ASU, edX and MIT announce innovative stackable online Master of Science in Supply Chain Management

Collaboration creates world’s first stacked master’s degree on from two top-ranked universities in the field

June 19, 2019

Arizona State University, edX and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced the launch of an online master’s degree program in supply chain management. This unique credit pathway between MIT and ASU takes a MicroMasters program from one university, MIT, and stacks it up to a full master’s degree on edX from ASU.

Learners who complete and pass the Supply Chain Management MicroMasters program and then apply and gain admission to ASU are eligible to earn a top-ranked graduate degree from ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business and ASU Online. MIT and ASU are both currently ranked in the top 3 for graduate supply chain and logistics by U.S. News and World Report. Download Full Image

This new master’s degree is the latest program to launch following edX’s October 2018 announcement of 10 disruptively priced and top-ranked online master’s degree programs available on Master’s degrees on edX are unique because they are stacked, degree programs with a MicroMasters program component. A MicroMasters program is a series of graduate-level courses that provides learners with valuable standalone skills that translate into career-focused advancement, as well as the option to use the completed coursework as a stepping stone toward credit in a full master’s degree program.

“We are excited to strengthen our relationship with ASU to offer this innovative, top-ranked online master’s degree program in supply chain management,” said Anant Agarwal, edX CEO and MIT professor. “This announcement comes at a time when the workplace is changing more rapidly than ever before, and employers are in need of highly skilled talent, especially in the fields most impacted by advances in technology. This new offering truly transforms traditional graduate education by bringing together two top-ranked schools in supply chain management to create the world’s first stackable, hybrid graduate degree program. This approach to a stackable, flexible, top-quality online master’s degree is the latest milestone in addressing today’s global skills gap.”

ASU’s online master’s degree program will help prepare a highly technical and competent global workforce for advancement in supply chain management careers across a broad diversity of industries and functions. Students enrolled in the program will also gain an in-depth understanding of the role the supply chain manager can play in an enterprise supply chain and in determining overall strategy.

“We’re very excited to collaborate with MIT and edX to increase accessibility to a top-ranked degree in supply chain management,” said Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “We believe there will be many students who are eager to dive deeper after their MicroMasters program to earn a master's degree from ASU, and that more learners will be drawn to the MIT Supply Chain Management MicroMasters program as this new pathway to a graduate degree within the edX platform becomes available.”

With this new pathway, the MIT Supply Chain Management MicroMasters program now offers learners pathways to completing a master’s degree at 21 institutions. This new program with ASU for the supply chain management online master’s degree offers a seamless learner experience through an easy transition of credit and a timely completion of degree requirements without leaving the edX platform.

“Learners who complete the MITx MicroMasters program credential from the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics will now have the opportunity to transition seamlessly online to a full master’s degree from ASU,” said Krishna Rajagopal, dean for digital learning at MIT Open Learning. “We are delighted to add this program to MIT’s growing number of pathways that provide learners with increased access to higher education and career advancement opportunities in a flexible, affordable manner.”

The online Master of Science in Supply Chain Management from ASU will launch in January 2020. Students currently enrolled in, or who have already completed, the MITx Supply Chain Management MicroMasters program can apply now for the degree program, with an application deadline of Dec. 16, 2019.

Carrie Peterson

Media Relations Manager, EdPlus at Arizona State University


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ASU vice provost honored for leadership and service, closing 40 years in education

June 18, 2019

For more than four decades, Maria Hesse has been a prominent figure in the field of education. So much so that Arizona Women in Higher Education, an organization where she served on the board for 10 years, named her the 2019 Woman of the Year.

The AWHE mission is to support women and improve the climate and professional environment for women in higher education in the state of Arizona.

“I have really enjoyed serving on the board for Arizona Women in Higher Education, an organization whose very purpose is to promote personal and professional growth,” Hesse said.

The honor is bestowed on women who exemplify leadership, innovation and service and those who help women advance into senior-level leadership roles through nominations and developing their leadership abilities.

With Hesse retiring this month, the award also marks the end of a decade of accolades, accomplishments and contributions to the ASU community and the entire state of Arizona. As ASU’s vice provost for academic partnerships, she has created a student-centered “culture of transfer” by nurturing relationships with other institutions and developing strategies designed to increase the number of students who complete associate and bachelor's degrees.

“I have spent the last 10 years at ASU working hard on issues of transfer student success. It has been a labor of love for both community colleges and for my alma mater, Arizona State University,” she said.

four women standing in hallway

From left to right: Teresa Leyba-Ruiz, Glendale Community College president; Maria Harper-Marinick, Maricopa Community College District chancellor; Christina Haines, interim president of Scottsdale Community College; and Maria Hesse, ASU vice provost at the 2019 Arizona Women in Higher Education Woman of the Year event.

Hesse spent 25 years serving in multiple capacities within the Maricopa Community Colleges. She served as the president and chief executive officer at Chandler-Gilbert Community College for seven years before joining ASU, a natural transition into her current position focused on increasing the opportunities for community college students to pursue four-year degrees. Prior to her years in the Maricopa Community Colleges, she served as a local high school teacher and principal.

“I’ve been in education for nearly 45 years now and I think back fondly on all of these experiences,” Hesse said. “There were many wonderful people with whom I worked and from whom I learned — people that were in my institutions, colleagues from other institutions, community leaders, students — you just never know when you are going to run into someone who significantly changes your life for the better.”

Among her many contributions to higher education, her biggest priority was closing the education gap by building pathways that help community college students to have a seamless transition to ASU, tailored to each student’s academic goals.

“I have been fortunate to have fantastic staff and I thank them for their contributions,” she said. “We have nearly tripled transfer enrollment, such that last year ASU welcomed 18,864 new transfer students into the university. And we have greatly improved transfer student success, while reducing time and costs towards baccalaureate degree completion.”

Her other contributions are not so obvious, but nonetheless impactful. Her extensive knowledge about community colleges — founding one herself for the Maricopa Community Colleges — makes her a great resource to surrounding communities.

A recent project was with the San Carlos Apache Tribe, collaboratively working with tribal leadership and leveraging her expertise to open Arizona’s third tribal college – San Carlos Apache College. 

The successful collaboration between Hesse; Terry Rambler, the chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe; and Jacob Moore, the university’s assistant vice president for tribal relations brought forth not only the college, but educational resources — academic counseling, college-readiness programming and transfer opportunities — that academically supports students to be successful.

Hesse is not completely walking away from the community she built on ASU’s campus. After retirement, she will continue to teach in the higher education program at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College where future teachers and administrators can take note from her successful playbook.

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Carnegie-Knight News21 wins third straight Murrow Award for 'Hate in America' project

Carnegie-Knight News21 wins third straight Murrow Award.
June 18, 2019

Expansive, in-depth project was produced by a team of 38 journalism students

Carnegie-Knight News21, the multi-university, in-depth journalism collaborative based at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has won the Student Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Digital Reporting for a third consecutive year. 

The award brings to five the total of Student Murrow Awards the Cronkite School has won — the most of any journalism program in the country. 

This year’s winning project is “Hate in America,” a package of multimedia stories focused on acts of intolerance, racism and hate crimes across the country. It also received a 2019 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in the college category. 

The project was reported and produced by a team of 38 journalism students from 19 universities who traveled to 36 states, including a 7,000-mile road trip around the country, conducted nearly 300 interviews and reviewed thousands of pages of court documents, FBI data and state and federal statutes. Their analysis of national crime statistics concluded that there were more than 2.4 million hate crimes committed across the U.S. between 2012 and 2016. 

Portions of the project were published and aired by news organizations across the country. This year’s publishing partners included USA Today, the Center for Public Integrity, ProPublica, The Arizona Republic, The Des Moines Register, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Oregon Public Broadcasting.

The students were supported by fellowships from national foundations that include the Hearst Foundations, the John S. and James Knight Foundation, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, and the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, in addition to a number of individual and university sponsors.

Allie Bice, a Hearst Journalism Foundations fellow, noted that she and other students spent eight months researching, reporting and producing the “Hate in America” project.

“I like to think we channeled the qualities of Murrow in our day-to-day work ethic,” she said. “We were filled with curiosity and determination to dive deeper into this difficult subject. We grappled with incomplete FBI data and traveled across the country to interview victims and perpetrators of hate. It feels great to have our hard work pay off, but we wouldn't have been able to do any of it if it weren't for so many brave sources willing to share their stories with us.” 

The 2019 winners will be recognized at the Edward R. Murrow Awards black-tie event hosted by the Radio Television Digital News Association on Oct. 24 in New York City.

The Carnegie-Knight News21 program is an initiative that brings top journalism students from across the country to the Cronkite School each year to report on an issue of national significance. Previous projects have spotlighted issues ranging from water safety and gun rights and regulations to veterans’ issues and marijuana legalization

“I’m continually in awe of the work by young reporters in the Carnegie-Knight News21 program,” said News21 Executive Editor Jacquee Petchel. “This project on hate crimes in America was particularly challenging. The students navigated often difficult and uncomfortable situations, yet they excelled at telling great stories.” 

Established in 2015 by the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Student Murrow Awards celebrate excellence in student journalism at the collegiate and high school levels. Unlike the professional Edward R. Murrow Awards, which are presented to news organizations, the Student Murrows are awarded to individuals in five categories — audio newscast, audio reporting, video newscast, video reporting and digital reporting.

The RTDNA is the world’s largest professional organization exclusively serving the electronic news profession. It has been honoring outstanding achievements in professional journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards since 1971. Murrow Award recipients demonstrate the excellence that Edward R. Murrow made a standard for the electronic news profession. 

2018 News21 students, their universities and their named fellowships:

  • Allie Bice, ASU, Hearst Foundations Fellow
  • Abby Bitterman, University of Oklahoma, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow
  • Penelope Blackwell, Morgan State University
  • Garet Bleir, Syracuse University
  • Brandon Bounds, Kent State University
  • Scott Bourque, ASU, Hearst Foundations Fellow
  • Brittany Brown, University of Mississippi
  • Lillianna Byington, George Washington University
  • Brendan Campbell, ASU, Reynolds Foundation Fellow
  • Andrew Capps, University of Tennessee, John and Patty Williams Fellow
  • Renata Cló, ASU, Hearst Foundations Fellow
  • Rosanna Cooney, Dublin City University, Veronica Guerin Dublin City University Fellow
  • Catherine Devine, Dublin City University, Veronica Guerin Ireland Funds Independent News and Media Fellow
  • Tessa Diestel, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Alexis Egeland, ASU, Hearst Foundations Fellow
  • Katie Gagliano, Louisiana State University
  • Kianna Gardner, ASU, Don Bolles/Arizona Republic News21 Fellow
  • Brooks Hepp, DePauw University, Myrta Pulliam Fellow
  • Ashley Hopko, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Kaylen Howard, University of North Texas, Dallas Morning News Fellow
  • Jimmie Jackson, ASU, Hearst Foundations Fellow
  • Storme Jones, University of Oklahoma, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow
  • Emma Keith, University of Oklahoma, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow
  • Shelby Knowles, University of Texas at Austin
  • Carley Lanich, Indiana University, Charles Cushman Fellow
  • Ashley Mackey, ASU, Knight Foundation Fellow
  • Tilly Marlatt, DePauw University, Myrta Pulliam Fellow
  • Lenny Martinez Dominguez, Syracuse University
  • Angel Mendoza, ASU, Reynolds Foundation Fellow
  • Emmanuel Morgan, Elon University
  • Connor Leavy Murphy, ASU, Reynolds Foundation Fellow
  • Justin Parham, ASU, Reynolds Foundation Fellow
  • Jasmine Putney, University of Iowa, Murray Endowment Fellow
  • Megan Ross, University of Oklahoma, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow
  • Daniel Smitherman, ASU, Reynolds Foundation Fellow
  • Bryce Spadafora, St. Bonaventure University
  • Rebecca Walters, University of Oklahoma, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow
  • Anya Zoledziowski, University of British Columbia

Past Cronkite School/News21 Student Murrow winners

2018: Excellence in Digital Reporting: Arizona State University/News21: “Troubled Waters” 

2017: Excellence in Digital Reporting: Arizona State University/News21: “Voting Wars

2017: Excellence in Video Newscast: Windsor Smith and Madison Romine: Cronkite News: Feb. 17, 2016

2015: Excellence in Video: Erin Patrick O’Connor/News21: “Gun Wars

Biodesign researchers earn grant to investigate virulence in space

June 17, 2019

A Biodesign Institute research group has received a three-year, $2.3 million grant from NASA to study and characterize the risks posed by microorganisms to the health of astronauts.

Cheryl Nickerson of the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics and professor at Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences will be leading the ASU team. Nickerson, a 20-year veteran in the field of infectious disease in microgravity environments, has participated in nine separate NASA spaceflight missions. She partners with ASU Biodesign assistant research professor Jennifer Barrila and Mark Ott, one of NASA’s top microbiologists and the overall project lead at NASA Johnson Space Center. 3D tissue model with bacteria Three-dimensional tissue culture models derived from human cells developed in the Nickerson lab using NASA bioreactor technology bear a striking resemblance to tissues within the body and provide predictive platforms for studying host-pathogen interactions. Bacteria graphic overlaid on the model is from, Image ID: 118061616, copyright Kateryna Kon.

Microgravity, an extreme environment, can alter cells

The International Space Station (ISS), where the astronauts spend their time, is considered an extreme environment. To explain, the station is in a perpetual state of freefall toward Earth that is only offset by the speed of the station moving at a clip of 17,000 mph. These two opposing forces allow the station to remain in orbit and create the extreme environment known as microgravity. Understanding the response of microbes and tissues in microgravity affords novel insight into how they behave normally. Even more valuable, the extreme environment teaches us how microbes transition to disease states that can be unclear under normal conditions on Earth, where the force of gravity can mask some cellular responses. This work will provide fresh insight into disease processes, including infectious disease mechanisms and immune cell responses to infection.

Studies over the past 50 years have shown that culturing cells (human or microbial) in the spaceflight environment alters them in unexpected ways. For example, certain cells show changes in growth, size, shape, differentiation, antibiotic resistance, biofilm formation and function. In a landmark experiment, Nickerson’s team showed that when cultured in spaceflight, the human foodborne pathogen salmonella significantly altered its gene expression and increased its virulence (ability to cause disease). The team also discovered a specific gene regulator used by salmonella and several other pathogens to regulate their responses to the microgravity environment of spaceflight. These findings are especially concerning regarding infectious disease risks, given that the immune response of astronauts is compromised during spaceflight.

Humans exposed to space travel are found to experience a myriad of issues with their immune systems. These include reduced function and distribution of some immune cells, changes in inflammation and reactivation of latent viruses such as herpes virus. Due to the complexity of virulence studies in microgravity, very few microorganisms have been evaluated in infectious disease studies, and salmonella is currently the only pathogen whose virulence has been shown to change in spaceflight. Accordingly, NASA is concerned with the likelihood of other pathogens that could compromise crew health. Nickerson explains, “The goal of the current study is to conduct comprehensive tests to gain insight into the breadth of other medically-significant ISS microorganisms that have altered virulence and the impact of those changes on the immune response of the host, including astronaut immune cells.”

Analog studies mitigate risk for space travelers

Although NASA takes extreme precautions to avoid crew health risks, infectious disease incidences have been reported on spaceflight missions. Therefore, just as they do with any risk, NASA must gain a proper understanding of any possible outcome of that risk. This avoids potential catastrophes in space. NASA does so with analog testing. Analog testing, grounded here on Earth, uses instrumentation and equipment that can simulate some spaceflight conditions. Nickerson’s team cultivates the pathogenic microbes in bioreactors that can both mimic aspects of the microgravity environment as well as simulate conditions experienced by tissues in our bodies and pathogens that infect those tissues.  Specifically, these space analog bioreactors mimic the low fluid force conditions (called fluid shear) encountered by cells in these environments.  

Nickerson and her team will be providing a virulence risk profile for a range of pathogens that NASA is concerned about. In the study, the pathogenic microbes will be exposed to a variety of stressors that may be encountered when infecting a host. Nickerson explains, “We are testing the ability for spaceflight analog grown pathogens to resist stresses that your body throws at them during infection, and then we ask can they be effectively killed?” In addition, the ability of these pathogens to infect both 3D tissue culture models (also produced in analog conditions) that contain immune cells and astronaut blood will also be investigated.

“This grant leverages from all of the biomedical work that we have completed with NASA in the past," Nickerson said. "These studies are specifically designed to help chart NASA's mission for what kind of infectious disease health risks might occur during human exploration missions to the moon and Mars."

Christine Lewis

PhD candidate and science communicator, Biodesign Institute, School of Molecular Sciences

ASU In the News

New insights into the ancient peoples who trekked across Beringia

Two groundbreaking DNA studies give fresh clues about the ancestry of North American peoples and ancient groups’ migrations across Beringia. Anne Stone, a genetic anthropologist and Regents’ Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, reviewed both studies and discussed their implications.

The first study reveals that a group known as the Paleo-Eskimos — early inhabitants of the Arctic — are in fact the ancestors of many indigenous American groups that range from Northern Canada to the Southwest U.S. gif of Beringia shrinking over millennia Download Full Image

“It shows interesting links between Na-Dene speakers with both the first peoples to migrate into the Americas and Paleo-Eskimo peoples,” Stone says.

The second study shows that over the course of 30,000 years, different groups migrating over Beringia intermixed, creating lineages with genes similar to those of Native Americans.

“The study is exciting because it gives us insight into the population dynamics … that have occurred in northeastern Siberia,” Stone says.

Read the full article to learn more.

Article Source: Smithsonian Magazine
Mikala Kass

Editorial Communications Coordinator, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


ASU Enterprise Partners named a Top Company to Work for in Arizona for the sixth consecutive year

June 13, 2019

ASU Enterprise Partners was named one of 125 Top Companies to Work for in Arizona for the sixth consecutive year by Republic Media and the Arizona Commerce Authority for its leadership, work environment and employee satisfaction.

The chosen companies were evaluated through questionnaires sent to employees and employers on a variety of benchmark criteria. Then the firms are ranked based on their composite scores in each area. ASU Enterprise Partners President and CEO Rick Shangraw Jr. ASU Enterprise Partners’ President and CEO R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr. Download Full Image

ASU Enterprise Partners’ purpose is to raise resources that benefit students, researchers and programs contributing to Arizona State University’s impact in the world. To learn more about what makes ASU Enterprise Partners a top company, ASU Now turned to ASU Enterprise Partners’ President and CEO R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr. to discuss the importance of corporate culture.

Question: How do you define your organization’s culture?

Answer: Our culture is defined by our core values. We serve. We engage. We innovate. We care.

We serve. We are a service organization, and in addition to serving the university’s needs, many of us volunteer in our local community. We engage. We work hard to engage staff and communicate effectively through our intranet, emails and all-team meetings. We also work with employees to help establish their goals and set a path for success. We innovate. We are always open to new ideas from staff and incorporate as many of those as possible. Each month, I have lunch with new team members to learn more about them and discuss any suggestions they have to improve our workplace and culture. We care. All of our core values show that we care — about our colleagues, donors and community partners. I think we live these values at ASU Enterprise Partners. They are hardwired in our culture.

Q: What are a few things you have done to help create a culture that employees enjoy?

A: Creating culture takes time and isn’t easy, but we believe work should be fun. Throughout the year, we host many events that are focused on the engagement, appreciation and wellness of our employees. We have a salsa-tasting contest for Cinco de Mayo, an end-of-the-year movie event, pumpkin-carving and chili-tasting contests, “Bring Your Kid to Work Day,” complimentary onsite weekly yoga, a book club and much more. Ultimately, we hope to send a message that work needs to be productive, but our environment should also be enriching. We also show our appreciation to employees by giving everyone an additional paid day off for their birthday. And we recognize employees with “You Rock” cards, which can be redeemed for movie tickets and other prizes.

Q: How do you aid communication in your organization?

A: Communication is critical to an organization’s success, especially one in a service industry such as ours. Upon their hiring, each employee is asked to complete a DISC behavior assessment, which gives managers and fellow colleagues insight about how to best communicate with one another. In addition to focusing on effective team communication, we also conduct employee satisfaction surveys twice a year to ensure our employees feel heard and valued. We also actively communicate — both talking and listening — using a wide variety of other tools and forums. In the end, our most valuable asset will always be our team members, and active communication makes everyone more empowered to advance our mission.

Michelle Stermole

Director of communications, Enterprise Partners


AWC conference highlights work of state’s most prominent researchers

June 11, 2019

Arizona State University prides itself on an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to solving some of the world’s most prominent problems.

Led by Joshua LaBaer, the executive director of the Biodesign Institute and center director for the Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics, Arizona Wellbeing Commons (AWC) similarly emphasizes the importance of collaboration by bringing together scientists, doctors and other partners to better human health. The key to stimulating these important collaborative efforts is fostering a conversation between these professionals, especially on a regional scale. AWC Grant McFadden, co-host of the event and the director of the Biodesign Center for Immunotherapy, Vaccines, and Virotherapy, poses a question following a presentation. Download Full Image

In an effort to accomplish this, AWC hosted a symposium on June 7 with The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. The symposium invited professors, postdocs, graduate students and trainees from across the state to present on research pertaining to virology, immunology, microbiomes and infectious disease (VIMID), one of the six divisions of AWC.

“AWC brings together different sectors of research and science to interact with each other,” said Grant McFadden, co-host of the event and the director of the Biodesign Center for Immunotherapy, Vaccines and Virotherapy. “The Wellbeing Commons idea was to come up with different divisions. Part of the idea was to have meetings and interactions within the division. The other part of the idea was intertheme interactions. This is an example of a within-the-theme meeting.”

Paul Boehmer, interim associate dean for research at the UA College of Medicine in Phoenix, was the other symposium co-host.

“Ultimately, all the research we do is geared to bettering human health,” Boehmer said. “It’s a terrific initiative in getting researchers in Arizona together and for us to inspire each other.”

The symposium included three sessions, each followed by rapid-fire poster presentations. Session 1 covered immunology and the host response to infection, Session 2 covered applied microbiome research to enhance health outcomes, and Session 3 covered the tracking of immune responses and viruses. During each session, three to four researchers either from NAU, UA or ASU would present on their research projects. The symposium also hosted a poster session, during which students and researchers from across the state presented their research projects and mingled amongst their peers.

“The concept is to bring people within the state who work in the general area to interact, talk, collaborate, learn from each other’s science. That’s what today is all about,” McFadden said.

Researchers voiced that regional meetings like these are more rare than one would think, but they are a strong source of collaboration within the community.

“Institutions are good at two kinds of meetings — one is a really local one like a seminar series, and they are also really good at international meetings where people from all over the world come,” said Nels Elde, an associate professor and evolutionary geneticist at the University of Utah and keynote speaker at the symposium.

“The big hole here is a regional meeting like this where we take advantage of all the things happening in the neighborhood and then come together in ways that even though we are so close, it’s really rare that it happens. It’s a missing conversation in science — that’s why I think a meeting like this can be very powerful.”

Although these regional meetings offer up plenty of collaborative opportunities, it can be a challenge to generate interest in them. But with over 140 registrants, McFadden noted that since AWC was established two years ago, progress has been made in attracting researchers to events like these.

“They are not easy to do — the natural barrier for scientists is that they are focused on their domain, getting money, and doing their own research,” McFadden said. “Getting people to do this and follow the wider theme takes some work. But I would say so far, we can say we are making headway.”

Ultimately, the symposium aimed to foster potential collaborations among researchers, but it also served to present new perspectives to up-and-coming scientists, particularly on the cultures of different research institutes.

“We all have our own cultures, and to start to mingle those together even locally, you start to compare things in different ways,” Elde said. “For trainees, postdocs and students, it can be very powerful to have those comparison points.”

Progress is born from collaboration, and even well-established researchers can benefit from such exposure.

“What’s really great here is the intermingling of really basic science (like how infectious microbes work) all the way through how we might modulate these interactions or design therapies or interventions,” Elde added. “To have people in the room doing both things — they might seem distinct, but as we bridge those interests, that’s a really powerful opportunity.”

Gabrielle Hirneise

Assistant science writer , Biodesign Institute


TRELIS workshop in DC brings together women in the geosciences

June 10, 2019

For professionals involved in geospatial science — an area of study related to geography — it is standard operating procedure to help answer the question, “Where are we?”  

But for women with careers in the geosciences, that question may have a profound personal implication, too, as they navigate their professional journey. Like other STEM professions, there is a shortage of women in geoscience, particularly in leadership positions.  Elizabeth Wentz Dean Elizabeth Wentz Download Full Image

The TRELIS 2019 workshop hosted at Arizona State University’s Barrett & O’Connor Washington Center on June 7-8 was an opportunity for women in geographic information science academic positions to focus on their career paths.

“The field is fairly computation intensive, so, much like other computer science-oriented fields, it does struggle to attract women and to retain them,” said Elizabeth Wentz, ASU’s dean of social sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. “They face the same challenge a woman in computer science might face: implicit bias and lack of access to the same types of resources.”

The purpose of TRELIS, funded by the National Science Foundation, is to bring together women in the geosciences to build leadership and to provide mentoring and networking. The June workshop was strategically scheduled for the weekend immediately prior to the UCGIS 2019 Symposium, which brings together academic professionals from around the country. UCGIS, the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, is a nonprofit organization that creates and supports communities of practice for GIS science research, education and policy endeavors in higher education and with allied institutions.

ASU’s Washington center provided the perfect venue for a select group of 15 women from universities around the country for the TRELIS workshop.

“We wanted to create an opportunity for women to develop different professional development skills including a social network and an exchange of ideas,” said Wentz, who helped organize and direct the two-day workshop. “How do you negotiate? How do you manage conflict?”

This is the second of three NSF-funded workshops and the target this year, according to organizers, was early-career women. The workshops are held in association with the annual symposiums held by UCGIS. Participants for the workshop were selected based on their responses to a set of questions and their professional orientation. Fifteen women from across the country were selected from a pool of 45 applicants. 

The U.S. Department of Labor has identified geospatial technology as a high-growth industry. While the federal government was one of the early adopters of GIS technology, state and local governments as well as utilities, telecommunications and transportation are now among the largest users of GIS/geospatial solutions. 

The TRELIS workshop included two sessions on “Obstacles and Conflicts”, sessions on communications and language, work-life balance, setting priorities and planning and a panel discussion on career trajectories. Dawn Wright, chief scientist at Esri and a leading authority in the application of GIS technology to the field of ocean and coastal science, was the keynote speaker. Wright talked to the group about taking risks and gave a candid presentation of the challenges she has faced and the joy of working in the field of science. 

Participants throughout the two-day work shop were “engaged, honest, raised important questions and expressed genuine interest in the activities" according to Wentz and her fellow organizers, Kate Beard from the University of Maine and Laxmi Ramasubramanian, a professor at the Hunter College of The City University of New York. They said the relationships the women form at the workshop don’t end when the conference concludes. 

“The TRELIS fellows in 2018 paved the way for concrete steps to stay in touch,” Wentz said. “The UCGIS has put into place community circles where fellows can opt in to different topics. There is also a Facebook page to share events, questions and activities. Last year’s cohort set up regular web meetings to stay in touch. They will be eligible to apply for Carolyn Merry mini-grants to facilitate joint research and future events. We see this as just a starting point for increasing participation and inclusion of women in GIS.”

Wentz said the event is another way the Washington center is helping raise awareness about the work of the university and also helps the university do that work.  

“People at this event come from universities across the U.S. so there will be nationwide visibility from this group that starts to ripple out,” she said. “And it helps to fulfill ASU’s charter with regard to inclusion. The whole purpose of the grant is to be more inclusive to women in a field that is disproportionately male.”  

Sanford School graduate student receives poster contest award

June 10, 2019

Arizona State University’s Institute for Social Science Research recently announced the winners of their spring 2019 poster contest. Among them was Annabelle Atkin, a graduate student from the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics.

Each semester the institute invites graduate students to participate in a poster contest. The contest is open to all graduate students who are doing social science research in any field and on any campus at ASU. Pic of Annabelle presenting her poster to three others Annabelle Atkin presenting her research poster.

Atkin, who received an honorable mention award of $400, presented her poster titled, “Developing a Racial-Ethnic Socialization Measure for Multiracial Families”.

Atkin plans to put her poster contest award to good use as it will help to cover the costs of computer software needed for data coding for further work on her project. She has already completed subject interviews, and starting this summer, she will train her research assistants to code the data so that they can all code separately, leading to more accurate results.

Atkin answered some questions about her research project.

Question: What is the purpose of your research project?

Answer: The purpose of my project is to 1) gain an understanding of the types of messages that parents transmit to their multiracial children about race, and 2) develop a measure for researchers to study this process, known as racial-ethnic socialization.

Q: What role do parents play in the lives of multiracial children?

A: The ways that parents teach children to understand race, whether explicitly or implicitly communicated, are important for child development in our racialized society. For example, parents play an important role in helping multiracial children understand their racial group membership, supporting them in exploring their racial-ethnic identity and teaching them how to handle experiences of racial discrimination and marginalization. 

Q: How can you develop your measure and how could that lead to social change?

A: By interviewing multiracial youth, I can better capture their lived experiences of racial-ethnic socialization and write items for a measure that reflects their realities. With this measure, researchers will be able to understand how different types of messages relate to other important developmental processes and outcomes, allowing us to make recommendations for parents about how to effectively discuss race with their children.

John Keeney

Media Relations Coordinator, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics


Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict names a director of strategic initiatives

June 7, 2019

Arizona State University's Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict has named Tracy Fessenden as the first director of strategic initiatives.

Fessenden is a professor of religious studies for the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and spent the last academic year as the school’s interim director. Tracy Fessenden Tracy Fessenden has been named the first director of strategic initiatives for the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. Download Full Image

“I’ve been treasuring up the news of this move for some time,” Fessenden said. “I’m delighted that it’s now official. The colleagues I’ll be joining at the CSRC are among those I most esteem in the world. Moving to the CSRC feels like coming home.”

The center was established in 2003. It was established to promote transdisciplinary initiatives and wiser reckonings with religion as a real-world force.

“President Crow understood that in order to see and respond meaningfully to the ways that religious symbols, language and allegiances drive change in the world, for good and for ill, we need to be fearless about thinking big,” Fessenden said. “We need to gather resources and expertise from across the disciplines, the professions and the institutions of civil society and bring them to bear on questions the academy has seldom sought to engage.”

The director of strategic initiatives role was created to help the center branch out into new endeavors. Fessenden will be involved in leading new research initiatives, expanding academic and community partnerships and creating a program of workshops, panels, seminars and internships with visiting scholars.

Fessenden already has her hand in a number of projects affiliated with the center and will join more once she starts. One project she is excited to begin includes a new class on religion and media, which will be co-taught with Fernanda Santos, a professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, author and former Phoenix bureau chief for the New York Times.

“I’m thrilled to be teaching with Fernanda,” Fessenden said. “It’s a collaboration that grew out of a recent CSRC project of which we’re both a part, an initiative funded by the Henry Luce Foundation called Religion, Journalism and Democracy: Strengthening Vital Institutions of Civil Society.”

Her other projects include a project on the fate of civil discourse and moral capital in America, which she will be teaming up with School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies colleague and philosophy professor Joan McGregor for. Another project Fessenden will work on is one on climate change and the apocalyptic imagination in America. She will be conducting the project with School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies colleague and religious studies Professor Gaymon Bennett and Cronkite School Professor Steven Beschloss.

“John Carlson and the CSRC’s assistant director, Carolyn Forbes, have begun planning a series of conversations on the rise of violence and terror aimed at synagogues, churches and mosques, and John, Carolyn and I have been working for the last year and a half on a major, multidisciplinary collaborative on the task of caring for truth in a post-truth era,” Fessenden said.

Carlson is the current director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and originally approached Fessenden in fall 2018 about moving her activities to the center.

“We are so thrilled to have Tracy join us at the center,” Carlson said. “We were looking for a senior faculty member and recognized scholar in the field of Tracy’s stature to take on the position.”

Her role in the center will officially begin on Aug. 16 with the start of the new school year.

“I want to expand and deepen the conversations these projects helped to nurture,” Fessenden said. “I’m also eager to make the CSRC a forum for the most important voices, at and beyond ASU, on religion and the rise of authoritarian and nationalist movements the world over.”

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies