Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen to join ASU as director of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning

June 7, 2021

Every new academic year brings new faces to the university. For the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, new faces will not only be in the classroom but also leading the school as Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen has been named director, a role she will assume starting July 1.

Prior to joining ASU, Bagchi-Sen served as professor in the Department of Geography at State University of New York at Buffalo. Her time there also included a stint as chair of the department from 2010 to 2016 and service as co-director of the Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender. Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen to join ASU as director and professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

“Dr. Bagchi-Sen brings with her a wealth of administrative and leadership experience. A top-notch scholar and visible researcher, she is the perfect person to lead the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning into the future,” said Pardis Mahdavi, dean of the social sciences for The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

MORE: 4 new directors join ASU's social sciences division

A human-geographer, Bagchi-Sen’s research specifically touches upon the topics of urban and economic geography. Her current research focuses on analyzing the relationship between demographic shifts and socio-economic outcomes, which is work that she will continue to investigate at ASU.

Her past research has focused on foreign direct investment in the United States followed by the study of the drivers and barriers of innovation in various high technology industries, including the biopharmaceutical and bioenergy sectors. Bagchi-Sen focuses on industry studies with a deep interest in understanding how industrial change affect regions. In recent years, she has undertaken research on shrinking cities in the deindustrialized parts of the United States to investigate the relationship between population and economic decline. In doing this research, she has also examined the debates surrounding local-regional policy and planning options.

Bagchi-Sen’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, and she has held long-established collaboration with scholars in the United Kingdom and Sweden. In 2020, she served as program director for the Human-Environment and Geographical Sciences with the National Science Foundation, a position that involved managing proposals submitted to several programs and participating in broader discussions within these programs about future directions, a position that will be coming to an end with Bagchi-Sen’s transition to becoming school director.

“Dr. Bagchi-Sen is joining our school at a time of incredible growth and opportunity,” said Elizabeth Wentz, dean and vice provost of ASU’s Graduate College, who for the last year has also served as interim director for the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, where she also holds a faculty position. “I look forward to seeing how she will expand our research and programmatic opportunities. Her research accolades and administrative experience will be of great benefit to the unit, our faculty and especially our students.”

“I am inspired by ASU's reconceptualization of 21st-century higher education and the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning’s dedication toward inclusivity, excellence and broader societal impact,“ said Bagchi-Sen. “I hope to work with everyone in the school to continue to achieve excellence in research, teaching and service (and) maintain visibility of the school at ASU and within the discipline.”

Megan Martin

Manager, Marketing and Communication, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


ASU-based Legacy Corps receives 3-year funding renewal to provide volunteer respite care to veteran and military families

June 7, 2021

Families providing round-the-clock care to infirm veterans or military members will have volunteer respite caregivers to help them for another three years, as a federal agency renewed funding for a 20-year-old ASU program that administers the assistance.

AmeriCorps agreed in May to continue funding Legacy Corps for Veteran and Military Families (LCVMF). The renewed financial support from the federal agency and other sub-award organizations, which begins Sept. 1, totals approximately $13.3 million and runs through 2024, said LCVMF principal investigator David Swindell, an associate professor in the ASU School of Public Affairs. Legacy Corps logo Download Full Image

LCVMF, or Legacy Corps for short, is a Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions-based national program that since 2001 has been providing respite caregivers to families of more than 720 veterans and military members who require 24-hour services. Volunteers deliver care in eight states, including Arizona.

Legacy Corps was developed to meet the need for respite care designed specifically for families who are caregivers to veterans or military members. Its goal is to keep loved ones in their communities longer, postponing or avoiding institutional care completely.

Swindell, who is also director of the ASU Center for Urban Innovation, said he is grateful ASU will continue as Legacy Corps’ home.

“We are lucky to have such great nonprofit partners around the country working with us and the AmeriCorps members to deliver this underprovided service,” Swindell said. “Helping primary caregivers who are taking care of other veterans and military family members helps all those involved and illustrates ASU and the Watts College’s commitment to community service.”

Legacy Corps deploys more than 500 AmeriCorps volunteers to help families through 14 partner agencies. In February, Arizona became the eighth state Legacy Corps serves by adding Phoenix-based Hospice of the Valley as its latest partner organization.

Many of the more than 720 families Legacy Corps volunteers serve include Vietnam War veterans, but they also assist veterans of World War II and the Korean War, said Jack Steele, Legacy Corps’ national program director. Some of the patients suffer from the effects of Agent Orange or have cognizance issues, he said. Continued funding means keeping veterans or military members in their homes longer.

“It will allow us to train 512 AmeriCorps members who go to homes to provide caregiver support services, to allow the veteran or military member to stay in their homes,” Steele said.

The funding includes a monthly stipend of $200 that enables each volunteer to pay for personal needs such as groceries and transportation. This is a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time home health worker. Volunteers are also eligible for funding toward the cost of their college attendance of up to $1,500 per year. At age 55, the volunteer can transfer that amount to a child or grandchild.

Many of the Arizona volunteers are ASU students, Steele said, filling 24 of 50 volunteer positions.

“It’s different than a home health worker,” Steele said. “They truly become like family.”

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions