ASU alum receives prestigious NIH early-career award

Chris Gisriel graduated from the School of Molecular Sciences with his PhD in 2017

September 3, 2021

Arizona State University alumnus Chris Gisriel, currently a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Chemistry at Yale University, was recently awarded a Pathway to Independence Award by the National Institutes of Health.

These awards are given to postdoctoral scientists with promising careers to support independent research while receiving mentoring. The mentoring phase lasts for one to two years, followed by up to three years of independent research in professorship, for a total of up to five years of support. The goal of these awards is to facilitate the transition of postdoctoral scientists into independent, tenure-track (or equivalent) faculty positions. Chris Gisriel Chris Gisriel began his undergraduate studies in 2009 in ASU's School of Molecular Sciences. After earning his bachelor’s degree in 2013, he continued his studies in the school, earning his PhD in 2017 under Professor Kevin Redding. Following this, Gisriel was a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Petra Fromme’s lab until 2019. Download Full Image

Gisriel began his undergraduate studies in 2009 in ASU's School of Molecular Sciences. After earning his bachelor’s degree in 2013, he continued his studies in the school, earning his PhD in 2017 under Professor Kevin Redding. Following this, Gisriel was a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Petra Fromme’s lab until 2019.

“Chris started out in our group as an undergrad who really wasn’t too sure about what he wanted to do with his life, but he fairly quickly matured into a serious researcher, " Redding said. "What I remember most strongly about Chris is his fearlessness — he took on some serious challenges, but never let the difficulties deter him. He just figured out what needed to be done, and then did whatever was necessary to solve the problem. One of the greatest joys of my career was watching him become the scientist he is today. This award is well deserved, and I have no doubt that he will continue to experience great success in his future career.”

Here, Gisriel reflects on this experience at ASU and the training he received in the School of Molecular Sciences.

Question: How have your experiences at ASU in the School of Molecular Sciences and the Biodesign Institute prepared you for future success?

Answer: The research faculty and culture at SMS and Biodesign shaped my personal identity as a researcher, which continues to aid in my endeavors today. Together, they have created an environment that leads my field of interest, photosynthesis research. My first glimpse into this community atmosphere was in SMS — at that time called the Department of Chemistry — as an undergraduate researcher in the Redding Lab. The lab member’s passion for research was magnetizing. As I became aware of the broader scope of my research and the people who contributed the most in my field, it became clear that many of the biggest contributors were my colleagues, advisers and mentors at ASU.

Q: What skills did you learn that you continue to utilize?

A: As a person whose career goals entail maintaining well-funded academic research, an important aspect of my scientific upbringing was becoming familiar with the paths that others had taken to achieve success. I found abundant experience with this at SMS and Biodesign. During my graduate experience, I was given the opportunity to participate in writing scientific manuscripts and grant applications, I learned what career strategies would enhance my visibility in a competitive field, and I was immersed in my field of research by attending conferences with my lab members. All of these have been instrumental in my success today.

Q: What do you find most memorable about your time at ASU?

A: What stands out to me is that the community aspect of the research at ASU is very important. More than other universities in my experience so far, my research ideas and goals were encouraged, even at the lowest levels, by giants in my field of study. As long as I approached my goals with enthusiasm and dedication, my success was thoughtfully cultivated by SMS and Biodesign faculty. Namely, Kevin Redding, Petra Fromme, Neal Woodbury, Tom Moore and Bob Blankenship — although Bob did not come back to ASU until the end of my time there — have shaped how I act as a scientist. It is because of their mentorship and guidance, along with the examples they set, that I enjoy success today. I appreciate their investment in me, and I am already in the process of investing in students around me.

James Klemaszewski

Science writer, School of Molecular Sciences


6 new faculty join School of Arts, Media and Engineering

September 3, 2021

ASU School of Arts, Media and Engineering Director Pavan Turaga has set a goal to empower all current and future students in the program with technofluency, a key pillar in the school’s mission statement. 

“We want students to develop fluency of the tools of technology, how to apply them and ask, 'What are the implications?’” Turaga said. “All technology tools have certain trade-offs, and it’s become more and more clear, especially in the fields of media and social media, things driven by artificial intelligence, that those methods amplify certain biases that are prevalent in media already. We are creators who make art and media and engaging products, but let’s pay attention to the underlying assumptions that exist.” Profile shot of six new faculty. DB Bauer, Joseph Watson, Luke Kautz, Nicholas Pilarski, Ana Herruzo From top, left to right: Laura Cechanowicz, Ana Herruzo, Nicholas Pilarski, Luke Kautz, Joseph Watson and DB Bauer. Download Full Image

To help achieve the school’s new goal, it has welcomed several new faculty, all with diverse, branching disciplines and backgrounds. These new faculty members will not only help arts, media and engineering students grow, but also assist in the growth of Arizona State University’s new Mesa City Center project and programs.

"Among the School of Arts, Media and Engineering new faculty are several colleagues — Ana Herruzo, Laura Cechanowicz and Nicholas Pilarski — who will assist us for the ASU at Mesa City Center facility and its programs, which is an exciting beginning,” said Jake Pinholster, associate dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “We will be searching for a number of additional positions this year, and, by the time the building is complete in 2022, we will have put together a truly world-class team in extended reality (XR) technologies and related fields."

Meet the new faculty

DB Bauer, assistant professor of games and interactive media, School of Arts, Media and Engineering 

Prior to pursuing graduate studies, DB Bauer worked for many years in television, radio and film production with New Mexico PBS, Koahnic Broadcast Corporation and other freelance outlets. Bauer has broad experience in both producing and production, with a primary focus on audio engineering. In addition to media production, Bauer has a background in digital media preservation for university archival collections.

Bauer draws on this professional background in both previous and current research and teaching, focusing recently on the theoretical and social impact of new media theory and practice, speculative design, hands-on, critical making, and 3D media — particularly 3D media fabrication in both physical and virtual space.

“For whatever reason, I can’t help but be drawn to the beeping gadgets and neon lights that transport us to elsewheres and otherwises where things exist beyond, to quote Oscar Wilde, ‘the sordid perils of actual existence,’” Bauer said. “Not purely escapism — though certainly escapism surely has its benefits — digital tools allow us to bring those creative visions into everyday life and reimagine our shared futures.”

Joseph Watson, professor of practice, School of Arts, Media and Engineering and senior adviser to the dean, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts 

Joseph Watson, better known as Joe Watson, will work with arts, media and engineering in a number of ways, including mentoring students and sharing seminars, consulting with faculty on institutional and external strategy, and working with university leadership to elevate the work happening in the school. Watson has had a long career in strategy, business consulting, entrepreneurship and leadership development and has been featured in media outlets including The Today Show, CNN, PBS, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Watson has authored books such as "Without Excuses: Unleash the Power of Diversity to Build Your Business" and "Where the Jobs Are Now." 

He has been serving as senior adviser to the dean of the Herberger Institute and will continue in that role. He is also a member of The Fast Company Executive Board. 

“I am thrilled to be working with (the school) at the intersection of creativity and engineering — understanding its unique role in educating the next generation of robust critical thinkers," Watson said.

Laura Cechanowicz, assistant professor, School of Arts, Media and Engineering and Graphic Information Technology program

With a jointly appointed contract with ASU's graphic information technology program and the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, Laura Cechanowicz will help the school with expanding research strengths in VR/AR/XR tech and its applications. Cechanowicz is an artist, designer and worldbuilder working in research, theory and practice across media, including extended reality and immersive technologies, VR/AR pre-visualization, animation, multimedia installation, narrative and experimental film, and production and sound design.

Cechanowicz works across industry and academia, consulting, writing and conducting workshops and talks on the practice of worldbuilding. Their talks and workshops have been hosted at Disney, LASER, VRLA, in conferences and within communities around the world in the United States, Japan, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, India, Denmark and Brazil. Many of their worldbuilding projects have resulted in virtual reality immersive experiences presented at the Sundance Film Festival and in films, critically acclaimed interactive operas, multimedia collections displayed at the Venice Biennale, design frameworks for augmented reality apps and digital multimedia books. Cechanowicz’s production design talent was recognized at the 2015 Berlinale. 

Luke Kautz, clinical assistant professor of digital fabrication and 3D modeling, School of Arts, Media and Engineering

Luke Kautz is transitioning to faculty as a clinical assistant professor of digital fabrication and 3D modeling, having previously served as the digital design fabrication specialist running the school’s FabLab. Kautz said he believes this direct experience and knowledge as staff support to students and faculty will lead to deeper connections between all involved, helping to lift the academic and research possibilities within the school, at ASU and beyond. His current explorations look at the illusory notion of regenerative design; the cross-pollination of disciplinary techniques for new practices; and the use of design technologies to create mutual generosity between ourselves and our natural and built environments.

Kautz is also a senior researcher at the Center for Philosophical Technologies at ASU, having participated in several research and design projects.

Before coming to ASU, Kautz worked as a junior designer in the architecture office of Frank Gehry in Los Angeles, and prior to that he was a lecturer in the Knowlton School of Architecture at Ohio State University.

Nicholas Pilarski, associate professor, School of Arts, Media and Engineering and The Sidney Poitier New American Film School 

Nicholas Pilarski is an award-winning filmmaker with a background in immersive media, music, film, theater and community work. He creates interactive and emerging media stories that attempt to address issues related to historicized poverty and class-based trauma. His art is not “about” communities, but rather “of” them — helping build ecosystems where traditional lines between subject and author, teacher and student, and spectator and producer are intentionally contested and reimagined.

Pilarski co-founded and co-directs Peoples Culture, an arts collective in Chicago and New York working to reimagine shared narratives through collaborative art-making practices, whose work has been archived in the permanent collection of The Smithsonian: National Museum of African American History and Culture. His work has appeared in The New York Times, the Museum of Modern Art, Eye Institute Netherlands, U.S. Departments of Interior and Education and the Chicago International Film Festival. Pilarski holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Duke University, and his research interests include XR and computational media, film and media theory, class, geographic conflict, dialectics, utopianism, phenomenology and cognitive neuroscience. 

Ana Herruzo, associate professor, School of Arts, Media and Engineering and The Design School

Ana Herruzo holds a master's degree in design research in media-art from SCI-arc, a bachelor's degree and master's degree in architecture from ETSAM (Madrid, Spain) and is currently finishing her PhD at ETSAM, as part of the architectural communication doctoral program. Her background is in architecture, experience design and real-time interactive media. Her main focus is on incorporating lighting, audio and video with physical environments, materials and human interaction. 

Herruzo has served as chair of the Applied Computer Science Department at Woodbury and won multiple industry awards for her wide-ranging work in installation, live events, film, robotics and architecture. She hopes to help the school grow its strengths in experience design as part of the Mesa programs. 

As a hobby, she said she enjoys creating experimental audiovisual performances and plays in an electronic music duo called IvanaBytes. She is also the co-founder of an art collective called NaiveLaser and an interactive agency, VIRTULABS. 

Megan Patzem

Multimedia specialist, School of Arts, Media and Engineering