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ASU Womyn's Coalition advocates for gender equity from a student perspective

@ASUWoCo has been on-campus for over a decade now. Learn more with our Q&A.
January 19, 2018

Editor's note: This is the fifth in a series of profiles on ASU's diverse student coalitionsLearn more about the Asian/Asian Pacific American Student CoalitionBlack African CoalitionCoalition of International Students and El Concilio.

Arizona State University's Womyn's Coalition was started about a decade ago in order to have a space on campus that advocates for gender equity from the students' point of view. 

The coalition now has several student organization affiliates on all four campuses around the Valley and continues to grow every year. One of their facilitators, Natalie Hochhaus, talked to ASU Now about the group. 

Question: What kind of activities does the coalition host?

Answer: The Womyn’s Coalition focuses much of our attention on programs and initiatives. The programs are events that we plan to advocate, educate or celebrate the diversity of our population at ASU. For example, we partnered with the student organization Voices for Planned Parenthood last spring to plan Survivor Walk, a march that aimed to spread awareness and provide resources on sexual assault.

Our initiatives are longer-running events or social media campaigns that aim to address issues that may be affecting our student population. Currently, the Womyn’s Coalition is collaborating with the Herstory Planning Committee to implement the Badass Women of ASU campaign, which aims to recognize the accomplishments of women within Sun Devil Nation. Lastly, we also participate in university-wide committees, such as the Herstory Month planning committee.

Q: What's your favorite part about the Womyn's Coalition? 

A: My favorite part about the the coalition is the community of supportive students and staff. It's nice to have a space on campus where I know that people will listen to me and where I can decompress. Since the Womyn’s Coalition is a sympathetic community rooted in gender equity, I have been able to find a community that supports my personal efforts and goals of improving students’ experiences at ASU. Furthermore, the coalition has provided me many opportunities to get involved in a variety of university-wide programs.

I have been able to work on the Herstory Month planning committee to create programs for Herstory Month in March. Through collaborating with university departments and student organizations, I have been able to meet a diverse group of people who are supportive of ensuring the inclusivity of our students. I love working with the Womyn’s Coalition and knowing that I am having a lasting impact here at ASU.

Q: What's the biggest challenge your coalition has faced while you've been here?

A: The biggest challenge the Womyn’s Coalition has faced while I have been here is combating the misconceptions around the student population we serve. There is a stigma that the coalition only serves students who identify as women. However, we are pushing for gender equity and inclusion at ASU, which affects every student on campus.

The Womyn’s Coalition is a space that men and gender non-conforming students can become involved in. Students of all gender identities are encouraged to volunteer, intern or join our executive board.

Q: What's your schedule look like?

A: As facilitator, I regularly meet with different organizations and departments to discuss potential collaborations. The Womyn’s Coalition regularly collaborates with a diversity of departments and student organizations to ensure that we are offering programs and resources that our students need. I also spend time in our office on the second floor of the Student Pavilion talking with students to receive feedback on how the coalition can better advocate for students.

Lastly, I lead our weekly executive board meetings and monthly WomynConvoWednesdays (#WCW). #WCW is where our organization affiliates meet to discuss upcoming events or address issues that have been affecting their organizations.

Members of the Womyn's Coalition and students meeting with Drag Queen Kim Chi after a collaborative event.

Q: Do you have any events coming up?

A: The annual #BadassWomenofASU campaign has recently opened for submissions of women who are badasses within Sun Devil Nation.

The Womyn’s Coalition believes that there are hidden figures everywhere within our student body, thus, the #BadassWomenofASU campaign is used to recognize the accomplishments and hard work that women here have done. Every nominee will receive a “Badass Woman of ASU” laptop sticker and select nominees will be featured at events or in social media. People can continue to submit their nominations at bit.ly/badasswomenofasu18 by Jan. 30.

Q: How can people get involved?

A: People can get involved by attending our events or participating in our initiatives. Furthermore, we have several intern and volunteer opportunities available for those who would like aid in the planning of our programs. Please contact woco@asu.edu or visit our office on the second floor of the Student Pavilion if you are interested in becoming involved.

 

Top photo: Executive board members meet President Michael Crow at the opening of the Student Pavilion on Oct. 5, 2017.

Connor Pelton

Communications Writer , ASU Now

ASU international student combines love of psychology with fashion


January 18, 2018

When you meet Maryglory Moshi, a junior in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University, you first notice a giant smile and an eagerness to help.

Moshi is a self-described “people person,” who has made it her mission to help fellow students achieve their goals. She provides support in the psychology department’s advising office and is involved in the psychology advising leaders (PALs) program as a teaching assistant and student instructor. She holds weekly office hours to help students choose courses, plan career goals and set up internships. Additionally, Moshi guides incoming students and their families through new student orientation, helping them assimilate into their new home. Marglory Moshi, ASU psychology student Maryglory Moshi, a junior at Arizona State University who is double majoring in psychology and business data analytics. Download Full Image

“Maryglory has such a positive outlook on life and really motivated our students to succeed.  She brings a unique viewpoint to ASU and has been a significant leader in the Department of Psychology,” said Amy Sannes, the associate director of academic services in the Department of Psychology.

Moshi has a deep understanding of how the transition to university can be difficult; she is an international student from Tanzania working toward a double major in psychology and business data analytics. She said her days are consistently full but also engaging and challenging in ways that help her grow.

“I came to ASU after two years in an international high school in Tanzania. I was attracted to the campus because the environment was similar to home and the entrepreneurial atmosphere really allowed me to see a life in a different mindset,” Moshi said.

“ASU provided me with the support system and the structure to ask questions,” Moshi added, “and the university has really helped me to understand American culture.”

Her passion for psychology began when she was enrolled in an International Baccalaureate psychology class. She began to wonder how the brain worked and how society and culture influenced how people make decisions. After the class, Moshi was hooked. She decided to study psychology in college.

After ASU, Moshi wants to combine high fashion and consumer psychology in the future. She believes her education in big data and social behavior will be the tools she needs to get there.

 “I like to push the envelope in both fashion and at school. If I see something new or interesting, I like to try it,” Moshi said. “People tend to be scared of going outside of their comfort zone, but I think that is where truly special discoveries happen.”

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

Answer: When I was studying in Tanzania in grades 8 to 10, it was at a very traditional Tanzanian school. In grades 11 and 12, I transferred to the international school where psychology was introduced to me. That was my coming out party where I maximized every second of learning and truly found what I was interested in.

I dug into my own background and saw how specific events had an impact on my life, and studying psychology brought to light how we mask things. Now, I ask: why, why are you doing that? Or I ask: why are people acting the way that they do?

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

A: Since coming to ASU, I’ve lived the mentality of “I can do that!” and have taken on as many challenges as I can. I have traveled to 15 states, have gotten involved in fashion, studied in two majors, served as a teaching assistant and instructor with the PAL program.

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

A: I’m not really sure why, but I have always liked the MU. There is so much going on and there are always rooms that you can reserve for projects or meetings.

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

A: The first thing I would do is take the money back to my country and help facilitate the field of psychology back home. Mental health is not given the attention it should be back home and part of that is from a lack of awareness. In the African context, people aren’t aware and instead attribute their mental health issues to religion or superstition. They also lack an awareness of the solutions that could be available to them.

As a result of studying psychology and focusing on personal reflection, I know that I mask lots of things. I would love to use those funds to help people who don’t understand what they are currently experiencing. 

Robert Ewing

Marketing and Communications Manager, Department of Psychology

480-727-5054

ASU student shows STEM, language work together


January 18, 2018

Some people think that STEM and liberal arts don’t go together. Arizona State University student Jenna Robinson, however, is showing that the two fields support each other by studying both French and astrobiology.

“I’ve been taking French since I was in sixth grade, as part of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme,” Robinson said. “I was also always interested in science as a kid, really interested in space science … My junior year of high school I read a book by a professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU.” Download Full Image

Her freshman year, Robinson started as an astrobiology major and added French in the spring, wanting to advance her language skills while adding new interests.

Double majoring is challenging, but Robinson did find that during her STEM work, studying French provided a good balance.

“Communication skills are a big part of my French major that I’m learning how to use in science. As a science major, they don’t teach you to communicate but it is a big part of what we do. Also, I’d say having my French ability allows me to see things from a different perspective, and a big part of astrobiology is keeping an open mind,” Robinson said.

At the School of International Letters and Cultures, Robinson has appreciated the sophistication and nuance of French language, seeing it as a living thing. During a summer study abroad program in Quebec City, she enjoyed taking language classes, but also experiencing “canoeing while talking in French, hiking, (and) learning how to play volleyball with French vocabulary.”

For Robinson, French helps her with astrobiology more than astrobiology helps her with French, at least in the university setting. Currently in her third year at ASU, however, she plans to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate, at which point she’d like to work in astrobiology abroad.

She’d have no lack of regional options, given that French is one of the world’s most prominent languages. France especially has strong scientific options in Robinson’s field.

Robinson has enjoyed the interest School of International Letters and Cultures professors take in her science work. And the interest has gone beyond her coursework. She is currently working with faculty to develop a science communication class for French majors, in which students would develop lesson plans intersecting language learning and STEM.

“I absolutely love the faculty,” Robinson said. “They’re very interested in students as humans. For example, I took a French literature class with Professor Cruse, and he would always make it a point to bring in science or technology aspects that he thought I would enjoy … He really made an effort.”

Between course development, serving as president of the French Club last year and study abroad, Robinson continually demonstrates that dual majoring with a language isn’t just possible, but immensely rewarding.

“Don’t be afraid to make yourself known to the professors and the departments,” Robinson advised. “That’s how you’re really going to succeed, get these cool opportunities like I have.” 

Gabriel Sandler

 
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What happens when the No. 1 university for innovation in the US sets out to reinvent college football?

January 18, 2018

The thing about evolution and revolutions: They are messy. Some don’t turn out well. And neither is always understood or appreciated at the time.

Arizona State University is attempting to revolutionize and evolve the Sun Devil Football program at the same time, with the polarizing naming of Herm Edwards as its 24th head coach.

In doing so, ASU wants to stop a revolution of another kind, the one in which a constant parade of coaches cycles through college football programs at great expense. Sportswriters call it “the carousel.”

The thing about a carousel: It never goes anywhere but in circles. It hasn’t worked for ASU.

For too long ASU football has been middling. Fired head coach Todd Graham won 46 games and lost 31. His predecessor, Dennis Erickson, had a 31-31 record. ASU hasn’t been to the Rose Bowl since 1997 or won one since 1987. It hasn’t won a conference championship outright since 1996.

ASU wants to get off the carousel.

“We have got to end that; otherwise you will never be able to compete in a rigorous Pac-12,” says Ray Anderson, ASU’s vice president of university athletics.

The university is endeavoring to re-engineer the football program.

Most of the recent headlines focused on Edwards the man. Few paid much attention to the reasons underlying his selection.

“We’ve had a great football tradition. We’ve had a great football program. We’ve had great football coaches,” ASU President Michael M. Crow says. “But we haven’t been able to build this culture of winning and achieving on all dimensions. We get some of them right for a while, but we can’t sustain it over time.”

ASU Coach Herm Edwards talks with football players
Sun Devil football players Kyle Williams, Ryan Jenkins and Manny Wilkins talk with Coach Herm Edwards at the announcement event.

Crow talks of attracting top scholars and athletes, of football players only going on to the pros after graduating with a degree.

At his unveiling, Edwards talked of preparing great men, not just football players. He spoke of coaching as teaching and football know-how as the pursuit of knowledge. He said he only took the job because he believes in “the vision.”

He sounded at times like his master sergeant father and at other times like a thundering preacher from the Sunday pulpit. At all times, his words trumpeted commitment.

“That’s important to me,” he said repeatedly at his inaugural press conference.

But it’s not about the man. It’s about the plan.

“Let’s say you wanted to improve the four-year graduation rate, as we have. You don’t just wish for it, or think about it or pray for it. You have to go in and alter all aspects,” Crow says.

“I’m a big believer in the old adage that your performance is a function of your design,” Crow adds. “What we’re doing here is altering our design. We’re altering the way things are structured so that we can get a chance at an enhanced outcome.”

Essentially, ASU wants the football program to resemble more closely the structure of an NFL franchise: a unified front of owners, general managers and top coaches, all pulling in the same direction with recruitment, development, strategy and tactics.

Too often in college football, ASU is saying, the head coach is the football program. If that coach failed, he’d be fired, usually at high cost, and the carousel would turn again. If the coach excelled, another university would scoop up him and all his trusted assistants. The carousel would turn again.

“The college model has the head coach thinking he has to do it all and control it all. Therefore he gets distracted from the primary duties,” Anderson says.

Under the new system, Edwards will focus on critical jobs: closing the deal with top recruits, coaching the coaches, developing players and managing game plans. The rest will be delegated or shared. More resources will go toward scouting, and a back office will handle mundane logistics.

Edwards will get a five-year, escalating contract, averaging $2.5 million a year. Compensation grows with results.

“It is a very modest contract, by design, because it was never about the money for Herm,” Anderson says. “Pay for performance is what our whole deal is about. It’s not traditional at all.

“This new structure gave us the opportunity to break out of the status quo, which is mediocrity for the last 30 years.”

“If we had players come out of here to be Rhodes Scholars I’d be prouder of that than if they were on a Super Bowl team. Because we’ve prepared them for a leadership position for life.”
— Ray Anderson, ASU vice president for university athletics

Within days of his appointment Edwards hit the recruiting road. Recruiting is important to him. And Edward’s pedigree as a motivator is important to ASU.

But you can’t win football games only with heart. Football is physical chess. You can have the best, most-devoted athletes in the world, but they won’t win without a good game plan. And a game plan is no good without the players to execute it, or the coaches to craft it. Sometimes buy-in is slow to come in big, traditional institutions.

Here, in the devilish details, is where Edwards’ appointment hit headwinds with the public and punditry. In snap online polls on azcentral.com and House of Sparky, four readers in 10 said it was a mistake.

Sportswriters at CBS gave the announcement an F grade and called it a “head-scratcher.”

Writers cited Edwards’ mediocre record as an NFL coach for eight years. Others said he hadn’t been on the sideline since 2008 and not as a college coach since 1989. Writers wondered in print if the appointment weren’t a “buddy hire,” because Anderson used to be Edwards’ agent.

“There’s too much at stake here to hire a buddy,” Anderson said in response. “This was about the right fit at the right time.”

He expected criticism.

“The reaction wasn’t unanticipated because change really stuns people and in some cases scares people,” he says.

He attributes the outside backlash to a lack of understanding and says he “totally gets it.”

Many, for instance, didn’t know that ASU slipped to 58th in recruitment, among 65 teams in the Power Five conferences. Or that not one high schooler in California, ASU’s main recruiting ground, pledged to come here last year.

“If you want the players that are going to go out and win at a consistent rate, we weren’t doing those things,” Anderson says.

He, Crow and Edwards all point out that while Edwards spent the past eight years as an ESPN expert, he watched more clips of more teams than he ever could as a coach.

“He’s more plugged in than people think,” Anderson says.

And, they all point out, Dick Vermeil coached the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl win in 2000, 18 years after quitting the NFL and after 15 years as a TV expert.

ASU has been here before, selling change to skeptics. Often the university ended up winning critics over with results.

Many in academia scoffed at the notion behind the New American University: that ASU could serve its mission to provide an education to any who meet the requirements for admissions and to improve graduation rates at the same time. Accessibility and excellence were mutually exclusive, the critics said.

Yet, in 16 years the university nearly doubled in size and the graduation rate reflected that growth, rising from 27 percent to 53 percent.

ASU combined earth and space sciences into one department. It resulted in NASA research grants and missions to outer space.

In the athletic department, ASU has added four sports; brought in marquee names like men’s basketball coach Bobby Hurley and swim coach Bob Bowman, longtime mentor to the most successful Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps; and won 37 Pac-12 championships and five national championships. Three students competed in the Rio Olympics.

In the classroom, the metrics come closest to “the vision.” Two charts in the latest athletics department annual report track linear progress of student athletes’ academic success. Both climb steadily like a bull-run stock market ticker.

One shows graduation rates among athletes climbed from 69 to 87 percent since 2006. That’s an all-time high for Sun Devils and second in the Pac-12 only to Stanford. Three sports broke their records for graduating athletes.

The other chart measures the Academic Progress Rate, a calculated formula the NCAA requires to gauge how well athletes are staying in school. It has risen every year and now stands at 990. Universities must maintain a 930 rating or better to compete in NCAA tournaments.

It’s not numbers. It’s important to Anderson and company.

“If we had players come out of here to be Rhodes Scholars I’d be prouder of that than if they were on a Super Bowl team,” he says. “Because we’ve prepared them for a leadership position for life.”

Sun Devil Athletics stats

 

Written by Sean Holstege; this story originally appeared in the January issue of ASU Thrive magazine

Engineering student finds multiple ways to enjoy German


January 18, 2018

Sophomore Mohamad Alkahlout studies civil engineering, with a special interest in public transportation and urban planning. Wanting more out of his time at ASU, he decided to add German language into the mix, both for fun and his own professional ambitions.

Alkahlout began studying German when he was much younger, more as a hobby than anything else. At the School of International Letters and Cultures, however, his personal interest launched him into a bigger community. Download Full Image

“I enrolled in a few classes, German 101 and 102,” Alkahlout said. “Now I’m president of the German club and use that as a way to better my skills, proficiency and understanding.”

Alkahlout uses German club to balance his academics when engineering dominates his schedule. He appreciates that at SILC, there are multiple outlets through which he can study language.

“I stumbled on a Facebook event when I started getting involved [at SILC]; it was a few events every few months,” Alkahlout remembered. “I went to it as a social thing, but professors also incentivized going.”

Keeping up with German is important to Alkahlout, from both a professional and personal stance. Professionally, it means more opportunities at more firms, especially the ones throughout Europe that he researches. Personally, Alkahlout continues finding new things to appreciate about German, culturally and linguistically.

“I want to be able to travel to Europe and not be automatically labeled as an American. … That would be an incredible milestone,” Alkahlout said.

“It’s a marathon, it’s not something you can cram into a few semesters,” he continued. “Ultimately it’s something that, on a personal level, unlike engineering or any course where you’re just sitting down … it’s continuous, it has to live through you, beyond the classroom.”

Gabriel Sandler

ASU biochemistry senior excels in biomedical research


January 17, 2018

Editor's note: This profile is part of a series of profiles showcasing students in the School of Molecular Sciences.

Sidney Covarrubias is a senior majoring in biochemistry with an interest in medicine. She plans to become a doctor and participate in Doctors without Borders. Covarrubias is a student at Barrett, The Honors College, and has given back to her community as a community assistant for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, an ASU tour guide through Devils’ Advocates, an academic tutor for USAP and more. SMS Student Sidney Covarrubias Sidney Covarrubias will receive her bachelor's in biochemistry in May 2018. Download Full Image

Covarrubias has not only conducted undergraduate research the School of Molecular Sciences, but this summer she participated in the extremely prestigious Helios Scholars at TGen summer internship program in biomedical research. She worked with the University of Arizona College of Medicine to create a paper-based microfluidic device that can detect the infectious disease melioidosis and later presented her project results and accomplishments at a formal research symposium.

Question: When did you first realize that you wanted to study the field you are majoring in?

Answer: I realized I wanted to study biochemistry after being exposed to my first semester of organic chemistry. Having taken general biology and chemistry courses, I always felt that I was missing information or was merely being given facts about the way in which the body works. Taking organic chemistry helped me finally realize where everything truly came from and the concepts from prior classes made more sense, and I knew that a field that goes down to a molecular level explanation of science was the right fit for me. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose to come to ASU after a tour given by Devils’ Advocates (a student organization that introduces prospective students to ASU). I truly felt like the campus and the many opportunities, especially research opportunities, both at the university and nearby would allow me to dive into what I loved. In addition to this, I was accepted into Barrett, The Honors College, which gave me the challenge as an undergraduate to develop a senior thesis. Overall, I felt that ASU offered everything I was looking for, made me feel safe and challenged me all at the same time. 

Q: What research opportunities have you had as a student here, and can you describe your research experience?

A: My first research lab was working with ways in which to combat type II diabetes by changing insulin dosages. In addition to this, I also participated in a study analyzing stereotypes individuals hold based on their access to water and water pollution. After gaining research experience, I applied to the Helios program at the Translational Genomic Research institute and obtained the opportunity to become a summer intern. Over the summer, I worked with the University of Arizona College of Medicine creating a paper-based microfluidic device that could detect the infectious disease melioidosis. My research experience here at ASU opened up opportunities for me that I did not consider possible. It helped me learn a lot of basic terminology and skills that have helped me not only in research, but in my courses here at ASU.

Q: What are some extracurricular activities that you enjoy at ASU? 

A: I am currently a community assistant for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, an ASU tour guide through Devils’ Advocates, an academic tutor for USAP, a counselor for Camp Kesem and a volunteer for Hospice of the Valley. In the past, I was also part of the Medical Women’s Association, Power in Youth, and Barrett Choir. I love getting involved on campus and trying new activities. In addition to this, I love to go to the Sun Devil Fitness Center and participate in the group fitness classes, which is not only a great way to de-stress, but also make new friends.

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

A: In all sincerity, I have learned that change and challenges are part of becoming a better student and person. I have always been a planner and consistent in the way in which I go about life, but the opportunities that I have been given at ASU have pushed me and challenged me into accepting that at times we cannot control everything and that challenges can be blessings. I would advise students interested in coming to ASU to study chemistry or biochemistry to always keep their options open, because their college experience might change their future career path for the better.

intern, School of Molecular Sciences

Therald Moeller Scholarship recipient pursues career as science educator


January 17, 2018

Editor's note: This profile is part of a series showcasing students in the School of Molecular Sciences.

Shannon Sipes is a senior majoring in chemistry. She is pursuing a career as a science educator and is currently earning her secondary education certificate in chemistry through a program offered by Arizona State University's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College while simultaneously working on her bachelor’s degree in chemistry. SMS Student Shannon Sipes Shannon Sipes, School of Molecular Sciences senior, will earn her bachelor's in chemistry in May 2018. Download Full Image

Arizona State University and the School of Molecular Sciences strive to provide students with a variety of opportunities for financial support. Sipes is a recipient of the Therald Moeller Scholarship, a scholarship established in the 1980's in honor of Emeritus Professor Therald Moeller to support a student in the School of Molecular Sciences with interest in a career in chemistry.

Not only that, but Sipes is also a participant in the Maricopa to ASU Pathways Program (MAPP) through GCC. MAPP helps students who attend any Maricopa Community College plan and complete coursework that can then allow them to transfer to ASU and finish their bachelor’s degree here. MAPP guarantees admission to ASU degree programs once course requirements are met and is a very cost-effective path to earning a bachelor’s degree at a university for local students.

Question: When did you first realize that you wanted to study the field you are majoring in?

Answer: I realized that I wanted to study chemistry and chemistry education when I was in my first general chemistry class. The professor that I had the pleasure of learning from, Professor George Gregg, was so incredibly amazing at sharing his love and passion for his field as well as being able to relate chemistry to everyday life and speak to its value on a medicinal/health value. Because of this, he inspired me to pursue a degree in chemistry.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose to earn my degree at ASU because of its chemistry program and its partnership with Glendale Community College as well as the fact that all of my family members are ASU Sun Devils. I followed the Maricopa to ASU Pathways Program (MAPP) during my time at GCC prior to transferring to ASU for my junior and senior year, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who wants to earn a bachelor’s degree at a university following their community college experience. ASU's partnership with Glendale Community College through MAPP made my transition to ASU incredibly smooth, as I had already completed almost all of my lower division classes while at GCC.

Q: What research opportunities have you had as a student here, and can you describe your research experience?

A: Through Barrett’s thesis project, I have had the opportunity to research and explore facets of chemistry and science education within the refugee population of Arizona. I worked with volunteers for the IRC (International Rescue Committee) as well as a college chemistry professor and multiple education professors to create science lesson plans tailored to English Language Learners. The experience was extremely rewarding and valuable to me and my future as a science educator.

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

A: While researching science teaching methods for English Language Learners, I was surprised by how important tangible and visual examples were when it comes to enhanced understanding of challenging and new topics. Learning this has influenced me to incorporate this method when I become a science or chemistry teacher.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A: Following graduation, I hope to begin my career by focusing on science and chemistry education as a teacher in Arizona. I want to implement teaching strategies that I’ve learned and observed in my chemistry classes, my education classes, and during my research with AZ refugee students. I am incredibly excited to begin teaching chemistry and other science topics because I want to inspire others to pursue higher education within science fields because many of my chemistry professors inspired me to do the same. I feel as though a knowledge of chemistry (and all other sciences) is extremely crucial to one’s understanding of their surrounding world and is also a key component in medical fields (such as medicinal product development), which I believe to be incredibly important.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to students interested in coming to ASU to study chemistry or biochemistry?

A: My advice would be to introduce yourself to your professors and express to them your personal goals. Your professors will often push you to meet those goals and will be a significant part of your college support system.

intern, School of Molecular Sciences

ASU chemistry student works to positively impact lives around her


January 17, 2018

Editor's note: This profile is part of a series of profiles showcasing students in the School of Molecular Sciences.

McKenna Renfro is a senior majoring in chemistry. She is passionate about chemistry, health and social issues, and is heavily involved on campus as part of ASU’s Gospel Choir, a general member of the Zaria Black and African Coalition, a community assistant, and more. SMS Student McKenna Renfro School of Molecular Sciences chemistry student McKenna Renfro will receive her bachelor's degree in May 2018. Download Full Image

This fall, Renfro will be attending the UCLA School of Dentistry, where she will continue her academic journey to become a Doctor of Dental Surgery.

Question: When did you first realize that you wanted to study the field you are majoring in?

Answer: I entered my first college-level chemistry class not knowing what I was getting myself into, and my first semester was definitely an incredible challenge. However, I have learned to love the curious world behind the elements that constitute our universe. After my first semester, I gained a new appreciation and respect for chemistry. I found myself drawn to the sense of accomplishment that came with completing each new chemistry course.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: My sister completed her political science degree at ASU, which allowed me to gain a strong sense of Sun Devil spirit and pride prior to even enrolling in the university. Her undergraduate experience allowed me to become familiar with the multitude of resources and opportunities available to students at ASU. I knew that ASU would give me a competitive advantage when it came to applying to professional schools, which has been my career goal since freshman year.

Q: What research opportunities have you had as a student here, and can you describe your research experience?

A: One of the great things about ASU is the ability to explore numerous opportunities and areas of interest throughout your college experience. In addition to my love for science, I have a strong, undying passion for the advocacy for minorities and underserved populations. My experience as a research assistant in the Neuberg-Kenrick Evolutionary Social Cognition Lab allowed me to explore my interest in determining the psychological processes behind very relevant and pressing social issues that concern these groups, such as stereotyping/prejudices, judgment, decision-making, morality and legal issues. Throughout the spring of 2016, I completed research and worked on the inception and development of a study topic and design, data collection and interpretation. I assisted Dr. Keelah Williams and Dr. Steven Neuberg with their investigation of how an individual’s perception of threats and opportunities in the environment might affect stereotypes, judgment, and even legal sentencing.

Q: What are some extracurricular activities that you enjoy at ASU?

A: During my junior and senior years of undergraduate study, I have become heavily involved in the university’s gospel choir. In addition, my involvement as a general member for the Zaria Black and African Coalition provides an intimate setting for young students of color to conduct conversations that promote womanhood, relationships, development and leadership. I have also been involved in ASU’s Pre-Dental Society for the past three years. In terms of my scientific interests, I worked as an assistant teaching assistant and lab assistant in microbiology at Arizona State, where I provided daily instruction and lecture to scheduled laboratory sessions, prepared culture media, broth, and reagents, sterilized biohazard materials, and supervised students in ASU’s "MIC206: Biology of Microorganisms" laboratory.

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

A: My role as a community assistant (with ASU Housing) has exposed me to many cultures different from my own. For the past two school years, I have worked diligently to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment where all individuals can be celebrated. I consistently organize programs for first-time freshmen students that embed diversity and inclusion at ASU. In addition, my involvement in a University Service Learning course allowed me to immerse myself in over 100 hours of community service at the Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley. I first-handedly witnessed the need to minimize the achievement gap for minorities and other underserved, socioeconomic communities. With my background in chemistry, biological sciences, and research in psychology, I was able to unite both my passions for science and health with my everlasting endeavor to positively impact people’s lives.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to students interested in coming to ASU to study chemistry or biochemistry?

Your biggest limitations are the barriers you place on yourself. I entered ASU asking myself, “How am I going to graduate with a degree in chemistry from ASU?” I later realized that the biggest obstacle that I faced throughout my undergraduate experience was not from any of my classes, but rather from the doubt that I had placed within myself. Do not give up on yourself or doubt your own potential! 

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ASU chemistry student shows passion for environmental chemistry, oceanography


January 17, 2018

Editor's note: This profile is part of a series showcasing students in the School of Molecular Sciences.

Logan Tegler is a senior majoring in chemistry and minoring in English literature at Arizona State University. Originally from Flagstaff, Arizona, she is a student at Barrett, The Honors College as well as a President’s Scholarship recipient, and has made the Dean’s List every semester of her impressive undergraduate career. SMS Student Logan Tegler Logan Tegler, a senior majoring in chemistry and minoring in English literature at ASU, will receive her BS in chemistry in May 2018. Download Full Image

Tegler has a truly inspiring passion for environmental chemistry and oceanography and she has taken full advantage of the research opportunities provided to students at the School of Molecular Sciences by conducting research in Professor Ariel Anbar’s lab. 

“Logan’s been an exceptional member of my research team since the start of her sophomore year," Anbar said. "It has been a pleasure to see her develop a passion for isotope geochemistry and chemical oceanography. This interest ultimately led her to a summer internship at the Woods Hole Oceanography Institute, where she forged a new research partnership between my lab and one of their research groups that is breaking important new ground in understanding the chemistry of ancient oceans. Logan has a very bright future ahead of her!”

Tegler has been awarded two NASA Space Grant Fellowships and worked as a Summer Student Fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 2017.

Question: When did you first realize that you wanted to study chemistry?

Answer: As a high school senior, I was passionate about both my chemistry and English classes. So, as a college freshman, I began as a dual major in biochemistry and journalism with the goal of becoming a science writer. While I loved taking classes in both of these fields, I realized that I really enjoyed lab work. Now, I hope to pursue a career in research and spend my free time writing freelance science articles for popular consumption.

Q: What research opportunities have you had as a student here, and can you describe your research experience?

A: I started working with Dr. Ariel Anbar my sophomore year, more specifically with graduate student Alyssa Sherry, who trained me in laboratory fundamentals. During my tenure in Dr. Anbar’s lab, I’ve had many amazing opportunities including conducting research on three projects, presenting at the 2016 American Geophysical Union Fall meeting (the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world) and the upcoming 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting, being awarded two NASA Space Grant Fellowships, and having the opportunity to work as a Summer Student Fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in 2017. My Barrett senior thesis work, which is in conjunction with the research I did at WHOI, focuses on using osmium and iron isotopic analysis of deep-sea pelagic sediments in an attempt understand the importance of various iron sources to the ocean over the last 0–65 million years.

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

A: While at ASU, I had the opportunity to study both science and liberal arts. During my junior year, I took an English class titled "Whiteness and Critical Race Theory" taught by Dr. Lee Bebout. In addition to expanding my overall view on race theory and equality, this class also encouraged me to seek more diversity in STEM fields.

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

A: My favorite spot to study is at the Starbucks at the MU. In addition to a favorable proximity to caffeine, I particularly enjoy studying there because I never know whom I’ll run into. During my four years, I’ve met many classmates and friends who are always willing to take a break from studying and talk about their passion for their chosen field.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A: I hope to conduct research in chemical oceanography and isotope geochemistry to make data-driven inferences about the nature of the ocean’s history. After obtaining my PhD, I hope to become a faculty member who conducts novel research and helps students begin their research careers.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to students interested in coming to ASU to study chemistry or biochemistry?

A: First, I highly recommend going to office hours. In addition to pinpointing weaknesses or misunderstandings a student may have, they can gain a greater appreciation for the material. Second, I recommend that students get involved with research early in their college careers. By doing this, students can identify the areas of research that are the most interesting to them. Additionally, by the time they are juniors and seniors, they will be able to conduct research independently and begin to formulate answers to their own questions!

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ASU biochemistry senior spreads love of science and research


January 17, 2018

Editor's note: This profile is part of a series showcasing students in the School of Molecular Sciences.

Jacob Jordan is a senior majoring in biochemistry and is the current president of ASU’s branch of the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS), which allows students to participate in community outreach and spread their love of science both on and off campus. Recently, Jordan and SAACS helped out at ASU’s Homecoming 2017, where they conducted chemistry to showcase the power of the science to the Homecoming crowd. SMS Student Jacob Jordan Jacob Jordan, SMS biochemistry student, will receive his BS in May 2018. Download Full Image

Jordan has also worked extensively in Professor Jeff Yarger’s research lab, where he researched silkworm silk structure using NMR along with other projects.

“His curiosity and general interest in numerous areas of science and mathematics has been wonderful to have in the group and has led to Jacob contributing significantly to several projects happening in my group," Yarger said. "Furthermore, Jacob is responsible for my group starting several new research collaborations and has taken the group research in several new and interesting directions. It is wonderful to see a student excel and learn from research projects the way Jacob has over the past few years.”

Question: When did you first realize that you wanted to study the field you are majoring in?

Answer: I first realized that I wanted to study biochemistry during my third year of high school, when I started to learn about the incredible things that are possible with modern biochemical techniques. I also became very interested in the amazing complexity of natural systems and their underlying physical mechanisms.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because of the incredible amount of research opportunities available at this university. I actually started working with Professor Jeff Yarger (professor of chemistry, biochemistry and physics at Arizona State University) in high school, when I needed to use a piece of equipment in the labs at ASU for a research project. When I was thinking about college, I wanted to continue my research at ASU’s amazing research facilities.

Q: What research opportunities have you had as a student here, and can you describe your research experience?

A: I have been lucky enough to be able to do research heavily during my first two years at ASU. My research experience at ASU heavily involved peer-mentorship in the laboratory and, after such time that I became confident in my lab skills, leading my own projects. In Professor Yarger’s lab, I began researching silkworm silk structure using NMR. I was also in charge of raising and isotopically labeling silkworms as well. I have done a few other research projects around the department, although still in Professor Yarger’s group, notably with Konrad Rykaczewski in the engineering department about hydrophobicity of wax surfaces in cacti and in web-spinner insects. I have also helped in some research into silica nanoparticle peptide bond catalysis for alanine while in Professor Yarger's group. The faculty at ASU has always been extremely supportive in helping me complete research projects.

Q: What are some extracurricular activities that you enjoy at ASU? 

A: I started becoming involved in the student affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS) during my freshman year and eventually became president of the club by my junior year. Through SAACS, I have been able to perform chemistry demonstrations at local schools, help K–12 students touring ASU understand fundamental chemistry concepts, and aid schools in cultivating outstanding scientists through involvement in science fairs and poster-presentation sessions.

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

A: Something I've learned at ASU is just how much you can accomplish when you really dedicate yourself to something. I never would have seen myself as someone who would be proficient at biochemical techniques or biophysical characterization methods four years ago. Now, after taking numerous courses and dedicating myself to studying, I am able to see my growth and feel confident in my understanding of certain scientific concepts.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to students interested in coming to ASU to study chemistry or biochemistry?

A: The best piece of advice I can give to students entering chemistry or biochemistry at ASU is to study hard and try to get involved in undergraduate research opportunities. This not only gives you valuable experience that will definitely put you at an advantage when you graduate, but it also helps you connect with the professors at ASU and research professionals around the world. You can never know too many people in your profession.

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