ASU Law welcomes its most highly credentialed class

Third straight year of record-setting class of incoming JD students

August 19, 2019

Ranked a top nine public law school in the nation, No. 27 among all law schools according to U.S. News & World Report and No. 23 on the Academic Ranking of World Universities, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University continues to be a premier choice for law school students around the country.

Once again, ASU Law welcomes the most highly credentialed class in its history. The 271 incoming fall 2019 JD students have a median LSAT score of 164 and a median GPA of 3.81, up from last year’s 163 and 3.76. The group hails from more than 130 undergraduate institutions, 38 states and eight countries. In addition to setting records for entering credentials, ASU Law also set its all-time record for JD applications at more than 3,700 (more than a 10% increase), while nationally, applications were down 1.5%. photo of fall 2019 ASU Law class Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law incoming fall 2019 students participate in orientation on Monday at the Beus Center for Law and Society on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Download Full Image

“We recognize that LSAT and GPA, although useful predictors of law school success, are not perfect. A far stronger indicator is actual performance in law school,” said Andrew Jaynes, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid at ASU Law.

A total of 299 students will be taking first-year JD classes, 28 of whom are part of ASU Law’s Master of Legal Studies Honors (MLSH) program. The MLSH is an innovative program that allows students an opportunity to gain admission to the JD program through classroom performance.

At ASU Law, students have the opportunity to tailor their education from over 250 unique courses to match their interests.

“Today’s law student is looking for a unique law school experience and to learn from professors that have real-world experience,” ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester said. “Additionally, outcomes are an important criteria in their selection process. At ASU Law we don’t think providing a top-notch legal education is enough. We were No. 15 last year in employment, and with a dedicated career services department we continue to make employment after law school a priority.”

ASU Law also offers a number of programs and externships, more than any other law school, that are led and supported by faculty, staff and other experts who are passionately focused on student success. Rising second-year JD candidate Anthony Studnicka knows this firsthand as he spent this past summer working with the Arizona Coyotes.

“The experience has been nothing short of incredible. I believe what sets ASU Law apart is the abundance of resources set in place to help students succeed not only inside, but outside of the classroom,” Studnicka said. “From resume help to assistance with externship placement, ASU Law really wants their students to succeed in the real world, and if you as a student take the time to utilize the resources, success is possible for anyone.”

ASU Law is also proud to announce that nine new faculty join the team this year to continue to bridge theory and practice. In the past three years, ASU Law has added 22 faculty to its roster. Last year, Gregg Leslie, executive director of ASU Law’s First Amendment Clinic and professor of practice, began his inaugural year with ASU Law. A year later he now sees the impact a comprehensive law school can have on its students and the surrounding community.

“The clinic students have had several opportunities to apply their legal knowledge to help those with First Amendment-related issues,” Leslie said. “It’s been wonderful seeing the students gain experience while helping journalists and other speakers gain access to information or fight for their rights. We’ve been working with clients trying to obtain police records and sealed documents in a criminal prosecution over border crossings, defending against penalties for printing court records, and fighting libel suits. These opportunities provide vital hands-on experience that will help these students greatly as they move on to law firm jobs.”

ASU Law also continues to see diversity in its incoming student group. This year the law school welcomes a majority of female students in its JD class at 52%, up from 48% last year. Over 30% of the new incoming JD students identify as a racial or ethnic minority (up from 21% last year), and over 10% of students identify as LGBTQ+. Additionally, 63% of the class (up from 57% last year) comes from outside of Arizona, solidifying ASU Law’s position as a destination law school for students around the country and the world.

The law school also offers nearly 50 student organizations that students can participate in, many appealing to diverse personal and career interests. These organizations include the Women Law Students’ Association, the Federalist Society, Asian Pacific American Law Students, Diverse Students Coalition, Environmental Law Society, Black Law Students Association and many others.

For individuals who want to expand their knowledge of the U.S. legal system to enhance their career opportunities without becoming an attorney, ASU Law offers a one-year Master of Legal Studies (MLS) degree. MLS program enrollment also increased with 32 MLS on-ground students and 143 MLS online students. The MLS graduate program continues to identify trending industry needs to provide students with new focus areas of legal study, such as the construction law and gaming and governance law programs, all without becoming a lawyer. The Master of Sports Law and Business program also welcomes 54 new students, including those who are part of the Veterans Sports Law and Business program. Additionally, the Masters of Law (LLM) program will welcome eight new admits.

Nicole Almond Anderson

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law


The new faces of the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

August 19, 2019

The 2019–20 school year is about to begin, and with new beginnings come new faces on the Arizona State University campuses.

The School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies is happy to welcome its new faculty members to the team. As the school continues to thrive, new opportunities for research and studies are opening up to include some incredible colleagues. New faculty at ASU's School of Historical Philosophical and Religious Studies New faculty at ASU's School of Historical Philosophical and Religious Studies. Starting in the top left and reading left to right: Shamara Wyllie Alhassan, Kimberly Allar, Richard Amesbury, Evan Berry, Lei Duan, James Dupey, Blake Hartung, James Hrdlicka, Kathleen Kole de Peralta, Peter Kung, Jacqueline Willy Romero and Ryan Wolfson-Ford. Download Full Image

Shamara Wyllie Alhassan

Assistant professor, religious studies

Shamara Wyllie Alhassan is joining the school from Rhode Island where she has been living for the last six years. She has been the recipient of many awards including the African and African Diaspora Studies Dissertation Fellowship at Boston College, Cogut Institutes for the Humanities Dissertation Fellowship at Brown University, as well as a Fulbright scholarship, to name a few.

Her research focuses on Rastafari studies, womanism, Africana spiritual practices, Africana philosophy and diaspora studies, among other interests. She has been widely published in national reviews, journals, anthologies and documentaries for her research in Rastafari women, the Pan-African world and Caribbean studies. She attended Brown University, where she received her PhD in Africana studies.

Kimberly Allar

Clinical assistant professor, history

Kimberly Allar will be joining the school’s World War II studies program after spending a year as an adjunct professor at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. Her research looks at the recruitment and training of guards who worked in concentration camps and killing centers from 1933–1945.

Articles she has written have been published by German and American distributors and she is working on her second book which looks at the role of atrocity, war, gender, memory and the law. She holds a PhD in history and genocide studies from Clark University.

Richard Amesbury

Professor and school director, religious studies

Richard Amesbury is the school’s new director. Ahead of coming to the school, he was at Clemson University for two years, where he was professor of philosophy and religious studies and chair of the department of philosophy and religion. Before that, he was professor of ethics in the theology faculty of the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

He is the author of two books, “Faith and Human Rights: Christianity and the Global Struggle for Human Dignity,” and “Morality and Social Criticism: The Force of Reasons in Discursive Practice,” with two more under contract with University of Notre Dame Press and Columbia University Press. In addition, he sits on multiple committees and boards and is the religion and law editor for Religious Studies Review. Amesbury holds a PhD in religion from Claremont Graduate University.

Evan Berry

Assistant professor, religious studies

Evan Berry joins the school from American University where he was an associate professor of philosophy and religion, graduate programs director and an affiliate faculty in global environmental politics and in Latin American and Latino studies. He is the recipient of many awards including the Rachel Carson Center Writing Fellowship and U.S. Department of State Office of Religion and Global Affairs Franklin Fellow.

His research and publications explore religion and climate change along with social conflict in contemporary Latin America, climate politics and religion and nature. Berry received his PhD in religious studies from University of California, Santa Barbara.

Lei Duan

Lecturer, history

Lei Duan joins the faculty at ASU after serving as a postdoctoral scholar and lecturer at the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan. He is trained as a historian of China and Asia and is currently working on a book entitled “Arming and Disarming: The Culture and Politics of Guns in Modern China,” which is under contract with University of Michigan Press.

He is the recipient of research and travel grants and research fellowships from a great number of institutions including the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, American Historical Association, Princeton University and Harvard University. Duan holds a PhD in history from Syracuse University.

James Dupey

Clinical assistant professor, history

James Dupey is a 2018 ASU alumnus (where he received his PhD) and arrives back to ASU from Eastern Washington University where he has been teaching for a year. His research primarily focuses on North American history, religion, economic history and print culture.

He has published his research in “Journal of the Civil War Era,” and “Journal of Southern Religion,” and speaks at many conferences across the country.

Blake Hartung

Instructor, religious studies

Blake Hartung is a religious studies instructor in the school. His research focuses on Christianity in the late antique near Eastern and Western Asia, biblical exegesis and reception history, early Christian liturgical poems and homilies and archaeology and manuscript studies.

He is the recipient of many honors and awards including the Swenson Family Fellowship in Eastern Christian Manuscript Studies, Mellon Vatican Film Library Research Fellowship and Saint Louis University Conference Presentation Grant, among others. He holds a PhD in historical theology with a concentration in early Christianity from Saint Louis University.

James Hrdlicka

Postdoctoral scholar, political history and leadership program

James Hrdlicka is joining ASU after two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was affiliated with the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy. He spent the past year in Boston, curating an exhibition on early American constitutions and writing the catalogue that will accompany the exhibition when it opens at the New York Historical Society in February 2020.

He has been published in such journals as “The New England Quarterly.” Hrdlicka received his PhD in philosophy and history from the University of Virginia.

Kathleen Kole de Peralta

Clinical assistant professor, history

Kathleen Kole de Peralta is arriving from Idaho State University. She is a historian who integrates the history of medicine and environment on early-modern Iberia and Peru to investigate the relationship between environment and health and uses digital humanities to make open-access projects.

Her co-authored book, “Murder and Martyrdom in Spanish Florida: Don Juan and the Guale Uprising of 1597,” came out in 2017 from the American Museum of Natural History. She holds a PhD in Latin American history from the University of Notre Dame.

Peter Kung

Associate professor, philosophy

Peter Kung is an associate professor of philosophy in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. His research focuses on thought experiments, the exploration of imagination and its connection to modality as well as skeptical challenges in traditional epistemology.

He is the recipient of the Henry M. MacCracken Fellowship at New York University and honorable mention for the Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship. Kung received his PhD in philosophy from New York University.

Jacqueline Willy Romero

Instructor, history

Jacqueline Willy Romero moves into her new role of instructor of history after teaching for two years at ASU while completing her PhD. She has received multiple travel awards, fellowships and research awards in recent years and has been published in “American Catholic Studies.”

Her research focuses on the 19th century United States, with an emphasis on women and religion. Primarily interested in how women have historically made their choices, Romero looks further into cases of "problematic women" who had done both a lot of good and a lot of harm as historical agents. She received her PhD in history from ASU.

Ryan Wolfson-Ford

Lecturer, history and Asian studies

Arriving from Marist College, Ryan Wolfson-Ford is joining the history faculty as lecturer of history and Asian studies. His work focuses on Laos during the Vietnam War and asks what role did the Lao play in the course of events and why did they believe certain ideologies at the time?

Currently he is working on publishing with Manchester University Press and has appeared in journals such as South East Asia Research, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies and Interpretative Studies on Southeast Asian Culture. He holds a PhD in history from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Rachel Bunning

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

ASU Cronkite School initiative receives gift from craigslist founder

Support from Craig Newmark Philanthropies will help fight misinformation, improve journalistic corrections

August 16, 2019

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication announced a $200,000 gift from Craig Newmark Philanthropies to support a project that will combat misinformation by improving the reach and effectiveness of journalistic corrections. 

The initiative will be run by the school’s News Co/Lab, which aims to help the public find new ways of understanding and engaging with news. The lab will partner with researchers, journalists and technologists on the project. Among them are three newsrooms of the McClatchy media company, including The Kansas City Star, and Brendan Nyhan, professor of government at Dartmouth College, who has done groundbreaking research on misinformation and journalism. The Cronkite School received support from the organization of craigslist founder Craig Newmark to fight misinformation and improve journalistic corrections. Photo by Bleacher+Everard Photography Download Full Image

The volume and rate at which information is shared on social media allows misinformation to proliferate online. At the same time, it is increasingly difficult for news consumers to identify trustworthy information. In 2018, the News Co/Lab and the University of Texas Center for Media Engagement conducted a series of surveys that were designed to help journalism organizations understand what their communities know about, think about and want from the news. Nearly 40 percent of participants had trouble spotting a fake headline. 

In the face of these challenges, getting high volumes of trustworthy news in front of online readers and viewers is critical. One goal of the corrections project is to help accurate and up-to-date information stand out in the busy stream of social media posts.

“We’d all prefer that every piece of journalism be perfectly accurate when it’s published or broadcast, but journalists, being human, make mistakes,’’ said Dan Gillmor, co-founder of the News Co/Lab. “Digital design has made it much easier to incorporate corrections into a live story, a big improvement on 20th-century methods. But we can do even better in a world where so much news spreads fast via social media.”

This News Co/Lab initiative will help to send corrections down the same pathways that their original errors traveled. A key element of this work, emerging from an experiment the News Co/Lab and McClatchy ran earlier this year, will be to design and deploy a web-based tool that streamlines the process for reaching news consumers on social media platforms. This will allow news organizations to provide the people who encounter a story error with the corrected information, helping to repair some of the damage that its misinformation caused. Ultimately, the effort will help to increase trust in high-quality journalism. 

“When many reporters and news organizations realize that they have published false information, they are quick to fix that error, but on an impact level, that correction matters only as much as the number of people who see it,” said Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies. “This effort of the News Co/Lab is about getting journalistic corrections in front of a lot of people as quickly and as publicly as possible, and I am quite proud to back such a needed effort.”

“The generous support of Craig Newmark Philanthropies will help us to make corrections a more powerful tool in the arsenal for the fight against misinformation,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School. “Fixing an error is just the beginning. To help repair the damage that misinformation causes, we need to develop tools that can help journalistic corrections reach people on a wide scale.”

Director of communications, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Arizona PBS

Award-winning journalist Stephanie Sy named anchor of Cronkite School-based PBS NewsHour West

August 16, 2019

PBS NewsHour executive producer Sara Just announced Stephanie Sy as anchor of PBS NewsHour West, which will operate from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Sy, who will also be a PBS NewsHour correspondent, most recently served as anchor/correspondent at Yahoo News and for the past 15 years has served in anchor and correspondent capacities at CNN International, Al Jazeera America, ABC News, CBSN and PBS NewsHour Weekend.  Stephanie Sy and Richard Coolidge of PBS NewsHour West Stephanie Sy will be anchor of PBS NewsHour West, which will operate from ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Richard Coolidge will lead the editorial operation in Phoenix as senior producer of PBS NewsHour West. Download Full Image

Additionally, Richard Coolidge, who has served as a senior content producer and managed station and partner editorial collaborations for NewsHour since April 2015, will lead the editorial operation in Phoenix as senior producer of PBS NewsHour West.

“I am delighted to welcome Stephanie Sy to our team as we expand the NewsHour and launch PBS NewsHour West,” Just said. “Stephanie’s nearly two decades of experience reporting in the field, domestically and overseas, on digital and broadcast platforms and at the anchor desk, give her tremendous range and depth.”

Just said she was equally delighted to have Coolidge oversee PBS NewsHour West.

“We will miss him in Washington, where he is a natural and widely respected leader and skilled problem solver, but we are thrilled to have his steady hand at the wheel in Arizona,” Just said. “Richard’s work with our PBS stations and partner editorial collaborations has been key to furthering the mission and reach of the PBS NewsHour.”

Sy added, “The role PBS NewsHour plays in the American landscape is more relevant and needed today than ever before. It's a privilege to be on NewHour's team of distinguished journalists, led by the incomparable Judy Woodruff, who has tirelessly held up this gold standard in journalism. I look forward to reporting from Phoenix and the region with the thoughtfulness and integrity that are NewsHour's signature.”

Announced earlier this year and slated for broadcast launch this fall, the opening of the bureau at the Cronkite School will allow for NewsHour’s nightly broadcast to better serve audiences in the West and online, and to continue its expansion into a 24/7 news operation. When news warrants, the PBS NewsHour West team will update PBS NewsHour’s 6 p.m. Eastern time zone broadcast for audiences in the West as well as late broadcasts on radio, television and streaming platforms. Woodruff, who has more than four decades of reporting experience at PBS, CNN, and NBC, will continue to serve as primary anchor of the nightly broadcast and managing editor of NewsHour. 

Several factors played into the PBS NewsHour’s decision to open PBS NewsHour West at ASU. The university, with its own pre-eminent journalism program, is committed to public broadcasting and serves as the home to Arizona PBS. The bureau will also allow for NewsHour to work more closely with PBS stations and other media partners on the West Coast, where more than 20% of NewsHour’s audience resides.

“We are excited to partner with the PBS NewsHour to give viewers and readers more and deeper coverage of issues in the West while at the same time providing fantastic new opportunities for our students,” said Christopher Callaha, Cronkite School Dean and Arizona PBS CEO. He noted that PBS NewsHour West will work with students at Cronkite News and the new Howard Center for Investigative Journalism to provide important content to NewsHour viewers nationwide.

The opening of PBS NewsHour West is made possible with the generous support of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Under the leadership of Just, who joined as executive producer in September 2014 after more than 25 years at ABC News, PBS NewsHour has seen growth and expansion across platforms. The NewsHour’s nightly broadcast audience for the current television season (Oct. 2018–June 2019) is up 26% compared with the 2013-14 television season at 1.07 million viewers per minute. NewsHour’s website during that same period reached 40 million users, up 45% compared with four years earlier. 

On broadcast, NewsHour reaches 2.6 million total viewers nightly and 19.2 million monthly. Across digital platforms — website, app, Apple News, podcasts and YouTube — NewsHour reaches an audience of nearly 21 million monthly. In addition to the launch of PBS NewsHour West and its team of up to six individuals based in Phoenix, Just announced in late 2018 the move to expand and transform PBS NewsHour online with the addition of nine new full-time digital positions.

Director of communications, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Arizona PBS

First Native American female dean and prominent Indian law trailblazer to teach at ASU Law

August 16, 2019

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University is honored to welcome Stacy L. Leeds as the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Distinguished Visiting Indian Law Professor. Leeds is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and carved her place in history when she was named the dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2011, becoming the first Native American woman to be appointed to such position. Currently, she is the vice chancellor for economic development, dean emeritus and a professor at the University of Arkansas, and she will teach federal Indian law this fall as part of ASU Law’s Indian Legal Program.

“We are very honored to have Vice Chancellor Stacy Leeds as the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Distinguished Visiting Indian Law Professor,” said Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, professor and faculty director for ASU Law’s Indian Legal Program and director of the Indian Legal Clinic. “We believe she will be a great addition to our team this fall and a wonderful resource for our students. From the Indian Child Welfare Act to opioid litigation to tribal agriculture, she has combined scholarship and practice to advance and defend Indian rights.” photo of Stacy Leeds at NALSA Moot Court Finals Stacy Leeds, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community distinguished visiting Indian law professor with Judge William Canby Jr. (at left) and Larry Roberts, professor of practice at ASU Law at the NALSA Moot Court Finals. Download Full Image

Leeds has a passion and dedication to Indian law, and a determination to help inform Indian law policy and the next generation of lawyers.

However, she did not always know this would be her path. As a child she grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and went on to become an all-state basketball player for Muskogee High School. She then enrolled at Washington University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree while also participating as a student athlete playing basketball and tennis.

“I knew I wanted to go to law school when a lightbulb moment occurred during my junior year of my undergraduate studies,” Leeds said. “I took a grad school course in social work where the final project involved mock testimony before Congress on Indian child welfare issues. I was hooked by the process, the research and the oral advocacy.”

She obtained two law degrees — a Master of Laws degree from the University of Wisconsin and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa — and later obtained an MBA while a professor at the University of Kansas.

Currently, she divides her time between downtown Fayetteville near the University of Arkansas campus and Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the capital of the Cherokee Nation. With her visiting professorship at ASU Law, she will travel to its Downtown Phoenix campus throughout the fall semester.

“ASU Law is at the top of the Indian law field, and it’s an honor to be a part of the program. It is also very meaningful that the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community continues to invest in law students by providing new opportunities and access to new mentors,” Leeds said.

ASU Law’s Indian Legal Program was established in 1988 and, through its connections to each of Arizona’s federally recognized 22 tribes, is home to one of the highest concentrations of Native American students and Indian law students in the nation. Leeds joins a team of other nationally recognized faculty who are leading scholars in their fields.

photo of Stacy Leeds

Stacy L. Leeds, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Distinguished Visiting Indian Law Professor at ASU Law.

Leeds has been connected to ASU Law for many years. Several of the students she has taught in prelaw programs or otherwise mentored have started their careers at ASU Law. Leeds also delivered the keynote at ASU Law’s William C. Canby Jr. Lecture Series in 2013, and she served as a championship-round judge at the National Native American Law Student Association (NNALSA) Moot Court Competition when ASU Law hosted the annual event in 2018.

“I look forward to getting to know the students and actively participating in their professional development,” Leeds said. “I know that I will also enjoy the full scale of the Indian Law program, which will include interaction with tribes and the Indian law bar in the region.”

Leeds has also made a significant impact in the Native legal community. Previously, she has served as a justice for the Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court as the first woman and youngest person to be appointed. Leeds also served as a judge for six other Native nations, as a member of the Board of Directors of the National American Indian Court Judges Association, and as chair of the American Bar Association Judicial Division’s Tribal Courts Council.

“I have had the greatest professional privilege anyone could ever hope for: repeatedly being in jobs where I felt like I was in exactly the right place at the right time. When that type of alignment occurs, that’s the point of maximum impact,” Leeds said. “I have been fortunate to experience that many times, not limited to, but certainly including my time as a law school dean and as justice on the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court.”

When further reflecting on her time as the first female Native American law dean, she is proud and encouraged to see additional women ascending to higher roles in academia.

“It was truly an honor with big responsibility, and I am so thrilled that 'only' Native woman has now been amended to 'first' Native woman with the recent appointment of my colleague Dean Elizabeth Kronk at the University of Utah. There will be many to follow and I will celebrate them all. I am keenly aware that my opportunities have been possible because other people opened doors for me and took chances on me,” Leeds said.

Opportunities are exactly what she hopes future law students take advantage of during their time in law school. Her advice is simple: keep an open mind and seize every opportunity as to where your career may take you.

“Studying law will give you immeasurable skills that can translate across so many endeavors. If you embrace that, you will never be bored,” Leeds said.

To fellow Native women studying law, she notes that most Native law students are majority women and increasingly so.

“It will take a few more years for that trend to fundamentally change the landscape of Indian country, but soon most of the Native lawyers will be women in the legal profession and by consequence, many more women will be tribal leaders,” Leeds said. “My advice for Native women is this: Get ready— it’s going to be a wild ride. You can’t always control the timing of your opportunities, but you can control how well-prepared you’ll be.”

Nicole Almond Anderson

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law


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3 ASU professors named senior members of National Academy of Inventors

August 15, 2019

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) has named Terry Alford, Devens Gust and Andreas Spanias as senior members for fostering a spirit of innovation at Arizona State University while educating and mentoring the next generation of inventors.

Alford and Spanias — faculty members in the ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering — and Gust of the School of Molecular Sciences are among the 54 academic inventors named to the spring 2019 class of NAI senior members. NAI senior members are active faculty, scientists and administrators from NAI member institutions who have demonstrated remarkable innovation producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society. Senior members have proven success in patents, licensing and commercialization.

“Terry, Andreas and Devens have demonstrated a commendable commitment to not only driving innovation at ASU, but in championing work that has the potential to improve society at local, national and global scales,” says Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise and chief research and innovation officer at ASU. “This is a richly deserved recognition for each of them.”

Fulton Schools of Engineering Dean Kyle Squires said Alford and Spanias’ efforts as inventors and innovators have supported ASU’s designation as one of the top 10 universities worldwide granted U.S. patents.

“Terry and Andreas’ elevation to senior members in the National Academy of Inventors is a well-deserved achievement for these dedicated members of our faculty,” said Squires. “The Fulton Schools has a strong record of innovation and creativity and it's through work like theirs that we’ve moved into a leadership position not only nationally but internationally.”

Innovating integrated circuits

, Associate Director of the School for Energy of Matter, Transport and Energy at Arizona State University

Terry Alford

Alford holds 10 U.S. patents and multiple invention disclosures. An expert in silver and copper metallization and low-k dielectrics for integrated circuit technologies, Alford is most proud of his patented work to develop a process for cladded silver alloy metallization to improve adhesion and electro-migration assistance.

His greatest achievements, however, lie in the successes of the students he mentors, many of whom have gone on to have successful careers as entrepreneurs and in academia and industry.

“I use generating patent disclosures as a venue to train graduate students — a way to encourage them to be entrepreneurs, scholars, tinkerers and intellectuals,” said Alford, who serves as the associate director of the School for Energy of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of the six schools in the Fulton Schools of Engineering, where he is a highly regarded mentor and teacher of materials science and engineering. “We use the curiosity inherent in research to address societal needs. I always tell my students, the whole premise of what we do not just to learn through concepts in the classroom or fund research, but to contribute to the knowledge base.”

Advancing photosynthetic technologies

Devens Gust

Gust is a Regents Professor Emeritus in the School of Molecular Sciences and a distinguished sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Gust is an expert in the field of photochemistry and artificial photosynthesis who has published over 300 scientific papers and holds 17 patents. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Institute of Physics in the U.K.

His expansive research in photosynthetic pigments and light conversion processes has propelled innovation in solar energy and chemical fuels. As the past director of ASU’s Energy Frontier Research Center for Bio-Inspired Solar Fuel Production, Gust fostered development of intellectual property, mentored thousands of young investigators and impacted students at all levels by illustrating how basic chemical principles have led to important practical discoveries.

"Fundamental research projects are usually begun to explore some interesting scientific question without regard to possible practical applications," says Gust. “However, if we keep our eyes open for potentially useful discoveries, it is surprising how often they come up during the course of an investigation."

Optimizing energy with machine learning

Andreas Spanias

Spanias holds nine U.S. patents and several provisional patents. A professor in the School of Electrical, Computing and Energy Engineering, Spanias has expertise in adaptive signal processing, sensor systems and speech and audio processing. Much of the research behind Spanias’ patents is conducted in the Sensor Signal and Information Processing (SenSIP) Center, the Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) he directs with support from the National Science Foundation.

The most recent work of Spanias’ team uses machine learning to detect faults, predict shading and optimize energy output in solar systems. The sensor-related patents his team is developing will elevate energy efficiency and impact sustainability efforts in a positive way.  In addition, compact machine learning algorithms his team developed will provide companies the ability to use inexpensive sensors with enhanced fidelity in myriad technologies, such as cell phone sensing, health apps and autonomous vehicle applications.  

“The elevation to senior member is a great honor for the center and the lab and the students who contributed to all the patents,” said Spanias, who is also a fellow of the IEEE. “We appreciate the support of the Fulton Schools of Engineering, Skysong Innovations, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and especially that of our industry members, including Raytheon, NXP, Intel, Sprint and the four SBIR-sized member companies. The industry network we’ve developed through our NSF I/UCRC have been integral to our ability to perform application-oriented research.”


The NAI is a member organization made up of U.S. and international universities and government and nonprofit research institutes. Its purpose is to encourage inventors to share their products, mentor and educate students, and communicate its members’ inventions for the betterment of society.

ASU is one of NAI’s nine sustaining member institutions, with nine fellows to date. ASU launched its own NAI chapter in 2017 to promote invention and recognize innovation across the university, with 65 current members. ASU currently ranks among the top 10 universities worldwide for U.S. patents issued.

“NAI member institutions support some of the most elite innovators on the horizon. With the NAI senior member award distinction, we are recognizing innovators that are rising stars in their fields,” says Paul R. Sanberg, NAI president. “This new class is joining a prolific group of academic visionaries already defining tomorrow.”

Following a nomination for NAI Senior Member class, individuals undergo a rigorous selection process by the NAI Advisory Committee, composed of elected NAI members and other professionals considered pioneers in their respective field. 

Senior members are elected biannually, and nominations are accepted on a rolling basis. Nominations are currently being accepted for the third senior member class on the NAI website

A full list of NAI senior members is available on the NAI website.

ASU Knowledge Enterprise contributed to this article. 

Lanelle Strawder

Content & PR Manager, Communications , Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


ASU Barrett Downtown under new leadership

Olga Davis has been appointed associate dean of Barrett, The Honors College at the Downtown Phoenix campus

August 12, 2019

Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus has a new leader and will move into a more spacious home in the coming weeks.

Olga Davis, a professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and a research affiliate of Mayo Clinic, has been appointed the new associate dean of Barrett Downtown.  Olga Davis Olga Davis, associate dean of Barrett, The Honors College at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. Download Full Image

Davis holds a Bachelor of Science summa cum laude from the University of Redlands, and master's and doctoral degrees in communication studies from the University of Nebraska. She came to ASU in 1998 as an associate professor in the Hugh Downs School. 

At the Hugh Downs School, Davis has served as the leader of the Health Communication Initiative (HCI), a research collaborative that brings faculty and graduate students together in an inclusive and collaborative environment.  HCI is one of six research collaboratives at the Hugh Downs School that allows scholars with expert knowledge in different areas to collaborate on projects of overlapping interest.

Her research examines the performative nature of communication, with a focus on the social determinants of health and health equity among underrepresented communities. Davis has been an affiliate faculty member in the Science of Health Care Delivery program at the College of Health Solutions on the Downtown Phoenix campus and has worked as a faculty research affiliate with the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center in the School of Social Work in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

"Dr. Davis brings a rich experience with the ASU downtown community," said Mark Jacobs, dean of Barrett, The Honors College and ASU vice provost. "Her teaching and mentoring has included many honors courses and honors theses, as well as courses on the subjects of gender and communication, health narratives, identity performance and human communication, and public speaking. She is a great fit for associate dean of Barrett at ASU downtown." 

Davis takes the helm of Barrett Downtown just in time for the move of operations from the University Center (UCENT) on Central Avenue to Suite B in the Mercado complex at 502 E. Monroe St.

“Olga Davis will bring her leadership skills to the Barrett team,” said Linda C. Lederman, professor and director of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.  “Her interdisciplinary research, as well as her compassion, thoughtfulness and organizational skills, will be a true asset for the Honors College as they are for the Hugh Downs School.” 

Barrett Mercado building

Barrett, The Honors College at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus will be housed in this building at the Mercado complex. Photo courtesy Barrett, The Honors College  

For several years, Barrett Downtown has been housed in approximately 4,000 square feet on the first floor of the UCENT, with several staff offices on another floor of the building. Now, Barrett will be in an approximately 12,000-square-foot contiguous space in the Mercado with offices for faculty and staff, classrooms, meeting space and other amenities.

“Barrett at the Downtown Phoenix campus of ASU is the second largest group of honors students at the university. Although their current space is centrally located in many ways, they are bursting at the seams for study space, for lounge space, for meeting and workshop spaces and for classrooms. The latter has been a particular problem, with tensions every day trying to find classrooms set up in a seminar format and available at the right times,” Jacobs said.

"The new Mercado space is at least three times larger. It is a vast improvement for the students, faculty and staff of Barrett Downtown and a very large investment of Barrett funds to make it happen,” he added.

In addition to faculty and staff offices, classrooms and meeting and study areas, Barrett Downtown’s new suite will have space for the Barrett Writing Center, a computer lab with printers, a conference room for thesis defense sessions, and multipurpose event space. There also will be areas to display artwork made by Barrett students, a place for commuter students and others to store and heat up meals, a Nintendo Switch operable gaming space and a room with video equipment students can use to record presentations and practice interviews.

One classroom will have the equipment needed for the Barrett Global Classroom, which allows Barrett students to connect online with students from universities in other countries for interactive classes.

There also will be a “thesis gong” that students can ring when they submit their completed theses, and a 5-foot punching bag that can be used for stress-reducing workouts.

The new Barrett Downtown suite will be open and fully staffed during regular, weekday business hours and will be accessible to students on evenings and weekends.

The new space will open in several phases. In phase one, faculty and staff offices will open on Aug. 20. Meeting rooms, collaborative spaces, a student lounge, computer lab and writing center will open as the spaces are built out and furnished this fall. In phase two, four classrooms will open in mid-October. Due to scheduling constraints, in the fall 2019 semester Barrett classes will be held in the UCENT and other ASU downtown buildings. Honors classes will be scheduled into the new classrooms for the spring 2020 semester.

“The move provides an answer to the student call for more space downtown," said Kira Gatewood, Barrett Downtown project manager. "Students indicated that the current suite did not project the magnitude and vigor of the Barrett Downtown community. Now that the footprint will quadruple in size, we can have more and better programs for students and dedicated classrooms for our signature courses, The Human Event and The History of Ideas.” 

Barrett Honors Faculty Fellow Alex Young said he is looking forward to having offices, meeting and event spaces and classrooms all in the same place.

“We are happy to move into a place that will not only have more room, but better integrate our academic spaces with spaces for student programming, bringing staff, faculty and students together in a way that we hope creates a true home for Barrett Downtown. I'm quite excited about having classrooms tailored specifically to Barrett's student-centric model of seminar-style learning,” Young said.

Kacey Lorraine Cavanaugh, a senior Barrett student majoring in nursing said she welcomes the move.

“As a nursing student I am very excited that Barrett is moving to Mercado. I know a lot of nursing students aren't as involved in Barrett as other majors so this will be such a great opportunity for us to more easily take advantage of the resources that the office offers. I know a lot of people don't like walking to Mercado but it’s truly a beautiful building and Arizona Center, which is on the way to Mercado, is such a fun spot to sit down or grab some food,” she said.

Ranjani Venkatakrishnan, a Barrett student majoring in journalism, contributed to this article.

Nicole Greason

Public relations and publicity manager , Barrett, The Honors College


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Uber and ASU education partnership expands to drivers nationwide

August 7, 2019

All eligible drivers and their families now have access to tuition coverage for 80+ online degrees, plus certificates in entrepreneurship and English language learning

The partnership between Uber and Arizona State University to provide a pathway to a fully funded college degree is now available to eligible drivers and their families nationwide.

The ASU and Uber Education Partnership, which launched in eight cities, including Phoenix, in November 2018, offers the opportunity to earn an undergraduate degree through ASU Online or nondegree courses through ASU’s Continuing and Professional Education program. 

Under the pilot, Uber estimated that 10,000 drivers would be eligible for the tuition-coverage program. Now, it’s available to 100% of the company’s qualified drivers in the United States, and, although similar to ASU’s tuition-reimbursement program with Starbucks, the Uber partnership is broader, allowing drivers to pass tuition coverage to spouses, domestic partners, children, siblings, parents, legal guardians and dependents.

The education program is open to drivers who have completed at least 3,000 rides and achieved platinum or diamond status on Uber Pro, the rewards system that was unveiled at the same time as the tuition program.

Video by Uber

When the program debuted, Emily Kuckelman of Denver was working two jobs.

“Driving was my second job when I was a second-grade teacher,” said Kuckelman, who has been with Uber for almost three years.

“I was in this place where I had decided to stop teaching and I was looking for my next career, but I didn’t want to go into terrible student debt to go back to school,” she said.

“It was perfect timing.”

Kuckelman had 2,000 rides to her credit and needed to get to 3,000 to register for her first courses in the spring.

“It was a mad dash because I was working full time,” she said.

She’s pursuing a Bachelor of Science in graphic information technology and hopes to have a career in user-experience design. Now, she’s balancing driving with studying.

“I set a strict schedule for myself,” she said. “I figure out when driving is the most profitable in Denver so I have those hours pretty set. When I’m not driving, I’m working on school. It’s all about time management.

“When I was teaching, I had to have a second job anyway so I’m used to having a packed schedule.”

Uber driver Darryn Rozas kisses his wife, an ASU Online student, on the forehead

Uber driver Darryn Rozas kisses his wife, Shannon, on the forehead. Shannon Rozas is an ASU Online student. The Uber partnership allows drivers to pass tuition coverage to spouses, domestic partners, children, siblings, parents, legal guardians and dependents. Photo by Uber

For Shannon Rozas of Mesa, Arizona, the tuition coverage meant she could pursue a dream that was long deferred. She has been married to her husband, Darryn Rozas — who drives for Uber — for 26 years. She was in college when they met.

“We got married and had kids and my schooling went on the back burner all these years,” said Shannon Rozas, who is majoring in liberal studies with a hope to work in communications.

“I have always wanted to finish my degree, and this is a wonderful opportunity to do so.”

Rozas works full time as an executive assistant and has a 13-year-old son at home, so there’s a lot of juggling.

“I have to stay on top of my scholastic calendar and fit in reading, studying, completing assignments and tests in between my personal obligations,” she said.

“Staying organized and keeping a calendar is imperative.”

The partnership offers more than 80 ASU Online undergraduate degree programs and Continuing & Professional Education certificates in entrepreneurship and English language learning.

Uber has stressed the flexibility in both its work model and the degree program. And it has worked for Kuckelman, who enjoys her job driving.

“School days might be overwhelming if I have a big project, and it’s nice to say, ‘I’ll drive tomorrow’ and I can take a day off,” she said.

“There’s a mobile app so you can have your school stuff on your phone, which is very friendly for people on the move.

“I’ll be waiting at the airport for someone and I can check something for school.”

Learn more at

Top photo:  Emily Kuckelman of Denver is pursuing a bachelor's degree in graphic information technology and hopes to have a career in user-experience design. Photo by Uber

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


US Army strategist joins ASU as professor of practice

August 2, 2019

Matt Cavanaugh, a new professor of practice in the School of Politics and Global Studies and an affiliated faculty member with the Center on the Future of War, was in Tempe this July to film a lecture for his first semester teaching online at Arizona State University.

Lt. Col. Cavanaugh is an active-duty U.S. Army strategist with experience in 11 countries and assignments ranging from Iraq and the Pentagon to Korea and New Zealand. He is also a co-founder of and a nonresident fellow with the Modern War Institute at West Point. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, and the Daily Beast, among others. Lieutenant Colonel Matt Cavanaugh Matt Cavanaugh Download Full Image

In his first semester, Cavanaugh will be teaching a course in ASU's MA in global security program. During his visit he took some time to share more about his research and what he hopes to accomplish while at ASU.

Question: As an active-duty U.S. Army strategist with many past accomplishments, what led you into your current field of study?

Answer: Life. In my early 20s I deployed to Iraq in 2003 and again in 2005. Ever since, I've endeavored to understand what it was all about, why it was so chaotic and violent and tragic and difficult. My career and academic paths have run in parallel ever since — and focused on better understanding war and military strategy.

Q: The Modern War Institute at West Point generates new knowledge for the profession of arms, enhances the West Point curriculum and provides the Army and the nation with an intellectual resource for solving military problems. What led you to co-found the MWI?

A: A threat. While teaching at West Point from 2012 to 2015, I noticed cadets really wanted to talk so much more about modern war, about what was dominating the headlines. And when former President Obama threatened the now infamous "red line" to deter Syrian regime use of chemical weapons … knowing how much the cadets would want to learn more about all the angles in that confrontation, I pulled together a panel and 200-plus showed up — without anyone forcing them. We did more events, built momentum, demonstrated the demand and MWI followed soon thereafter.

Q: Why did you decide to come to ASU as a professor of practice for the MA in Global Security online degree?

A: Luck. I happened to be speaking at New America/ASU's 2018 Future of War Conference and met the dynamic duo of Daniel Rothenberg and Jeff Kubiak and the rest, as I say, isn't just history, it's the firm foundation of a really meaningful and cool academic program.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish as you work at the university?

A: To learn. To forge a better compass in life and research. Above all, to get a little bit better.

Matt Oxford

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Politics and Global Studies


ASU assistant professor recognized as public health leader by prominent community foundation

July 31, 2019

A leading nonprofit public health organization has named College of Health Solutions Assistant Professor Mac McCullough a 40 Under 40 Public Health Leader for 2019.

The de Beaumont Foundation annually recognizes public health professionals under the age of 40 who both improve the health of their communities and advance the field of public health. Founded in 1998 by inventor and philanthropist Pierre de Beaumont, the organization invests in innovative programs that create healthier communities nationwide.  Mac McCullough Mac McCullough, assistant professor in the College of Health Solutions. Download Full Image

McCullough researches public health and social services spending, analyzing and quantifying its effect on population health. In a recent study for AcademyHealth and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), for example, he found that $10 in public health spending can reduce infectious disease by 7% and premature death by 1.5% in the general population. 

In addition to research and teaching, McCullough serves as deputy director of the National Safety Net Advancement Center, an RWJF-funded initiative located within the College of Health Solutions. The center works with public health safety net organizations such as Medicaid to research and implement more effective payment and delivery methods for a wide range of public health services, including oral health care and addiction intervention

McCullough is also a health economist for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

“This prestigious award reflects the tremendous contributions Dr. McCullough has made toward improving population health through translational research,” said William Riley, a College of Health Solutions professor and director of the National Safety Net Advancement Center. “We are very fortunate to have a person of his stature and accomplishment in the science of health care delivery program.” 

Kelly Krause

Communications Specialist, College of Health Solutions