Univision Arizona now airing Cronkite Noticias newscast

November 17, 2017

Univision Arizona, the state’s most-watched Spanish-language television station, is now broadcasting Cronkite Noticias, a 30-minute news program produced by bilingual Arizona State University students on important Latino community and statewide issues.

The newscast, created by ASU students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, broadcasts on select Saturdays on Univision Arizona or UniMás from 5 to 6 p.m. The latest newscast will air this Saturday, Nov. 18, on Univision. Cronkite Noticias students also occasionally contribute stories to Univision Arizona’s nightly newscast, which airs throughout the state. Cronkite Noticias Senior Felipe Corral prepares for the Cronkite Noticias Facebook Live newscast with Cronkite Faculty Associate Valeria Fernández. Photo by Camaron Stevenson Download Full Image

Launched in January, Cronkite Noticias is a multiplatform Spanish-language news operation at the Cronkite School, where students produce digital and broadcast news stories under the guidance of faculty. Cronkite Noticias is made possible by the Raza Development Fund, the largest Latino community development financial institution that is dedicated to generating economic growth and opportunities for Latino families across the country.

Students in Cronkite Noticias provide critical news coverage to the Spanish-speaking community in Arizona through the newscast as well as the multimedia website cronkitenoticias.azpbs.org. Recent stories have included the shortage of Latino teachers in the state as well as the psychological impact of deportation on families. 

Faculty Associate Valeria Fernández, a veteran multimedia journalist who leads Cronkite Noticias, said the program offers students significant opportunities to launch careers not only in Spanish language media but also skills that make them culturally sensitive bilingual reporters.

Cronkite senior Jackie López, who was raised in Chihuahua, Mexico, covered some of the issues surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as well as other stories focusing on arts and culture for Cronkite Noticias. Most recently, she traveled to the Towers Jail in Phoenix to cover a three-day food strike protest among Maricopa County jail inmates over the quality of meals.

López, who hopes to work in Spanish language media after graduation, said the experiences she is receiving producing both digital and broadcast stories is invaluable.

“You really get exposed to a lot,” she said. “I definitely enjoy the interviews and getting to know people.”

Cronkite Noticias is part of a growing constellation of classes and immersive professional experiences available to Cronkite students interested in Latino and borderlands issues.

Cronkite News, the student-staffed, professionally led news division of Arizona PBS, features a Borderlands Bureau in which students cover border and immigration issues in English under the guidance of award-winning borderlands journalists.

Cronkite Professor of Practice Vanessa Ruiz, the former lead anchor of 12 News in Phoenix who now leads the Cronkite News Borderlands Bureau, also provides guidance and support to the Noticias students as they prepare their newscast for Univision.

Ruiz, who also has been an anchor for Telemundo and TV Marti, said Cronkite Noticias is a truly unique program, where students gain valuable experience while making a difference in the community.

“Arizona is ground zero for a lot of the hot button issues the country is talking about, not just on a local level but a national level,” Ruiz said. “And these students are getting the opportunity to get out there and really talk to people from all kinds of neighborhoods.”

Ruiz added that the students are pushing the limits of journalism. Recently, they started to produce a short newscast on Facebook Live at facebook.com/cronkitenoticias.

López said she has enjoyed the camaraderie with her fellow students in Noticias and the experiences she has received producing a broadcast that airs on Univision Arizona.

“It’s amazing because I grew up with my family watching Univision, so for us it’s a big deal,” she said. “Whenever we know we’re going to be on there, everybody will call everyone (in my family). It’s nice to be able to show people what we do here at school.”

Source: Most-watched Spanish Language station in Arizona is based on NSI average impressions among persons two-plus in total day (Monday through Sunday, 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.) during 2017 YTD (January to October 2017). Comparison of Spanish TV stations’ viewing exclusively in Arizona (Phoenix and Tucson DMAs).

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication


image title
November 16, 2017

Experts in Jewish philosophy, international law, public management and substance-abuse prevention honored

Regents’ Professors are the elite of the academic world. To be awarded the distinction, scholars must be full professors, with outstanding achievements in their fields, who are nationally and internationally recognized by their peers.

No more than 3 percent of all faculty at Arizona State University carry the distinction.

This year, four ASU faculty members are being recognized as Regents’ Professors, approved by the Arizona Board of Regents on Thursday.

Their specialties vary, but they are all acknowledged as the zenith of their field. One is the top scholar in contemporary Jewish philosophy. Another is the world leader in international law. A third is described as the preeminent theorist in the field of public management, likely to be remembered a century from now. The final honoree has been called the single most recognized name in the world when it comes to substance-abuse prevention, someone who has restructured what is known about child development.

Let’s meet them.

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson

Professor of history in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) and director of the Center for Jewish Studies

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson has established herself as the top scholar in contemporary Jewish philosophy, also integrating Judaism and gender studies. She was elected to the leading venue for the study of religion and science in the U.S. as the Russell Family Fellow in Religion and Science at the Center of Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley. She also was a visiting fellow at Oxford and is the editor in chief of the Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers.

The award came as a total surprise, she said.

“It has made me very happy indeed,” Tirosh-Samuelson said. “My scholarship pertains to three fields: the intersection of religion, science and technology; religious environmentalism; and Jewish intellectual history.

“As an historian I study the past, but my knowledge of the past shapes my deep concern about the present and the future. I engage contemporary science and technology as a humanist who is deeply concerned about the future of humanity in light of our massive ecological crisis, on the one hand, and the profound impact of techno-science on all aspects of life, on the other hand.”

She has two solo-authored monographs in the humanities as well as 50 articles in peer-reviewed publications and 20 book reviews. Tirosh-Samuelson also has edited seven volumes of essays by scholars, including volumes published by Harvard University Press. Most impressively, she took on the truly monumental task of commissioning and editing 20 volumes of the Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers.

Tirosh-Samuelson said the award recognizes the importance of the humanities.

“In awarding me the Regents’ Professorship, the Arizona Board of Regents has recognized the importance of the humanities for reflections about the meaning of being human, the contribution of the humanities to the interdisciplinary mission of ASU, and the relevance of Judaism to Western culture,” she said.

Barry Bozeman

Arizona Centennial Professor of Technology Policy and Public Management in the School of Public Affairs (College of Public Service and Community Solutions) and director of the Center of Organizational Research and Design

man's portrait

Barry Bozeman's research focuses on public management, organization theory and science and technology policy. The author or editor of 15 books, Bozeman is one of the most highly regarded scholars in the field of public administration and policy. He has received multiple career achievement awards; authored and/or edited 15 books and more than 120 research papers and monographs with more than 14,000 citations. He has contributed to use-inspired research with the design and evaluation of national innovation systems in South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, France, Israel, Chile and Argentina.

One writer in the nomination materials said, “He can lay claim to be the preeminent theorist in the field of public management in the last 30 years … a once-in-a-generation talent … Ask me who, among contemporary scholars of governance, have made a contribution likely to remembered in 50 or 100 years, I would nominate Barry Bozeman.”

An interesting fact about Bozeman: This is his third Regents professorship.

“I was also a Regents’ Professor at University of Georgia and at Georgia Tech,” he said. “In the case of Georgia Tech I was the first social sciences Regents’ Professor in the history of the university; almost all others had, at the time, been scientists or engineers.”

Bozeman said he was surprised and delighted to be chosen Regents’ Professor.

“Having colleagues nominate me and peers write supportive letters is the greatest reward,” he said. “The honor is also particularly treasured because ASU is a great institution and I have enjoyed working here even more than in any of the other fine institutions with which I have been associated. I am particularly inspired and motivated by ASU’s inclusiveness values and the sense that anything is possible.”

Dan Bodansky

Foundation Professor in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and faculty co-director of the Center for Law and Global Affairs

Dan Bodansky

A leading authority on international environmental law generally, and global climate-change law in particular, Dan Bodansky negotiated for the U.S. at the fifth and sixth conferences to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and was a leading participant at the 2015 Paris Summit. He is a member of the State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Law, a select group of scholars who advise the department’s legal staff. Bodansky was selected for the board of editors of the American Journal of International Law, the world’s leading peer-reviewed journal in the field.

“Dan’s place at the apex of the field of international environmental law is without question,” one writer said. Another: “Dan is the leading academic expert. ... His commentaries and analyses … are the most authoritative academic accounts, to which others in the field look to understand and verify key points in their own research.”

“Professor Bodansky has accomplished what all scholars hope for but very few achieve: over the course of his illustrious career, he has authored not one but several genuine touchstone pieces. … More importantly, they have also served to frame and shift scholarly debates, and have carved out concepts and analytical lenses that have been picked up by countless other scholars.”

Bodansky said he is deeply honored by the distinction.

“Helping to shape the role that international law plays in tackling climate change, one of the defining challenges of our time, has been my focus for many years,” he said. “How do we structure an international instrument like the Paris climate change agreement to make it most effective? This is an enormously complex issue that’s not just of interest to academics but of profound importance to the world. ASU’s been a fantastic place to pursue these issues because of its dedication to making research relevant to real-world challenges.

Thomas Dishion

Professor of psychology (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) and director of the REACH Institute

Thomas Dishion

Thomas Dishion is an elite researcher in prevention science. One reviewer states: “Without doubt, Tom Dishion is the single most recognized name in the world when it comes to substance-abuse prevention.” He is a prolific scholar with more than 300 published papers. His work has been cited more than 37,000 times, and he has been awarded grants with expenditures across his career of nearly $100 million. In terms of pioneering research, Dishion has made not one pioneering contribution to his field, but arguably four. A reviewer points this out: “He has provided a series of seminal contributions that … comprise a truly exceptionally distinguished record. He has an important and still ongoing influence not just on preventive science, but on how child development and psychopathology are understood and how clinical psychology is conducted across the world.”

Dishion’s contributions in preventive science have restructured what is known about child development, and he has changed how clinical psychology is conducted across the world.

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU's chief financial officer takes home nonprofit award

November 15, 2017

Each year, Arizona's chapter of Financial Executives International (FEI) honors five chief financial officers who have demonstrated excellence in the field of financial management. 

This year's FEI Nonprofit award was given to Arizona State University's Morgan R. Olsen, who was honored Nov. 9 at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort.  Morgan R. Olsen Download Full Image

Olsen currently serves as ASU's CFO and treasurer, a position he has held since November 2008. He guided ASU through the recession, helping the university not only survive but thrive during that period. He was able to recognize areas that needed reorganization while also consolidating departments to adjust for funding changes.

As CFO, Olsen is responsible for overseeing all financial functions at ASU's five campuses. The university currently has over $1 billion in active capital projects in various phases.

ASU professor awarded grant for research in adolescent substance use

November 15, 2017

The National Institute on Drug Abuse and Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research has awarded Kit Elam, an assistant professor at Arizona State University, the Mentored Research Scientist Development Award.

The award provides support of intensive, supervised career development in the biomedical, behavioral or clinical sciences leading to research independence. Elam was chosen for his project, “Gene Environment Interplay Underlying Negative Family Environments and Family-Based Interventions in Early Adolescent Substance Use.” Kit Elam, assistant professor in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics Download Full Image

“I’m particularly interested in child aggression and genetic influences,” said Elam, a faculty member in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics. “Those are two bodies of research I’ll try to be merging and looking at their interplay. The third body of research is how that contributes to substance use later in life and whether there’s intervention effects that buffer the influence of children’s genetics on negative family environments or between negative family environments and substance use later in life.”

A benefit of winning the award is the ability to train with a number of mentors who will help Elam gain expertise in a number of realms. During the first two to three years of the grant, Elam will be supported to build advanced skills and tools in bioinformatics.

“The award is a more unique mechanism because it includes a training and a research portion,” Elam said. “I’ll focus on building those skills and methods first and then in the final two or three years, there will be more of a focus on publishing and applying those methods to looking at gene environment interplay in the family.”

Elam has been interested in studying child development since before he went into graduate school. He began developing research skills by looking at genetic influences on behaviors in twins, but his post-doctoral research led him to be more interested in how the family environment contributes to behavioral outcomes.

“A lot of people do research on negative family environments and substance use, or they do research on genetics and substance use, or intervention research, but not a lot of research is looking at all of these pieces together,” Elam said. “Biological scientists are looking at the function of genes on behavior, but nobody has really taken those skills and applied them to family studies.”

Elam’s ultimate goal for the project is to better the lives of children and their families through his research.

“I hope to develop new methods that will advance the field of behavior genetics and family studies,” Elam said. “I think this can be accomplished through developing applied materials from this research for communities, but also interventions and refining interventions so they’re more effective for at risk youth.”

His findings will be regularly published through academic manuscripts throughout the course of the project. He will also put together conference presentations based on his findings. At the end of his grant, Elam hopes to write a R01 Research Grant to the National Institute on Drug Abuse to continue his research.

“I’ve proposed to submit about two manuscripts every year in the first couple years where it’s less research heavy and three or four in the later years,” Elam said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to translate some of that to both applied materials for children and families but also some of this research should inform intervention designs to help refine intervention designs for children and families.”

Elam is eager to take on the project. His new and innovative approach to researching substance use in adolescents is pivotal to the development of family studies.

“I’m really excited at this point because it really was just about two months ago that I found out it was funded,” Elam said. “I’m really excited and I think in talking with my different mentors, there’s a lot of innovative avenues we can pursue. So I’m just really excited to get started.”

Rachel Bunning

Student reporter and writer, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

ASU student inspires others to rethink immigration

Project to find students' own immigration story in their family tree results in website, exhibit launching Nov. 16

November 14, 2017

Although the majority of Americans would not be here if it weren’t for immigration, there are many today who might distance themselves from their family’s immigration history.

Judith Perera, a PhD candidate studying the history of immigrant detention in the U.S. in Arizona State University's School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, realized the way immigration is taught and talked about does not reflect the process and reality of the immigrant experience. She has created a project for her students to break down their ideas of immigration by applying their own family to the narrative. Perera's HST 325 class Download Full Image

“If I can get them to place themselves and their families into the narrative, then perhaps they can see themselves in the history and it can be more relevant to them,” said Perera. “In this process I know other people don’t think about how they are descendants from immigrants, so they don’t really think about that process. So how does an immigrant instructor get someone on the same page? How do you get students engaged?”

Her answer came after she visited the Southwest Oral History Conference in April. She was impressed by the use of oral history in classrooms as well as in the community and decided to apply it to her own teachings.

“I think traditional history courses are lecture-based, exam-based, paper-based, and my courses don’t really do that,” said Perera. “You are teaching to dramatically different students. They have a lot of information accessible at their fingertips with their phones so you don’t necessarily need to be as lecture-based. Rather, let's think about things, let's talk about things.”

The topic of immigration is important to Perera as she is an immigrant herself. She immigrated to the U.S. from Sri Lanka when she was 11 years old. She said her own experience of coming to America is one that many of her students have trouble relating to, so she has made it her priority to ask them to look to history for their own tale.

“To me, being an immigrant myself, it’s something I kind of think about on a daily basis,” said Perera. “So while at the same time I’m researching, it’s not like I can go home and say, ‘OK, research over. I’m going to do my own life,’ you know? You wake up and you eat, sleep, breathe it.”

Perera decided to have her students take on a project called “Our Stories,” in which students found their immigration story within their families. They traced back to when their families came to America and have put together posters for an exhibit in Hayden Library.

“If I can get every student to acknowledge their own immigrant story, can others in the public do the same?” asked Perera. “What impact might that have in changing the way we approach immigration or think about immigration? Just showing more compassion, kindness, empathy towards people.”

The posters will be displayed in the library from Nov. 16 until Dec. 8. There is also a website dedicated to the project, and there will be a documentary premiering on Dec. 1 at the Marston Exploration Theater on the ASU Tempe campus.

“The students have been so incredible,” said Perera. “The students are going above and beyond what they have to do, and they have taken so much time to build this. It’s remarkable.”

Rachel Bunning

Student reporter and writer, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

ASU professor's book explores why some research collaborations fail while others succeed

November 13, 2017

A team approach to scientific research can lead to groundbreaking results. It can also end with colleagues never working together again.

A new book by ASU Public Affairs Professor Barry Bozeman and co-author Jan Youtie examines the impact of a team approach to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research. Barry Bozeman Barry Bozeman is the Arizona Centennial professor of Public Management and Technology Policy and director of the Center of Organizational Research and Design in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University. Download Full Image

In "The Strength in Numbers: The New Science of Team Science," Bozeman and Youti document the rewards of a collaborative approach and the challenges researchers face. More importantly, they identify solutions to help scientists overcome those obstacles.

Bozeman, an Arizona Centennial Professor of Public Management and Technology Policy and director of the ASU Center of Organizational Research and Design in the School of Public Affairs, sat down to talk about his new book.

Listen below.

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


5th cohort for Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership named

33 senior leaders from across US are fellows in program co-hosted by ASU and Georgetown University

November 13, 2017

Thirty-three senior leaders from more than two dozen universities, including Texas A&M, New York University, the University of North Carolina, American University and the University of Idaho have been selected as fellows in the fifth cohort of the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership, co-hosted by Arizona State University and Georgetown University.

The eight-month program, which began Nov. 6 and takes place at Georgetown and ASU, focuses on preparing the fellows to lead organizational change at colleges and universities. Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership, Download Full Image

During four intensive sessions in the District of Columbia and Tempe, Arizona, fellows at the academy will be introduced to the latest thinking and research about change leadership, teaching and learning in a digital age, external challenges facing higher education and the financial sustainability of institutions.

Participants also will apply the principles of “design thinking” to re-imagine the future of higher education. A mix of seminars, hands-on workshops, design sessions and fireside chats with leading thinkers from various industries will help the fellows prepare for leading innovation at their own institutions.

Academy faculty members represent a cross-section of higher-education scholars and leaders from other sectors of the economy that are facing similar challenges.

This year’s fellows are:

  • Seth Beckman, dean, Mary Pappert School of Music, Duquesne University
  • Michael J. Benedik, vice provost, Texas A&M University
  • Heidi Bostic, dean and professor, College of Liberal Arts, University of New Hampshire
  • Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, special adviser to the president on American Indian affairs, director of Center for Indian Education, and President’s Professor, ASU
  • Catherine A. Buyarski, associate dean for student affairs and executive director of student success initiatives, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Rebecca Carl, associate vice president engagement, Indiana University          
  • Alison Alene Carr, dean and professor, College of Education, University of Idaho
  • Salvatore J. Catanzaro, associate vice president for academic administration, policy and faculty affairs, Illinois State University                 
  • Daniel Cohen-Vogel, vice president of data and analytics, University of North Carolina - General Administration
  • Dennis Di Lorenzo, Harvey J. Stedman dean, School of Professional Studies, New York University       
  • Teresa M. Flannery, vice president for communication, American University
  • Joshua M. Friedman, chief development officer, ASU Foundation
  • Leebrian E. Gaskins, associate vice president for information technology/CIO, Texas A&M International University
  • Patricia Grant, senior associate dean for undergraduate programs, Georgetown University
  • Marie Huff, dean, Beaver College of Health Sciences, Appalachian State University
  • Jana L. Jasinski, associate dean, College of Sciences, University of Central Florida      
  • Dean R. Kahler, vice provost, University of Idaho         
  • Andrew E. Kersten, dean, College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, University of Idaho
  • Venard Scott Koerwer, vice president for strategy and vice dean of graduate studies, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
  • Ronnie L. Korosec, associate vice provost and chief of staff for academic affairs, University of Central Florida
  • Cynthia A. Lietz, senior associate dean, College of Public Service and Community Solutions, ASU
  • Michael C. McCarthy, vice president for mission integration and planning, Fordham University       
  • Jeffrey A. Miller, associate provost for administration, Duquesne University    
  • Kavita Pandit, associate provost for faculty affairs, Georgia State University
  • Robyn E. Parker, dean, College of Business, Plymouth State University          
  • Jason Reinoehl, vice president for strategic enrollment management, University of Dayton
  • Jeff Rutenbeck, dean, School of Communication, American University
  • Todd Sandrin, dean and vice provost, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, ASU
  • Brandon E. Schwab, associate provost for academic affairs, Western Carolina University
  • Justin M. Sloan, vice president for institutional effectiveness and planning, St. Edward’s University
  • Roger Ward, vice president of operations and planning and vice dean of the Graduate School, University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • Karen Weddle-West, provost and director of diversity initiatives, University of Memphis
  • Randy Weinstein, associate provost for teaching and learning, Villanova University

For more information, go to http://georgetown.asu.edu.

Written by Jeff Selingo, executive director of the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership and special adviser to President Crow

image title

NBA G League partners with ASU, Game Plan for educational program

November 13, 2017

As part of its new era, the NBA G League is not only offering players more tools to improve on the court, but off of it, too.

This year the league will introduce the NBA G League Education Program, which is designed to better prepare NBA G LeagueThe NBA G League was known as the Development League, or D League, until a multi-year sponsorship by Gatorade began in 2017. players for post-playing careers. The program will be run in partnership with Arizona State University and Game Plan, a student-athlete development platform.

“The NBA G League prides itself on its ability to provide players with best-in-class opportunities not only to take their games to the next level, but to prepare them for their professional lives after basketball,” said Malcom Turner, NBA G League president. “We’re immensely proud of our Education Program and are thrilled to partner with ASU and Game Plan to elevate our players now and into the future.”

ASU will offer NBA G League players the opportunity to take classes and earn their degree through the university’s online undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Players may also take courses through ASU’s Global Freshman Academy, which allows students to earn ASU academic credit that can be used once they are enrolled in a degree program or transfer to another university. Game Plan will provide its comprehensive athlete development suite of eLearning courses, assessments, virtual mentorship and career marketplace.

“As a model for the New American University, ASU continues expanding access to higher education for students around the world, and through ASU Online we strive to allow all individuals who are interested in pursuing their education the opportunity to achieve this goal,” said Phil Regier, university dean for educational initiatives and CEO of EdPlus at ASU. “We are pleased to partner with the NBA G League as part of their Education Program in order to provide its players with a pathway to a quality higher education and degree completion.”

“Life after sport is a challenging transition for the most prepared of athletes,” said Vin McCaffrey, CEO and founder of Game Plan. “Game Plan is proud to partner with the NBA G League in developing a comprehensive program to help players prepare for that transition. Since 2008, we've worked with over 50 Division I athletic departments and their 50,000 student-athletes. The Game Plan platform is an investment into the success of players now and in the future, providing the flexibility to fit into the busy schedules of NBA G League.”

The NBA G League Education Program, co-authored by current and former players, will be available to players up to five years after they play in the league. Implementation of the program began during training camp, when players took the first of two assessments, Game Plan’s Athlete Identity Assessment, which helps create awareness of an athlete's key personality identifiers to enable success as a player and beyond. Over the course of the season, players will take Game Plan’s Athlete Interest Inventory, which helps identify an athlete’s academic and career interests.

In addition to academic offerings, the program will provide players with access to Game Plan’s career marketplace that houses companies in search of athletes transitioning into job opportunities. ASU, recognized as a leader in high-quality online education and ranked the most innovative university in the nation for three straight years by U.S. News & World Report, emerged as an ideal partner for the NBA G League Education Program, offering degrees identical to those given to on-campus students.

“We are committed to helping players develop the skills and experiences necessary to be successful in the career of their choice after retirement,” said Greg Taylor, senior vice president of player development at the NBA. “The NBA G League Education Program is an important part of the many education and professional development programs that the league makes available to players. We are excited to partner with ASU and Game Plan, two first-class education organizations, to provide players with invaluable resources and support.”

Founding director of ASU’s Biodesign Institute, Charles Arntzen, retires

Arntzen's creative science led to discovery of Ebola antidote

November 13, 2017

From his roots as a fair-haired Minnesota farm boy to climbing the ladder of success in big pharma, to blazing a translational academic research path into life-saving therapies, Charles Arntzen has led one extraordinary life in science. 

During the course of a prolific career, Arntzen and his collaborators have gained international recognition and helped burnish a special shine on ASU’s star with their dedicated efforts of using plants as biofactories for the production of life-saving vaccines and therapeutics.  Charlie Arntzen Portrait Charles Arntzen was honored by colleagues at his retirement celebration on Nov. 2. Download Full Image

For these achievements and his two decades of leadership at Arizona State University, Arntzen was honored by colleagues with a retirement celebration at the Biodesign Institute on Nov. 2.

“It’s been a creative wonderland within the Biodesign Institute that has allowed us to chase ideas that maybe initially, sounded a little crazy, but bring together the parts to make them a reality,” said Arntzen, who, among his many ASU titles, served as founding director of the Biodesign Institute, co-director of the Biodesign Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, the ASU Florence Ely Nelson Presidential Endowed Chair and a Regents’ Professor in the School of Life Sciences within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Ebola epidemic

One of those crazy ideas that turned into a career-crowning achievement for Arntzen was an academic, federal and industry collaboration that helped create an experimental drug called ZMapp that was used to treat U.S. aid workers infected with Ebola during the 2014 epidemic in West Africa.

“What does happen in biology, rarely but wonderfully when it happens, is the application of some aspect of research in a way that changes someone's life,” Arntzen said. “On Aug. 4, in 2014, that happened to me. And to be able to draw a straight line from a hypothesis to such a dramatic outcome is rare for a biological scientist like me. I'm still amazed but delighted.”

During the height of the Ebola outbreak, two American missionaries became infected. Physician Kent Brantly and health-care worker Nancy Writebol, both near death and desperate for help, became the first people to receive ZMapp, knowing full well that it had never been tested in humans before.

Kent Brantly

“In 2014, as I was dying from Ebola virus disease, I agreed to take an experimental drug called ZMapp,” Brantly said.  “It seemed like a last resort in my fight against the infection.”

Within 24 hours after taking ZMapp, Brantly went from death’s door to walking again, and both Writebol and Brantly fully recovered.

“Since my recovery, I've had the chance to learn the miraculous history of this drug's development,” Brantly said.

“I'm grateful for the role the Biodesign Institute at ASU has played in the discovery process and in forging ties to industry collaborators who translated new ideas into the product that I received. And upon the occasion of his retirement,” Brantly said, “I offer my sincerest thanks to Charles Arntzen for his pioneering role in establishing plant-made manufacturing and especially for ZMapp. The importance of lifesaving medications cannot be overstated, a lesson I have learned firsthand!”

For his leadership role in developing ZMapp, Arntzen was nationally recognized in 2015 as the No. 1 honoree with Fast Company’s annual “100 Most Creative People in Business.” Closer to home, Arntzen received the 2014 Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year award, given annually to the researcher who has made the most significant contributions to Arizona bioscience advancement.

“Charlie Arntzen has been one of the most important faculty members in the history of this university. He’s a person who can think, connect, drive, create and link ... do all of that in the spirit of a scientist in either a corporate or university setting.”

— ASU President Michael Crow

A fertile mind

Little was known of ZMapp at the time of the epidemic, but since then, the world has learned how it originally sprung from the minds of creative scientists like Arntzen and his collaborators more than a decade ago at ASU’s Biodesign Institute.

“Charlie Arntzen has been one of the most important faculty members in the history of this university,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “He’s a person who can think, connect, drive, create and link … do all of that in the spirit of a scientist in either a corporate or university setting.

“Most importantly, one thing I know from working with him, is that nothing is impossible. Anything that you can imagine ... let’s see if we can take viruses that attack animals, embed these viruses genetically into plants, have these animals, humans or others ingest these plants and then be vaccinated from these viruses. Who thought that up? Someone in a science fiction story? No. Arntzen. He thought it up.”

ZMapp is a serum made in a plant with a notorious reputation as a killer, tobacco. The pathway from discovery to treatment began with an idea Arntzen had to produce low-cost vaccines in plants to fight devastating infectious diseases in the developing world.

On a trip to Thailand, Arntzen witnessed a mother soothing a hungry infant by placing a mashed banana on the baby’s lips. He wondered if plants could be a brand-new route for his research, by developing orally delivered or “edible vaccines” from fruits like bananas.

But after spending a decade formulating vaccines in bananas, tomatoes and even potatoes, his team had to veer from that initial idea. It simply took too long to grow the plants (up to three years for bananas) and it was too tough a hurdle to control the dosage from a fruit to pass FDA guidelines.

Now, they focus on making purified plant extracts from quick-growing, leafy tobacco plants (which have a very high yield) containing the vaccine or therapeutic of interest (from plants that are only a few weeks old).

This is how ZMapp is currently made.

The best defense

After 9/11 and the anthrax attack on the U.S. Senate, the government invested heavily in biodefense, including $3.7 million to Arntzen and a small San Diego-based startup called Mapp Biopharmaceutical, led by Larry Zeitlin and Kevin Whaley.

The goal was to develop defenses against pathogens, including Ebola, that could be used as potential biological threats.

“I think the real gain is from all of the money that was invested early on — our work dates back to 2002 — and it takes a long time to build up that core competency that is necessary for drug development,” Arntzen said. “This has happened for both vaccines and therapeutics in academia and companies. We should give credit to funding agencies like DARPA and NIH for giving us the tools that we need.”

With a dream team of collaborators, they modified the tobacco plants to produce a protective cocktail made of three monoclonal antibodies. In work published in 2014, this therapeutic cocktail proved to be 100 percent effective in protecting animals against Ebola, even five days after onset of infection.

“We’ve been teaming together manufacturing innovation, tobacco engineering innovation, our virus work and antibody discoveries,” Arntzen said. “I’m guessing, just in the development of ZMapp, there were about 100 different people with many different skills who came together.”

ZMapp is the leading therapeutic to fight Ebola, but because it was experimental, there were only enough doses to save a few during the 2014 outbreak. In response, the government has awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to Mapp for the massive scale-up desperately needed to stockpile enough of the drug and safeguard against another possible outbreak.

Now, commercial partner Kentucky BioProcessing has produced enough ZMapp for testing in future clinical trials to help optimize the study of how ZMapp works to fight Ebola.  


The godfather of pharming

His research as a scientist at the ASU Biodesign Institute has put Arizona on the map in new ways, as people all over the world are fascinated by the idea that it is possible to produce modern protein drugs inside a plant.

The discovery that tobacco plants could be medicine-machines earned Charlie the title of the “godfather of pharming.” In other words, he was “farming plants in a way that would turn them into medicines — also known as “farmaceuticals.”

These have included plant-based anti-cancer agents, therapeutic agents to protect populations from bioterror threats, proteins to combat rabies, plant-derived vaccines against Hepatitis C, noroviruses and many infectious diseases.

Arntzen's longstanding ASU research team, which includes Tsafrir Mor, Hugh Mason, Qiang “Shawn” Chen and many others, has been a pioneer in producing pharmacologically active products in transgenic plants, overcoming health and agricultural constraints in the developing world as well as the use of plant biotechnology for enhancement of food quality and value.

“Most scientists only plow in one plot,” Mor said. “So few transcend the disciplines as Charlie Arntzen did. Thank you for allowing me to go bananas with you, and being part of this exciting time.”

Together, they will carry on Arntzen’s quest to pursue plant-based vaccines and therapeutics to combat West Nile virus, dengue fever, nerve agents and even cancer.

ASU leadership

Arntzen was recruited to ASU from Cornell, where he served as president and CEO of the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research.

“Charlie joined us in August of 2000, and little did we know that it was such an inflection point for this university,” said Lattie Coor, ASU president from 1990–2002. “Everything I saw when I got here was that this university was already better than it knew it was, but this message hadn’t reached the rest of the world. Once we determined where our strengths were, we began looking actively on how we could build out a better, stronger research platform for the university.

“Charlie was the very first member of the National Academy to join as an ASU faculty. He paved the way for ASU in that kind of pioneering fashion that he showed.”

Arntzen was elected to the prestigious U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1983. He is known throughout the scientific community for his basic research contributions to plant structure and function and increasing the efficiency of plant photosynthesis for agricultural improvements.

“My research career evolved over 40 years, but always focused on basic research in plant molecular biology and protein engineering, with a goal of enhancing food quality and value,” Arntzen said.

In the late 1980s, he left academia to work as director of plant science and microbiology in DuPont's agricultural products division, where he gained valuable expertise in bringing crop biotechnology to the market, with a focus on herbicide and insect resistance to help boost crop yields.

Once at ASU, he and Coor put together plans to bundle a new source of state funding, the voter-approved Proposition 301 sales tax, into supporting the growth of ASU research in a new interdisciplinary concept of nature-inspired research called the Biodesign Institute.

Their guiding principles were to move away from individual investigators and use multidisciplinary teams to tackle the world’s biggest challenges, with much closer ties to industry to translate groundbreaking discoveries to benefit Arizonans and beyond.

“We wanted to put these components into practice, that as a team, we could never do as individual researchers,” Arntzen said.

Arntzen served as the founding director of the Biodesign Institute (originally called AzBio) until May 2003, and as co-director of Biodesign’s Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology until 2007.

Arntzen was also the director of two NIH-funded cooperative research centers at ASU, working on the development of hepatitis C vaccines and vaccines and microbicides to prevent sexually transmitted infections.

Arntzen’s early, big science team pursuits set the tone for the massive expansion of ASU research, and for the more than 400 creative scientists and students now at the Biodesign Institute who continue to produce groundbreaking discoveries.

These include: linking gut microbial composition to autism, identifying diseases like cancer at their earliest stages, generating renewable energy and making polluted water and soil clean, all with the goal of advancing global health, energy and the environment. 

Most recently, the Biodesign Institute capped another fiscal year with almost $40 million in annual research expenditures, and approaching nearly $700 million in research funding since the bright early days of Biodesign under Arntzen’s leadership.

Since its inception, Biodesign Institute scientists have disclosed nearly 700 inventions, resulting in 97 patents, 53 licensing agreements and 22 spin-out ventures. In its first full decade of operations, Biodesign has had a $1.5 billion impact on the regional economy and supported more than 3,000 jobs. Researchers at the institute currently are studying more than 100 diseases, including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, immune disorders and infectious diseases.

With their game-changing approach to breaking traditional boundaries between biology, chemistry, physics, computing, engineering and mathematics, Biodesign scientists have launched such new technologies as the world’s first mobile metabolism tracker, an effective treatment for Ebola, a $1 diagnostic for Zika, systems for turning algae into clean energy and a diagnostic platform that can detect some 90 diseases with a single drop of blood.

“Thank you for all that you have done for ASU,” Crow said. “For getting Biodesign off the ground, and most importantly for helping us understand that human beings, when they connect to nature and they understand nature, can really do anything.”

National leadership

Throughout his career, Arntzen has also served the nation through science societies and policy.

Arntzen provided expertise and national service from 2001–2008 on the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST). This policy panel met with former President George W. Bush and members of his administration to provide technical summaries and proposals for advancing the U.S. research capacity and economic growth. As part of PCAST, Arntzen made significant contributions to multiple reports, including biodefense. These reports were the basis of many budget proposals, including the successful establishment of the federal Project Bioshield and expanded university research funding.

Arntzen was selected by the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) to receive the inaugural fellow of ASPB Award and the Botanical Society of America Centennial Award in 2007. The 2007 fellow of ASPB Award was granted for: “recognition of distinguished and long-term contributions to plant biology and service to the Society by current members in areas that include research, education, mentoring, outreach and professional and public service.”

He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and also of the American Society of Plant Biologists, and a member of the National Academy of Inventors. He received the Award for Superior Service from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for international project leadership in India 1980, and the American Society of Plant Biology Leadership in Science Public Service Award in 2004.

Forging ahead

An avid golfer, nature photographer and global traveler, Arntzen will now have ample opportunity to take advantage of Arizona’s year-round sunshine and enjoying life with his wife, Kathy, his son's family and especially his grandchildren.

Yet he’ll still keep an advisory role, hoping to help ASU’s plant experts and his academic family with bringing more vaccines and therapeutics to the market.

“I have been fortunate to work with a wonderful team of people at ASU, and with companies with extraordinary and complementary skills at Mapp, ICON and KBP,” Arntzen said. “I am not yet ready to quit just yet, as I believe that a plant-made norovirus vaccine will only come if we can find a formulation that will work, and we still have ongoing research with that goal in mind.”

Due to the Ebola epidemic of 2014 — and continued concern about the spread of newly emerging dangerous viruses — the number of scientists and pharmaceutical companies interested in finding cost-effective new vaccines and drugs is expanding. 

Arntzen will cheer on the continued developments in the use of plants as “medicine machines” and trying to save many more lives, particularly in developing world.

“In my mind, ZMapp has been a success both as a medicine and to show that ‘pharming’ works,” Arntzen said.

“I’m happy to retire, but will certainly keep watching what you do.”

Joe Caspermeyer

Managing editor, Biodesign Institute


ASU Law gathers powerful lineup for sports law and business conference

November 9, 2017

A diverse panel of high-profile business and legal experts from across the sports world will be speaking at a Nov. 30 conference presented by the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

Hosted by ASU Law’s Sports Law and Business Program, the conference will take place from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the Beus Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix, in the W. P. Carey Foundation Armstrong Great Hall. It will feature three panel discussions: Download Full Image

• Business and Legal Issues in College Sports
• Business and Legal Issues in Professional Sports
• Globalization of Sport: International Interest in American Sports

Sports Law and Business Director Glenn Wong said the conference aligns with the program’s broad focus.

“Since our students come from a variety of educational backgrounds and are interested in a wide range of sports career paths, we aim to provide them with the expertise and experience of a diverse group of industry-leading practitioners,” he said. “Our hope is that no student's individual interests go underserved or unmentored as we develop them into the next generation of leaders.”

The conference panelists will be:

Kevin Blue, director of athletics for the University of California, Davis
Mike Gallagher, co-founding partner of Phoenix law firm Gallagher & Kennedy
Robin Harris, executive director of the Ivy League
John Martin, managing director for NASCAR Digital
Bernadette McGlade, commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference
Lou Melendez, a consultant to the Major League Baseball Players Association
David Palanzo, senior vice president, legal and business affairs, for the Women’s Tennis Association
Jeff Price, chief commercial officer for PGA of America
Debbie Spander, senior vice president for broadcasting and coaching at Wasserman, a sports marketing and talent-management company
Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency

As ASU Law lecturer Stephanie Jarvis says, the Sports Law and Business Program program is designed to broaden students’ horizons and introduce them to a variety of careers from a multitude of amateur and professional sports. And that’s reflected in the diversity of the panel.

“I think that’s one of the really good things about our program,” Jarvis said. “We teach a careers class talking to students about different careers in sports, and we open up their minds to things that are more than the traditional ideas, like being a GM of an NFL team, or a sports agent or an athletic director. We want to show them that there are a lot of different avenues to work in sports. So, that’s NASCAR, that’s tennis, that’s from the brand side, working for a corporate sponsor on the activation side. We want to teach them that there are a lot of different ways to work in sports.”

One of the conference’s panelists, Robin Harris, spoke about that broad view of the sports world, and how important it is for students to gather as much information as possible about a number of potential careers. When she was a student, she sought out informational interviews with as many sports executives as she could find — using all her contacts, including friends of friends.

“That gave me an opportunity to evaluate a lot of different careers and ask myself, ‘Is that a job I would want to do?’” she said. “I found out that college athletics really resonated with me.”

That process helped guide her to where she is today, the executive director of the Ivy League, and she urges students interested in sports law or business to put a priority on gaining experience.

“To get experience while they’re in school is really important,” she said. “To get experience in a broad cross-section of areas and try to figure out where their interests are and develop an area of expertise. And also be aware that athletics — college athletics in particular — is very interconnected, so every time you meet someone, you need to do your best work.”

Wong said the gathering of such a distinguished panel is the result of years of relationship-building and the willingness of so many experts in the sports industry to share their knowledge.

“The sports industry as a whole is fortunate to have practitioners who are not only exceedingly well-accomplished, but who have a passion for students and helping prepare them for positive contributions to the industry,” Wong said. “Through our contacts and working relationships built across many, many years, we have invited these individuals to sit in conversation with one another and our students. We are very fortunate that the panelists we've gathered have offered to support the SLB program by sharing their time and knowledge with us.”

Every member of the State Bar of Arizona must participate in 15 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) credits each year, and the conference qualifies as 2.25 CLE credits. But this isn’t just for attorneys or law students — anybody with an interest in the business or legal aspects of sports is encouraged to attend.

“It’s going to be an impressive lineup,” Jarvis said. “We think this will be interesting to people with just a passing interest or people who are working in the industry full time. But it’s not just geared toward sports attorneys, it’s geared toward anyone who has an interest in business, sports and law.”

Admission is free for law students, and $15 for members of the general public. For lawyers seeking CLE credit, the individual rate is $100, and the group rate (three or more people) is $75 per person. Visit https://asulawcle.com/slb for more information.

Senior director of communications, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law