ASU Graduate College announces 2020–21 fellows

The new fellows will build platforms to enable inclusive practices and transdisciplinary solutions for urgent social challenges

November 18, 2020

Each year, the Graduate College solicits individuals and teams of faculty to help the Graduate College advance key initiatives that improve graduate curricula across the university through the Graduate College Fellows initiative.

Last year’s Graduate College Fellows — Sally Kitch, an ASU Regents Professor, University Professor and President's Professor, and W. P. Carey Clinical Assistant Professor John Wisneski — collaborated to create the first comprehensive model for a new cross-campus experience: Interdisciplinary Solutions for Social Impact (ISSI). 2020-21 Graduate College Fellows 2020–21 Graduate College Fellows Liz Lerman, Beckett Sterner, Delia Saenz and Kristy Holtfreter. Download Full Image

Rooted in team-taught, project-based learning, ISSI will support interdisciplinary laboratories that bring together faculty and graduate students exploring complex social problems. The first ISSI labs are available in spring 2021 and focus on the theme “Impacting Inequality.” A number of ASU faculty members are participating in the 2020–21 lab. 

The 2020–21 Graduate College Fellows

This year’s fellows include professors Liz Lerman, Beckett Sterner, Delia Saenz and Kristy Holtfreter. Over the next year, they will be working in three key areas: interdisciplinary collaboration in graduate education, inclusive practices across the graduate curricula, and academic and research integrity. 

“The depth and variety of proposals we received from ASU graduate faculty for this year’s Graduate College Fellows competition were truly impressive,” said Vice Provost and Graduate College Dean Elizabeth Wentz. “This reflects the breadth of intellectual resources available within the graduate faculty at ASU .” 

Interdisciplinary collaboration 

Lerman, from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and Sterner, from the School of Life Sciences, will provide creative and constructive resources for students to explore transdisciplinary solutions to urgent societal problems.

As a transdisciplinary artist in the field of dance performance, Lerman is an exemplar of what innovation looks like at ASU. A recipient of a 2002 MacArthur Genius Grant and the first Institute Professor at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Lerman’s work explores questions such as, “Can I make data personal?;" "Is audience in art the same as audience in science?;" and "How can artists contribute to the world?” Her “Atlas of Creativity Tools” and “Critical Response Process” has been utilized by artists and educators both nationally and internationally to enhance learning and deepen dialogue between artists and their communities. 

A philosopher interested in the life sciences, Sterner focuses on “pluralism in the information age through an emphasis on the social dimension of mathematical formalization.” This focus has brought him unique teaching and research opportunities that bridge history, the philosophy of science and the natural sciences together while integrating ethics and societal context into the curriculum. 

Inclusive practices

Social psychologist Saenz, from the Department of Psychology, has long been a force for nurturing intergroup alliance and understanding in her research, teaching and administrative roles at ASU. Her research has looked at tokenism, faculty women of color in the academy, and ethnic identity development and acculturation for Latino youth. Her teaching has focused on stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination, gender disparities, group dynamics, diversity in contemporary society, and the social dynamics of inclusion. 

Saenz’s inclusive practices fellowship project will be to design an evidence-based, integrated platform, using both face-to-face and online modalities for training graduate students across disciplines to understand the value to their field of engaging inclusive practice; learn capacity-building skills related to inclusive practice that can be applied during their graduate training and well into their future careers; and begin to develop diversity, equity and inclusion resources that they can benefit from directly and that can also benefit their specific disciplinary program and their field. Once in place, the new platform will be flexible to accommodate evolving understandings, technologies and approaches. 

Academic and research integrity

Holtfreter, from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, will tackle the challenge of academic and research integrity for all graduate students by helping to scale up the resources currently available.  

To deepen the experience, Holtfreter is piloting a three-credit graduate seminar covering topics like best practices in research collaborations, financial responsibility in grants, presentation of research findings and public communication. The seminar will form the basis of a multifaceted academic integrity curriculum for which the Graduate College will seek support in developing.

The Graduate College plans to share contributions made by the fellows with the ASU community each year.

Tracy Viselli

Director of Communications and Marketing, Graduate College


ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration helps student faced with unexpected challenges from pandemic

November 18, 2020

Arizona State University undergraduate student Gabriel White was just returning to Tempe from spring break in 2020 when COVID-19 began to shut down Arizona. 

When ASU announced that it would be transitioning away from in-person classes in response to the pandemic for the remainder of the spring semester, White was also notified that he would have to leave his on-campus housing.  ASU undergraduate student Gabriel White. Download Full Image

“It was hard to leave campus and return home,” White said. “I was leaving my friends and incurred expenses I wasn’t anticipating.” 

The pandemic also meant losing a planned paid internship in California that was no longer available. 

Once home in Salt Lake City, Utah, with numerous businesses closing, there were few job opportunities. Added to that, White helps support his two younger siblings. “A lot happened during this time,” White said. “I had to make some hard choices about my future.” 

To help students like White, the School of Earth and Space Exploration recently established the SESE Student Emergency Fund, to assist students in alleviating financial burdens and stress resulting from emergencies, and to help cover expenses related to travel, health care, housing or food insecurity.

“While we are doing everything we can to assist our over 400 undergraduate students and 140 graduate students by providing them with a safe and connected learning environment, our students continue to face difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic including job loss outside of the university and unplanned expenses related to housing, health care and essential supplies,” said Meenakshi Wadhwa, director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration. “For these reasons, we created the SESE Student Emergency Fund to meet the unexpected needs of our students.” 

With assistance from this fund, White was able to reduce some of the anxiety and stress of making ends meet and continue his studies at ASU. “Every little bit helps,” White said. “I would like to let the donors know this has a great impact.”

The school will continue to make this fund available throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, in an effort to support its students in their time of greatest need. Donors can visit the SESE Student Emergency Fund page to learn more about this fund and other giving opportunities at the school and at ASU.

Alumni and Special Events Coordinator, School of Earth & Space Exploration