant, which costs more. For an owner to be able to amortize the higher cost of tenant improvements over a lease period, one of two things has to happen. You either extend the lease period or you increase the rental rates.

Now you create additional expense for businesses.

With office space in highly dynamic markets, you don’t want long leases because you can’t apply strategy to maximize the market.

Mark Stapp

Q: Do tariffs hurt small businesses more than big corporations?

Brown: Big businesses have ways they can survive the uncertainty. First, they have bigger cash flow and reserves, so if they think it will be short term, they can absorb additional coasts in their profit margins that they don’t have to pass on to the consumer. The small business does not have that slack.

Second, changing your supply chain requires bargaining power. If you have a longstanding relationship with a Chinese supplier, you can say, "I can get this from Vietnam or South America." If you’re small, you’ve been at the mercy of getting a reasonable cost and you can’t negotiate.

Bargaining power is a function of quantity and expertise. A bigger company will have a better legal team. A small guy may not have anyone on the ground in China, but a big guy can deploy a team. There are legal and transaction fees with changing your supply chain. If you’re small, it’s more costly to do that.

Big businesses can also spend money lobbying. If there are going to be tariffs, some industries will be better off.

Q: How else does uncertainty affect business?

Brown: Uncertainty will affect the stock market as well. When investors are pricing what they think the stock is worth, they’re thinking about the future cash flows of the firm. If there’s a bunch of uncertainty and that scares investors, they don’t like it. You see increased volatility in the market.

Stapp: Because of the uncertainty in pricing, general contractors will not bid jobs with estimates that last very long. It used to be you could bid a job and the bid would be good for 60 to 90 days. Today, it’s really hard to get somebody to commit for 30 days. That changes a lot of dynamics.

It makes it more uncertain for the investor, the borrower and the lender. You need larger contingencies. There are cases where the entire project gets put on the shelf. Developers want to lock things in.

Q: Tariffs were used a lot more a hundred years ago. What’s different today?

Brown: A hundred years ago, tariffs were used pretty extensively. There was a longtime tariff on sugar and the U.S. sugar industry really benefited from that because it was prohibitively costly to bring in sugar from outside the U.S. But at that time, everybody was using tariffs, the U.S. and our trade partners. It was the norm.

But we’ve been living a long time in an era of a push worldwide for free trade. We have lots of multilateral and bilateral trade agreements. And there have been efforts by the (World Trade Organization) to push back on any one country that goes rogue and tries to impose tariffs so we have the GATT, the general agreement on tariffs and trade. So we’re an outlier in the fact that this administration is coming up with these new tariffs.

Most economists think free trade is better and tariffs are terrible.

Q: If the administration changes in 2020 and tariffs are no longer an issue, could the repercussions become permanent?

Brown: They could be and that is where the small firms can really get hurt. The small firms can’t wait. They may be driven out of the industry. The large firms will be left with a greater market share. You could see a decrease in competition. Even if things get reversed in 2020, the barriers for reentry will be too high.

They may not think it’s worth it to shift the supply chain once again.

Stapp: We talk about elasticity in the market — how far we can stretch prices before they no longer are acceptable. The problem is the only way that prices will go down now is if there’s a recession. If there’s not a recession, we’ve created the new baseline.

That’s unless you can decrease demand, where suppliers have no choice but to lower prices, and I don’t see that happening.

Top image by Pixabay

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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ASU biologist’s research is for the birds

June 13, 2019

Kerrie Anne Loyd’s work fills in important gaps in knowledge about owl activity

The western burrowing owl is like no other bird: It lives underground, is adaptable to urban environments and its idea of a show of force is to surround its nest with dog waste and neighborhood trash.

These are just some of the nesting and habitat characteristics brought to light by Kerrie Anne Loyd, a wildlife biologist at Arizona State University at Lake Havasu.

The ongoing research, now in its sixth year, will fill in important gaps in knowledge about owl activity and population trends in human-dominated environments.

“I love birds, and my objective is to help people get along with wildlife,” said Loyd, whose work on domestic cats and wildlife has been highlighted on "NBC Nightly News," NPR’s "All Things Considered" and ABC’s "20/20." “By studying animals and helping to understand their habits, I can find what they need in order to thrive in human-dominated environments.”

Woman peering through camera

Kerrie Anne Loyd sets up a movement-triggered camera outside one of the burrowing owl habitats in Lake Havasu City on May 24. The urban/suburban ecologist is gathering data as part of her research on the owls funded in part by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Loyd began studying the bird, which stands about 10 inches tall and has round, yellow eyes and long, skinny legs, in 2013. For decades their numbers were declining across western North America due to loss of natural habitat and lethal control of burrowing rodents. The birds shifted to more developed habitats such as agricultural areas, golf courses and undeveloped lots. In Lake Havasu City, they set up house in desert washes, using existing burrows created by ground squirrels and wood rats.

Because of their proximity to humans in Lake Havasu City, these raptorsA carnivorous medium- to large-size bird (such as a hawk, eagle, owl or vulture) that has a hooked beak and large sharp talons and that feeds wholly or chiefly on meat taken by hunting or on carrion. seem more naturally tolerant of people.

“They’re super charismatic because they’re cute, out during the day, easy to see and fun to watch,” Loyd said. “People in town have an interest in them and can get up close to them. The owls don’t find observant people a threat.”

However, Loyd said, if someone gets too close to a nest while the birds have babies, usually in May and June, they could feel the sting of a parent’s talons. Loyd herself has felt those at times, spending close to 20 hours a week conducting research at nest sites.

Owl standing on rockA previously banded adult burrowing owl watches ASU at Lake Havasu City wildlife biology senior lecturer Kerrie Anne Loyd work. She makes sure not to disturb the 10-inch raptor during its nesting season. Photo by Charlie Light/ASU Now

Loyd’s director said her research is important to the species, the city and the 6-year-old ASU location.

“Kerrie Anne Loyd’s success in acquiring research funding for her burrowing owl and domestic cat studies reinforces the notion that faculty at rural campuses like ASU at Lake Havasu are also making strong contributions to their fields,” said Raymond Van der Riet, director of ASU at Lake Havasu. “The landscape and environment surrounding ASU at Lake Havasu offer the perfect field laboratory for applied research.”

Loyd and a team of ASU students have monitored 136 active nests within the Lake Havasu City limits over a six-year period through the use of remote cameras and on-site fieldwork. Briana Morgan, a 2016 ASU graduate, worked alongside Loyd for three years.

“Through Kerrie Anne’s work, I truly learned the impact that humans have on wildlife and the environment,” said Morgan, who today is a water conservation specialist for Lake Havasu City. “The best word I would use to describe her is dedicated. She’s 100% dedicated to her research, and her passion influences her students without pushing it on them.”

Among Loyd’s key findings:

  • A burrowing owl family is estimated to eat up to 1,800 rodents and 7,000 arthropods (scorpions and beetles) in a single summer.
  • Nest success averaged 70% from 2014 to 2018, and the average number of juveniles produced was 4.2.
  • Burrowing owls are opportunistic hunters and prefer small mammals and arthropods.
  • In addition to Loyd’s research, there are only five studies on burrowing owls in urban/suburban locations.
  • Owls live in Lake Havasu City year round, but north of Arizona they are migratory and usually head to Mexico for the winter.
Underground nest

A movement-triggered camera outside of a burrowing owl habitat in Lake Havasu City helps to inform the research ASU biologist Kerrie Anne Loyd, who has been studying the raptor since 2013. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

One of her most important discoveries was that the primary cause of owl mortality in Lake Havasu City was due to increased use of pesticides in an attempt to remove mice, rats and ground squirrels. Loyd said that 24 owls in one year experienced secondary poisoning through consumption of rodents contaminated with rat poison. Dogs, cats and other birds can be unintended victims as well.

That particular finding led ASU, Arizona Game and Fish and Wild at Heart to support a combined “owl-friendly” educational campaign in Lake Havasu City. This included the distribution of 6,000 brochures and three permanent interpretive signs, asking community members and residents to be vigilant about use of rat poison and encourage other methods of pest control.

The western burrowing owl is listed as a species of conservation concern in Arizona and its numbers are declining, but the birds seem to be thriving in Lake Havasu City.

Much of the credit should go to Loyd, said an associate.

“Kerrie Anne’s research and her ability to convey that to the public has helped immensely with the owl population,” said Pam Smart, founder of Havasu Wildlife Rehabilitation, a nonprofit that helps wounded and abandoned animals. “Before Kerrie Anne came here, I don’t think the concern and the visibility of the owls was there. She’s helped a great deal in getting the word out.”

But there are some questions that Loyd doesn’t have the answer to. Like why do the male owls spend an inordinate amount of time and energy decorating their nests with dog waste, which can often attract predators like dogs, roadrunners and coyotes?

Loyd believes the male owl is simply marking his territory.

Woman walking down a hill

ASU at Lake Havasu City wildlife biology senior lecturer Kerrie Anne Loyd spends up to 20 hours a week doing on-site research. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“The hypothesis is now that the owl is stating, ‘This spot is occupied. I’m the best bird in the neighborhood because look at all this energy I have to gather dog poop and trash to put around my nest!’” Loyd said.

The current phase of Loyd’s research, which will continue at least through 2020, is focused on dispersal distances of juvenile birds and behavior of adults at nest sites year to year. She will also continue to work on public education efforts to ensure long-term population growth.

“I’m so lucky to be able to study such an interesting species and involve so many students in conservation research right here in our small desert city,” Loyd said. “It’s been a fun project to do.”

Top photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Reporter , ASU Now


Tempe local, ASU alumna Arlene Chin sees city council position as new way to give back

June 5, 2019

At a swearing-in ceremony early in May, Arizona State University alumna Arlene Chin became the newest member of the Tempe City Council and the first Asian American woman to hold the position in the city’s history.

Arlene Chin in her officeArlene Chin in her office at the ASU Foundation.

Chin is a lifelong resident of Tempe who has spent almost a decade working with ASU. Now serving until July 2020 in place of former Councilman Kolby Granville, she sees the new position as an extension of a long-standing commitment to both. Arlene Chin in her office at the ASU Foundation. Arlene Chin graduated in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in organizational communication from what is today the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. Download Full Image

“As a citizen and community member, I’ve sort of always had an expectation for myself to get involved in representing Tempe,” she said. “ASU is in many ways a Tempe community member itself, so for me, they have gone hand in hand.”

Chin now serves as the director of scholarship advancement at the ASU Foundation, the latest in a list of leadership roles associated with the institution. Over the years, she has volunteered and worked with the ASU Alumni Association, served as the director of scholarship services with ASU Financial Aid and Scholarship Services and the assistant director of international undergraduate admissions.

In 1987, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication from what is today the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She later earned a master's degree in education from Northern Arizona University.

From teaching stints abroad to working in globally-focused retail, she said the tools she learned while in The College provided the broad base to build a multifaceted career.

“Teaching English in Taiwan after school made me realize that I enjoyed working with people and developing relationships as a representative of something larger than myself,” she said. “Community development, community relations, teaching, those are all pathways we don’t realize we took until we take a moment to look back.”

Both Chinese immigrants who met in San Francisco, Chin’s parents moved the family to Tempe when she was 9 years old. Growing up next to ASU’s expanding Tempe campus made it a natural choice when looking for a university as a first generation student.

Chin was initially pursuing a business degree when a conversation with a friend majoring in communication made her realize what finally felt like a true calling.

“Being a first generation college student, you don't come in knowing and fully understanding what a major and an academic pathway might really mean,” she said. “I wanted to work with people and study people, discovering that was a combination of my learning more about myself, and also learning what that meant in regard to an academic pathway.”

Arlene Chin shows a photo of herself and her parents, taken the day of her graduation from ASU.

Chin shows a photo of herself and her parents taken the day of her graduation from ASU in 1987.

Working in student-focused roles at ASU, Chin has often returned to the story of her own academic journey to help new generations through theirs.  

“I tell students now that finding the right major feels like the clouds parting and the birds singing,” she said. “And there are so many great people at The College and throughout ASU who are happy to help direct students to a pathway where they can move forward with their interests.”

In turn, Chin said former students can pay it forward, by giving back.

“I would highly encourage alumni to give back and get involved, whether it’s with time or resources,” she said. “Because foundationally The College really is a part of who they become, it’s important not to forget that.”

That spirit of public engagement is something Chin sees as an inherent part of her Tempe childhood that still exists today. As evidence, she points to the 49 community members who ran alongside her for the city council seat.

“I was very proud of my community when I heard that,” she said. “Because it shows the level of interest people have in serving.”

Taking the helm as a city councilwoman serves as another platform to continue connecting with people on the local level.

“Like anywhere else, people are concerned with balancing their quality of life with the growth and progress of our community,” she said. “I feel like I understand that because I am part of the community — I'm there, paddling with everyone else.”

Tempe has been the staging ground for many of Chin’s milestones. Within her new role, she aims to forge new paths for those that come after.

“It’s important to know who you are, because we didn't just get here on our own, any successes that we have are partly possible because of the people that came before us,” she said. “I know how important it was for me to see role models growing up, if I can be that person for others, then I'm honored.”


Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


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Young people find profound personal growth in Public Allies Arizona

Young people find transformation in Public Allies Arizona service program.
May 30, 2019

Participants hone skills, increase nonprofits' impact in ASU Lodestar program

Brandon Vickers served his country for five years while he was a welder in the Navy. When he resumed civilian life in 2016, he knew he wanted to continue serving his community, but he didn’t know how.

And then he found Public Allies Arizona, an intense, full-time apprenticeship program that pairs young people with nonprofit organizations. And he knew it would be perfect.

“It turned out to be the greatest thing that ever happened to me,” said Vickers, 25, who has spent the past 10 months working at the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Phoenix as part of the program.

“The Navy was awesome and gave me skills, but this has given meaning to the work I’m doing.”

Vickers is among 30 young people in Public Allies Arizona, a program of the Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation, in the School of Community Resources and Development at Arizona State University.

This is the 13th cohort of Public Allies Arizona, which pays the allies a stipend of about $14,000 to work at nonprofit organizations in the Valley. After completing the program, which is part of the federal AmeriCorps program, the participants receive a $5,800 award to pay for tuition or professional development or to apply toward student-loan debt. More than 400 young adults have participated since Public Allies Arizona was launched in 2006.

The nonprofit groups get motivated staffers and the participants not only learn valuable job skills, but also undergo profound personal growth. Several of the current allies described their experiences at “Presentations of Impact” Wednesday night at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

“My childhood wasn’t the easiest. We moved a lot and I attended a lot of different schools,” Vickers told the crowd.

“The Navy gave me an idea of what it meant to serve a cause greater than myself,” he said.

He was ecstatic when he found Public Allies Arizona listed on a job-search engine, although — like all the allies — he was nervous and unsure if he could do the work.

“But that feeling quickly went away,” he said, as he described how he helped the Boys and Girls Club renew its service enterprise certification, reached out to alumni and helped to recruit millennials and people with disabilities to be volunteers.

Besides working with nonprofits, the allies work on projects together, get personal coaching and attend leadership training.

“The biggest thing it’s helped me do is to learn the value of networking and forming relationships — and forcing me to do it,” said Vickers, who transferred from Glendale Community College and now is majoring in nonprofit management at ASU.

“I was always a shy person. Now I’m a better communicator, even just talking with family and friends,” he said.

The allies come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some are college students, some have degrees and a few joined right out of high school.

Channtal Polanco spent her Public Allies term with Opportunities for Youth, an ASU initiative to help young people who are neither working nor in school. At the presentation Wednesday night, she described her own experience. She was attending college in California when she unexpectedly became pregnant. She left college and returned to Phoenix, where she had her daughter.

“I was not working or enrolled in college. I became an opportunity youth,” she said.

“I knew I needed a change in my life not only for myself but also my daughter. But I was faced with relentless obstacles and barriers.”

Finally she was able to enroll her daughter in a full-time preschool program run by Chicanas Por La Causa, allowing her to enroll in school and get a job.

“But I still yearned for a new challenge,” she said. “And that led me here.”

At Opportunities for Youth, she recruited teens for a manufacturing job-readiness program.

“I thought, ‘How can I make this program appealing? Why should they listen to me?’” she said. “I learned an important lesson — to meet the youths where they’re at.”

The allies described their victories. Polanco was able to get a very motivated young man enrolled into the job program within 24 hours. Vickers learned the stories of people who attended the Boys and Girls Club in the 1940s as part of his work to reenergize the alumni group. Yaylah Trujillo, a student at Estrella Mountain Community College, recruited 10 people to become LGBTQ-friendly foster families through her work with Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.

And Anne Mbugua is launching a new youth-employment program, Arizona Youth Forces, through her work at the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Phoenix.

“I’m helping teens ages 16 to 18 get paid internships, which introduces them to the work force,” she said. The teens attend workshops to learn soft skills, like how to communicate in the workplace, before they’re placed.

Mbugua, who is from Kenya, came to Public Allies Arizona after several years of living abroad in Europe and Canada.

“This program has really helped me enhance my skills. I’m very passionate about working with young people and I was excited that I would get to pilot a program, which I’ve never done before,” she said. “I thrive in the chaos of it. I just run with it.”

Public Allies is the just the latest service stint that Mbugua has taken on.

“Every country I’ve gone to, I’ve always volunteered,” she said. She worked with homeless people in train stations in Poland, at an international youth hostel in London and with a mental-health youth program in Canada.

“I love the joy of traveling and living in a different culture whether it’s six months or five years,” she said. “I’ve gone through five passports.”

Mbugua will end her term with Public Allies Arizona in November, and is working on keeping the new internship program sustainable and measuring its success.

“One way to measure success is who finished the internship? Were they retained somewhere? Did they attend all 10 workshops?”

Mbugua plans to move to New York and pursue a career in cross-cultural coaching.

Public Allies Arizona has been invaluable in charting her course.

“You’ll figure out what you want to do and what you absolutely don’t want to do,” she said.

“You learn teamwork, management, and you learn to be a good leader.”

Top photo: ASU student Brandon Vickers works a volunteer fair at Grand Canyon University. A Navy veteran, Vickers has been working at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix as part of his participation in Public Allies Arizona. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


First Star ASU evens the odds for Arizona foster youth

May 30, 2019

For many youth in foster care, the odds of achieving a college education have historically been low, with some sources indicating less than 3% will earn a bachelor’s degree.

As a part of Access ASU, the First Star Academy at Arizona State University works to increase those odds through their free, comprehensive four-year college access program that provides high school-age foster youth with the academic support, enrichment and resources needed to enroll and succeed in college. In partnership with the national nonprofit First Star, the academy at ASU has worked with diverse cohorts of students since the program launched at ASU in 2017. The incoming class for 2019 is made up of 46 students from 40 schools within 20 different school districts across Maricopa and Pima counties. First Star ASU Academy student cohort The 2017-18 cohort of First Star ASU Academy. Photo courtesy of Gabriela Jimenez/First Star ASU Academy Download Full Image

May is National Foster Care Month, which acknowledges the families, volunteers, mentors and professionals who help those in foster care find connections and permanent homes. First Star Academy at ASU is using this occasion to recognize the university and community collaborators who make their comprehensive program possible and to encourage others to become involved in supporting Arizona’s foster youth.

First Star Academy at ASU Program Director Gaby Jimenez said that collaborating with these organizations is vital to their work. Their partners include Bridging Success, Early Start, Nina Scholars, ASU Prep Digital, Arizona Department of Child Safety, Arizona Department of Education, Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation, CASA of Maricopa and school districts throughout the state. 

“Because of these partnerships, we are invited to many events focused on foster youth, our reach has expanded to serve more young adults in and outside of Maricopa County and we are able to leverage resources in the community for students participating in the program,” Jimenez said.

Bridging Success, which began in fall 2015, is an ASU program that helps youth in the foster care system learn about opportunities in higher education and how to access them. It also supports students attending ASU who have the lived experience of being in the foster care system. 

Justine Cheung, coordinator for Bridging Success, said that working with First Star at ASU makes their reach that much broader in the community, resulting in more youth and their supportive adults taking steps to plan for college.

“Bridging Success recognizes the value of supporting any program that is promoting higher education for youth in foster care so collaborating with First Star was a natural fit,” Cheung said. “The idea that ASU has brought a program that supports the college-going aspirations of youth in care while still in high school is transformational for so many reasons — namely that so many of these youth have never been told 'Yes, you can go to college!'"

Another university partner is ASU Prep Digital, which works with First Star to provide academic support to their participants. 

“ASU Prep Digital proudly supports First Star students throughout Arizona with access to high-quality education, both high school and concurrent college courses, in a flexible learning environment,” said Mary O’Malley, Arizona partnerships director for ASU Prep Digital. “Our teachers and learning success coaches guide students as they work to complete H.S. graduation requirements and explore early college pathways, in collaboration with their school of origin.”  

Another critical element of First Star’s work is their collaboration with organizations outside the university including nonprofits and government agencies. 

One of these key community partners is Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation (AFFCF), which began working with First Star in fall 2018. While the state of Arizona provides children in foster care with necessities like food, clothing and basic medical care, AFFCF supplements with things that help bring them enriching activities and opportunities, like academic tutoring, music lessons and sports equipment.

“Youth who participate in the First Star program can take advantage of AFFCF’s Keys to Success program while they are in foster care and AFFCF’s postsecondary programs, if they reach age 18 in foster care,” said Erika Klotz, postsecondary program coordinator for AFFCF.

First Star has participated in two postsecondary resource fairs that AFFCF has organized to raise awareness about the First Star program. AFFCF has also attended First Star open houses to make youth who are or were in foster care aware of the available resources.

“The partnership between First Star at ASU and AFFCF is valuable because it represents the ability to connect youth and families to resources that can have a significant impact on their future, both in terms of economic stability and emotional well-being,” Klotz said.

Jimenez said she would like to close out Foster Care Awareness Month by inviting others to get involved, become a court appointed special advocate, a member of foster care review board, a mentor or a volunteer with one of the many organizations supporting youth in foster care. She also encourages the public to refer foster youth to the First Star Academy at ASU.

“There is a great need to support these young adults as they transition to adulthood and I strongly believe that collaboration is the key to making a greater impact in our state,” Jimenez said. “You don’t have to be a foster parent to make an impact.”

Learn more about First Star ASU Academy.

Copy writer and editor, Educational Outreach and Student Services


Giving voice to Native American activism in Phoenix

May 29, 2019

In 2016, what began as a grassroots effort against the Dakota Access Pipeline drilling project in North Dakota grew into a sweeping movement gathering thousands of protesters from around the country to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

Several states away, Napoleon Marrietta, a member of the Phoenix area’s Gila River Indian Community, was engulfed in another Native-led battle, against a highway extension project in Phoenix. Napoleon Marrietta, a graduate student in The College's American Indian Studies program, grew up not far from the Tempe campus on the Gila River Indian Community. After completing concurrent bachelor's degrees in social justice and American Indian studies, Napoleon Marrietta is set to graduate with a master's degree from The College's American Indians Studies program this fall. Download Full Image

The 22-mile Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway stretch was designed to ease traffic congestion. But its path cut through a portion of South Mountain, a range highly sacred to tribes across the Valley. When Standing Rock was taking off, Marrietta and other activists were in the middle of a legal battle to stop the freeway construction in its tracks.

But where Standing Rock galvanized Native Americans nationwide, the fight for South Mountain didn’t move far past Phoenix.

That difference is part of what propelled a return to academia for Marrietta, now a graduate student in The College of Liberal Arts and SciencesAmerican Indian Studies program at Arizona State University.

“Standing Rock had people from all over the place, including Phoenix tribes, coming together to battle this huge issue,” he said. “Fighting for South Mountain, we were grassroots, youth-led and trying to move forward with the weight of it all on our shoulders — I think my question now is why that huge mobilization sometimes doesn’t happen, even with something in our backyard.”

Urban organizing

From immigration and the border to incarceration and desert city planning, Arizona is a melting pot of issues. As the state capital, initiatives started in Phoenix have the potential to cast a wider net than perhaps anywhere else in the state. But with a metropolitan area of over 5 million residents, how does any one issue find its voice?

That’s one question Marrietta is looking to unravel in his thesis that focuses on how indigenous activists adapt and organize in the Valley’s urban sprawl.

The American Indian Studies program offers a master’s degree in tribal leadership and governance, and another in indigenous rights and social justice. After graduating from ASU with concurrent bachelor’s degrees in justice studies and American Indian studies in 2017, Marrietta saw the social justice graduate track as a chance to expand on both.

“I returned to gain more from the knowledge of my professors here and the efforts they have made in their communities, it made me feel like I could do something to contribute, too,” he said.

Native presence in Arizona

There are 22 tribal nations across Arizona today. Phoenix, its surroundings and ASU itself sit on the ancestral lands of many of them, including the Akimel O’odham and Pee-Posh constituting the Gila River Indian Community of which Marrietta is a part.

Growing up on tribal land just southeast of Phoenix, Marrietta immersed himself in environmental and social issues affecting his community while in high school. But he hesitates to call himself an activist. Instead, he sees his work as a response to his own experiences.

“Not having clean water sometimes, for example, or even the fact that you are growing up on a reservation, those are all issues, but you don’t really think about them that way, they are just a part of your life,” he said. “I didn’t really get into the literature and hearing similar things from other people until coming to ASU.”

Now set to graduate this fall, his research offers an academic examination of local struggles he is intimately familiar with.

Research as advocacy

Marrietta and fellow tribal, environmental and community activists spent years challenging the South Mountain freeway construction before a trial in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case in 2017.

As the project nears completion today, he said recounting the fight is a painful process. But experiencing the highs and lows of social movements from the ground level also gave him a new perspective on the topics he learned at ASU and what felt like an opening to add new narratives to the record of history.

Documenting the fight through research is a way to honor those who gave their energy and explore his own role within it.

“Defending South Mountain was something I was active in, but so many came before me on that issue and others — I am just a sliver of something much larger,” he said. “My research now is focused on connecting the contributions of elders, youth and people with varying levels of education; those experiences are different, but (it) all feeds into one community.”

More than 3,000 Native American students were enrolled in ASU in 2018, a number that has more than doubled in the last decade and is now among the highest in the country. Still, with over 100,000 students across four campuses and multiple locations, the population represents a small percentage of ASU’s overall population.

For Marrietta, who also works as an American Indian Student Support ServicesASU American Indian Student Support Services is a unit of ASU's University College. graduate pathways assistant, elevating Native perspectives on and off campus is part of what fuels his drive to continue in academia.

“Dealing with social justice issues means that everyone wants a seat at the table, so sometimes the challenge is actually just being a Native American or indigenous person in these places,” he said. “But building upon an institution requires research, which in turn helps people understand things better — by writing about these groups, I figure I can contribute in a small way to that.”

Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences