Travel grants open up a world of opportunities for student researchers

March 15, 2023

Successful scientists don’t spend all of their time in the lab conducting experiments — a crucial part of being a scientist is also attending scientific conferences.

These events provide researchers with the opportunity to collaborate on projects and learn from each other, as well as learn about the latest scientific discoveries in their field. Savannah Tallino stands in a lab wearing a lab coat and gear. With the help of a Student Travel Grant, graduate student Savannah Tallino was able to attend the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego, California. Download Full Image

For students pursuing scientific careers, conferences can provide tremendous opportunities to grow as young professionals.

“Traveling to scientific meetings and engaging with others in the field builds a network as students prepare for postdoctoral positions and jobs,” says Stephen Munk, deputy director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. “Students also have the chance to discuss the work of others and learn what others are doing and why it is important. Presenting one’s work and getting feedback is a critical part of development as a scientist.”

Unfortunately, traveling to a conference in another city, state or even country is out of reach for many college students. According to the American Psychological Association, more than a third of college students in the United States cannot afford stable housing and abundant food, never mind professional travel.

More than 400 students engage in research at the Biodesign Institute. The Biodesign Travel Fund awards Student Travel Grants that allow selected students to attend scientific conferences pertinent to their research. Students are able to present and learn more about their research area as well as meet and network with other scientists in their field.

“Some of us aren't able to go to conferences unless we're able to find external funding,” says Savannah Tallino, a student in the School of Life Sciences Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience.

With the help of a Student Travel Grant, Tallino was able to attend the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego, California.

“Going to conferences like this is one of the best ways to meet new people who are in the same field as you and exchange ideas, and also forge new relationships that you can leverage later on, so that you can apply for grants together or email each other when you're having trouble with a technique that the other lab has specialized in,” she says.

By attending the conference, Tallino was able to gain valuable insight on how to progress as an advanced researcher in her field and continue to pursue her goals.

“I had the ability to meet with people in my field, people whose papers I had read and really admired, interact with them and learn from them,” she says.

Sofia Rocha, a microbiology PhD student who works as a graduate assistant in the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics, will be attending the American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Portland, Oregon.

Rocha says the meeting will be important “to help with any troubleshooting that we may have with our own personal projects by learning other insights from other protocols that they might have that we're not used to.”

Since it was created in 2011, The Biodesign Travel Fund has helped nearly 100 students like Tallino and Rocha attend scientific conferences from Seattle to Switzerland.

The Biodesign Travel Fund relies on support from generous donors. Learn more about how you can help provide life-changing opportunities for ASU student researchers.

Written by Logan Alvarado

Regional network advances to full proposal for developing Southwest hydrogen hub

March 15, 2023

The Southwest Clean Hydrogen Innovation Network (SHINe) is submitting a full proposal for the development of a desert Southwest clean hydrogen hub. This comes following the network’s submission of a concept paper in November 2022 and encouragement from the U.S. Department of Energy in December 2022.

SHINe is one of 33 applicants encouraged to move forward in the proposal process, chosen from an original 79. The U.S. DOE plans to fund six to 10 regional hubs. Illustration of clean hydrogen particles. Download Full Image

The full proposal will seek federal funding to support crucial clean hydrogen-focused initiatives. DOE funding would facilitate a successful regional hub that would create an ecosystem to economically produce, store, transport and use clean hydrogen, and provide many economic, environmental and community benefits.

SHINe’s coordinated efforts to create and support innovative energy solutions, as well as build a workforce to support the transition to clean energy in the Southwest, are key to achieving energy diversity, flexibility and justice, and a reliable, resilient and sustainable energy ecosystem.

“We’ve brought together a diverse, collaborative and supportive team from industry, government, utilities, universities, local communities, tribes and more. An unprecedented level of collaboration and integration is crucial to ensuring our success. Our broad-based consortium is poised to assemble the resources, talent, projects and infrastructure needed for SHINe to launch a new clean hydrogen industry that will bring economic, environmental and energy justice benefits to the region,” said Ellen Stechel, executive director for the Center for an Arizona Carbon-Neutral Economy. The center is housed within the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at Arizona State University.

SHINe includes more than 40 member organizations with expertise and current operations throughout the region, including cities, clean energy companies, gas-producing companies, nonprofit organizations, transit companies, universities, utilities and others. The network has the support of both Nevada and Arizona Governors’ Offices, and U.S. senators.

The network is working to support the DOE’s vision of a regional clean hydrogen hub that provides clean energy and feedstocks for hard-to-abate carbon emissions in the mobility, mining, industrial and electricity sectors while maintaining a reliable and resilient energy system. Also, SHINe aims to have a substantial positive impact across the southwestern region through workforce development, environmental and economic justice efforts and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Organized labor such as the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers plays a critical role in Arizona’s hydrogen economy and energy transition to lower carbon emissions," said Jacob Evenson, business manager at Boilermakers Local 627. "When customers pay a utility bill, they’re supporting local rural communities, and good-paying jobs for hard-working Arizonans. Community local workforce agreements keep our ratepayer dollars in Arizona’s economy and ensure that we aren’t exporting our dollars to out-of-state entities that don’t abide by the same labor standards, offer the same worker benefits or pay prevailing market wages. Proposed projects with these standards should be the highest priority.” 

Nevada and Arizona have a unique energy ecosystem, with geological resources and transportation routes that support favorable conditions for a clean hydrogen market. These include strategic access to critical transportation routes for energy delivery; the geological resources to support storage of large volumes of salt deposits at low cost; and pre-existing infrastructure and pipelines for integration with other renewables.

These attributes provide the region with an opportunity to meet energy demand and export to larger markets via major interstates, rail and pipelines.

“Arizona’s modern transportation network and strategic southwest location, as well as our number-one manufacturing growth rate, demonstrate our ideal positioning to pioneer a clean hydrogen ecosystem,” said Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners across the region to advance clean energy solutions.”

Beyond dynamic energy innovation, the cornerstone of SHINe’s clean hydrogen hub strategy focuses on developing responsible energy infrastructure for communities most in need, offering disadvantaged communities opportunities to participate in planning, decision-making and implementation through a robust community benefits plan, ensuring all stakeholders have a voice in the clean energy transition.

The DOE is expected to select awardees this summer. For more information, visit the Southwest Clean Hydrogen Innovation Network.

Sandra Leander

Assistant Director of Media Relations, ASU Knowledge Enterprise