ASU’s signature event honors the changemakers who exemplify the pioneering founders
Each spring, the ASU Alumni Association hosts Founders' Day, Arizona State University's signature event that honors the changemakers who exemplify the pioneering leaders who founded the university's predecessor, the Tempe Normal School.
The event commemorates the March 7, 1885, anniversary of the day that the Thirteenth Territorial Legislature issued a charter for the school, planting the roots of what has become a leading public research university that is recognized by leading rankings publications and services.
Faculty, staff, students and members of the community are all invited to join ASU President M. Crow, the ASU Alumni Association, community leaders, alumni and this year’s award recipients at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 2, to celebrate 2023 Founders’ Day at Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, located at 340 N. Third St., Phoenix, 85004. Registration for the event can be found here.
“It is a privilege to recognize the accomplishments of this group of visionary changemakers who represent the pioneering spirit of our founders,” said Christine K. Wilkinson, president and CEO of the Alumni Association. “Their achievements contribute to ASU’s role as a leader in innovation, sustainability and student success and as the model of the New American University.”
Meet the 2023 Founders’ Day honorees
Faculty Achievement Awards:
Dr. Carolyn Compton
Faculty Service Achievement Award
Dr. Carolyn Compton, an Arizona State University professor of life sciences, medical director of ASU’s Biodesign Clinical Testing Laboratory and professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, is the recipient of the 2023 Faculty Service Achievement Award.
Compton was named a top female scientist in the world in 2022 and one of the world's top 100 pathologists in 2016. In 2022, she was on sabbatical as an honorary professor at Queen Mary University of London, Barts Hospital.
Under her leadership, the ASU Biodesign Institute converted its research infrastructure to focus on testing, tracking and mitigating the coronavirus. The institute’s achievements include developing the first saliva-based coronavirus test in the Western U.S., receiving accreditation from the College of American Pathologists and administering over 1 million COVID tests.
The Mayo Clinic School of Medicine where Compton teaches represents a partnership formalized in 2017 between ASU’s Alliance for Health Care and Mayo Clinic, a collaboration aimed at transforming medical education and health care in the U.S.
Compton also teaches a highly popular course exploring cancer and heart disease. This course serves 300–400 students each year.
Faculty Service Achievement Award
Peter Buseck, a world-renowned researcher in solid-state geochemistry and mineralogy, cosmochemistry and atmospheric geochemistry, and faculty member in the Arizona State University School of Molecular Sciences and School of Earth and Space Exploration, is the recipient of the 2023 Faculty Service Achievement Award.
Buseck has spent 60 years on the ASU faculty and has published prolifically, with more than 400 papers that produced more than 30,000 citations. Buseck is a pioneer in the use of transmission electron microscopy to study minerals, meteorites and aerosol particles at close to the atomic scale.
Due to this broad and impactful research in the area of meteoritics and cosmochemistry, ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies was recently renamed for him and became the Buseck Center for Meteorite Studies. In 2012, a new meteorite mineral, “buseckite,” was named in his honor. Buseck and the center are credited with helping boost ASU’s reputation as a leading research institution.
Buseck served as special assistant to the director of the National Science Foundation and on the science staff of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 1994 to 1995. He has trained generations of scientists from 25 countries across six continents, and has mentored 39 PhD and MS students, as well as 96 postdoctoral researchers and senior visiting scientists. Many of his former students are faculty members, including three at Arizona universities.
Faculty Research Achievement Award
Karen Mossberger, the Frank and June Sackton Professor in the School of Public Affairs in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University, is the recipient of the 2023 Faculty Research Achievement Award.
Mossberger, a distinguished political scientist and scholar of public policy and public administration, is the director of the Center on Technology, Data and Society and a senior sustainability scholar with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.
She is an expert on public policy, with a focus on the impact of internet access in the United States for individuals and communities. Her research topics include digital inequality, urban policy, digital government and the evaluation of broadband policy.
She has authored seven books, including her most recent work (with Caroline Tolbert and Scott LaCombe), “Choosing the Future: Technology and Opportunity in Communities,” which won the prestigious Goldsmith Book Prize from the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University. The book fills in the gaps of previous data and research to show with nearly two decades of evidence that inclusive and widespread broadband use over time leads to greater prosperity in communities.
Faculty Teaching Achievement Award
Sara Brownell, an internationally recognized neuroscientist turned full-time education researcher who studies how to make undergraduate biology learning environments more inclusive, is this year’s recipient of the 2023 Faculty Teaching Award.
Brownell is a professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences and the founding director for the Research for Inclusive STEM Education Center. She is known for teaching large courses in active learning ways, taking a student-centered approach of building community, normalizing the sharing of identities and listening to and empowering students in their learning process. She is keen to pick up on what is working or not in her classroom by asking her students and constantly adjusts her teaching to become more effective.
Brownell is a national education leader who questions what we think we know about undergraduate science education. She has made several discoveries about obstacles to student learning that were surprises to almost everybody. While many studies have shown that active learning works better than passive lecture on average, her research group was the first to explore some of the challenges of active learning for students with anxiety, LGBTQ students and students with disabilities.
Her research team has also led some of the first studies that have shown that instructors revealing their concealable identities can positively impact students by normalizing identities and providing role models for students.
Alumni Achievement Awards:
Alumni Achievement Award
Laurie Leshin, an internationally recognized geochemist, space scientist and the director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is the recipient of the 2023 Alumni Achievement Award.
Leshin has received accolades for her barrier-breaking leadership in the space industry and academia and her accomplishments as a distinguished geochemist and space scientist. The first female president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Leshin’s career encompasses two White House appointments and having asteroid 4922 named for her.
She credits ASU with planting the seeds to her success. Her passion for space exploration began first as a student at ASU and continued as a faculty member. After earning her bachelor’s degree at ASU, she received her master’s and doctoral degrees in geochemistry from the California Institute of Technology.
Among academic posts she held at ASU, she was the Dee and John Whiteman Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences in 2001 and director of ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies in 2003. Leshin also led the creation of the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration. In 2004, while a faculty member at ASU, she served on President George W. Bush's Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy.
Young Alumni Achievement Award
Vivek Kopparthi, ‘14 MS in management, W. P. Carey School of Business, co-founder and executive chairman of NeoLight — which launched a phototherapy treatment tool that has helped tens of thousands of infants around the world to survive neonatal jaundice — is the recipient of the 2023 Young Alumni Achievement Award.
NeoLight started as a dorm room idea at ASU and has grown into an international medical device company with markets in more than 90 countries, nine patents (with more pending) and more than $20 million in capital from strategic investors. NeoLight allows, for the first time, infants with jaundice and other issues to be treated at home instead of in hospitals and in parts of the world where treatment was previously unavailable.
It was while Kopparthi was at ASU that three fellow ASU students received more than $500,000 in awards and investments to design the phototherapy treatment tool that cures neonatal jaundice. Worldwide, jaundice is responsible for 10 infant deaths an hour.
Kopparthi has won numerous awards, including the Forbes 30 under 30 super achievers for health care, Times Now NRI of the year and the top 20 influential AZ millennials. He was the 2018 Young Alumni Award recipient at the W. P. Carey Alumni Hall of Fame and is a volunteer judge for the J. Orin Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative.
Philanthropist of the Year Award:
The Dorrance Family Foundation
The Philanthropist of the Year Award celebrates those whose generosity and philanthropic leadership further Arizona State University’s mission. Those recognized by this honor are exemplars of how individual giving can have a meaningful impact on social issues and people’s lives.