ASU grad strives to fight for issues that impact Indigenous communities

April 28, 2021

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2021 graduates.

In her second year at Arizona State University, Angel Nosie became more aware of social justice issues through her justice studies courses. As a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe of the Hagosteele Clan, she grew increasingly interested in studying the injustices Native American communities face. This spring, Angel Nosie will graduate from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with degrees in justice studies and American Indian studies. Download Full Image

“Growing up off the reservation in the city, I didn’t know about the needs of Indigenous communities,” she said. “I learned how health care on the reservation needs to be improved and that there are things that limit Indigenous people that could help promote the lifespan of their communities. I learned about the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women. This made me realize that I want to be a voice for Indigenous people and fight for Indigenous social justice issues.”

This spring, Nosie will graduate from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with degrees in justice studies and American Indian studies. 

While at ASU she participated in the Pre-Law Society and served as the vice president of Alpha Pi Omega, the first Native American sorority at ASU. She also worked with the Office of American Indian Initiatives as a student panel speaker for the Tribal Nations Tour, where she shared her personal experiences in higher education with Native American high school students across Arizona to encourage them on a path to college.

“I would say one of my most impactful moments at ASU was when we went to the San Carlos Apache Reservation, which is my reservation, and we held a college readiness event there,” she said. “I told them my Native Sun Devil story and shared my experiences to show them that it's possible for anyone to get through college.”

For her outstanding scholastic achievements, Nosie was honored as the American Indian Studies spring 2021 Dean’s Medalist. She is also a Moeur Award recipient. 

After graduation, she plans on participating in the Pipeline to Law Initiative, where she will be equipped with the tools to apply to law school.

Nosie shared more about her ASU journey.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: I chose ASU because it was like home to me. My mother went to ASU, and I grew up going to ASU football games. I couldn't see myself going anywhere else outside of ASU.

Q: What’s something you learned while at The College — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I've never really been much of a volunteer person. I joined Alpha Pi Omega and we had to do volunteer hours every month. We volunteered at Midwest Food Bank and just learning about what we're doing and how impactful it is and how needed this kind of work really inspired me to continue doing volunteer work. …  Stepping into that position and trying to help people was new to me and aided in my career path toward trying to help people.

Q: Did you experience any obstacles along your way? If yes, how did you overcome them?

A: The challenge for me was to step outside of my comfort zone and to engage myself in things that I wouldn't normally do. My freshman year I was focused only on academics and of course that's great, but there's also the social connection that I want for myself. When I finally broke out of my shell and began attending events and meetings, joining clubs and stuff like that, I learned about a lot of things and made great connections.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: I would tell them that anything is possible if you just have the right mindset. You have to have a strong work ethic, great perseverance and no excuses. Just do your best to persevere through college, because it is possible. I am an example of that. Stay focused and complete your coursework. Reach out to your academic adviser to talk about your major and what you need to do to set yourself up for success. Build a great schedule for yourself so that each semester is achievable.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am trying to get into law school so I can become an Indian law lawyer, that's my main goal. I really love ASU so I'm definitely going to go with Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. But before I get there I need to do a lot of prepping like taking the LSAT and preparing my application. 

Emily Balli

Manager of marketing and communications, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

Deep under the ocean, microbes are active and poised to eat whatever comes their way

April 28, 2021

The subseafloor constitutes one of the largest and most understudied ecosystems on Earth. While it is known that life survives deep down in the fluids, rocks and sediments that make up the seafloor, scientists know very little about the conditions and energy needed to sustain that life.

An interdisciplinary research team, led by ASU and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, sought to learn more about this ecosystem and the microbes that exist in the subseafloor. The results of their findings were recently published in Science Advances, with ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration geobiologist and Assistant Professor Elizabeth Trembath-Reichert as lead author. Elizabeth Trembath-Reichert running the winch for the CTD water sampler, which was used to bring fluids up to the ship from the bottom of the ocean. Photo by Ben Tully Download Full Image

To study this type of remote ecosystem, and the microbes that inhabit it, the team chose a location called North Pond on the western flank of the mid-Atlantic Ridge, a plate boundary located along the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. 

North Pond, at a depth of over 14,500 feet (4,420 meters) has served as an important site for deep-sea scientists for decades. It was most recently drilled hundreds of feet through the sediment and crust by the International Ocean Discovery Program in 2010 to create access points for studying life and chemistry beneath the seafloor.  

With support from the National Science Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations, the team sampled the crustal fluid samples from the borehole seafloor observatories with the deep sea remotely operated vehicle Jason II on the research vessel Atlantis

These unique samples from the pristine, cool basaltic seafloor were then brought back to the lab and analyzed using a nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometer (NanoSIMS), which was used to measure their elemental and isotopic composition. 

“Our experiments use specialized tracers that can only be observed if a microorganism eats something on the buffet of options we provide,” Trembath-Reichert said. “If we see these tracers in the microbes, then we know they must have been active and eating during our experiments and we get an idea of what food sources they can use to survive.” 

Trembath-Reichert with Olivia Nigro from Hawaii Pacific University on the research vessel Atlantis after the first fluid samples (in the clear plastic boxes) came on deck from the borehole seafloor observatories. Photo Credit: Kelle Freel

Through these analyses, the team discovered that the subseafloor microbial community is active and poised to eat, despite an environment with low biomass and low-carbon conditions. 

“The microbes we studied are extremely adaptable and are able to make a living in what seems like a really harsh environment to surface dwellers, like ourselves,” Trembath-Reichert said. 

One of the most surprising discoveries was how the microorganisms use carbon dioxide. Trembath-Reichert and her team expected the microorganisms to use widely available carbon dioxide the way plants do, by "fixing" it into other forms of organic carbon that they can then use to grow on. But the findings suggest the microbes in this isolated environment with low nutrients were being more crafty.

“Our theory is that these microbes are being resourceful and using the carbon dioxide directly as a building block without having to convert it into a food source first,” Trembath-Reichert said. “And this could have major implications for the deep ocean carbon cycle.” 

"This work highlights how little we know about the lifestyle of microbes within oceanic crust and the importance of carrying out experiments with sensitive detection limits, such as NanoSIMS,” said senior author Julie Huber, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The first ever single-cell NanoSIMS images from this system were used to show what food sources microbes (pictured here) used. Warmer colors indicate more of a certain food source was used. 3 μm scale bar.

The next steps for Trembath-Reichert and her team are to design experiments to better understand the full diversity of ways carbon dioxide can be used by microbes. As a more readily available food source for microorganisms, they will be looking into the ways carbon dioxide can be used for survival and growth in the Earth's largest aquifer beneath the seafloor. 

To conduct this research, Trembath-Reichert was supported by fellowships from the NASA Postdoctoral Program and the L’Oréal For Women in Science Program. 

Additional authors on this study include Sunita Shah Walter of the University of Delaware, Marc Fontánez Ortiz of ASU’s School of Life Sciences, Patrick Carter of the University of Massachusetts and Peter Girguis of Harvard University.

Karin Valentine

Media Relations & Marketing manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration