ASU to host community dialogue with Latina leader Maria Hinojosa

Center for the Study of Race and Democracy will livestream Delivering Democracy 2020 with award-winning journalist, April 18

April 1, 2020

The Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Arizona State University will feature Emmy award-winning journalist, author and Latina leader Maria Hinojosa in a dynamic livestreamed Delivering Democracy program on Saturday, April 18.

Hinojosa has informed millions about the changing cultural and political landscape in America and abroad. Hinojosa founded the Harlem-based Futuro Media Group to produce multi-platform and community-based journalism. headshot of journliast Maria Hinojosa Maria Hinojosa Download Full Image

Currently the anchor and executive producer of the Peabody Award-winning show “Latino USA,” distributed by NPR, Hinojosa also is the co-host of “In the Thick,” Futuro Media’s new political podcast, and the anchor and executive producer of "America By The Numbers" on PBS, which focuses on the demographic changes in the United States. She is a highly respected contributor to the long-running news program “CBS Sunday Morning” and is a frequent guest on MSNBC.

“If ever there was a time to have an accomplished broadcast journalist as our Delivering Democracy speaker, this is it,” said Lois Brown, center director and Foundation Professor of English. “Maria Hinojosa brings courage to the front lines of difficult assignments that demonstrate her unwavering dedication to rigorous and attentive storytelling and documentation.”

Each year, Delivering Democracy provides a platform for visionary speakers to discuss democracy and issues of race, justice and engagement with the local community, a national audience and beyond.

This year, the center is hosting Delivering Democracy for the first time as a livestreamed event. This format addresses the significant national and global challenges created by COVID-19. As a livestreamed program, Delivering Democracy 2020 enables conversation and connection despite the uncertainties that so many are facing at this time.

“Going to the livestream format this year certainly reminds us at the CSRD how much we cherish the opportunities to gather,” Brown said. “Livestreaming ‘Delivering Democracy with Maria Hinojosa’ also shows us how, in an instant, we can connect even more broadly with audiences separated by all kinds of borders, circumstances and distance. We hope to have viewers tuning in from across America and from a number of international locations as well.” 

Hinojosa will be broadcasting live from New York City. A follow-up, in-person public event is being planned for fall 2020, barring any guidance related to public health and safety in this current critical moment.

Delivering Democracy 2020, like the annual programs in years past, will provide opportunities for powerful engagement and spirited dialogue with communities across the nation and the world. The livestream program will feature a dialogue between Maria Hinojosa and Lois Brown at 2 p.m., Saturday, April 18. Viewers will be able to contribute questions in advance and through social media during the program.

Registration is available here. Contact Kelley Karnes at or 602-791-8278 for more information.

Suzanne Wilson

Sr. Media Relations Officer, Media Relations & Strategic Communications


Helping the world build sustainable environments

New director aims to see school achieve far-reaching impacts

April 1, 2020

It takes only a few words for Ram Pendyala to express the purpose of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, the enterprise he now leads.

“It’s to provide the built and natural environments that lead to sustainable, prosperous and healthy societies,” Pendyala said. portrait of man in front of ASU's "A" Mountain In his new role as director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Professor Ram Pendyala says he is prioritizing efforts to provide more opportunities for students through expanded curricula, internships, industry alliances, research opportunities, online courses and professional development programs. Photo by Connor McKee/ASU Download Full Image

But that is where the simplicity ends for him, the new director of one of the six schools in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

While the mission statement is straightforward, Pendyala acknowledges that complexities and challenges lie ahead along the road to reaching its goals.

That is why he decided to pursue the job he “indicated emphatically” he wasn’t interested in when he agreed to serve as interim director in the summer of 2018.

Since then, Pendyala said, “My thinking evolved, because I experienced how fulfilling it is to engage more broadly with faculty and students, and to be able to help them move forward on things they want to accomplish.”

Pendyala views the director role as an ideal platform from which to elevate the school’s impact through the tangible contributions to society that can result from its education programs and research achievements.

As he sees it, the world has no lack of problems that will give faculty members in the school — which includes the Del E. Webb School of Construction — opportunities to apply their expertise to devising solutions.

Towns, cities and countries around the world are facing uphill battles against aging infrastructure, changing climate conditions, environmental pollution, unreliable sources of water, electricity and other essential resources.

“The question everywhere is how do we get to a place where we can have more resilient and sustainable systems that serve everyone in an equitable way through economically available resources,” Pendyala said. “Our school is positioned to address these challenges.”

Equipping students with knowledge to advance their education

The school’s multifaceted degree programs and faculty research projects encompass an especially wide range of engineering fields. The scope includes robust pursuit of innovation in environmental, biological, energy, transportation and materials engineering, along with construction technology, engineering and management, all infused with a guiding goal of advancing sustainability in every endeavor.

To better provide skilled professionals to drive such progress, Pendyala intends to focus not only on expanding the curricula in the school’s programs, but also making those studies more accessible to students for whom traditional, on-campus college education isn’t a viable path.

The plan is to make courses in as many degree programs as possible available online, and to develop programs for continuing education for working professionals.

“We want to be at the forefront of equipping industries in our fields with the tools, knowledge and foresight they need, and to be the place our industry partners go to enhance the skills of their employees,” Pendyala said.

At the same time, he wants to ramp up efforts to integrate best practices and lessons learned in various industries into students’ education.

Colleagues who have worked with Pendyala during his almost three decades as a university educator and researcher — focusing on transportation systems engineering, planning and analysis — say his accomplishments leave no doubt he will bring his ideas to fruition.

They point to his exemplary performance as the current director of the Center for Teaching Old Models New Tricks, or TOMNET, a Tier 1 University Transportation Center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT); as past planning and environment group chair for the national Transportation Research Board (TRB); and his service on several advisory panels for federal, state and local agencies around the country.

Pendyala has won the American Road and Transportation Builders Association S.S. Steinberg Award recognizing outstanding contributions to transportation education, and has twice shared the TRB’s Pyke Johnson Award with co-authors for outstanding research publication in transportation systems planning and administration.

He has conducted more than $12 million in sponsored research and published more than 200 research articles that have been cited widely by peers.

Pendyala is also on the editorial boards of leading transportation journals, has served as a consultant for several transportation industry organizations and given featured addresses and presentations at many conferences and symposium sessions.

Praise for performance as teacher, mentor, researcher, consultant and leader

He is “a very good mentor” and “an articulate and passionate teacher,” said Chandra Bhat, the Joe J. King Endowed Chair Professor in Engineering and director of the Tier 1 U.S. Department of Transportation Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Bhat has known Pendyala throughout nearly all of his career.

“Ram is as perfect a combination of visionary leadership, dynamic energy and research creativity in one person as I have ever seen,” Bhat said. “For a person so gifted, it is indeed refreshing to see that he is sensitive to the opinions and thoughts of others. He will always be a dear friend and I wish him all the best as he transitions into this important leadership role.”

Thomas Rossi, another longtime colleague of Pendyala, is a transportation demand forecasting specialist with Cambridge Systematics, a transportation services company based in Massachusetts.

According to Rossi, Pendyala’s research has led to several specific travel model procedures in use today, notably in the area of activity-based modeling: “He was at the forefront of research into the development of practical tools for applying these models, which represent the most important improvement in the way we try to realistically simulate travel behavior.”

Some of Pendyala’s former students “have become essential members of my firm’s team,” Rossi said. “They have continued to indirectly bring Ram’s insight to our projects on a day-to-day basis.”

Pendyala’s counsel has frequently been sought by Vladimir Livshits, director of Transportation Technologies and Services for the Maricopa Association of Governments in Arizona, a regional planning organization, and the Council of Governments for the Phoenix metropolitan area and Maricopa County region.

“Ram is a trusted adviser and consultant. We have come to rely on Ram’s advice and the work of his team for many critical technical and planning efforts,” Livshits said. “We have some of Ram’s students on our staff of technical experts and as intern consultants.”

Patricia Mokhtarian, a professor at Georgia Tech, calls Pendyala “a bridge-builder, a community-builder, a strategic thinker and an outstanding researcher.”

Mokhtarian has seen Pendyala’s career evolve since his days as a doctoral student at the University of California, Davis, where she was a faculty member. Most recently, she collaborated with him on the proposal to establish TOMNET, the USDOT’s University Transportation Center.

“I’m very happy with how it is flourishing under Ram’s leadership,” said Mokhtarian, who with Pendyala oversees the administration of the center’s work to lay stronger foundations for development of sustainable transportation and mobility systems.

Beyond Pendyala’s breadth of knowledge and expertise, Mokhtarian said she values him as a collaborator who “is seemingly unruffled by turmoil and maintains a sparkling sense of humor no matter what.”

The School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment Pendyala now directs, she said, “is in the best possible hands with Ram at its helm.”

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering