ASU Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Rider concert collaboration focuses on climate, sustainability

April 5 show at Gammage also features exhibits, art displays

March 31, 2023

Brooklyn Rider, 2022–23 resident artists in Arizona State University's School of Music, Dance and Theatre’s prestigious Visiting Quartet Residency Program, will join the ASU Symphony Orchestra for “Earth on Fire,” a rich tapestry of musical selections exploring major issues facing a global, interconnected society on a warming planet.

The critically acclaimed string quartet will act as leaders, soloists and collaborators throughout the concert performance at 7:30 p.m. April 5. The concert repertoire features works that range from a joyous celebration of global folk music to works that more directly address global warming and the recent devastating wildfires in California. An image of a human hand holding the planet Earth in space. Download Full Image

“A feature of Brooklyn Rider’s programming is a themed project each year as a way for them to invite their audience into conversations, to feature artistic voices of our time and to put a spotlight on issues of our time,” said Jonathan Swartz, professor of strings in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre and artistic director of the Visiting Quartet Residency Program.

Brooklyn Rider assembled their yearlong residency at ASU through works symbolizing earth, air, fire and water. The program with the Symphony Orchestra, curated by Brooklyn Rider and ASU Orchestras, brings awareness to the beauty of our world and the music of many cultures, while reminding us of current challenges in climate and sustainability.

The collaborative concert was designed to give the audience an opportunity to experience how music and art can help connect us to the science behind climate change and how it affects the human population.

Before the concert performance, there will be exhibits and art displays on topics of climate change and sustainability open to audiences at 6 p.m. Participating artists and scholars include ASU faculty and students from the School of Sustainability in the College of Global Futures, the School of Molecular Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of Art and The Design School, both in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Projects include “Heat Vulnerability and Equity,” “Cool Kids: Neighborhood Justice,” “Protecting Coral Reefs Using Biochemistry,” "Virtual Water — Contemplating the water required to produce the goods we use” and “Imagined Landscapes — Landscapes before, during and after human influence.”

Jeffery Meyer, director of orchestras and associate professor, said that rather than commissioning the ASU community to create works specifically related to climate and sustainability, he wanted to provide ASU faculty and students the opportunity to display their current work.

“The amount of work being produced and led at ASU around the issues of sustainability and climate change is staggering,” Meyer said. “We curated this concert to highlight the depth of these efforts in our ASU and surrounding community.”

Sabine Feisst, professor of musicology in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre and senior sustainability scholar in the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, and Laurana Wheeler Roderer, doctor of musical arts student in violin performance, played an important role in connecting the orchestra with scholars and artists in a variety of ASU schools.

“This concert is much more than music and exhibits,” Roderer said. “This concert reinforces the fact that across the university, we understand that (climate change) is a global issue that impacts all of us and is connected to everyone's field of expertise and experience in a different but profound way.”

“Earth on Fire”

7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 5. Lobby doors open at 6 p.m. for exhibits and art displays. 

ASU Gammage, Tempe campus. Tickets: $12 (ASU faculty and students can receive complimentary tickets through the box office).


  • Ruth Crawford Seeger: "Rissolty Rossolty"
  • Colin Jacobsen: "A Short While To Be Here…" (based on American folk songs as collected and transcribed by Ruth Crawford Seeger)
  • Michael Abels: "Global Warming"
  • Osvaldo Golijov: "Tenebrae" for string quartet (Brooklyn Rider)
  • Gabriela Lena Frank: "Contested Eden"
  • Siamak Aghaei/Colin Jacobsen: "Ascending Bird: Introduction and Dance for Orchestra" (arranged for full orchestra by Michael P. Atkinson)


Julie Anand
Associate professor, School of Art; Lincoln Center affiliated faculty, Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics; Senior global futures scholar, Global Futures scientists and scholars
Aurora Blackwell
Artist, art and ecology student
Katja Brundiers
Clinical associate professor, School of Sustainability, College of Global Futures; Director, Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development
Paul Coseo
Program head and associate professor of landscape architecture, urban design and environmental design, The Design School; Senior global futures scientist, Global Futures scientists and scholars
Michelle Downey
Artist, art and ecology student
Braden Kay
Director of the Office of Sustainability and Resilience, city of Tempe
Liza M. Roger
Assistant professor, School of Molecular Sciences 

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music, Dance and Theatre


Heavy water key to 'groundbreaking work' on electron transfer in proteins by ASU professor

March 31, 2023

Arizona State University’s Dmitry Matyushov, professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and the Department of Physics, has spent years studying how electrons make their way through some important protein molecules.

He recently published results from computer simulations that show that the rate of electron hops within proteins is determined not by the rate of electron tunneling but by the rate of the protein changing its configuration to make tunneling possible. This exciting possibility brings protein identity into the picture: Any property that changes a protein's dynamics and flexibility can be used as a tuning knob to adjust the rate of charge transport across biological membranes. Photo of Dmitry Matyushov photoshopped next to a graph. Dmitry Matyushov, professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and the Department of Physics. Download Full Image

“Matyushov’s groundbreaking work on protein energetics and structural dynamics has opened a new window into the role of protein movement across many timescales in reaction mechanism,” said Professor Tijana Rajh, director of the School of Molecular Sciences, which is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The trapping of electrons by protein water allows the unidirectional flow of electrons, called the the diode effect, in energy chains of biology.

All the energy of biology is produced by energy chains made of membrane-bound proteins that use the energy of light in the photosynthesis of bacteria and plants or the energy of food in the cellular mitochondria in animals. How the energy of light or food is converted to the energy of the cell is mostly related to the question of how these specific proteins shuttle electrons across the cellular membrane.

As far back as 1966, scientists DeVault and Chance established the phenomenon of quantum mechanical tunneling in biology. Tunneling is a quantum phenomenon in which a particle is able to access a classically forbidden region. This often manifests as a “hopping” motion in which it appears that a particle has overcome an energy barrier that is greater than its kinetic energy.

“Since 1966, the prevailing dogma in molecular biophysics is that the rate of electron transport in photosynthesis and mitochondrial respiration is determined by tunneling of electrons between cofactors immersed in the protein matrix,” Matyushov explained.

Slowing of the charge transport rate upon water's deuteration was also recently confirmed in single-molecule studies in Professor Stuart Lindsay’s lab. Lindsay is an ASU Regents Professor and director of ASU’s Center for Single Molecule Biophysics. He is also a professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and the Department of Physics. 

Lindsay's recent work suggests that protein identity can strongly affect the rate of charge transport through proteins. Tunneling is still important at longer distances, but charge transfer within proteins is mostly determined by their dynamics and flexibility.     

Matyushov pondered how to prove that this new understanding was correct. “One has to change the charge transport conditions in such a way that the dynamics of the system is altered without affecting the activation barrier that the system needs to climb to allow electrons to tunnel.”

The problem seemed to have no solution until he realized that replacing normal water with heavy water would allow for such an experimental or computational test.

Hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant element in the universe. Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen and has a neutron in its nucleus, which hydrogen lacks, making it heavier than hydrogen. When hydrogen atoms in water are replaced with deuterium, heavy water is the result. Heavy water is toxic, but specific reasons for its adverse health effect are not clear. It might well turn out that the reason is in the slowing down of mitochondrial function and energy metabolism, according to Matyushov.

Heavy water, it turns out, forms stronger hydrogen bonds with charged amino acids of the protein without significantly affecting the activation barrier.

Recent computer simulations performed by Setare Sarhangi, a postdoctoral fellow in Matyushov’s lab, compared charge transfers within the protein azurin in both normal and heavy water. As expected, deuteration did not affect the activation barrier, but strongly slowed the protein dynamics down by a factor of 25.

In full agreement with theoretical predictions, the overall rate of charge transfer was greatly reduced.

Jenny Green

Clinical associate professor, School of Molecular Sciences