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Sex-trafficking survivor network aims to 'make a difference to this one'

ASU professor to join Phoenix in program to heal sex-trafficking survivors.
December 20, 2016

ASU expert helps Phoenix design therapies at new Starfish community, which offers housing, services to help rebuild lives

An Arizona State University professor is part of an innovative new program by the city of Phoenix to help survivors of sex trafficking find new lives.

The Phoenix City Council approved a plan Dec. 14 to provide housing and support services so victims can become self-sufficient and leave their abusive pasts.

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, director of ASU’s Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research, will help city staff design the therapies for the 15 clients who are accepted into the program, called Phoenix Starfish Place. She works with many survivors and has run several focus groups, asking participants what they need most.

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz will help the city of Phoenix design therapeutic services for sex-trafficking survivors in a new housing program.

“What we’ve learned is that getting into sex trafficking is complicated, and getting out is equally as complicated,” said Roe-Sepowitz, who also is an associate professor in ASU’s School of Social Work.

“The constant drumbeat is that they need a place to live,” she said. Survivors frequently have criminal records because their traffickers also force them into robbery, shoplifting and other crimes.

“So our clients have a difficult time finding a safe place to live and a stable community where the neighbor isn’t a drug dealer or a pimp.”

The name comes from a popular motivational story in which a man sees tens of thousands of starfish stranded on a beach. When the man sees a small boy throwing individual starfish back into the sea, he tells the boy it won’t make much of a difference. The boy picks up a starfish and says, “It will make a difference to this one.”  

Services at Phoenix Starfish Place will include support groups and skills training for the survivors and their children, as well as prevention groups. Clients are expected to move in later this year.

“One of the big things that came out of the focus groups is that we know this is an intergenerational problem. Children of trafficking victims are significantly more likely to be trafficking victims themselves,” she said.

The community, which Roe-Sepowitz believes will be the first in the country, will be based on a “sanctuary model.”

“We know most of our clients who are trafficked come into that situation with lots of childhood trauma, maybe incarcerated parents. A sexual-abuse history is very prevalent, and emotional abuse,” she said. “The abusive relationship with the trafficker is very traumatic.

“The sanctuary model creates an environment and a community in which everyone understands the trauma related to this, and responds with that in mind,” said Roe-Sepowitz, who has already started training employees in the city’s housing department.

“Everyone involved will have an understanding of what trafficking is so they can serve these clients with dignity and respect.”

Gathering data

The average age of entry into sex trafficking is 14, according to ASU’s Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research. Many of the young people have a history of running away or drug abuse and may be lured by older “boyfriends,” who begin by offering affection and support before forcing victims into prostitution.

In Arizona, the law-enforcement and justice systems began changing their response to trafficking over the past decade, viewing young prostitutes as victims of traffickers rather than criminals. In 2013, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton created the Human Trafficking Task Force, charged with increasing both prevention and services. In 2014, the state beefed up penalties for traffickers and johns and helped to protect minors from criminalization.

The Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research was launched in ASU’s School of Social Work in 2013. Since then, the center has produced several research projects, including a paper released this month revealing the results of a three-year survey of 199 homeless young adults in Arizona that found that a third reporting being sex trafficked.

The office also explored the before- and after-effects of the 2015 Super Bowl in Glendale on sex trafficking in Phoenix. Their study found that the event itself does not necessarily increase sex trafficking, but that “traffickers will bring their victims wherever there is demand and money.”

In 2014, Roe-Sepowitz was part of a teamRoe-Sepowitz was awarded the funding, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children, Youth and Families, along with Judy Krysik, an associate professor and the director of the Center for Child Well-being in the School of Social Work. The project is a collaboration among the Office for Sex Trafficking Research Intervention, the ASU Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy and the Arizona Department of Child Safety. that won a $1.24 million grant to help identify young trafficking victims in Arizona and to train child-welfare professionals to improve outcomes.

Cathy Bauer, the diversion program manager at Catholic Charities Community Services, said she has seen attitudes in the city “change 180 degrees” over the past decade. She runs the Dignity program, which allows clients to have misdemeanor prostitution charges dismissed upon completion. But she said that housing for women with children has been the missing link.

“A lot of times people can take a step up to that program that will take them to the next level in life, but if they can’t take their children, they can’t go,” said Bauer, who will be able to refer clients to the Starfish program. “To get a place like Starfish with safe, adequate housing with services is phenomenal.”

Roe-Sepowitz said her work on Phoenix Starfish Place will involve ASU students, including the 10 undergraduate and graduate students currently working in the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research.

“We’ll be evaluating the housing program and getting feedback on their quality of life, quality of safety, quality of community,” she said.

“It’s a really unique opportunity to collect data for students, and I hope it will support honors theses and graduate theses and maybe some dissertations.”

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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Altitude chamber elevates pilots in training at Polytechnic campus

Altitude chambers at ASU's Poly campus provide life-saving training to pilots.
ASU Aviation Program celebrates 20th anniversary.
December 20, 2016

ASU's Aviation Program has 1 of the only 3 heavy-duty altitude chambers in the nation that are available to civilians

In a nondescript building on a corner of Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus sits a pair of gray metal boxes that look like souped-up shipping containers.

They’re actually elaborate pieces of equipment belonging to the Aviation Program, but there’s more to it than that: These things go back to the days when men in silver suits skidded across space in cans.

Used by two Mercury Seven astronauts, U-2 spy pilots, the world-record parachutist who jumped from the edge of space and recently the SpaceX program, the heavy-duty altitude chambers simulate extreme conditions and help save lives.

This year is the Aviation Program’s 20th anniversary. It lucked out the day ASU acquired the former Williams Air Force Base, since it came with the chambers that students now have access to each semester. ASU has two altitude chambers: one for training and another for research. The research chamber is one of only threeThe others are at the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute in Oklahoma City and the University of North Dakota. chambers in the country available to civilians. 

“No other aeronautical university — whether it’s the University of North Dakota or Embry-Riddle — can compete with the capabilities that we have here at Arizona State University,” said Ronald Diedrichs, aerospace physiologist and lecturer. Diedrichs operates the training chamber during sessions that could save a pilot’s life. 

Hypoxia is a condition that affects pilots when they fly at high altitudes above 10,000 feet. “Insidious” is the word aviators often use to describe it. Typical symptoms are lightheadedness, euphoria, tingling in the extremities and unconsciousness. Losing cognitive control while flying an airplane ends in crashes.

“It’s amazing how many people lose consciousness ... and don’t live through it,” Diedrichs said. “It’s not advertised very much.”

Over the past 25 years, there have been 46 crashes involving or possibly involving hypoxia, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Some were clearly caused by hypoxia. In others, there was no evidence beyond a pilot speaking with slurred speech and not obeying air traffic controllers’ commands before crashing.

In traditional aviation education, students learn about hypoxia, but not in a controlled environment where they can learn to recognize their personal symptoms.

“It’s that recognition of those subjective symptoms that can give early warning to a pilot that they need to lower their altitude or get supplemental oxygen,” said Marc O’Brien, aviation program director. “The training that they get here is better than they would get at an airline. The airlines don’t have these kinds of facilities.”

Diedrichs has flown 49 years safely. One memorable day flying over southern Colorado en route from Phoenix to a small city on the Kansas state line, the hypoxia training he received in the military kicked in.

“I’ve used the knowledge myself,” he said. “I looked down at my pulse oximeter that I always wear when I’m flying in an unpressurized airplane, and I saw I was really low on oxygen saturation. I immediately dialed my autopilot down to 11,500 feet — 1,000 feet per minute — hoping I would stay conscious. I did not expect that I would stay conscious. Everything worked, and I got down safely.”

Diedrichs is a professional pilot who is board-certified in aerospace physiology.

“My job No. 1 is to make sure it’s safe,” he said.

The first thing Diedrichs does during a training session is denitrogenate the chamber. About 80 percent of Earth’s atmosphere is nitrogen.

“If I take you to half an atmosphere, which is 18,000 feet, you would fizz, just like a soda would fizz,” he said. “It’s called decompression sickness.”

Subjects breath pure oxygen for at least 30 minutes before going to altitude. Instructors go into detail about how the oxygen equipment in the chamber works.

Once they’re at 25,000 feet, they take half the students off oxygen. The other half watches them while they undergo hypoxia.

“The objective is those that don’t have their masks on nail down in their minds what their symptoms are, because everyone gets different symptoms,” Diedrichs said. “They might not even go through the same symptoms, and that’s why the military has them go through the training every five years.”

They do an explosive decompression at 5,000 feet, like what you’d experience on an airliner if a window or door blew off. It’s an FAA-certified course.

The program charges per seat (at 16 seats) to use the main chamber, plus oxygen, per day. One session with a full crew, including an aerospace physiologist, two crew chiefs, an inside observer, driver and participants, can cost as much as $20,000.

“I’m trying to give them enough knowledge to fly for 50 years uneventfully and enjoy all of it,” Diedrichs said. “I call it life assurance training.”

The chamber has other applications besides flight, O’Brien pointed out. It’s a great research facility and resource for the private sector.

“We’ve had different clients come in; most recently, SpaceX has been in testing their space suits,” O’Brien said.

“We’ve had military come in for different things. We’ve had pharmaceutical companies to test things like insulin-delivery devices in a controlled environment. We can replicate the cabin-pressure altitudes of airliners, and also in situations with rapid or explosive decompression, so that these companies can test their devices and make sure they’re functional in all kinds of circumstances.”

Top photo: Kasey Stevenson, air transportation management student, and Nash Roney, professional flight student, get ready inside the Del E. Webb Foundation Altitude Chamber on the ASU Polytechnic campus. Photo by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU alum takes fight to HIV in Phoenix

How higher education and personal initiative resulted in a proactive new policy of support, prevention

December 15, 2016

There’s a new public health movement called the Fast-Track Cities Initiative that promises to improve access to testing, medication and other resources for those affected by HIV/AIDS in the Phoenix area. 

It’s backed by a host of prestigious organizations, including the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the International Association for Providers of AIDS Care.  photo of Hunter Workman speaking at the 2016 IAPA fundraising Gala Hunter Workman speaking at the 2016 IAPA fundraising gala. Download Full Image

Hunter Workman, an alumnus from the ASU School of Human Evolution and Social Change, helped pass the initiative in Phoenix.

Workman graduated from Arizona State University with honors in May 2016, holding concurrent degrees in global health and biochemistry. He now works for HEAL International, a nonprofit organization that provides health and empowerment education in Arizona and Tanzania.

Workman’s involvement with HIV organizations and the Fast-Track Cities Initiative began when he was a student.

He said he first learned about the HIV/AIDS epidemic when he took a class with School of Life Sciences faculty associate Damien Salamone titled “HIV/AIDS: Science/Behavior/Society.” The class had a big impact on Workman, and he recommends it to others.

“After taking the class, I developed a passion for serving people who are infected or affected by HIV by volunteering with HIV organizations in Arizona and India,” Workman said.

Time spent with other organizations, including the International Alliance for the Prevention of AIDS, took Workman all the way to India, where he helped provide AIDS education for the community of Chennai.

However, he knew there were still issues to address closer to home. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, there were nearly 1,100 Phoenix residents who didn’t know they had HIV in 2015. Statewide, over 40 percent of people living with HIV don’t receive medical care or take medications.

Knowledge of these local issues, combined with yet another influential ASU course — “Global Health Policy,” taught by associate professor Monica Gaughan of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change — prompted Workman to combat the issue from a political angle. The course opened his eyes to the link between policy and public health.

“After working with HIV organizations for a few years, and taking that class, I recognized how getting Phoenix to commit to the FTCI would affect policy that would dramatically improve how we fight HIV/AIDS and stigma in Arizona,” he said.

“Hunter is a student who exemplifies ASU's aspirations to transform society by leveraging our place, being socially embedded and engaging globally,” Gaughan said. “He applied what he learned in the classroom about policy analysis and advocacy to a local problem.”

Workman’s first step was putting on a forum-style event with his colleague, Kohi Gill, at ASU’s Tempe campus. They called it “HIV in Your World: Local and Global Perspectives” and invited community leaders to speak or participate in the discussion. These leaders included former Tempe Mayor and former CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation Neil Giuliano as well as Dr. Benjamin Young, the chief medical officer for the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care.

Young gave a presentation at the event on a new, progressive initiative by his association to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the participation of cities — the FTCI. During the presentation, Workman was fortuitously seated next to Giuliano.

“I asked him for his perspective on bringing the FTCI to Phoenix, and he insisted that this was the next step to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic, eliminating HIV stigma and caring for those infected with HIV,” Workman says. “I then committed to speaking with community leaders.”

By leveraging his existing volunteer connections to HIV health organizations, and with the encouragement of Gaughan, Workman developed an honors project proposal for Phoenix to commit to the FTCI.

He presented this proposal to a group of community leaders, which led to conversations about how they could bring the initiative to Phoenix. Many of the Valley’s larger HIV organizations became involved, and they eventually formed a committee. This committee then reached out to the mayor of Phoenix, and they worked together to pass the FTCI.

“I hope to see the FTCI harmonize organizations in Phoenix to make meaningful strides, together, to reach the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals,” Workman says. These include 90 percent of all people living with HIV knowing their status, 90 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV receiving sustained antiretroviral therapy, 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy having viral suppression, and zero stigma surrounding HIV — all by 2021.

By providing Arizona with its greatest-ever collective effort to champion the health and rights of those affected by HIV, Workman hopes the effort will inspire other cities to also take part in the years ahead.

Over the next five years, beginning in 2017, the plan will:

  • provide fast, free HIV testing and link those who test positive to medical care within 30 days
  • offer people living with HIV easy access to medical care, medicine and supportive services
  • empower people with HIV to maintain their treatment so that their HIV is undetectable
  • renew Arizona’s commitment to HIV education, awareness and advocacy

“Overall, I am excited to see how the FTCI will bring care to all of those infected with HIV,” he said. “The FTCI will make history in Arizona and around the world.”

Mikala Kass

Communications Specialist, ASU Knowledge Enterprise


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New ASU graduates encouraged to lift up their communities

New ASU graduates are told, "You are responsible. There is no one else."
December 12, 2016

'You are responsible,' degree-holders are told at fall 2016 commencement

Arizona State University's newest graduates were encouraged to lift up their communities as they find success with the degrees they received Monday.

ASU awarded about 5,200 bachelor’s degrees for the fall semester, with the undergraduate commencement Monday morning at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, and about 1,800 graduate degrees were awarded at the graduate commencement that afternoon.

ASU President Michael Crow told the students at the undergraduate ceremony that they are graduating “on the best day in the history of our country.”

“We’ve never been at a moment in history closer to the point where equality and liberty and justice are now much more than theoretical concepts. They are things we are actually pursuing with a vengeance — a positive vengeance,” Crow said.

But he warned the graduates that they face unique challenges.

“Every single person that is in our society has something to contribute, and we’re at a particularly hazardous moment right now where large numbers of people are feeling left behind,” he said.

“There’s a lot of resentment and a lot of anger and a lot of stress as a result of this.

“You as freshly minted college graduates have to think not only of your own success, or your family’s success, but also the broader community’s success in everything that you do,” he said.

“You must think more broadly than the small group you’re connected to.”

Crow said this is ASU’s final lesson: “You are responsible. There is no one else.”

After the undergraduate commencement on Monday morning, a number of convocations are planned for special-interest groups and ASU's individual colleges and schools. The fall 2016 semester includes 206 graduates from the Starbucks College Achievement PlanThe Starbucks College Achievement Plan, launched in 2014, offers full tuition reimbursement to employees who pursue an online degree through ASU. — a record number.

Several new graduates said their ASU education has prepared them well for their next step.

Sam Stefanski, who earned a degree in vocal performance, said he plans to teach in his own studio and to perform.

“I plan on bringing music to the next generation. I’m building my own program,” said Stefanski, who sang both the national anthem and ASU alma mater during the ceremony.

“ASU gave me the flexibility to work during my undergrad and to build my own clientele and students,” he said.

Brandon Kamentani earned a degree in pre-law and justice studies and will attend law school.

“Every class, every course I took made me completely confident in what I want to do and allowed me to figure out what I want my career in,” he said.

Top photo: Criminal justice student Alexis Cook cheers as she and other students receive their degrees during ASU's fall 2016 undergraduate commencement on Dec. 12. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU construction major builds and improves on career

42-year-old Navajo Nation member earns ASU master's in construction management.
December 12, 2016

Army vet Darrell Stanley returns to school, will graduate with master's of science in construction management

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2016 commencement. See more graduates here.

ASU student Darrell Stanley knew in his early 20s that he wouldn't always be able to rely on his body for a steady paycheck.

After an honorable discharge from the Army, Stanley became a certified refrigerator repairman in 1996. Several co-workers told him welcome aboard, but to also start looking for another job.

“They told me about their back problems and physical ailments as they got older, and that I should use my GI Bill to get a college degree,” Stanley said. “It took 18 years, but I eventually got the message.”

The 42-year-old member of the Navajo Nation received his bachelor’s degree in construction management from Arizona State University's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering in 2011. Tribal leaders back home in Kayenta, Arizona, took note of his 3.3 GPA, and made him an offer.

“They said they’d pay for my education if I went back to school to get my master's, so I took advantage of it,” said Stanley, who works as a construction manager for the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.

Stanley has lived up to his end of the agreement and this week graduated with a master's of science in construction management.

He says he’s thankful to ASU for teaching him “the realistic side of construction, what’s going on now and what will happen in the future.”

Stanley also answered a few questions about his experience at ASU.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I had been in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) trade for 18 years and as I got older my perspective changed. My days of climbing roofs and crawling into attics became challenging. This was when I decided to go back to school to pursue a professional career in construction management.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: I understand that education is a key component to be a leader in construction management. Knowing that employers seek managers who can solve problematic issues by innovation and experience. The ASU Del E. Webb School of Construction Master’s Program was my answer to widen my awareness and perspective.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I am aware that the construction industry is moving in a new direction and new advance cutting-edge technology has innovated construction methods. It brought better decision making, which resulted in projects becoming smarter. This trend has made construction faster, lower cost for the owner and has tremendously improved on building sustainability and functionality. ASU is the school to prepare me.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Study now and sleep later.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I had a lot of interesting discussions and collaborated with a lot students at the College Avenue Commons atrium. I consider this to be my favorite place.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am the father of three children. I plan to continue to guide my children to earn their degree as well, and they are all enrolled at Mesa Community College. I also plan to support my wife as she will be pursuing her master’s degree in the spring of 2017.

Also, I intend to fulfill my time mastering the processes and procedure of construction. I have a passion for building image modeling and learning how to effectively incorporate it into construction. I plan to spend my time collaborating and interacting with companies that have mastered the use of BIM.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: To continuously find products or materials that can be reused repeatedly instead of using it once and dispose of it. For example, plastic grocery bags have been recycled and re-engineered into weather-resistant 2-by-4’s. 

Top photo: Darrell Stanley completed his master's of science in construction management while both working full time and taking a full course load. He stands outside Wells Fargo Arena shortly before the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering convocation, Dec. 13. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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ASU fall commencement marks start of next chapter

ASU to award more than 7,000 degrees in fall 2016 commencement.
December 9, 2016

University will award more than 7,000 degrees; law school to mark first convocation in new Beus Center for Law and Society

Arizona State University’s fall commencement will be a mix of new and old this week.

ASU is awarding about 5,200 undergraduate and 1,800 graduate degrees in several ceremonies. The main undergraduate commencement is Monday at Wells Fargo Arena.

Among the new ceremonies is the first commencement of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law to be held in the new Beus Center for Law and Society on the Downtown Phoenix campus. The six-floor building opened in August.

The Beus Center for Law and Society opened in August.

“We can’t think of a better way to demonstrate, very tangibly, the impact of connecting law and society as we usher the next generation of lawyers as well as students who have mastered legal principles to employers in our downtown community and across the country,” said Douglas J. Sylvester, dean of the law school, whose students donate more than 100,000 hours of pro bono work collectively.

The convocation for the law school’s 74 graduates will be held Wednesday, and will recognize Devin Jacob Garza for more than 170 hours of pro bono work with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

Among the oldest traditions will be the Parade of International Flags at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, which became part of ASU in 2015 after nearly 50 years as a private graduate school. In that ceremony, which dates to 1977, graduates carry the flags of their home countries during the convocation, which will be held Wednesday at the Glendale campus.

ASU welcomes a diverse student population, and several events are scheduled to recognize them, including American Indians, Asian and Asian Pacific Americans, black and African, Hispanic, veterans and international students. Click here for the complete schedule. Visit here for the list of events at individual colleges and schools.

While commencement wraps up years of hard work at ASU, for some students, it’ll be their first time on campus. ASU Online is awarding about 550 undergraduate degrees, including more than 200 enrolled in the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, and about 740 graduate degrees.

One of the graduates is Devon Probol, who completed her bachelor’s degree in history, with a minor in religious studies, in two and half years while posted in Australia for the U.S. Department of State. She worked as a security assistant for the U.S. embassy in Canberra.

Probol, who is attending commencement events, got her first look at the Tempe campus last week.

“I was shocked at how beautiful it is,” she said. “I called my mom and said ‘It’s is so weird that this is my alma mater, but the first time I’m seeing it is my graduation.”

Probol said the ASU Online program was clear and logical and allowed her to take a full load of classes while working full time.

“It made a lot more sense to me, personally. I really enjoyed that everything was laid out. There was no room to misunderstand what is expected of you,” she said.

Thousands of graduates will go into the workforce well prepared by their education at ASU, which was ranked ninth in the nation for graduate employability by the Global University Employability Survey 2016. Many students are able to study across disciplines at ASU.

Electrical engineering major Ngoni Mugwisi, who is from Zimbabwe and won a Rhodes Scholarship, was one of them.

“This opportunity to cross between disciplines, whether in engineering, entrepeneurship, and all the collaboration efforts I’ve found here at ASU, they’ve been really inspiring. It’s an enabling environment to be the best anyone can do.”

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


Q&A: ASU expert discusses water ahead of Business H20 summit

Las Vegas conference focuses on what industry can do to conserve resource in face of uncertain future

December 8, 2016

The world faces an uncertain future when it comes to one of its most precious resources, water. As fresh water dwindles and long-term droughts take hold, many are now looking to new sources of water or to new ways to conserve and re-use the water we already have.

John Sabo, a professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences and a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability as well as director of ASU’s Future H2O initiative, is taking part in Business H2O, a water summit in Las Vegas on Dec. 12 that focuses on what industry can do to conserve and better manage water. Here, Sabo talks about the role industry plays in conserving water, developing “greener ways” to convert and treat water and the benefits they will incur as a result.  John Sabo, Director of Research Development, ASU Global Institute of Sustain John Sabo Download Full Image

Question: As we face an uncertain future with water, why is it so important to get industry on board with water conservation policy?

Answer: Conservation is an easy, potentially cost-effective new bucket of water that will improve the potential for continued economic growth and prosperity in the Valley. The technology of conservation is also a potential area for business development and growth in our region.

Industry can be the driver for innovation in conservation policy, and just plain get the job done. Some big companies can set the example for their value chain, including the smaller companies that distribute their products by setting goals for water use within the four walls of their facilities and beyond. There are a number of examples of companies doing great work to promote long-term water sustainability. For example, the Coca-Cola Company restores and creates wetlands in watersheds that provide water to its bottling facilities (in cities) in order to improve the quality of water and augment storage through green — rather than gray — infrastructure. 

Q: How much water does industry use? 

A: In Arizona, about 400,000 to 500,000 acre-feet or 6 to 8 percent of the total freshwater withdrawals annually. One acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons or enough to provide for a family of five for a 1 to 1.5 years depending on efficiency.

Q: How can they conserve the use of water?

A: The biggest savings are on the commercial, industrial and institutional side of the equation. Here water can be saved outside — think lawns in front of churches, hospitals or restaurants — or leaks in water systems that are not continually monitored, like a homeowners association or a shopping mall. Water can also be saved inside buildings by using technologies that reduce use in their production lines or in cooling. Dry cooling technologies are key here as they eliminate water use in this aspect of manufacturing. 

Also, water can be reused and transferred between purposes. Intel treats its effluent to better than drinking water standards and injects it into groundwater where it blends with natural recharge and can be drawn for future use by the city of Chandler. They essentially use, treat and store the water in an underground acquifer for reuse by other water customers later. 

Q: How do companies benefit from water conservation?

A: Conservation may turn out to be cheaper than going after more water supply, like through desalination. If the incentives are set up right, a business can sustain supplies of cheaper water into the future by investing in conservation.

Q: How do events like the Business H2O event in Las Vegas help in this regard?

A: Business H2O will be focused on innovation in water technology, particularly the role of technology in improving water efficiency and reducing costs for businesses. More importantly, there is an emerging industry and market for efficient technologies and this could be a new opportunity for entrepreneurs, innovators and for the Valley’s economy to grow.

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


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ASU lecturer selected as Phoenix's poet laureate

ASU's Rosemarie Dombrowski "ecstatic" to be Phoenix's inaugural poet laureate.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton: "We need [poetry] now more than ever."
December 7, 2016

Rosemarie Dombrowski will act as city's first official ambassador of literacy and art under newly announced appointment

The city of Phoenix has selected its first community poet, appointing ASU lecturer Rosemarie Dombrowski, who welcomed the nod, saying poetry represents a “recognition of the human struggle and a celebration of the human form.”

The choice was announced at a news conference Wednesday at South Mountain Community Library, attended by Arizona poet laureate Alberto Rios, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and other city officials.

Dombrowski’s two-year appointment as the city’s ambassador of literacy and art will begin in January, with responsibilities that include giving public readings and composing poems for special occasions.

She also will work on a special project, which likely will focus on education. In the past, Dombrowski has hosted writing workshops for teenaged girls at Changing Hands Bookstore. She said in an interview Tuesday with ASU Now that she hopes to do something similar with elementary school children.

“Poetry is such a wonderful avenue for self-expression,” Dombrowski said, adding, “I hope I can convince people of all ages that it’s a vehicle we can use to express ourselves.”

Rios, Regents’ Professor of English at ASU, said Wednesday that Dombrowski “finds the beautiful no matter what it looks like. This is what a great poet does.”

Stanton, meanwhile, said there is a vital “role arts play in the health and well-being of our community.”

Originally from Kansas, Dombrowski grew up in Missouri and moved to Mesa, Arizona, with her family at 14. After high school, she settled in Phoenix and never looked back.

“I feel like I’ve been a Phoenician my whole life,” she said.

A self-described perpetual writing machine, Dombrowski also serves as an editor for the independent Phoenix-based literary magazine Four Chambers Press; co-founder and host of the Phoenix Poetry Series and Get Lit, two separate monthly gatherings of local poets and artists in downtown Phoenix; and founder and editor-in-chief of the local Rinky Dink Press, which publishes micro-poetry in micro-zine form.

Her love affair with Phoenix began as an undergraduate at ASU when she and fellow classmates would set up card tables in dirt lots near Roosevelt and 7th Street, selling copies of a student literary publication “for two bucks a pop” as downtown was still largely empty and First Fridays starting to grow in popularity.

“I remember when it was dusty and desolate, and I loved it then,” Dombrowski said. “It’s so emotional for me to see the evolution that’s taken place there in the last decade.”

After receiving her doctorate in American Literature from ASU in 2007, Dombrowski said a stroke of “wild luck” resulted in her first post-doc teaching gig at the university’s Downtown Phoenix campus. It was there she helped found the campus’ undergraduate writing journal Write On, Downtown, and has served as its editor-in-chief ever since.

Dombrowski called Phoenix an “omnipresent” influence on her work, both on the page and in her human interactions, something Gail Browne, executive director of the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, said the selection panel noticed.

Browne said Dombrowski’s appointment is “a way for our city to articulate who we are through poetry and literature, a way of advocating for the importance of language, literacy, reading and writing.”

Over the past few years, a number of cities throughout the U.S. — including Los Angeles, Houston and Key West, Florida — have appointed poet laureates. “We thought it would be an interesting time for Phoenix to do that as well,” Browne said.

Dombrowski’s writing has appeared in Columbia Review, Anthro/Poetics, Nano, The Review Review and elsewhere. She has received four Pushcart Prize nominations, was a finalist for the Pangea Poetry Prize in 2015 and was nominated for the Best of the Web Anthology in 2016. Her collections include The Book of Emergencies (Five Oaks Press, 2014) and the forthcoming The Philosophy of Unclean Things (Finishing Line Press, 2016).

For this “amazing windfall of happenings” Dombrowski made sure to thank ASU for “the immense opportunities” given to her throughout her education and as a senior lecturer in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.

“I’m ecstatic to take on this role as your community poet,” she said. “I hope to do right by the city of Phoenix and everybody who’s interested— and disinterested — in poetry. Because we’re gonna change that!”

In 2012, Dombrowski penned “A Love Letter to Phoenix” for the Huffington Post. You can read it here.

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Experts see steady economy in 2017 under Trump

Experts predict stable economy in 2017 under Trump at ASU forecasting event.
December 5, 2016

ASU economic forecaster predicts that Arizona will see more jobs added

Despite a wild and unpredictable campaign season, three top economists predict a stable — and potentially positive — economic outlook for 2017 under Donald Trump, who will be sworn in as president in January.

Unemployment and inflation will likely remain stable, and any policy changes wouldn't have big effects until 2018, according to experts at the annual Economic Forecast Luncheon on Monday, sponsored by the W. P Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and JPMorgan Chase and Co.

James Bullard, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, predicted that the most immediate economic changes could be seen with Trump’s promises to deregulate businesses, spend billions on infrastructure and reform taxes.

“If you think there’s been over-regulation of unwarranted regulations, you could see improvements in productivity, but regulation is a vast area that covers many different aspects of how businesses operate,” he said to the 700 people who attended the 53rd annual luncheon in Phoenix.

“The U.S. growthThe U.S. economy is growing at about 2 percent – a figure that Bullard predicts will hold for 2017. rate is low, but it could be influenced by those policy changes.”

But Bullard said that changes in trade agreements or immigration policy would likely take much longer to have an effect on the American economy.

He also said he was not concerned about remarks Trump made during the campaign that called into question the credibility of the U.S. Federal Reserve, which sets monetary policy.

“Trump’s transition team has said they’ll respect the Fed, and I take them at their word that ultimately they will endorse the current Fed structure and that we’ll be able to continue to deliver good monetary policy under a new administration,” he said.

Another economic expert predicted that if Trump decreases the corporate tax rate, as he’s promised, it could drastically increase profits — though not right away. Anthony Chan, the chief economist for JP Morgan Chase and Co., said the current corporate tax rate is 35 percent — although the average rate that corporations actually pay is closer to 27 percent.

“If the corporate tax rate is lowered to 15 percent, it has the potential to boost corporate profits by 19 to 20 percent,” he said. “But I’ll be the first to tell you that it won’t happen in 2017.”

Chan also said that Trump’s plan to allow corporations to repatriate profits made abroad could potentially raise $160 billion in revenues, which could pay for his infrastructure plan.

“As investors it’s not our job to say ‘this is good or this is bad.’ It’s our job to set our portfolios to benefit from these things,” he said.

Lee McPheters predicts more jobs for Arizona next year, but he worries about long-term indicators.

The outlook in Arizona is positive for next year — with some ominous long-term economic issues, according to Lee McPheters, research professor of economics in the W. P. Carey School of Business and director of the school's JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center, which specializes in economic forecasts for Arizona and the Western states.

McPhetersMcPheters is editor of the Arizona Blue Chip Economic Forecast and the Western Blue Chip Economic Forecast newsletters, published monthly by the center. showed that of five economic indicator forecasts he made a year ago, three were better than predicted. There were 76,000 new jobs, compared with 68,000 predicted. The employment increase was more than expected — 2.9 percent increase in jobs compared with 2.6 percent predicted. And the unemployment rate was better than forecast — 5.2 percent compared with 5.8 percent.

The two indicators that were not better than McPheters predicted were population, which increased by 1.6 percent compared with the forecast 1.7 percent, and single-family housing permits, which increased 10 percent, not the 30 percent he forecast.

“If you look at Arizona’s numbers, we’re pretty certain as we wrap up 2016, we will definitely be in the top 10, and maybe the top 5, nationally for private job creation, and we expect that to continue in 2017,” he said.

Even with the positive projections, Arizona is below the national average in other measures of economic prosperity. The state ranks 42nd in per-capita income and 45th in poverty. The state also ranks last in per-student funding for universities.

“We need to look at policies that propel Arizona to look more like Colorado or our neighbors who have made the transition to using technology to increase income,” he said.

Top photo: James Bullard, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, predicted that the most immediate economic changes could be seen with Trump’s promises to deregulate businesses, spend billions on infrastructure and reform taxes. He spoke at the Economic Forecast Luncheon on Monday, sponsored by the W. P Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and JPMorgan Chase and Co. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now.

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU partnership advances nursing education in rural Arizona

December 2, 2016

Stephanie Ford was working full-time on the night shift at a local prison when she started taking the prerequisite courses for Eastern Arizona College’s nursing program. The 25-year-old single mother and full-time student learned to balance her job and school while volunteering two days a week at a local hospice.

After a full day at the prison, which started very early in the morning, she would come home, play with her daughter, make dinner, and then dive into her studies. Stephanie Ford, ASU-Eastern nursing student, at the Eastern Arizona College campus in Thatcher, Arizona. Download Full Image

“There are days when you feel like you can’t do it, but you remember you’re going to help people, and it keeps you going,” she said.

In May, Ford graduated with her associate degree in nursing from Eastern Arizona College and passed the NCLEX-RN exam. She is also on track to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree next May from Arizona State University's College of Nursing and Health Innovation through Eastern's Arizona College's Concurrent Enrollment Program.

The new CEP program between ASU and Eastern Arizona College in the rural community of Thatcher allows eligible students enrolled in Eastern’s nursing program to pursue their BSN degree from ASU and their associate degree from Eastern concurrently.

Offered in a hybrid format, students learn through face-to-face and online classes taught by dedicated ASU and Eastern faculty from the Gila Valley. When they finish all components of the CEP program at Eastern, students will have earned a baccalaureate degree from ASU.

Ford said she wanted to encourage her daughter, who is now three years old, to follow her dreams. She believes that her influence on her daughter — watching Ford pursue her degree and stay focused on her goals — will teach her never to give up. “I hope she goes to college,” she said.

Ford initially had fears that she wouldn’t have time for nursing school, or that the cost would be too high. She now believes the CEP program, while rigorous, has been a great opportunity.

“The program removes barriers for students,” said Carolyn McCormies, Eastern's nursing program director. “ASU is a great partner to have.”

A graduate of ASU’s original RN-to-MS program, a recipient of the university’s Barbara Browne Connors nursing scholarship, and a board certified nurse practitioner, McCormies understands the value of an ASU education, especially in her role as the director of Eastern’s program.

While costs and other student concerns have always kept McCormies awake at night, the Concurrent Enrollment Program between the two institutions has addressed those concerns, she said.

“We share a standard of excellence, and an insistence upon excellence,” McCormies said. “It’s an amazing opportunity for students to meet their goals in an efficient way.”

Students finish their degrees guided by supportive local instructors from ASU and Eastern in less time than if they had pursued each degree at separate institutions.

McCormies’ personal touch has made a difference in Eastern’s program. She has developed mentorships to help Eastern’s students learn more about the benefits of the CEP program; she has arranged for advanced CEP students to help younger students stay committed; and she hosts barbeques for her students and their families.

That family atmosphere and support proved invaluable during Ford’s third semester. Just before starting block three, Ford’s father died unexpectedly.

“My heart was broken and I was devastated,” she said. “I met with EAC and ASU faculty and they worked with me. I had so much support from both colleges, and I am forever thankful.”

Relationships are important to Eastern’s faculty, students and community members, just as they are with ASU.

When ASU president Michael Crow and Eastern Arizona College president Mark Bryce began discussions about a possible partnership six years ago to make baccalaureate programs available for Eastern’s students, they thought the program should be 100 percent face-to-face.

But Eastern’s nursing students preferred hybrid and online classes because of their busy schedules.

The two institutions and program leaders took the feedback to heart and negotiated the format over time to fit the needs of their students. ASU hired Eastern’s nursing instructors to deliver the ASU courses, each of whom had relationships with Eastern students.

Students take classes in a variety of settings depending on whether the class is an Eastern or ASU course. Eastern’s classes are offered in the clinical setting and the classroom or lab. ASU courses meet in person once a week and online. Both institutions work together to help students succeed.

ASU’s mission as a public state university is to provide access to all students, including those who don’t have the advantage of living in the Phoenix area, said Maria Hesse, vice provost for academic partnerships at ASU.

“We serve the community in partnership, playing to the strengths of both institutions,” she said.

It also helps ASU meet its goals of preparing BSN students to be able to pursue advanced degrees, and meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations, said Diann Muzyka, director of the RN-to-BSN program and the Concurrent Enrollment Program at ASU’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation.

It’s also important that students can find access where it’s financially affordable, Muzyka said.

“We are able to prepare nurses at the baccalaureate level, and help meet the IOM recommendations (80 percent BSN-prepared workforce in place by 2020)," Muzyka said.  “Research shows that patient outcomes are better with nurses who have earned a bachelor’s degree. It’s a benefit to patients and the communities in which we live."

The idea of community got bigger this summer when a small group of nursing students from Eastern’s 2015 CEP cohort had an opportunity to travel to Honduras for a weeklong international community health experience. 

Coordinated by Eastern’s nursing faculty, the students lived with a host family and worked at local clinics.

In the crowded lobby of the Nacaome Valle Hospital where the students did intake and triage, it was over 90 degrees with 80 percent humidity. Patients waited patiently in line for up to three hours and were grateful to see a doctor and walk out with something as simple as ibuprophen or vitamins, said Sara Lemley, CEP nursing faculty.

“During their stay, students were able to better understand and experience a foreign health care system and care for patients alongside Honduran nurses and health care personnel,” Lemley said. 

Stephanie Ford was one of the students.       

“I was struck by how grateful and kind this community was,” Ford said. “I will take the teamwork I learned into my nursing career and have respect for other members of the team because we all bring something to the table, and together we provide effective care.”

Denise Kronsteiner

Director of Strategic Communications, School for the Future of Innovation in Society