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Tiffany López joins Herberger Institute to lead School of Film, Dance and Theatre

May 20, 2016

The ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts has appointed Tiffany López as the director of its School of Film, Dance and Theatre. López, a professor at the University of California Riverside in the Department of Theatre, Film and Digital Production and an Endowed Chair in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, officially begins her tenure July 1.

“Dr. López has unbounded energy and vision and will be a great asset to our faculty and students,” said Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute. “Her life, scholarship and creative work exemplify the values and aspirations of the New American University. She is the perfect person to lead us into the future as a place that deeply engages its community, prepares artists for many different social and professional roles, and values and advances the diverse cultural expression of our city, region and world.” Head shot of Tiffany López, new director of ASU's School of Film, Dance and Theatre, in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts Tiffany López begins as director of ASU's School of Film, Dance and Theatre, in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, on July 1. Download Full Image

López brings more than 30 years of engagement within the arts community and 21 years as an academic to the role.

“This is an extraordinary time to join the School of Film, Dance and Theatre and the Herberger Institute as a visionary place for training global artists and leaders,” López said.

Her current scholarship on how theatre artists use their work to create shared vocabulary for processing violence and trauma connects with the institute’s ongoing work at the intersections of art, health, and youth and community development. López deeply understands how a university can be a force for cultural change and growth in the community. At UC-Riverside, she founded the Latina/o Play Project at the Culver Center for the Arts in Riverside to engage the community in telling its own story.  

“As an educator and artist, I’ve dedicated the length of my career to thinking about issues of diversity as intrinsic to cultivating excellence in the work that we do — that’s a very strong vision and a point of commitment I’ll bring to the position,” López said. “I’m excited to be a part of the initiatives and the transformative conversations underway within the Herberger Institute and the opportunity to actively engage both the mission and the impact of diversifying the arts.”

López, the first in her family to graduate high school and attend college, says she is a poster child for public education and is excited to work with the ASU student population. She attended community college with plans to manage a fast-food restaurant, but education set her on another path. With support from student programs and fellowships, she transferred to California State University, Sacramento, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English. She earned a master’s degree and a doctorate at the University of California, Santa Barbara. López’s honors include a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation. She is also a Fulbright Scholar.

“I understand how the path of obtaining and receiving an education is not only personally transformative but also transforms your entire family history by showing what’s possible,” she said. “And it transforms our communities by enabling us to give back and make a difference. The goal is to not just walk through new doors, but open them wider for others.”

Artist-entrepreneur Daniel Bernard Roumain joins ASU as Institute Professor

Composer/violinist to teach and build cross-disciplinary artists’ lab with choreographer Liz Lerman and theater director Michael Rohd

May 16, 2016

In 2005, violinist/composer Daniel Bernard Roumain joined Philip Glass in concert at Arizona State University’s performing arts venue ASU Gammage.

“Philip Glass and I will begin a conversation that I hope you might join,” he wrote in the program for that performance, introducing their orchestral and cinematic collaboration that was produced in part during Roumain’s artist-in-residency at ASU that spring. “I wanted this concert to be about many things; film, the orchestra, etudes, hip-hop and dialogue. A town hall meeting for curiously strong minds and fresh, brave souls.” Daniel Bernard Roumain Violinist/composer Daniel Bernard Roumain will join the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and ASU Gammage as Institute Professor. Download Full Image

That conversation will continue at ASU in fall 2016, when Roumain will join the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and ASU Gammage as Institute Professor, where he will act as a professor of practice.

He is the third Institute Professor to be named, along with dance legend and MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship recipient Liz Lerman and founding director of the Sojourn Theatre and the Center for Performance and Civic Practice Michael Rohd.

Together, the multidisciplinary artists will grow ASU’s Ensemble Lab, a think tank for artistic experimentation and community interventions where Institute professors are encouraged to work together to advance national initiatives and collectively redesign arts and design education so it is at the center of public life. The lab was started in the spring of 2016 by Lerman with the support of Herberger Institute Dean Steven Tepper.

“Daniel is a national leader in the arts who is known for collaborating across art forms, connecting to new audiences and demonstrating how an enterprising musician works in the 21st century,” said Tepper. “He will be an incredible mentor to students, an ambassador in the community and a thought leader for the Herberger Institute, ASU Gammage and the university.”

Like Lerman and Rohd, Roumain’s work frequently extends beyond the limits of genre. Known for his signature violin sounds infused with myriad electronic and urban music influences, DBR (as he is often called) takes his genre-bending music beyond the edge of the stage. He has been nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding musical composition for his work with ESPN, featured as keynote performer at technology conferences and has composed music for an array of solo performers, chamber ensembles, orchestras, dance works, television and film.

Roumain made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2000 with the American Composers Orchestra performing his “Harlem Essay for Orchestra.” He went on to compose works for the Boston Pops Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress, the Stuttgart Symphony and myriad others. He holds a doctorate degree in music composition from the University of Michigan.

An avid arts industry leader, Roumain serves on the board of directors of the League of American Orchestras, Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), Creative Capital, the advisory committee of the Sphinx Organization and was co-chair of 2015 and 2016 APAP conferences.

Roumain is working on a new solo violin work for acclaimed violinist Rachel Barton Pine and continues work on “We Shall Not Be Moved,” a chamber opera commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and co-produced by the Apollo Theater.

At ASU, Roumain will teach courses that focus on translating personal accounts into creative expression and on the complex artistic, social and cultural impact of artist/activists. His classes will be open to musicians, artists, designers and other interested students. In his joint appointment with ASU Gammage, he will develop artistic projects that extend and expand his creative work and its connections with the community.

He will also serve as an adviser to the dean of the Herberger Institute, including developing the Projecting All Voices initiative on how to align the nation’s largest comprehensive arts and design college with the experiences, aspirations and values of a new generation of Latino, indigenous and African-American artists.

“I have been performing, creating and collaborating with the ASU and surrounding communities for over 15 years,” said Roumain. “The relationships here have always been collaborative, deeply profound, and speak to the need and vitality of our performing arts within our daily lives. I look forward to becoming part of the ASU family of thinkers, teachers, makers and creators." 

Listen to audio from DBR's 2005 performance with Philip Glass here.

Beth Giudicessi

Senior director of communications, ASU Enterprise Partners


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ASU design students see possibilities in Sun Devil Stadium as a community space.
May 13, 2016

ASU Design School students reconsider how to use 1.32 acres of turf, 60,000 seats and a concourse full of possibility

The fundamental concept of a stadium has remained unchanged since ancient Greece: an enclosed space, tiered seating and amenities to accommodate large crowds gathered to watch competitions.

Now, design students at Arizona State University are drawing on faculty research and their peers’ creativity to rethink the idea of what a stadium can — and should — be. Their ideas are being incorporated into plansPlans range from architectural and transportation strategies to phone apps, branding and foldable furniture. for the re-envisioned Sun Devil Stadium, which is expected to complete in September 2017.

“In the last 40 to 50 years, we have acknowledged that stadiums are an asset in the city or campus infrastructure, adding to its original programming of its specific use for a particular sport,” said assistant professor of design Milagros Zingoni. “You see concerts, exhibits, shows, conference, but these variances are only from the programming point of view.

“We are looking at the overall stadium as a place that is used every single day. And that’s how ASU is becoming unique in rethinking the Sun Devil Stadium as an emergent taxonomy.”

Zingoni’s research focuses on emerging typologies as a result of changes associated with technology evolution — that is, the physical characteristics commonly found in buildings and urban places, such as the “type” of dwelling typically inhabited by a single family in a suburban landscape.

She explained that activities used to be bound to a place: people lived in a home, worked at an office, learned at a school or gathered with friends in a park. Because of changes in technology and culture, many of those activities can now be completed at any of those places.

“Looking at how these typologies are emerging is part of the design thinking process we want students to be exposed to — to basically think in a different way and challenge everything thus far to do it differently to address the needs of today,” she said.

The Sun Devil Central student design team.

The Design School’s 2016 Interdisciplinary Cluster Competition winners presented “Sun Devil Central” — ASU’s own urban park in the middle of bustling campus and commercial communities. Team Lotus members are (from left): Patrick Griffin (visual communication), Liz Madsen (architecture), Olivia Morley (industrial design), Matt Phan (visual communication) and Callie Raish (interior design).


For the past nine years, Zingoni and clinical professor Will Heywood have led a competition for all junior students enrolled in ASU’s The Design School, part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. The competition, the Interdisciplinary Cluster Competition, brings together students studying to be architects, landscape architects, industrial designers, interior designers and visual communicators to propose solutions to a design question. This year saw 35 teams composed of 162 students.

The competition originally focused on so-called “wicked problems” — that is, broad issues that are often too complex or in flux to be solved: climate change, social injustice, pandemic influenza.

In a particularly successful year, a winning team created a rolling water-purification device to transport, clean and store drinking water. The invention is patented and is being used in developing regions throughout Africa.

More recently, teams have applied their ideas to improving spaces closer to home by addressing needs of users at local non-profits, including the I.D.E.A. (“imagination, design, experience, art”) Museum and Maricopa Workforce Connections.

In 2016, the competition turned personal.

Few individuals better understand the lives and cultural and socioeconomic conditions of college students than, well, college students. When asked to reinvent Sun Devil Stadium, the students displayed a special sense of ownership.

“They were very committed and felt that they had a voice,” Zingoni said.

Over the course of 10 days, the teams — composed of students with different design specialties — considered and presented their ideas for what Kendon Jung calls a “disruption of the idea of what a stadium means.” Jung, a master’s candidate in postsecondary education who graduated in May, spent his required practicum working with the student groups and synthesizing how to increase the life of the stadium.

Student submissions included a running track around the main concourse; concessions open for daily use and food vendors inspired by Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport’s commitment to local restaurants; new methods of entering, exiting and traversing the field so that the Tempe campus is connected to Tempe Town Lake and adjacent commercial developments; pop-up tents that cover stadium seats and double as lecture spaces; showers for bike commuters; child-care facilities; and new ways — including movie nights and a beer garden — to activate the stadium as a “third space,” which is sociologist Ray Oldenburg’s term for somewhere outside home and work that serves as a place to find comfort, retreat and community.

Faculty judges from each discipline within The Design School — as well as Herberger Institute Dean Steven Tepper; Craig Barton, director of The Design School and professor of architecture; Isaac Manning, Sun Devil Stadium project representative; Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director for ASU Gammage and associate vice president of cultural affairs, who is overseeing news projects involving the stadium; and Jack Furst, founder of Oak Stream Investors, who has been instrumental in providing private support for the new stadium — said picking a winner was formidable, and at least one aspect from each of the six semifinalist teams’ submissions is being considered for implementation into the new stadium.

A student team's idea of creative use of Sun Devil Stadium.

The competition’s winning team envisioned Sun Devil Stadium as the Central Park of the Tempe campus, with a goal of "making sure every student uses the stadium in ways that speak to them." Pictured at the top of this story is another image from the team, that of the stadium’s concourse as a gathering place for the community.


“Our overall concept was ‘Sun Devil Central,’” said junior Patrick Griffin, who is studying visual communications. “The name refers to New York City’s Central Park because our main idea was to open the field during the off-season and turn it into a park students and the public can enjoy.”

“It was the first experience I had working with other disciplines, which was very interesting because we got a glimpse into how the other disciplines worked,” said junior Matthew Phan, who is also a visual communication major.

As part of the winning team, Griffin and Phan were given the opportunity to spend a day shadowing professionals in their field. Zingoni says the local community has been very supportive of the competition, and in many cases offers students summer internships to continue their work.

Such was the case for Griffin, who will spend his summer at Gould Evans/Canary Studio, the downtown Phoenix architecture firm and in-house graphic design studio that is overseeing renovations for the stadium project — or what is now being referred to as “Sun Devil Central.”

As its envisioning continues, Zingoni and her colleagues plan to repeat the competition at other schools at ASU to incorporate the ideas of students with expertise in business, engineering and other areas.

“Wow, this is the kind of thought that’s happening? It’s no wonder we’re able to achieve such great stuff and that ASU has been prominent in the public eye for its innovation,” Jung said. “It’s been humbling to be a part of the process.”

More stadium ideas

See what a team of MBA students proposed to turn the stadium into a year-round cultural hub here.

Beth Giudicessi

Senior director of communications , ASU Enterprise Partners


Young writers can ‘YAWP’ through summer at ASU

Young Adult Writing Program allows grades 3-12 to explore the power of writing

May 13, 2016

“I too am not a bit tamed — I too am untranslatable;
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”
— Walt Whitman, from “Leaves of Grass”

Need an enriching, arts-based summer activity for your children? Look no further than ASU’s YAWP. Students in ASU English's youth writing program engage in a "writing marathon" during a 2015 session. Sisters Ziqing Kuang, 10, and Christina Kuang, 7, share a chair in Old Main as they write short pieces about the building as part last year's youth writing program at ASU. The Department of English at ASU offers a two-week summer youth writing camp for students in grades 3-12 on the West, Tempe and Polytechnic campuses. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now Download Full Image

The Arizona State University Young Adult Writing Program (YAWP — formerly “rl txt”) is designed to offer young writers a non-evaluative environment in which to explore the power of writing. The program is accepting applications from kids in grades 3-12 for its two-week sessions beginning in June.

A component of the Central Arizona Writing Project, which is a local site of the National Writing Project, YAWP sessions engage young writers in crafting a variety of writing forms, such as poems, autobiographical sketches, heart maps, short stories, arguments, nature/science observations, craft secrets and daily writing workshops. Each camper chooses a piece of writing for publication in the camp anthology.

YAWP is staffed by veteran K-12 English teachers who have completed the Central Arizona Writing Project's Invitational Summer Institute in teaching composition and critical literacy to become teacher-consultants.

Offering time and inspiration, YAWP sessions support writers in a collaborative atmosphere as they interact with other youth authors and share works in progress.

“This year’s Young Adult Writing Program will take full advantage of our dynamic and innovative university and local writing community,” said Jessica Early, an associate professor in the Department of English and director of YAWP.

“Our young writers will visit and take inspiration from ASU’s Marston Exploration Theater 3-D Astronomy Show, Hayden Library, the ASU Art Museum and many more campus venues. They will also take part in writing workshops taught by our incredible instructional team as well as ASU professors and Arizona novelists, poets and songwriters.”

YAWP 2016 is offered Mondays-Fridays, from 9 a.m. to noon daily, in four sessions on three ASU campuses. Parents choose just one in which their children will participate:

  • Tempe campus: for grades 3-12
    • Session A: June 6-17
    • Session B: June 20-July 1
  • Polytechnic campus: June 6-17 for grades 3-12
  • West campus: June 6-17 for grades 3-8 only

Registration closes May 20. Tuition is $300 and is due at YAWP orientation on May 25 on the Tempe campus. Visit the program’s website for more information or to download an application.

Kristen LaRue

communications specialist, Department of English


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New ASU President's Professors combine love of teaching, real-world engagement.
May 11, 2016

3 new President's Professors engage in projects that matter while creating master learners at ASU

Three of Arizona State University’s top professors have been recognized for combining their passion for teaching with engagement with the larger world in ways that help ASU students become master learners.

Those three have been named President’s Professors for 2016: Mark Henderson, professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering; Matthias Kawski, professor in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Mary Bates Neubauer, professor in the School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

President’s Professors are faculty who have made significant contributions to undergraduate education at ASU. Awardees are chosen based on mastery of subject matter; enthusiasm and innovation in the learning and teaching process; ability to engage students within and outside the classroom; ability to inspire independent and original thinking in students and to stimulate students to do creative work; innovation in course and curriculum design; and scholarly contributions.

“Each of this year’s President’s Professors is an excellent example of what makes ASU one of the world’s leading universities,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow.

“Mark, Matthias and Mary are brilliant and engaging teachers at the top of their fields who convey their intellectual curiosity to their students in unique and innovative ways. We are lucky to have them here.”

The three 2016 winners were nominated by their departments last summer, and all three expressed shock when they found out earlier this month that they had received the honor.

“I’m totally humbled and honored because I know other President’s Professors whom I look up to, and to even be considered in the same category with them is a huge honor,” Henderson said.

Here’s a look at three of ASU’s top faculty members:

Mark Henderson

Henderson, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic campus, also is an associate dean at Barrett, the Honors College, and is the co-founder and director of GlobalResolve, a social entrepreneurship program.

On GlobalResolve: The initiative began in 2005 when some faculty members were chatting over coffee. “We thought we could come up with a good vehicle for students to give back, like service learning, and as a way to provide some expertise in the developing world," said Henderson, who co-founded GlobalResolve with Brad Rogers, an associate professor of engineering at Poly.

In 2006, Henderson went to Ghana and met with village leaders to find out what they needed. “When you say, ‘I’m from ASU and I’m here to help,’ it’s an emotional and social commitment. I came back, we got students involved and we took off.”

Mark Henderson in Ghana

Mark Henderson was a co-founder of GlobalResolve, a social entrepreneurship initiative, and visited Ghana in 2006.


Since then students have gone to Peru and Costa Rica and will travel to Mexico this fall and Nepal next year. GlobalResolve works on projects in water, sanitation, energy, agriculture, health and education. Although Henderson’s students are engineers, the approach is interdisciplinary. “You need to consider politics, the economy, the language, the culture, all of that. If we just provided a very efficient cookstove without thinking about what they eat and who does the cooking, it’s a failure.” 

On teaching: “My favorite part is working informally with the student teams.

“Our engineering program at Poly is project-based. It’s so fun to watch the lightbulbs turn on when the students get some cool ideas.”

On students today: “The tone of the 1960s was, ‘Hey, we can offer the world some help.’ Then in the 1980s, there was an emphasis on being a ‘yuppie’ and every student wanted to graduate and get a ‘Beemer.’ I think we’re moving back to into that altruistic passion I’ve seen in some past generations. It’s great to see the students get excited about giving back.”

On ASU: “I appreciate that ASU recognizes how important undergraduate teaching is, because that’s what a lot of us are here for.”

Matthias Kawski

Kawski, an expert in differential geometry and control theory, is the founder of Math Circles at ASU's Tempe campus, in which high schoolers can work on challenging math problems with university mathematicians.

On Math Circles: “We’re working with kids who can’t get enough math in school or want to do fun math. I hear from parents all the time that their students need more math. I see it as a teaching laboratory where we have fun.”

Kawski also has done outreach in the Navajo Nation several times to work with student in math camps and to train teachers. “It’s really uplifting to be with those kids,” he said.

Matthias Kawski

Matthias Kawski founded the ASU Tempe chapter of Math Circles, to provide "fun math" for high schoolers who crave more engagement.


On teaching: Kawski estimates he has taught 33 different math courses at ASU.

“I like that because I keep learning new things. Last year I taught a senior-level probability course. One of the students wrote that it’s really nice to have a professor who’s learning alongside us and not everything is obvious to him.

“I have conversations with my classes. I may be doing more of the talking, but they control the pace. Everything is inquiry-based. I deeply believe in lots of motivation, lots of fun and the students asking the questions.”

Kawski likes to have students work on real problems using real data, like census spreadsheets.

He encourages students to take graduate-level classes and is satisfied with less-than-perfect grades. “As long as they can handle it, they’re welcome. Undergraduates still are exuberant and want to do great things. We want them to stretch and try something harder than what they can do.”

On students today: “You can’t be afraid to get to know your students,” said Kawski, who often meets them for coffee or at Hayden Library rather than at formal office hours. He loves keeping up on social media and found that when his calculus class started a Facebook group, it made a great class forum.

On ASU: “We are a research university, not a research institute. I’m very conscientious about keeping the right balance. Some years it’s more teaching and some years it’s more discovery.

“We can draw some top students here when they see that they can go from here to graduate work at Stanford, Cornell or Yale. We have that pipeline established.”

Mary Bates Neubauer

Neubauer, the head of sculpture in the School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, was a Fulbright Fellow in Cambridge, England, and is an expert in digital design. This summer, she will take three students to Italy as part of the Digital Stone Project, a competitive program in Tuscany.

On the Digital Stone Project: This will be Neubauer’s third trip. Students complete digital sketches of their sculptures, which program robots with diamond tool bits to roughly sculpt the blocks of marble.

Then the students have a month to do the precision work, including sanding and polishing the sculptures, which are then displayed in Italy.

Mary Neubauer in Italy

Mary Bates Neubauer has taken students to Italy twice for the Digital Stone Project, combining work with Italian marble artisans with robotics.


“You have to put the mark of your digital thinking on your work. The digital nature of the artwork has to be embedded in the form so the works are speaking to the form,” she said.

“It’s a beautiful life for a sculptor,” said Neubauer, who will work on her own project while in Italy.

On teaching: “I came from a family of teachers, and I’ve always felt like I’ve had an instinctive ability in teaching.

“I also teach by example and make my students get out there in the world like I do, be open to professional opportunities and for them to get out of the metro area and into the world and travel.

“There are many ways to be an artist, and I am able to help individual students see some of the best ways,” she said. “It goes beyond talent. It goes to drive and a sense of adventure and enterprise. I think the decision to live life as an artist can be very fulfilling. A lot of people worry that you can’t make any money in art, but I haven’t found that to be true.”

On students today: “The way they research is different because of the internet. They’re more mobile — they’re more able and willing to travel than my generation, and they’re networking around the world.

“They are collaborative. They stay together as friends and help each other, and they’re able to maintain those networks through social media.”

On ASU: “I think being in a big research university like this really provides a community not only of kindred spirits in the arts, but also very brilliant people in other fields.

“I would have to say I believe in art training at a big university because of the opportunities to explore so many other fields that can inform one’s practice in art.”



Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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May 5, 2016

With his daughter as inspiration and his mother's support, Yuri Lechuga-Robles turns his life around, discovers love of landscape architecture

Editor's note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2016 commencement. See the rest here.

Yuri Lechuga-Robles rebuilt his life the minute his daughter was born. In those first moments she came into the world, he knew it was time to lay the groundwork for a new future.

Arizona State University simply provided the means.

Born in Cuernavaca, Mexico, Lechuga-Robles moved around quite a bit in his youth. He spent part of his childhood in El Paso; then, when his mother remarried, his family settled down in Mesa when he was around 11. Lechuga-Robles found his passion in a high-school drafting class, eventually attending High Tech Institute. Despite landing a job with a firm and living what he thought was his dream, he lost his way, struggling with drugs and alcohol.

Then he had his daughter, AnnaMariah Robles-Lantigua (pictured above with Lechuga-Robles and his mom, Maria Budzinski), and pruned away all the negative forces from his life. He said that after her birth, he took the first steps to “get back to the values that were taught to me.”

Charging forward with a renewed outlook, and a mission to “finish something,” Lechuga-Robles got busy and plugged in.

He went back to school at Mesa Community College (MCC), where he first learned about landscape architecture, before transferring to ASU. He joined the Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Phi Theta Kappa honors society as a dedicated member of both groups. This found Lechuga-Robles organizing a book fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club to reestablish the club library lost in a fire many years ago.

Eventually his dedication to the community was recognized by the Arizona Department of Transportation, and he was awarded the John McGee Intern Scholarship — the first landscape architecture student to receive this award.

Days away from being handed a bachelor’s of landscape architecture through the Design School in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Lechuga-Robles — who will be 10 years sober in December — is reflective about the past and looking forward to a bright future.

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

Answer: At MCC and talking with LeRoy Brady (the landscape architect of the rose garden at MCC) and one of my other professors — through one of the assignments we had in one of those classes was to design a new building for architecture if MCC acquired new land. That’s where I saw I was really interested in outside spaces. … When I came to ASU I still had my mind kind of set on architecture. Then I learned about the 3+ program and I thought, “Why would I want to go six years to get one license when I could go seven and get two licenses: architecture AND landscape architecture?” When it came time to decide which way I wanted to go, I just went that way. And now I don’t want to do the other. There’s enough in landscape architecture for me.

One of the most significant projects I worked on at ASU was the 30-year with Kristian Kelley (LDE 362/590: Landscape Architecture II). We had to look at a space in downtown Phoenix kind of in the south central area. It deals a lot with the culture, a lot of low-income residences. And just on the other side of the tracks there’s these office buildings and the ballpark. It’s a big contrast, and I really enjoyed connecting the two and still keeping the character of the neighborhood and bringing in some of their cultural values and things that they’re proud of.

That was my favorite project. It gave me a sense of focus and direction for what I wanted to do with landscape architecture, because there’s so many avenues you can go on with that degree. I’m interested in urban infill and urban design, projects that deal with social justice, thinking about current issues. I see people flying off the handle, and it seems to me they don’t have a way to connect with other people, a way to release. I draw from my experience dealing with drugs and alcohol. I see maybe there’s something lacking there. It seems to me like there might be a way to address that through landscape architecture.

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

A: My internship (with ADOT), being part of the meetings with the different communities. They involved me in some of the pre-design stuff, going to meetings with different communities the projects run through. One thing they do is try to collaborate with the different communities to take into consideration their goals, doing community workshops and those kinds of things. …. You have to take other people’s culture into consideration, not just do it because that’s how you think it should be. The back and forth that goes on surprised me; it’s always a challenge. You have a meeting and then you go and design something and you send it back and there’s some other thing that wasn’t thought of before and then you have to meet again. It’s not simple.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I wanted to stay close to my family, my sister and my daughter, AnnaMariah, who’s 10.

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

A: Just to look to surround yourself with people who will support your ideas and can also be critical but not put you down.

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

A: I didn’t do a lot of hanging out on campus. There are several courtyards around campus that I’ve seen and really enjoy a lot (Mary Lou Fulton). The one on the south side of the MU, with the fountain, I like that.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I want to take my daughter to Mexico. She hasn’t met my family down there. I’m planning to go there for 10 days. My daughter really likes the beach, so the plan is to hang out with my family for five days and then go to different beaches for five days. Besides the fun, I need to be working. I hope to be working. I’m applying for jobs once I’m done graduating. I can work at ADOT for six months after I graduate so I have a bit of a cushion. I will be sending my resume out right after graduation.

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

A: I just started learning about this thing called microaggression so maybe that. It’s just a stigma that people put on different groups of people that is negative.

Q: Anything you want to add?

A: My mom: I want to find a way to thank her. I see the love of God in her, I think that she’s never given up on me.

When I needed her she was there, and when I thought I didn’t need her, she was still there. Moms are special. Especially now — when I came to ASU I knew what was going to happen, that things were going to get difficult and I was going to need help with my daughter. I talked with my stepdad and my mom and told them I might need help. After the second year, she moved down here to help me out, and they got a second home. She’s been very supportive. I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish without her.

Q: What’s the most important lesson your mom taught you?

A: [He thinks for a long moment.] Love. Just love.

Written by Deborah Sussman Susser and Brandon Chiz; top photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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Herberger student's graphic novel project wins audience choice at IDEA Showcase.
Comic book by ASU student explores less mainstream, more emotional content.
May 2, 2016

Visually impaired ASU artist creating both audio, print versions of graphic novel to make art accessible to all

Herberger student Marieke Davis doesn’t wear a cape or possess any special powers, but to visually impaired fans of the comic book genre, she could be their next superhero.

Davis, who calls herself a “visually impaired visual artist,” was recently crowned the Audience Choice Award winner at the IDEA ShowcaseMFA student Ashley Laverty won the Judge’s Prize and was awarded $500 to continue her work on Kerfuffle, a theater company for children age 5 and younger. — an event that rewards student innovation in design and the arts hosted by the Herberger Institutue Office of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. Davis will use the $250 prize money to advance an arts venture she has been working on for the past two years, a graphic series titled “Ember Black.”

The BFA drawing major in the School of ArtThe School of Art is part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. BFA stands for Bachelor of Fine Arts. , who was diagnosed with hemianopsiaHemianopsia, or hemianopia, is decreased vision or blindness in one half of the vision field, often caused by stroke, traumatic brain injury or brain tumor. as a child, is drawing on her life experiences to create a comic for the non-traditional reader.

What makes Davis’ endeavor particularly impressive is that she is visually impaired in both eyes, stemming from three brain surgeries since age 10.

“Growing up I tried accommodate my impairment in different ways,” Davis said. “Art, drawing and writing have always been my therapy.”

The series is based on Emily Black, a bright but cynical 22-year-old college senior who is extremely protective of her naïve 17-year-old sister, Amy. When Amy is kidnapped by a cult-like group, Emily is left for dead until she becomes possessed by Ember, a cannibal spirit known in Algonquin lore as a Wendigo. Together, Emily and Ember must learn to co-exist and cooperate in order to find Amy before it’s too late.

“This experience has taught me a lot. Mostly that art should be inclusive, not exclusive.”
— Marieke Davis, Herberger Institute drawing major who is creating both visual and audio versions of a comic book

Davis, who has a minor in English literature and will earn a gender studies certificate in creative writing, said her intended audience is young women and men ages 15 to 30.

She said feminists will embrace Emily, too.

“I’ve noticed that a lot of comic books are written by men, and you see them draw women who are buxom with these ridiculously slender waists,” Davis said. “Emily is pretty but not ridiculously gorgeous. She’s a bit of a tomboy, rides a motorcycle, wears a leather jacket, neck tee and jeans. She’s sarcastic and suspicious and will explore feminist issues.”

That’s the beauty of “Emily Black,” said Jessica Fishell, a development officer with the ASU Foundation for a New American University and the co-owner of Critical Threat, a comic book store in Tempe. Fishell was also at the IDEA Showcase and was “thrilled” when she heard Davis’ two-minute pitch.

“Marieke’s art is impressive and definitely a lot more emotional than a lot of the stuff being published today,” Fishell said. “That’s a trend I’m starting to see in more of in comic books. There’s a growing space for artists to create characters that are more meaningful and less mainstream.”

Davis is also creating an audio component of the book for the visually impaired, and recently completed recording the first installment with a group of eight ASU students Emily Adams, Kayla Towbridge, Analise Rosario, Jerry Hoover, Angel Lopez, Sedona Ramonett, AJ Maniglia and Karen Davis. and ASU sound engineer Derek Stevenson. They recently completed recording the prologue and the first chapter, which totals about 45 minutes, in the audio lab of ASU’s School of Arts, Media and EngineeringThe school is a collaborative initiative between the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. .

“I rely on speech-to-text programs. Without audio support, I wouldn’t have attended college, and I’d have missed so much,” Davis said. “When my liaison at the Disability Resource Center told me that her daughter is a visual artist, yet since she’s blind, she’s never seen her daughter’s work — that’s when I decided to create an audio version.”

Davis said drawing the comic book was nowhere near as tough as auditioning, selecting and directing the cast, which started in February and ended this month.

“It took a little longer than expected because I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. For a while I was very stressed out and thought there was no way I could get this done,” Davis said. “After the cast was assembled, everything fell into place. It turned out that since this was for audio, I didn’t have to worry about if the cast looked the part or how good their gestures were. It’s mostly inflection.

“Any good artist or writer will be able to envision their characters and know how they speak.”

Theater major Emily Adams, who played the speaking role of Emily and Ember Black, said Davis was a strong director and thought she did a commendable job.

“Even though Marieke had no experience directing, she had a very clear idea of what she wanted and guided us in a way that vocally brought the characters to life,” Adams said. “It was also exciting doing voice-over work and getting paid for it.”

Adams said she is pleased that the audio recording will reach a new audience.

“We are creating a new awareness about communication and showing that the arts are not just for the rich but for everyone,” Adams said. “I’m starting to see this in all facets of performance art, and it’s about time.”

With the audio portion in the can, Davis will spend the summer focusing on finishing the 160-odd storyboards to assemble for the print version of “Ember Black.” She will present both the print and audio version at the School of Art BFA Exhibition in fall 2016. Davis believes the audio could be released as a CD or possibly posted on an “Ember Black” website in the future.

“This experience has taught me a lot,” Davis said. “Mostly that art should be inclusive, not exclusive.”

Reporter , ASU Now


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Bioartists create commentary on scientific fields.
April 27, 2016

ASU Center for Nanotechnology in Society researcher walks audience through the edgy world of bioart — art using living materials

Tiny wings seeded with pig cells. An ear seeming to grow out of a man’s arm. DNA “fingerprinting” that produces images of smiley faces and copyright symbols.

These are a few examples of the growing (often, quite literally) field of bioart, a form of art that uses and displays living materials.

These works are attention-grabbing, but they’re not done for any sort of gross-out factor or edginess for edginess’ sake. The point of bioart, according to Hannah Star Rogers, is to serve as a commentary on the promises of science.

Rogers, a postdoctoral researcher at Arizona State University’s Center for Nanotechnology in SocietyThe Center for Nanotechnology in Society is part of ASU's Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes., spoke Wednesday in Tempe at the last of the semester’s “EnLIGHTeNING Lunch” seminars, sponsored by the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

She performed research during two separate stintsRogers' time at SymbioticA was funded by both the National Science Foundation and the Society for Humanities. at SymbioticA, a wet research lab for artists at the University of Western Australia, and has written extensively about bioart. Rogers — a poet whose work and literary reviews have appeared in a number of publications — explained the scientific inspiration and intended critique to a room full of ASU faculty and students.

Those pig wings? They were created by the Tissue Culture & Art Project in 2001. They consist of pig cells grown on 3-D-printed or carved wings. This was meant as a critique of what they artists saw as the over-promising of biotechnology as the Human Genome ProjectThe Human Genome Project was an international effort to sequence the entire DNA of human beings. was nearing completion — so-called “geno-hype.”

“The artists answered that hype with hype of their own, that pigs would one day fly, and answered their own call with a petri-dish-size set of wings,” Rogers said.

The DNA “fingerprinting” of smiley faces was part of Paul Vanouse’s 2009 project titled “Latent Figure Protocol.” The artist used DNA samples to create representational images. His aim was to show that contrary to the view held by many, DNA is not a fingerprint. Many see DNA — often used in the legal system as evidence of innocence or guilt — as a unique identifier, but Vanouse argues that the techniques used to produce the evidence can be affected by the various enzymes used at any given lab.

Vanouse’s goal, Rogers said, is to draw attention to issues of scientific expertise and biotechnology and “ask people to render judgment on these issues, rather than leaving them in ‘expert hands.’ As Vanouse puts it, everyone is an amateur.”

And what about the ear growing out of the arm? That was by performing artist Stelarc, who had a cell-cultivated ear surgically attached to his left arm in 2007. A later surgery to install a microphone — so he could “hear” with it — led to a massive infection, and he nearly lost his arm, Rogers said.

Not surprisingly, that kind of bioart, focusing on body modification, has fallen out of favor.

Second-generation bioartists are mainly interested in climate change and ecology, Rogers said, and the field is moving toward critiques in those areas.

Originally a poet, she was drawn into botany and biology and became intrigued by how much more power environmental science seemed to have than poetry. She has focused her research on the intersection of art and science.

“I’m interested in the categories of art and science because … the categories themselves have power. How objects and people are read, who gets to participate, and how resources are allocated,” said Rogers, who is also the director of research for this Friday’s Emerge: The Future of Sport 2040 festival on ASU’s Tempe campus.

She pointed out the clear differential in how society values the arts and how it values the sciences.

“A quick look at the federal budget will tell you something about the power differential when you’re trying to get artists and scientists to collaborate, and the kind of minimum amounts of money handed out by NEA vs. NSF or NIH.”

Combining art and science can lead to edgy creations that challenge perceptions, and numerous issues of ethics and responsibility.

“We feel very different when it’s a scientist using an animal versus a cook using an animal versus an artist using an animal,” Rogers said.

She noted that there are a number of health and safety considerations with such installations, and now galleries get a pre-education on the technical aspects of curating exhibits with living tissue.

One downside of the innate edginess of an image of, say, a tiny jacket grown out of living cells, is that the image can be circulated widely, but the original critique, the original statement it was making, gets lost along the way.

The artists, however, do not shy away from the uproar that their work often creates.

“The artists want those protests,” Rogers said. It stirs a conversation that benefits art, science and society alike.

Penny Walker

Senior Editor , Media Relations and Strategic Communications


Phoenix Symphony’s Tito Muñoz to conduct ASU Symphony Orchestra in Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’

April 25, 2016

Widely considered to be one of the most influential musical works of the 20th century, Stravinsky's “The Rite of Spring” is a ballet set to orchestral music, telling the story of various primitive rituals celebrating the advent of spring. The musical score has many features that were considered groundbreaking and almost scandalous for its time — it was first performed in Paris in 1913 — including experiments with dissonance, rhythm, tonality and meter. Thanks to this unique sound, it remains one of the most-performed classical masterworks.

The ASU School of Music is honored to welcome Tito Muñoz, music director for the Phoenix Symphony, as he conducts the ASU Symphony Orchestra in the influential musical score of this masterpiece on Wednesday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m. at ASU Gammage. Phoenix Symphony Music Director Tito Muñoz will conduct the ASU Symphony Orchestra in Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" at ASU Gammage. Phoenix Symphony Music Director Tito Muñoz will conduct the ASU Symphony Orchestra in Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" at ASU Gammage. Photo by Roger Mastroianni Download Full Image

“The School of Music is very fortunate to have Tito Muñoz as a guest conductor for this final concert of the academic year, as he has been increasingly recognized as one of the most versatile and gifted conductors of his generation,” said Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music. “He provides our students with the special opportunity to collaborate with a talented professional conductor who is currently working in the Phoenix community, all the while inspiring them to realize their goals.”

Muñoz has enjoyed his time at ASU this semester and said he is impressed by the level of the School of Music, the dedication of the faculty and the professionalism of the students.

“Working with talented conservatory-level students, like the students at ASU, is a uniquely rewarding experience for me,” said Muñoz. “Their level of ability is nearly at a professional level, but they are still in their early stages of experience, so there’s a wonderful freshness to their music-making.”

The collaboration with the Phoenix Symphony is just one example of how the School of Music encourages student interaction with music professionals in the community.

“It has been thrilling to work with such an accomplished conductor as Muñoz; he knows exactly what he wants in the music and is clear on how to achieve it,” said Chaz Salazar, a master in flute performance student. “For me, it is inspirational to see a fellow young Latino classical musician in such a successful position on the podium; it re-affirms that my dreams are in reach.”

An additional highlight of the evening is a performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto by soloist Steven Moeckel, concertmaster of the Phoenix Symphony. An internationally acclaimed violinist, Moeckel has appeared as a soloist and concert artist throughout the world.

“I am extremely passionate about music being the ultimate form of communication,” said Moeckel. “I think it transcends all boundaries, and through our performance we can make a huge difference in the world. I hope that message comes through in my playing and that it can fuel the students’ passion in music.”

Moeckel will play alongside Vladimir Gebe, a Doctor in Musical Arts in Violin Performance candidate, who is the concertmaster of the ASU Symphony.

“It is a real treat having Moeckel perform one of my favorite concertos literally three feet away from me,” said Gebe. “His sound is a world of color in itself, and the way he leads the orchestra as a soloist is telling of his experience as a concertmaster. He is such a natural violinist and musician, so it is very easy to follow and accompany him.”

This firsthand experience working with local professionals is invaluable for the students, as they will be able to see the dedication and focus it requires to make music-making their life’s work.

“If I could give a piece of advice to young musicians, it would be that it’s important to never lose sight of what being a professional musician really means,” said Munoz. “While we should always strive to keep our music-making fresh and rewarding for ourselves, there’s also a great responsibility to really communicate with our audience and give them an experience that will change them for the better. That’s what art is meant to do, and what we do is art.”

Admission is free. For more information, visit

Heather Beaman

Communications liaison, School of Music


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CENAS isn't just cooking, but a cooking experience, organizers say.
Incorporating cultural ties as well as health is key to cooking program's aim.
April 15, 2016

New ASU program combines cooking, theater to promote healthy behavior changes

In ASU’s teaching kitchens in downtown Phoenix, the din of cooking activity is peppered with the sounds of friendly conversation.

Just an hour ago, the white-aproned amateur chefs knew each other only casually. Now they are cooking shoulder-to-shoulder and sharing stories inspired by the food, such as eating nopalesNopal is a common name in Mexican Spanish for Opuntia cacti, as well as for its pads. and making tortillas with their grandmothers. They also discuss their roles in the cooking show they will record. As the group cooks, shares and later crafts a theater piece together, they are also promoting behavior that will help prevent type 2 diabetes.

A tall white chef’s hat bobs energetically about the room as the lead chef demonstrates tortilla-making techniques or asks someone to elaborate on a meal or recipe they remember. The man beneath the hat calls himself Mero Cocinero, the People’s Cook. Periodically he gestures broadly with a wooden cooking spoon or praises the participants in a booming voice.

The role of Mero Cocinero is played by Robert Karimi, a chef and performance artist. He joined faculty from ASU’s School of Film, Dance and Theatre and the School of Transborder Studies to create Cultural Engagements in Nutrition, Arts and Sciences (CENAS, which is the Spanish word for “dinners”). CENAS combines theater-making and cooking to promote behavior changes linked to healthy eating and type 2 diabetes prevention in populations at risk for the disease. At the same time, the program honors the cultural food pathways each participant brings to the table.

That theater-making can take the form of role-playing, but sometimes includes actually filming a cooking show. It's not just cooking, but a cooking experience, organizers said.

Tamara Underiner is associate dean for research in ASU’s Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts. She leads CENAS with colleagues Seline Szkupinski-Quiroga, faculty research affiliate with the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center; and Stephani Etheridge Woodson, associate professor in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre. The research is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and by ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research.

The team designed the research methods and cooking curriculum for CENAS to evaluate the impact of a series of lively, immersive cooking experiences on the attitudes and behavior of participants. Over a three-week period, students, community leaders and professionals in south Phoenix donned aprons and began to mix, mince and marinate under the direction of Mero Cocinero.

Mero Cocinero enthusiastically guided participants to put on cooking shows, role-play as farmers or chefs or learn a new skill in the kitchen. With encouragement from Karimi and trained ASU students, participants shared stories about the recipes their grandmothers made, favorite holiday foods and memories of a childhood garden.

“Making theater together, honoring the stories your grandmother told while she was cooking the beans over the cookstove, those are the kinds of things that help people move to a position of strength to honor who they are and where they came from and to continue to cook together for the whole family's benefit,” said Underiner.

The CENAS team introduced ways to incorporate traditional foods into meals using the American Diabetes Association’s “plate method” of eating, which recommends filling half a plate with vegetables, one-quarter with starches and one-quarter with protein. Karimi emphasizes that eating culturally important foods is not inherently unhealthy, contradicting a message that some of the participants unfortunately have received, even from medical doctors. Instead, he explains, returning to the recipes and foods cooked by older generations and based in ethnic cuisine can be both healthy and empowering.

“This is the place to do this kind of work. If you have a good idea you can do it here.”
— Tamara Underiner, associate dean for research in ASU’s Herberger Institute of Design and the Art

“Food is the beginning, not the end. Food is both educational and is bringing the community together through food culture and joy,” said Karimi.

After the cooking experiences, participants reported eating more fruits and vegetables and having a more open attitude towards healthy eating. Importantly, participants also reported viewing healthy eating as a practice they could embrace and one that made them feel empowered.

Quantifying the effects of theater-making on behavior change and healthy eating is novel in the field of medicine. The results of this study are now being used to design broader intervention research that will comply with National Institutes of Health standards.

Karimi likens ASU’s transdisciplinary culture to the comedy improvisation rule of “yes, and,” which commands actors to consider unexpected outcomes and to collaborate with other performers.

The CENAS project would not be possible anywhere but ASU, said Underiner, because of the “yes, and” willingness of faculty to collaborate across academic disciplines and the support from university leadership to try something new.

“This is the place to do this kind of work,” said Underiner. “If you have a good idea you can do it here.”


Top photo by Lyn Belisle/

Kelsey Wharton

Science writer , Knowledge Enterprise Development