Skip to main content

ASU joins global research cohort to launch new center focused on society’s relationship with oceans

ASU, through its partnership with Conservation International, is launching a new, interdisciplinary research initiative that focuses on social equity, ocean sustainability and climate change. Photo by Shutterstock

August 20, 2020

Arizona State University, through its partnership with Conservation International, joins the University of Washington and the Nippon Foundation to announce the Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center. The Ocean Nexus Center is an interdisciplinary research initiative that focuses on social equity, ocean sustainability and climate change. The Ocean Nexus Center will bring uncompromised, critical voices to policy and public conversations that will help enable research and policy engagement. The new center is supported by the Nippon Foundation’s investment of $32.5 million over 10 years.

“The sustenance of humanity depends on our mother ocean,” said Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of the Nippon Foundation. “And so today, I am happy to announce this new partnership to embark on a long-term commitment to ensure our ocean’s health, 10,000 years into the future. I am excited that the next generation of thought leaders will be emerging from this center to share their research findings to guide the world toward ocean sustainability.”

Based on the philosophy of passing on sustainable oceans to future generations, the Nippon Foundation of Tokyo has been working for over three decades with governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations and research institutions to foster 1,430 ocean professionals from 150 countries. The Ocean Nexus Center will be housed in University of Washington’s EarthLab, an institute established in 2015 to connect with community partners to discover equitable solutions to complex environmental challenges.

ASU and Conservation International join more than 20 other institutions around the world that will provide research and expertise to support Ocean Nexus Center’s four areas of focus: human rights and human security, ocean economy, food safety and sovereignty, and regional fisheries policy.

“Ocean Nexus exists to bridge the gap between decision-makers, policymakers and the communities most affected and dependent on the oceans,” said Yoshitaka Ota, the center’s director. “This is a chance to do something bold and really push the boundaries of understanding our relationship with oceans, and that’s what I’m excited to do.”

The center aims to build the next generation of ocean thought leadership by offering opportunities, networks and training for early-career interdisciplinary scholars. ASU will host Alejandro García-Lozano, a postdoctoral fellow in sustainable oceans, as part of the Ocean Nexus Center. García-Lozano comes to ASU from Duke University Marine Laboratory where he earned a PhD in Marine Science and Conservation. His doctoral research focused on the role of multilevel cooperative institutions in the governance of small-scale fisheries in Mexico. His background is in critical policy studies, institutional analysis, and theories of collective action and natural resource governance.

This initiative will be led by Jack Kittinger, research professor in the ASU School of Sustainability and Global Futures Laboratory and senior director of Conservation International’s Global Fisheries and Aquaculture Program.

“ASU and Conservation International are focusing on human rights in the seafood sector by developing a global analysis with key partners that will help governments and the private sector reduce abuse and ensure adequate social safeguards in fisheries," Kittinger said. "Dr. Lozano’s experience working on social sustainability issues is a perfect match for this initiative. As a Nexus Fellow, he will work closely with a range of partners to lead this important work to drive innovative science and policy solutions to improve livelihoods for the people who rely on fisheries.”  

For more information on the ASU-Conservation International partnership based in the Global Futures Laboratory, visit

More Science and technology


Photo of two students talking at a table with a poster that reads "RISE Ambassador."

Sara Brownell named among inaugural Charter Professors

Sara Brownell, President’s Professor in the School of Life Sciences and Center for Biology and Society at Arizona State…

February 21, 2024
Two men in suits shake hands

Department of State and ASU announce new initiative to build resilient international microelectronics supply chain

Well known by now is that the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 was designed to re-establish semiconductor manufacturing, research…

February 20, 2024
A group of people in suits pose next to a U.S. flag.

ASU president, national council urge action to fuel US tech leadership

Arizona State University President Michael Crow and other members of a national advisory council on innovation and…

February 15, 2024