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At risk in hack of Arizona voter database: Trust

ASU expert says hack of AZ voter registration data could erode trust in system
August 29, 2016

ASU cybersecurity expert says hacked database controls who is allowed to vote

Jamie Winterton

Arizona officials confirmed Monday that a voter registration database in the state has suffered a hack, although they believe no personal information has been compromised. Illinois' voter registration database suffered a similar breach.

Jamie Winterton (left), director of Strategic Research Initiatives at Arizona State University's Global Security Initiative, said the biggest risk is to the trust voters place in the electoral system, and whether or not everyone actually registered to vote will be allowed to when they show up to the polls.

Question: What’s the risk of voter registration systems being hacked?

Answer: When we think of “hacked elections,” we usually think of people breaking into electronic voting systems. That is a real concern – and it’s been done before. A team from University of Michigan and Princeton was able to install Pac-Man on voting machines from 2008 without breaking any of the tamper-evident seals – and if you can install Pac-Man, you can easily affect the vote tallying software! But this recent breach is different. It wasn’t on the voting machine software itself, but on the registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. Most of the information in the database is publicly available, so it’s not terribly concerning from an identity-theft perspective. What is worrisome, however, is that the voter database guides who is — and who is not — allowed to vote. With the possibility that Arizona will be a swing state this year, removing even a small percentage of voters from the database could swing the result. 

Q: Could this have an impact on particular voter groups?

A: The database is also how the state communicates with voters. It’s used to send early ballots and tell voters where their polling places are located. What if 10 percent of people in lower socio-economic areas were misled as to their polling location? What if Spanish-language ballots or election materials were not sent? The validity of our electoral system depends on consistent communication. That communication can easily be polluted if the voter database is tampered with. 

Q: What kind of attack was used on the voter registration system? Was it Russia again?

A: It’s not clear how the attackers got into the Arizona system. We know about the attack because the FBI found voter database credentials (like a login and password) on the dark web. The secretary of state’s office took the systems offline for over a week and changed all the credentials. We do know that in Illinois — a voter registration database attack that happened around the same time — the attackers used something called SQL injection. SQL stands for Structured Query Language; it’s how many databases are managed. When you type information into a box on a website — a username and password, for example — that website is probably using SQL to facilitate the conversation between you and the database, to make sure you have an account and the right credentials to access it. During a SQL injection attack, though, a hacker will type code into the box instead of a username, in an attempt to control the database. If the website doesn’t check to make sure that the inputs are valid, the code gets passed through to the database and can do things like dump information or allow modifications of the database. However, it’s also easy to protect against: Creating rules against nonsensical inputs — no one’s name has a "=" in it, for example — goes a long way towards protecting against SQL injection attacks.

Q: What will be the effect of this attack?

A: It’s hard to say what will come of this attack. Hopefully backup versions of the voter registration databases can be compared with the current version, to see where changes might have been made. Hopefully the systems will be patched and tested, and hardened against these kinds of attacks. 

There’s a building problem with trust and election systems, however. The U.S. has a fairly disenchanted electorate as it is. How will they respond to our election systems being violated? Even if the database checks out with a prior version, will people feel that their vote is still meaningful? Or will they feel that the election is rigged and not bother showing up to vote? When the results are in, will voters trust and abide them? Machines can be hacked, but so can people. We need to figure out how to patch them both.

Top photo courtsey Secretlondon, via Wikimedia Commons


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ASU professor engages young people, teaches respect

August 25, 2016

English professor Neal A. Lester uses critical thinking to educate young people on cultural awareness

Sports mascots, music lyrics, Halloween costumes, hairstyles, face paint: Arizona State University professor Neal A. Lester says cultural appropriation can take many forms.

It can be hurtful when one group borrows from another without proper credit, Lester said, adding that in most cases people aren’t aware when they’re being insensitive.  

To address it, Lester has started a yearly symposium to discuss self- and cultural-awareness with young people from across the Valley.

The third-annual discussion, “Cultural Appropriation: Critical Dialogues on Cultural Awareness,” starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at ASU Preparatory Academy in downtown Phoenix. Lester said he expects about 250 Phoenix-area high school students to learn about and discuss the value of advocacy and personal responsibility in an all-day workshop led by ASU students and faculty, along with a group of high school seniors.   

It’s about “knowing the ways in which we can be more culturally sensitive and respectful to others,” said Lester, Foundation Professor of English and founding director of Project Humanities.

He added: “We live in a fast-paced, sound bite, drive-through culture where we miss opportunities to engage critically. This symposium provides an opportunity to do just that.”

Lester started the gatherings in 2014 after students painted their faces black at an ASU football game. He said their actions didn’t offend him because they most likely had no historical understanding of blackface, an entertainment industry practice from the 1800s that perpetuated negative black stereotypes.

He looked for a way to engage, educate and enlighten through critical thinking. Once students know the effect of their actions, he said, “they can’t unknow.”

Anna Avila, a 17-year-old at Chandler’s Hamilton High School, attended last year’s symposium. She said that at the time she didn’t know what cultural appropriation was and that she didn’t want to attend the event. She learned so much from the conversations, however, that this year she’s a facilitator.

Avila said that while cultural appropriation might seem like a complicated issue, she can simplify it: “If it’s something that you don’t normally do, wear or practice in your own culture or everyday life, you probably shouldn’t do it.”

Senior editor , ASU Now


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Students unlock career options through ASU brain program

What did you do over the summer? These students studied brains.
August 23, 2016

Rather than swimming and picnics, 19 students conducted brain research for eight weeks this summer as part of the Banner Research/ASU-Biodesign Summer Internship Program.

Students ranging from high school to college levels competed for projects in clinical, basic laboratory or computational medical imaging research to explore the aging brain. They were then matched with scientists and technologists at Banner Sun Research Institute, ASU Biodesign Institute or Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and paid $1,000 for completing the program.

“Every year, we look forward to seeing how students grow after spending time with mentors in labs,” said Brian Browne, education and outreach director at Banner Research. “For many, this experience solidifies their interests to pursue careers in science and medicine.”

Banner started the program 14 years ago. Since then, 210 participants have put on lab coats for a summer of science. Subsequently, 94 percent of interns have pursued degrees in science or medicine. This was the first year that the Biodesign Institute participated by hosting five students.

“I was nervous and excited about working with brains,” said Savannah Farley, an ASU senior studying biology and philosophy.

The internship helped Farley, who is planning to attend graduate school next year, to narrow her scientific career to the health field.

Farley worked with scientists Doug Walker and Lih-Fen Lue in the ASU-Banner Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Center at ASU’s Biodesign Institute. Their teams engaged Farley on a project to learn about transcription factor EB, a protein that regulates genes involved in cellular degradation of unwanted proteins. Farley researched where the protein presents in the brain and noted differences between brains of patients with and without Alzheimer’s disease.

“The very first day, I was working with human brain tissues,” explained Farley. “Soon, I was examining tissue slices to locate the antibody under study. It was satisfying to do replication completely on my own.”

Desert Mountain High School senior Rohan Tripathi applied for the internship because of his interest in medicine, but he found out that he “is more of a math guy.” Tripathi worked with psychologist Gene Brewer in the ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. His project was to examine differences in episodic memory using behavioral and EEG data. He spent most of his time deciphering data from participants who wore EEG caps to test brain activity.

“In the classroom, it is all hypothetical. Here, I got to see real science,” said Tripathi. “My mentors have helped me better understand the world.”

There is community demand to expand the program to accommodate more students into scientific labs. This year, more than 400 students applied from all over the country and only 19 were accepted. Program organizers for 2017 are seeking contributions to support a student.

“Having the opportunity to explore science through a hands-on clinical internship can open young minds to possibilities they may have never considered,” said Kerri Robinson, program director at the Biodesign Institute.

“This experience turned out to be much more than I expected — the information I learned will last for many years,” Farley said.

Applications for the 2017 internship will be available January, with applications due in March.

Written by Julie Kurth, Biodesign Institute

Top photo: Rohan Tripathi spends most of his time deciphering data from participants who wore EEG caps to test brain activity.

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Center for Law and Society stands for inclusion

Sandra Day O'Connor, John McCain among dignitaries at law center grand opening.
Center will be home to ASU Law, Arizona Justice Project, other organizations.
August 15, 2016

University President Michael Crow dedicates $130 million Beus Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2016, click here.

Leaders from courtrooms and capitols joined Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow on Monday evening to christen the Beus Center for Law and Society, a nearly $130 million building in downtown Phoenix that Crow said would stand as a monument to inclusion and accessibility.

The grand opening highlighted how the building that Crow called a “world-class facility in a world-class location” would serve as more than home to ASU's Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, whose namesake, a retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice, joined the ceremony. Crow and other speakers emphasized the center’s aim of connecting the community, as much as students, to the law and justice. The center will house the nation’s first teaching law firm, a law library open to the public and a legal triage service to help the public find legal support.

ASU leaders said the building’s expansive atrium, courtyard and public spaces are intended to encourage that openness.

A crowd of around 400, including U.S. Sen. John McCain and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, celebrated the latest addition to ASU’s 10-year-old Downtown Phoenix campus.  

The center was named for attorney Leo Beus and his wife, Annette, who contributed $10 million to help build it — the largest donation in the law school’s history. The 2014 gift brought the Beus’ ASU Law donation total to $15 million. 

“This university is transforming education across the country,” Leo Beus said. “We were such a blessed community to have this here.”  

Classes begin Wednesday at the six-story, 280,000-square-foot center in the legal, political and economic heart of Arizona. The dedication caps a massive relocation that began a decade ago. ASU Law’s new home includes a state-of-the-art courtroom.

Aside from the law school, the building will be home to organizations including: the Arizona Legal Center, The McCain Institute for International Leadership, Arizona Voice for Crime Victims, the Arizona Justice Project, the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics and the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute.    

The Ross-Blakley Law Library also transitioned to Phoenix in the move. It had been located in a separate building near the law school in Tempe. The library will occupy multiple floors and will include 100,000 tangible volumes of legal research and 125,000 electronic titles.

The Beus Center for Law and Society also will include space for two think tanks.

Stanton said the city’s economic success was closely tied to the creation and growth of ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus over the past decade and called the city’s land and financial contributions “one of the best investments the city, the people and taxpayers have ever made.”

The Downtown Phoenix campus boasts 13,000 students, about 900 of whom attend ASU Law. 

Douglas Sylvester, the school’s dean, said the college has already seen 30 percent more applications since last year. He called the new facility “unquestionably the most optimistic and ambitious school in the country and in the world.”

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU Gammage proves to be economic powerhouse

ASU Gammage brings $100M in economic impact to Valley.
ASU Gammage theater-goers vital to Mill Avenue businesses.
August 9, 2016

Latest Broadway season brought $100M in economic impact to greater Phoenix metropolitan area

A few summers ago, restaurateur Julian Wright had been sweating out his latest business venture.

Consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures had slowed business at La Bocca Urban Pizzeria + Wine Bar on Mill Avenue to a near crawl. Then he received an unexpected windfall from down the street. 

“For years Gammage shows have brought additional patrons to my businesses,” said Wright, an Arizona State University alumnus who has delivered successful food-and-drink concepts to the Mill Avenue District since 2008, including his latest, Pedal Haus Brewery. “The second summer La Bocca was open, one of their Broadway tours practically saved us. We were packed every day for the run of the show.”

Wright’s story illustrates how the arts have evolved into a vital economic driver, a point underscored with the announcement Monday that ASU Gammage’s recently concluded Broadway season created an estimated $100 million economic impact on the greater Phoenix metropolitan area.

“That’s a very impressive number,” said Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director for ASU Gammage and associate vice president of cultural affairs for ASU. “When people think of ASU Gammage, they usually associate us with entertainment and that’s fine. But we always try to emphasize what we do for the community. We not only bring exciting and relevant programming to the Valley, but we also present an economic bouquet to the state.”

For Jennings-Roggensack, the number represents a continued payoff of work that began 25 years ago when she took over operations of what she described at the time as a “fading beauty.” The Frank Lloyd Wright designed structure needed upgrades and Gammage operations were $2 million in the hole. It took a few years, but under Jennings-Roggensack’s direction ASU Gammage turned into a self-sustaining business model, driven by ticket sales and private support. Today, she says it’s run like a business, but with the heart of a nonprofit.

The Broadway season that wrapped June 30 included 10 weeks of productions, including “Book of Mormon” and “A Christmas Story: The Musical.” The shows attracted 400,000 visitors, who spent an average of $91 each on their night out. The season also boasted 13,000 subscribers.

The 3,000-seat venue is the largest university-based presenter of the performing arts in the world, and it has generated more than $550 million for the local economy since 2006 according to research by the Broadway League, an entertainment trade group.

Those numbers deserve respect said Herberger Institute Dean Steven J. Tepper, who says the arts can be both culturally rewarding for communities and financially advantageous for businesses such as hotels, taxis and restaurants.

“Businesses and creative workers want to locate to places with thriving art scenes,” said Tepper, adding that artists start businesses at higher rates than most other professionals and create vibrant neighborhoods that increase home values.

“There is no silver bullet for economic development,” Tepper said, “but if there was one, the arts would be a contender.”

The community can expect bigger numbers next season, Jennings-Roggensack said. She estimates as many as 500,000 people will visit ASU Gammage and that about 15,000 will purchase season ticket subscriptions.

The 2016-2017 Broadway season at ASU Gammage kicks off with the Tony Award-winning production of “Cabaret” on Sept. 13. 

Reporter , ASU Now


Success is a ‘sherd’ thing

ASU archaeologist honored for groundbreaking contributions to field

August 9, 2016

David Abbott, associate professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, received not one, but two distinguishing awards this summer for his archaeological work in Arizona: the Arizona Archaeological Society’s 2016 Professional Archaeologist Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Governor’s Archaeological Advisory Commission.

Abbott, who specializes in researching the Hohokam who inhabited Arizona (including the area of ASU’s Tempe campus) until around 1450, is recognized not only for his many years of dedication to the field, but also for his method for sourcing ceramics, which revolutionized the study of ancient pottery in the desert Southwest. photo of Prof. David Abbott at Petra, Jordan Professor David Abbott at Petra, Jordan Download Full Image

“Over the last 25 years, Dave’s remarkable research has transformed our understanding of Hohokam society and continues to play a major role in setting the research agenda for Hohokam archaeology,” said fellow ASU archaeologist Keith Kintigh.

Others would agree. His projects “have greatly increased the understanding of prehistoric archaeology in the central Arizona region of the Southwest,” said Glenda Simmons, chair of the Arizona Archaeological Society.

Abbott originally chose his field because of his lifelong passion for the little details that make up history.

“I have always been interested in the past, largely because I want to know how we came to be as we are. And I am fascinated by the way material remains, like pieces of broken pots, can reveal the past to us,” he said.

Thanks to his innovative ceramic analysis methods, those tiny sherds can reveal much more than meets the eye.

By examining ultra-thin sections of potsherds, Abbott is able to get a close look at the different makeups of the temper — usually sand or small bits of rock — that was added to the clay to make it more stable during baking. Southern Arizona is so geologically diverse that he can track where a particular pot was made just by knowing what kind of temper it contains. When the place where he found the sherd is different from where it originated, Abbott knows there was a network of trade between the two regions.

“Abbott’s analysis of pottery transactions among Hohokam villagers, which has a precision unmatched across the globe, has — with amazing clarity — revealed networks of economic interaction and community structure,” Kintigh stated.

Since Abbott first pioneered this technique, other archaeologists have picked it up and used it around the world from Korea to Mexico.

The most surprising thing that Abbott himself has learned from applying this method is the degree of Hohokam economic complexity, which surpassed anything that archaeologists had imagined beforehand.

“The evidence is pointing to an economy that operated at a regional scale,” he said.

He painted a picture of thousands of ceramic products made each year by special artisans and sent out to hundreds of villages; agricultural surpluses that valley farmers traded for large game, crafts and goods from the uplands; ceremonial ballgames played in one of hundreds of stadiums and watched by crowds of locals and visitors; and marketplaces assembled regularly for the barter of goods from all over the Hohokam territory.

“This is the picture of vibrant and surprisingly sophisticated life in ancient Arizona that emerges from the pottery research,” he explained.

Knowledge about these people, Abbott pointed out, is not only interesting, but relevant to Arizonans today.

The Hohokam lived in their villages and towns for over a thousand years, built and managed the largest irrigations infrastructure in prehistoric North America, and turned the Salt River valley into an agricultural haven. Modern Phoenix, on the other hand, is just the opposite: it’s been here only one hundred years, yet already we have water challenges and other sustainability issues.

“Clearly, the Hohokam offer some lessons to be learned about environmental challenges, population pressure and water usage over the long haul,” Abbott said. “As we work to understand their success, we gain insight about who we are and where we are headed.”

For this professor, working with students is an integral part of discovering more about the Hohokam. He sees graduate education as an apprenticeship, where the student and faculty member work on a particular problem together.

“These collaborative undertakings are wonderfully productive, and it is especially gratifying as they contribute to our growing understanding of Arizona’s ancient past,” he said.

So, what advice does Abbott have for those inspired to pursue archaeology?

“Archaeology is an exciting business to be in. Field work is all about discovery — you never know what’s going to turn up. And the lab work is like putting a puzzle back together. But it’s also a lot of hard work and it takes a long time to become proficient. You really have to have a ‘fire in the belly’ in order to be successful.”

You don’t have to be a professional, however, in order to participate in archaeology. Abbott explained that he does a good amount of research with the help of what he calls “citizen archaeologists” — average people with a love for Arizona’s past and a willingness to get their hands dirty. In fact, he tries to interact with the community whenever he can, engaging volunteer groups in fieldwork, giving presentations for public audiences and offering site tours.

“I really like bringing together volunteers, students and professionals, while raising ASU’s profile to the public,” he said.

With a ceramic-analysis breakthrough to his name and a commitment to the people of Arizona — past and present — it’s no wonder that Abbott became the winner of two awards, including a Lifetime Achievement. He isn’t in it for fame, however; for him, the job is a reward in itself. 

“I love my job. I love working with colleagues and students to figure things out. It’s always a thrill when we learn something we did not know before about the remarkable people of the ancient past.”

Mikala Kass

Communications Specialist, ASU Knowledge Enterprise


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Relativity speaking: Teachers gain physics skills

ASU professor helps future teacher harness the joy of scientific discovery.
August 9, 2016

ASU professor improves hands-on science education for future teachers

Kids love to do experiments. When David Meltzer taught middle-schoolers, they especially enjoyed making a generator out of copper wire.

But nothing extinguishes that joy of discovery more than teachers who are unenthusiastic about teaching science because they don’t know the subject matter.

And that’s where Meltzer is working to make a difference, by teaching future teachers how to do experiments, so they learn the activity as well as the content.

“The method that has been followed for years is that you learn a little bit about the subject, you get an acquaintanceship, and you try to teach it,” said Meltzer, who started his career as a theoretical physicistMeltzer also is a consultant to the American Physical Society and the Physics Teacher Education Coalition and senior consultant to the National Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics. and is now an associate professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

“It’s a myth that students will learn very much if the teacher doesn’t know the material.”

Meltzer, who works at the Polytechnic campus at Arizona State University, just completed a four-year project funded by the National Science Foundation to improve science teaching in grades kindergarten through eight by using classroom activities. He said that typically, K-8 teachers aren’t required to have specialized science training, even though they're teaching physics concepts including mechanics, Newton’s laws of motion, electricity and magnetism, in physical science classes.

“You don’t teach physical science by standing at a blackboard and lecturing to students. That’s not effective. You get them involved in carrying out investigations, solving problems, doing experiments,” he said.

Some of the $300,000 grant was spent on equipment that students use for experiments. They mount little carts on tracks to study mechanics, use ultrasonic motion detectors to measure velocity and acceleration, and create magnets out of coiled copper wire.

Meltzer has taught physical science to the middle schoolers at the ASU Preparatory Academy on the Polytechnic campus, and he said all students love to see what they can build.

“We created a power generator, and you scale that up and it’s the Hoover Dam and you light up a city,” he said.

A one-semesterThe class is SCN 250, “physical science by inquiry.” class isn’t enough to completely prepare future teachers to teach physical science but they get good experience with how to incorporate the activities.

“They’re learning both how to teach, very hands-on, and they’re learning the science content so they aren’t trying to teach something they don’t really understand — which is the big problem in all science education, and we're behind other countriesAmerican 15-year-olds’ science scores ranked 24th in the world in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment..”

David Meltzer

David Meltzer won a grant to improve physics instruction for future teachers at the Polytechnic campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now.

Meltzer also is an expert in the historySome of the grant money was spent on adding material to a web site that chronicles the history of science education. of teaching physics. He said that dating back to the 1880s, when physics was called “natural philosophy,” teachers knew that students learned best when they did experiments.

“Teachers back then at the high school and college level made tremendous efforts to expand activity-based teaching but they largely did not succeed,” he said, because by the 1940s, many more Americans started attending high school and the demand for teachers exploded.

“The lecture method took over as the primary method of teaching and the experiments were very prescriptive, like following a cookbook,” he said.

The United States saw a burst of interest in teaching science after the Russians beat the United States into space with Sputnik in 1957 and again in the last few years with the focus on STEMscience, technology, engineering and math. But Meltzer said that eagerness has never translated to better teacher training.

“The Next Generation Science StandardsThe Next Generation Science Standards is an updated set of learning goals for kindergarten through 12th grade. The standards were developed by 26 states, including Arizona, but Arizona has not adopted the standards. are very ambitious but from my standpoint, it will fall short because it’s not linked to a realistic effort to improve the education of science teachers, or, critically, K-8 teachers, where the foundations are set.”

Top photo: David Meltzer shows how he teaches students to use an ultrasonic motion detector to measure velocity on a low-friction track. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now.

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


Desert lifer earns prestigious award from hydrology group

Clinton Laulo gets Arizona Hydrological Society's Bouwer Intern Scholarship; will study key areas of water industry

August 8, 2016

Clinton Laulo grew up in Arizona visiting and learning about the state's natural water systems, such as Montezuma’s Well, and also many of the built water systems, including the dams.

“These excursions with my family and living in a desert made water one of the most exciting things to me as a child,” Laulo said. Clinton Laulo Clinton Laulo, an environmental engineering major at Arizona State University, has been awarded the prestigious Herman Bouwer Intern Scholarship from the Arizona Hydrological Society. Download Full Image

Laulo,  It gives students enrolled in a hydrology-related discipline at any Arizona college or university the opportunity to gain practical experience.

The scholarship acknowledges Bouwer's extensive contributions to both the hydrological society and the science of hydrology. Bouwer was the chief engineer with the Water Conservation Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for many years, and his pioneering work in groundwater recharge with particular emphasis on the reclamation and reuse of sewage effluent through soil aquifer treatment was influential nationally and internationally.

The hydrological society arranged for Laulo to observe three areas of the water industry in Arizona: consulting, municipal and regulatory. He worked his first two weeks with Carollo Engineers, a water engineering consulting firm that has worked on projects in the Phoenix area for more than 80 years. He then spent two weeks with the city of Phoenix visiting wastewater treatment plants, potable water treatment facilities, and working with ground water systems and pumps. His final two weeks of the program was with the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Laulo did not go to college straight out of high school, but 10 years later the then-single father of three decided it was time to pursue his education.

“It was the best use of my time with the least impact on my boys,” Laulo said. “I decided I wanted to work as an engineer, and I love the outdoors. As a result, I chose to pursue environmental engineering and later realized my desire was hydrology.”

He started his secondary education at South Mountain Community College in 2012. After five terms at SMCC he transferred to the Civil Engineering program in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

During the 2016 spring semester Laulo was enrolled in CEE 361, an introduction to environmental engineering class taught by Bruce Rittmann, Regents’ Professor of Environmental Engineering and Director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology. Rittmann encouraged him to apply for the scholarship and also taught him about public water needs, risks and processing methods.

“Clinton was among the top students in terms of a grade,” Rittmann said. “But what made him special was his exceptional degree of engagement with the topic and the class. He brought in information he found outside. He usually had good questions or answers in class. He clearly was a leader whose activities enriched the experience for everyone.”

Laulo wants to be an innovator in Arizona hydrology. “There is great disparity in the world today, and securing systems in deserts in developed areas such as Phoenix will be the trend-setting solution globally,” he said. “Sustainable water sourcing is a must for humanity. Here in Arizona, because of past policy, we have the ability to experiment on behalf of much of the deserts around the world. The potential we have here excites me.”

The need for continued work in hydrology in Arizona is at an all-time high, and Laulo earnestly desires to work with agencies, government and most of all people to solve problems for the community.

“I want an Arizona like the one I grew up in for my sixth-generation grandchildren, and for all generations after,” he said. “The challenge, that I am willing to rise and meet, is connecting private agency, government and the people that are served. This passion I have for Arizona and for people is why I will build relationships that will be maintained and leveraged for the future development of our great state.”

Erik Wirtanen

Web content comm administrator, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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ASU Prep Casa Grande debuts

ASU Prep Casa Grande debuts with maroon-and-gold spirit, innovative learning.
August 2, 2016

Charter high school is the future of education with personalized, blended learning

Arizona State University has expanded its innovations in education to its K-12 charter schools, and the newest one opened this week.

ASU Preparatory Academy Casa Grande started classes Monday with 50 students in grades 9-12.

Every student gets a laptop and learns at an individualized pace, said Art Lebowitz, the head of schools.

“Interestingly enough, in Casa Grande, which seems far away from the big city, this is an incubator of what the future of learning will look like: the personalization, the blended learning, the students working at their own pace, the technology-driven education with faculty involved,” Lebowitz said.

In the old days, students would walk into a classroom and the daily goals would be on the blackboard, the same for everybody, said Deborah Gonzalez, chief academic officer for the ASU Prep network, which is supported in part by a grant from the Sullivan Foundation.

“Now, when you come into the classroom, you open your laptop and your learning objectives are personalized to you as an individual as opposed to everyone has to be on the same page on the same day at the same time.”

Students spent the first day of class learning to sign into their accounts, getting to know each other and learning about the four pillars of ASU Prep: academics, partnership, leadership and innovation.

Sylvia Mejia, director of blended learning, helps ninth-graders on the first day of school Aug. 1 at ASU Prep Casa Grande. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Casa Grande is the third ASU Prep campus, and like all charter schools, there is no tuition to attend. The ASU Prep campus at Seventh and Fillmore streets in downtown Phoenix houses a preschool, elementary and middle schools, and ASU Prep High School. The university’s Polytechnic campus in Mesa is home to a preschool, a K-8 STEM academy and ASU Prep High School Poly. The Phoenix and Poly schools, with about 2,000 total students, graduated 100 percent of the class of 2016, and about two-thirds of the graduates went on to attend ASU.

All the ASU Prep high schools use the internationally benchmarked Cambridge International Curriculum, which focuses on getting students ready for college. In some cases, end-of-course exams can be converted to university credit.

“It’s a high-level preparatory program designed to help every student graduate from a university,” Gonzalez said. “Because the learning is personalized, the students are able to find areas of interest and go in depth into those areas.”

Juniors and seniors will get to partner with faculty at the ASU Polytechnic campus for advanced study, take ASU Online courses and have hands-on internships in the community.

ASU Prep Casa Grande is housed on the grounds of the Francisco GrandeThe Francisco Grande was developed in 1959 as a spring-training camp for the San Francisco Giants and, later, the California Angels. The hotel was popular with Hollywood stars and once hosted John Wayne. The resort’s pool is shaped like a baseball bat. Hotel and Golf Resort, about 50 miles southeast of Phoenix. The school took over the resort’s conference center, and the students will walk next door to the hotel restaurant for lunch every day.

ASU Prep Casa Grande also is unique because of its partnership with Grande Sports AcademyMore than 60 of Grande Sports Academy’s players have been chosen by their home countries to compete for their national teams during the past five years, and two players have signed contracts with Liverpool and Manchester United football clubs in England., an elite soccer-training center for boys ages 14 to 18. The soccer academy shares a campus with the school and the resort, and about 60 student-athletes will have the opportunity to attend ASU Prep next year.

Like the other ASU Prep sites, the Casa Grande school is decorated with Sun Devil banners, pennants and posters, and the students wear maroon polo shirts. Everyone wears gold on Fridays.

That college-prep focus was what drew 10th-grader Alejandro De La Cerda to the new school.

“It was a great opportunity, and I couldn’t pass up on it,” De La Cerda said. “I knew it would be different, but at orientation I realized it was a whole different experience from other schools.

“To have something like this come to Casa Grande is pretty big.”

Top photo: Raylene Lerma (center) shows her schedule to fellow ninth-grader Elaysia Colts on the first day of classes at the new ASU Preparatory Academy in Casa Grande. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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New ASU dean ready to take on the system

New teachers' college dean wants to harness energy of entire ASU community.
August 2, 2016

Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College's new leader is a 'boundary spanner'

Carole Basile took a circuitous route to the dean’s office in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University.

After a degree in education and a short time student-teaching, she got her master’s degree and entered the business world. She worked for the Amoco Oil Co., doing training and organizational development.

"I woke up one day and said, 'These are the kinds of things we should be teaching kids at a much younger age — problem-solving, communication skills, leadership skills, team-building, all those kinds of things.' ”

After earning her doctorate, she spent years in higher education, while at the same time pursuing her avocation of teaching kids at nature centers. She was most recently dean and professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Education.

“I talk about myself as a boundary spanner who can deal with different populations of people and stakeholders because I’ve had various experiences dealing with them,” said Basile, who takes over Aug. 2.

Basile is eager to harness the entire ASU community to improve education.

“For a very long time, I’ve said that education has to move away from thinking about programs, projects and activities and really move toward thinking about systems and structures and culture.

“The real trick to sitting in a deanship where you have this entire university, this entire intellectual capacity and community, how do you bring that together to better our education system and structures?”

Learn more about Basile here:

Top photo: Carole Basile is the new dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now. Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now.