Gov. Katie Hobbs joins ASU for Earth Day celebration

April 25, 2023

In celebration of Earth Day, students, faculty and staff from across the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and beyond were joined by Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs for a showcase of Arizona State University's expertise, technology and insights related to humanity’s relationship with our planet. Throughout each portion of the event, the overarching theme was clear: We are actively shaping our future for an Arizona — and world — where all may thrive. 

Along with a special opening address from Hobbs, the celebration included a panel of students sharing their experiences in sustainability spaces, a discussion on the future of water in Arizona and an interactive demonstration on how to deploy solar power showcasing ASU’s strategic decision-making tool, Decision Theater. Katie Hobbs stands at a podium in front of an audience. Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs speaks at the Rob and Melani Walton Center for Planetary Health at Arizona State University for Earth Day 2023. Photo by Katelyn Reinhart Download Full Image

“That first Earth Day marked a growing acknowledgment by the government that we as humanity are not separate from nature, but rather part of it,” Hobbs said. “Our collective success and prosperity depends on a flourishing, thriving natural world.” 

Hobbs pointed towards drought, wildfires, rising temperatures and poor air quality as some of the most pressing crises in our state. As climate change compounds these concerns, Hobbs said building a sustainable future is possible through collaborative efforts.

“We have so much work to do, and we can only do it together,” Hobbs said. “My administration is already meeting with and working closely with our state universities, who have been true leaders on climate change research and solutions.” 

Collaboration between ASU officials and the Governor’s Office has already begun, including the Arizona Water Innovation Initiative, an ASU-led statewide effort aimed at developing research-based and implementable solutions to address the water crisis. The initiative's strategy team is working closely with the current administration, including the new Office of Resiliency led by ASU alumna Maren Mahoney. 

Jay Famiglietti and Amber Wutich, both members of the Arizona Water Innovation Initiative strategy team, participated in a panel discussion on the future of water in Arizona. Famiglietti is a professor with the School of Sustainability, and Wutich is a President’s Professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and director of the Center for Global Health at ASU. 

A demonstration on solar power deployment was led by Chelsea Dickson, assistant director of Decision Theater, and Manfred Laubichler, director of both the School of Complex Adaptive Systems and Decision Theater. Through the interactive tool, audience members voted on which sites would be the most appropriate to locate a hypothetical solar power plant. 

In addition to faculty and staff presentations, students also led conversations at the Earth Day celebration. ASU students Kyleigh Brown, Kennedy Gourdine, Mauricio Juarez Leon and Jordan King contributed their thoughts on Earth Day and their roles as student changemakers. Fellow ASU student Elizabeth Quigley moderated the discussion. 

In her speech, Hobbs encouraged students to consider employment opportunities offered at state agencies, where she said “together, we can grow a more resilient Arizona.” 

“I look forward to seeing what I know Arizona can do in the face of our shared crises when we work together,” Hobbs said. 

Katelyn Reinhart

Communications specialist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory

New course sheds light on safe, responsible arthropod research practices

ASU health and safety specialist partners with ABSA International

April 25, 2023

Catherine Mancini, a health and safety specialist in Arizona State University's School of Life Sciences, helps designs research labs that study ants, bees, mosquitos and other insects.

Alongside colleagues from ABSA International, she has released a new course titled "Arthropod Research, Containment, Biosafety and Beyond," which provides biosaftey professionals, engineers, academics and more with the tools to conduct their arthropod research safely.  Portrait of Catherine Mancini Catherine Mancini. Photo courtesy Catherine Mancini

“(Mancini’s) addition to the operations team here in the School of Life Sciences has only served to benefit us all as we continue down the path of keeping the School of Life Sciences a clean, healthy, safe, more secure place, to learn, work and do research,” said Judy Swartz, manager of facilities services in the school. “(Mancini's) passion for the health and safety of the people and the world around her is readily obvious in every conversation and interaction you have with her."

Mancini was also recently honored with the Hashimoto Service Award, which recognizes and thanks individuals for contributing to ABSA International through their committee service. Mancini currently serves as a member of the ABSA Distance Learning Committee, joining in 2016.

Over the years, Mancini has developed and implemented safety regulations at ASU as a member of ABSA International, which was founded in 1984 to promote biosafety as a scientific discipline. In the U.S., ABSA provides guidelines and recommendations for university researchers and other organizations. However, over the past few years, they have shared the guidelines worldwide. 

"It is so much fun because I get to develop and facilitate courses. This committee is comprised of about a dozen biosafety and biosecurity professionals across the United States,” Mancini said.   

During 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, online courses became a critical tool for training biosafety and biosecurity professionals. To fill this need, Mancini proposed the development of the ABSA arthropod course.

Arthropods are a big group of animals with a hard outer covering and jointed legs. They come in many shapes and sizes, including animals like insects, spiders, crabs, and even millipedes and centipedes. The course will help anyone who is currently designing or renovating a space or involved in or planning arthropod research. 

“Researchers do not typically receive this type of training formally and usually learn on the job. ... Making this kind of training available, especially early in the research training process, could serve as an important complement to the biosafety trainings that researchers — including those working on arthropods — are required to complete prior to working in a research lab,” Professor Nsa Dada said.  

Some topics covered in the class include guidelines and regulations researchers must follow when studying arthropods to work safely and responsibly. It also talks about how to ensure that the arthropods don’t get out and spread to places where they’re not supposed to be.

“For arthropod researchers in training, this course could also inspire interest in regulatory affairs and/or biosafety as career options,” Dada said.   

The course had its first run in February with around 60 attendees, about one-third international and two-thirds U.S. students.

“We learned two things. One, that our courses are really desirable and needed to be out there in the world. Two, that more people from different walks of life are interested in attending these classes,” Mancini said.  

“We want to branch out and continue this momentum over the next several years. Next year, we might have a course on flying insects and then on crawling insects. The sky is the limit,” Mancini said.  

Anaissa Ruiz-Tejada

Graduate Science Writer, School of Life Sciences