ASU undergrads win Circumnavigator Awards

December 9, 2014

Arizona State University undergrads Annie Carson and Nirali Patel have been named 2015 Circumnavigator Award winners.

Valued at around $9,000, the award is offered by the philanthropic Circumnavigator Club Foundation to support students’ global scholarship. ASU undergrads and Circumnavigator Award winners Nirali Patel and Annie Carson Download Full Image

Winners are required to complete a research trip during the summer that involves at least 10 weeks of travel through a minimum of five countries in at least three continents or geographic regions. Their projects must further global understanding.

Carson and Patel are global health majors in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Patel is also majoring in biological sciences, focusing on genetics, cell and developmental biology.

The daughter of a former refugee from Uganda, Patel feels compelled to investigate the refugee experience. She has shaped her project as a socioeconomic analysis of integration practices and outcomes in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) resettlement programs.

“By meeting with individuals from refugee centers, non-governmental organizations, UNHCR offices and social work universities, I hope to better compare the four central indicators of integration – education, employment, housing and health – among the countries hosting the largest numbers of refugees,” she explains.

Patel will conduct her research in Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Turkey and the U.K.

Carson’s project was inspired by the 1990 United Nations’ goal to reduce maternal mortality by 75 percent by 2015, making next year an ideal time to research the status of maternal health care on a global scale.

Her field sites will be Australia, Bangladesh, Guatemala, the Netherlands, Rwanda and Sweden. Carson previously visited Rwanda on a family trip, but it will be her first time experiencing the other countries.

“I am designing a project that will study how the integration of midwives into health care systems influences maternal health,” she says. “I plan to visit midwife training facilities, clinics, hospitals and health policymakers in each country, to interview midwives and learn more about their maternal health care systems.”

Carson says she hopes to forge a career in maternal health care through medical practice or by engaging in public health research and policy.

Patel's career plans entail combining her passion for international work with her interest in medicine and health care delivery.

Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


ASU engineer earns international acclaim for water resources work

December 10, 2014

Arizona State University engineer Larry W. Mays is receiving international recognition for his wide-ranging achievements in water resources engineering and surface water hydrology.

Mays will be awarded the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water – Surface Water Prize in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia, on Dec. 15. portrait of ASU professor Larry Mays Download Full Image

The award citation emphasizes his contributions to development of optimization models in hydrology, including real-time optimal dam release during flood conditions and watershed development in urban areas.

It notes in particular, “One of his most unique contributions is to demonstrate how ancient water technologies can be applied today to manage water resources in concentrated urban areas and alleviate many present-day sustainability problems.”

Mays is a professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The achievements that earned him the award include authoring three leading textbooks in his field – "Ancient Water Technologies" (2010), "Ground and Surface Water Hydrology" (2012), and "Integrated Urban Water Management: Arid and Semi-Arid Regions" (2008).

The books, according to the Surface Water Prize citation, have had an impact on “water resources engineering and the management of water resources throughout the world.”

The awards ceremony in Riyadh will be part of the 6th International Conference on Water Resources and Arid Environments. The award will be presented by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, HRH Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz. Mays will present a keynote address at the conference.

Mays’ academic career has spanned almost four decades – 13 years at the University of Texas at Austin, and the past 25 years at ASU. In that time, he has been the author, co-author or editor-in-chief of 23 books. His textbooks and reference books are used around the world.

He is a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the International Water Resources Association. He has been a representative to the Universities Council on Water Resources, and a member and president of the council’s board of directors.

Earlier this year, Mays received the ASCE Julian Hinds Award for his research on water resources and hydrosystems engineering “addressing optimization and risk/reliability analysis for their design, management and operation, and his authoritative text and reference books that have had worldwide impact.”

Among other honors, he received a distinguished alumnus award from the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois.

Mays is an avid photographer of ancient water systems around the world, and has published books and articles on the topic. His website, at, features some of his work in this area.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering