Outstanding research earns Goldwater honors

April 15, 2008

Three ASU juniors who already are performing sophisticated research that may have worldwide benefit have won Goldwater Scholarships, the nation’s premier awards for undergraduates studying science, math and engineering.

Working in the laboratories of ASU senior faculty and scientists who are also mentors, the three are getting a head start on promising careers. Download Full Image

The competitive $7,500 awards have been won by Bryan Rolfe, a math and chemical engineering double major; Lara Cardy, majoring in biochemistry with a minor in speech and hearing; and Charlene Bashore, biochemistry major.

Rolfe, 20, hopes to mitigate the negative effects of common chemical processes on the environment, and to conserve and replenish the natural environment. He’s examining metal pollutants in the W.M. Keck Laboratory for Environmental Biogeochemistry.

Rolfe’s intense curiosity and sense of fun also have provided frequent comic relief in the lab, according to Laura Wasylenki, assistant research scientist in the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

“Once Bryan got curious about whether a plastic centrifuge tube would blow off its lid if he closed some liquid nitrogen inside and waited for it to warm up,” Wasylenki says. “The whole tube became brittle and exploded into a million tiny bits of plastic. The huge ‘boom’ brought people running from several rooms.

“Another time, Bryan and another colleague and I went outside on a hot July day to see how long it takes to cook an egg on the sidewalk. Bryan measured the temperature of the sidewalk as 168 degrees F. The white of the egg took four minutes to cook – but while we were waiting for the yolk to cook, a campus van ran over it.

“Bryan’s unstoppable curiosity about all kinds of things has led him to develop an amazingly broad knowledge of science and engineering, almost all self-taught. He is an absolute pleasure to have around, and I am deeply impressed by his knack for all things scientific and engineering-related, as well as his initiative, ingenuity and integrity.”

Cardy, 20, was an intern at the Translational Genomics Research Institute for two years, looking for genetic markers that will allow early diagnosis and treatment of autism. She is working on cochlear implant simulations for the hearing impaired, in the lab of Michael Dorman, a professor of speech and hearing science.

She has long had a passion for working with people with developmental disabilities, after working at a camp for severely disabled children. After coming to ASU, she discovered an affinity for research and has decided to pursue the neurological underpinnings of autism spectrum disorders. But she continues to volunteer with disabled students outside of class.

“This combination of interests, from laboratory to patient contact, is what we look for in a budding researcher,” Dorman says. “The wonderful thing about Lara is that she has the research skills to answer the hard questions, and the interest in people to make the work important.”

Bashore, 21, is working on rapid DNA sequencing to allow early diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases. She’s in a lab group with chemistry professor Peter Williams, as part of a push by the National Human Genome Research Institute to come up with a fast, cheap method for DNA sequencing. She spends 10 to 15 hours a week in the lab, and also is community service director for Rotaract Club of ASU and All Saints Catholic Newman Center.

“Charlene is an extremely bright, unbelievably energetic young lady,” Williams says. “Her course load and volunteer work and undergraduate research amount to an amazing load, and her time-management skills must be just exceptional. She has performed extremely well in the laboratory, and is already working at the level of an advanced graduate student.”

All three Goldwater Scholars are students in Barrett, the Honors College, as well as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Rolfe’s double major also places him in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering. All three plan to earn doctorates, continuing their research.

A fourth student, Andrew Gamalski, majoring in physics and math, received honorable mention.

ASU students have won 39 Goldwater Scholarships over the past 15 years, among the highest in the nation.

Blasingame is 2008 Professor of the Year

April 15, 2008

English education professor James Blasingame took home the ASU Parents Association’s 2008 Professor of the Year award at a ceremony April 14 at ASU’s Old Main on the Tempe campus.

Blasingame accepted the award in front of more than 200 ASU faculty, students, staff, administrators, parents and friends. The 12th annual Celebration of Teaching and Learning Excellence event at ASU marked the culmination of more than four months of community collaboration to choose a top ASU educator for this honor. Download Full Image

“I didn’t really have anything prepared, because I honestly didn’t think I would win,” Blasingame said as he received his award. “I have so many people to thank, but I guess I really have to thank my mother. I dedicate every book I write to her, because she got me into teaching; she believed every child was special, and that every child can be taught to read. You just have to have the right book.”

Blasingame, a former high school English teacher who pursued his doctoral degree after nearly 20 years of K-12 teaching, was chosen out of 30 other professors who were nominated this year by their colleagues, students and staff. Each nominee boasts an impressive track record of community engagement, research and undergraduate teaching – all important criteria of this endowed professorship. It is highly esteemed among ASU faculty and is one of two awards that makes the recipient a member of the ASU Distinguished Teaching Academy.

Blasingame has been with ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences since 2000, and he inspires future English teachers of America with his enthusiastic spirit – and his emphasis on community outreach. Since much of his teaching is about adolescent literature, he and his students partner with local school districts to improve literacy and writing skills among middle and high school students.

“Though he would be too humble to make this claim for himself, no one meets the criteria for this award quite as fully as Professor Blasingame,” said Richard Newhauser, an English department colleague of Blasingame’s who nominated him for the Professor of the Year award. “His dedication as a teacher and a scholar to undergraduate education is unsurpassed. The productiveness of his research makes him one of the leading voices in his field of English education and the study of young adult literature.”

The award is funded by parents of ASU students through the ASU Parents Association. In addition to the prestigious designations, the Professor of the Year receives $20,000 – $10,000 of which funds undergraduate student assistance – and is distributed over two years.

In addition to Blasingame’s honor, the selection committee chose to designate another six nominees for special recognition for their teaching and scholarship, each of whom receives a $1,000 cash award. This year’s special recognition awardees were Jess Alberts, Edward Garnero, Ian Gould, Glenn Hurlbert, Douglas Kenrick and F. Miguel Valenti.

Besides Blasingame, the other nominees also set a high precedent for teaching at ASU and were applauded for their efforts at the event.

These nominees were: Tamiko Azuma, Michael Berch, Prasad Boradkar, David Capco, Peter de Marneffe, Chouki El Hamel, Miriam Elman, Anne Feldhaus, Stephen Happel, Douglas Kelley, Pat Lauderdale, Kyle Longley, Subhash Mahajan, Baruch Meir, Rajeev Misra, James Rush, Johnny Saldaña, Cynthia Tompkins, Carmen Urioste, Patricia Webb, Neal Woodbury, Ruth Yabes and Bernard Young.

The ASU Parents Association Professor of the Year award was given for the first time in 1994 and has since been awarded 11 times. Thanks to the continued generosity of ASU families and the participation of ASU students, faculty and staff, the ASU Parents Association is able to award this prestigious honor on an annual basis.

Courtney Griggs, courtney.griggs">mailto:courtney.griggs@asu.edu">courtney.griggs@asu.edu
(480) 727-7582
ASU Foundation

Lisa Robbins

Editor/publisher, Media Relations and Strategic Communications