Communication major makes global connections, from Argentina to Spain

April 30, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Connecting with people around the world and finding international internships might seem daunting for an undergraduate, but ASU communication major Abby Perez found it surprisingly simple to take her passions global. ASU graduate Abby Perez Abby Perez, who majored in communication and minored in real estate at ASU, held two international internships. Download Full Image

“ASU is one of the largest public universities in the world, and I know that wherever my career takes me employers will know my university and what it stands for,” said Perez, a Phoenix resident, about her decision to attend her hometown university. “I am very proud to belong to a network of Sun Devils — that is another reason I know that ASU was a great choice.”

She has experienced first-hand how the expansive Sun Devil network helps connect students with people and opportunities around the world.

“I never imagined I would be selected from a national program to be an intern in Buenos Aires, Argentina, yet I was,” Perez observed, “and it was one of the best experiences!”

She not only held an internship with Argentina Cibersegura in Buenos Aires, but also another with Piel de Mariposa, in Seville, Spain.

Working for these nonprofit companies, Perez said, helped her delve deeper into her major, and to see how communication and culture combine in real work outside of the classroom experience.

Her advice to others looking for opportunities to expand their own network? “Don't hold yourself back from a job-internship, rigorous class or any opportunity. Ask questions, seek help,” she emphasized. “Try, and don't give up.”

Perez, who combined her communication major with a real estate minor in the W.P. Carey School of Business, recently shared some reflections with ASU Now about her ASU experience and her dreams for the future.

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

Answer: When my professor mentioned, "No matter what career you go into, you will need to communicate efficiently because communication is a foundation. You can train anyone, you can teach anyone how to sell a product, but if they do not possess good communication skills then they will not deliver good results," that really inspired me to continue in my field.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan to get my master’s in real estate development at ASU.

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

A: My Real Estate Fundamentals professor would give us humorous examples in class. Everyone would laugh at these scenarios and they were really helpful to remember the different concepts. The professors who can engage their students using humor and real-life examples, those are the professors who really love what they teach.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Professor Mathew Avrhami has taught me so much about my financial rights, being smart when investing and about opportunities. 

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

A: I love the courtyard between the BA (Business Administration) and the BAC (Business Administration-C Wing) buildings. Something about seeing and hearing students talk about business really makes me happy. 

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

A: I would use it to implement an education and career work program to help those who are incarcerated based on racial injustice. I would want to one day aid the poverty gap cycle that many people face due to factors that were out of their control. My goal is to provide affordable housing for all. 

Written by Sophia Molinar, ASU Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication senior; student marketing assistant, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts

Maureen Roen

Director of Communications, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


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ASU researchers find water in samples from asteroid Itokawa

May 1, 2019

Up to half of Earth's ocean water may have come from impacts by asteroids

Two cosmochemists at Arizona State University have made the first-ever measurements of water contained in samples from the surface of an asteroid. The samples came from asteroid Itokawa and were collected by the Japanese space probe Hayabusa.

The team's findings suggest that impacts early in Earth's history by similar asteroids could have delivered as much as half of our planet's ocean water.

"We found the samples we examined were enriched in water compared to the average for inner solar system objects," Ziliang Jin said. A postdoctoral scholar in ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration, Jin is the lead author on the paper published May 1 in Science Advances reporting the results. His co-author is Maitrayee Bose, assistant professor in the school. 

"It was a privilege that the Japanese space agency JAXA was willing to share five particles from Itokawa with a U.S. investigator," Bose said. "It also reflects well on our school."

The team's idea of looking for water in the Itokawa samples came as a surprise for the Hayabusa project. 

"Until we proposed it, no one thought to look for water," Bose said. "I'm happy to report that our hunch paid off."

In two of the five particles, the team identified the mineral pyroxene. In terrestrial samples, pyroxenes have water in their crystal structure. Bose and Jin suspected that the Itokawa particles might also have traces of water, but they wanted to know exactly how much. Itokawa has had a rough history involving heating, multiple impacts, shocks and fragmentation. These would raise the temperature of the minerals and drive off water.

To study the samples, each about half the thickness of a human hair, the team used ASU's Nanoscale Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (NanoSIMS), which can measure such tiny mineral grains with great sensitivity.

The NanoSIMS measurements revealed the samples were unexpectedly rich in water. They also suggest that even nominally dry asteroids such as Itokawa may in fact harbor more water than scientists have assumed.

Fragmented world

Itokawa is a peanut-shaped asteroid about 1,800 feet long and 700 to 1,000 feet wide. It circles the sun every 18 months at an average distance of 1.3 times the Earth-sun distance. Part of Itokawa's path brings it inside Earth's orbit, and at farthest, it sweeps out a little beyond that of Mars.

Based on Itokawa's spectrum in Earth-based telescopes, planetary scientists place it in the S class. This links it with the stony meteorites, which are thought to be fragments from S-type asteroids broken off in collisions.

"S-type asteroids are one of the most common objects in the asteroid belt," Bose said. "They originally formed at a distance from the sun of one-third to three times Earth's distance." She adds that although they are small, these asteroids have kept whatever water and other volatile materials they formed with.

In structure, Itokawa resembles a pair of rubble piles crunched together. It has two main lobes, each studded with boulders but having different overall densities, while between the lobes is a narrower section. 

Jin and Bose point out that today's Itokawa is the remnant of a parent body at least 12 miles wide that at some point was heated between 1,000 and 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The parent body suffered several large shocks from impacts, with one final shattering event that broke it apart. In the aftermath two of the fragments merged and formed today's Itokawa, which reached its current size and shape about 8 million years ago.

"The particles we analyzed came from a part of Itokawa called the Muses Sea," Bose said. "It's an area on the asteroid that's smooth and dust-covered."

Jin added, "Although the samples were collected at the surface, we don't know where these grains were in the original parent body. But our best guess is that they were buried more than 100 meters deep within it." 

He adds that despite the catastrophic breakup of the parent body, and the sample grains being exposed to radiation and impacts by micrometeorites at the surface, the minerals still show evidence of water that has not been lost to space.

In addition, "The minerals have hydrogen isotopic compositions that are indistinguishable from Earth," Jin said.

"This means S-type asteroids and the parent bodies of ordinary chondrites are likely a critical source of water and several other elements for the terrestrial planets," Bose explained.  

She added, "And we can say this only because of in-situ isotopic measurements on returned samples of asteroid regolith — their surface dust and rocks. 

"That makes these asteroids high-priority targets for exploration."

Scouting for samples

Bose notes that she is building a clean-lab facility at ASU, which along with the NanoSIMS (partially funded by National Science Foundation) would be the first such facility at a public university capable of analyzing dust grains from other solar system bodies.

Another Japanese mission, Hayabusa 2, is currently at an asteroid named Ryugu, where it will collect samples, bringing them back to Earth in December 2020. The director of ASU's Center for Meteorite Studies and newly selected director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration, Professor Meenakshi Wadhwa, is a member of the Initial Analysis team for Chemistry for the Hayabusa 2 mission.

ASU is also on board NASA's OSIRIS-REx sample-return mission, which is orbiting a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu. Among other instruments, the spacecraft carries the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES), designed by ASU Regents' Professor Philip Christensen and built at the school. OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to collect samples from Bennu in summer 2020 and bring them back to Earth in September 2023. 

For planetary scientists and cosmochemists who are drawing a picture of how the solar system formed, asteroids are a great resource. As leftover building blocks for the planetary system, they vary greatly among themselves while preserving materials from early in solar system history.

"Sample-return missions are mandatory if we really want to do an in-depth study of planetary objects," Bose said. 

"The Hayabusa mission to Itokawa has expanded our knowledge of the volatile contents of the bodies that helped form Earth," she added. "It would not be surprising if a similar mechanism of water production is common for rocky exoplanets around other stars."

Top photo: Asteroid Itokawa is the much-battered remnant of a larger parent body. Working with samples provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, ASU scientists have discovered that despite Itokawa's tumultuous history, this rubble-pile asteroid still contains significant amounts of water in its minerals. Image by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Robert Burnham

Science writer , School of Earth and Space Exploration