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ASU cuts ribbon on newest biomedical facility in downtown Phoenix

March 30, 2021

Wexford Phoenix Biomedical Campus Building 1 makes way for economic development, biomedical research that impacts the community

The din of construction on the northeast corner of Garfield and Fifth streets in downtown Phoenix will soon give way to a flurry of activity as the researchers and entrepreneurs who will inhabit half of the new 225,000-square-foot building that now stands there move in to embark on journeys of discovery and advancement that promise to enhance the health and vibrancy of the surrounding community.

Wexford Phoenix Biomedical Campus Building 1 (PBC1) broke ground in 2019 after Arizona State University, the city of Phoenix and real estate development company Wexford Science and Technology saw an opportunity to bridge the surrounding neighborhoods, the academic community and the professional community through research, entrepreneurial activity and corporate engagement to create a thriving knowledge community.

As ASU President Michael Crow noted during a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony March 30, despite the pandemic, great progress is still being made.

“This building is the beginning of a new kind of energy in downtown Phoenix,” Crow said. “(One where) private sector companies are clustering around scientists, around nurses, around physicians, around students, around dreamers, engineers, creative people, entrepreneurial people, innovative people.”

The $77 million state-of-the-art facility is the first piece of a 7-acre parcel ASU is responsible for on the city-owned Phoenix Biomedical Campus, a 30-acre area in the heart of downtown that was established in 2004 by an initiative between the city, the Arizona Board of Regents and the state’s public universities to expand medical education and research in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego shared her hopes Tuesday for PBC1 to take the downtown biomedical campus and the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to the next level as one of the top five emerging bioscience areas in the country.

“This is place that you want to work, where you're going to come up with the next cure for cancer, which I'm convinced is coming through the downtown biomedical campus,” Gallego said.

ASU will lease approximately 112,000 square feet — half of the building — for 15 years with three five-year options. The remainder of the building will be occupied by private-sector companies, a fact that organizers expect will be the secret sauce in forging the kind of discovery and innovation that can have a real impact on the community.

Wexford Science and Technology exclusively partners with universities, academic medical centers and research institutions to develop mixed-use, amenity-rich knowledge communities. The company’s portfolio extends across nine states and includes projects in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Miami and Baltimore.

Thomas Osha, Wexford Science and Technology’s senior vice president for innovation and economic development, said it’s no accident that the new building in downtown Phoenix is located in the middle of a diverse urban area and is right next to the Roosevelt Row Arts District.

“Innovation districts aren't exclusive, walled campuses,” Osha said. “They're porous, they’re open, they’re inviting, and they’re creating inclusive opportunities for residents of the entire area, and at all levels.”

The building itself features 240,000 square feet of wet and dry labs, office and retail space, and is LEED Gold certified. Global design firm HKS served as the architect and interior designer for the project, which was inspired by the saguaro cactus, native to the Sonoran Desert in which PBC1 is located.

"Like the saguaro," HKS' website states, "the building facade combats the arid climate conditions with geometric ribs that shade the structure and help mitigate the effects of the extreme solar radiation. ... The materials used for the exterior are primarily concrete, weathered steel and brick, which are slow to warm up during the day and dissipate the heat."

One of PBC1's first tenants is the company OncoMyx, a spinout from research previously done at ASU that is working to develop oncolyticAn oncolytic virus is a virus that preferentially infects and kills cancer cells. immunotherapies with the goal of achieving the greatest therapeutic benefit for more cancer patients.

OncoMyx CEO and co-founder Steve Potts shared his view for the company to leverage the resources afforded by the new facility to put them in the position to fill a valuable void in the biomedical innovation landscape.

“If you think of the biomedical space, especially the space that's generating intellectual property assets ... the industry is really a tripod,” Potts said. That tripod is made up of diagnostics, medical devices and pharmaceutical drug development. Arizona is known for its strength in the first two; Potts hopes his company will help prop up the third, thanks to the Wexford building’s myriad assets, not least of all its ability to entice new employees with proximity to industry and travel, and a lower cost of living compared to other biotech hubs.

And, Potts said, “In terms of the lab and the office balance, it's hard to find a facility like this, that's this modern and kind of just built for life science firms, even if you go to San Francisco or Boston. It's a  beautiful building, it's really well-built for … anybody doing life sciences. … I find it just a great place to build companies.”

Researchers who will share space in PBC1 will come from all across ASU, including the College of Health Solutions, the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and the Biodesign Institute.

Frank LoVecchio, who recently joined ASU as the medical director of clinical and community translational research, will be on hand to provide medical oversight for much of that research.

“The research we’ll be doing here is really going to take us to the next step in doing what's best for the patients, and that's the people of Arizona,” LoVecchio said.

One project he is currently overseeing involves College of Health Solutions Professor Scott Leischow, who also serves as the director of clinical and translational science for the college, and is looking at a new smoking cessation drug, using volunteers from the community as study participants.

The building will also have space for the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute.

“As the pan-university and pan-community resource for ASU students, faculty, staff, alumni and the greater community, we work in collaboration with community partners like the Flinn Foundation, the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation, StartupAZ, Greater Phoenix Economic Council and many others to support innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Ji Mi Choi, vice president of ASU Knowledge Enterprise. “… The power of place is in bringing together ideas and people for connectivity, collaborations and positive collisions.”

And even though ASU does not have a medical school, College of Health Solutions Dean Deborah Helitzer sees PBC1 and the work that will be done there as an opportunity to take advantage of the new direction modern medicine is taking.

“Traditionally, when we think about biomedical research and education, we think about medical schools,” Helitzer said. “But more and more today, health care is delivered in an ambulatory, or outpatient, environment. So the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, anchored by ASU and its downtown colleges, has the advantage of being a location with multiple organizations and entities. … There's no other place in the country that has this kind of ecosystem.”

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US News ranks 14 ASU graduate programs in top 10

March 30, 2021

The latest report from US News & World Report shows 33 graduate degree programs at ASU in the top 20

Arizona State University has 14 graduate degree programs ranked in the top 10 nationwide, according to new rankings released by U.S. News & World Report.

Of the 14 top-ranked degree programs, half are in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. The list was released March 30 after the magazine assessed more than 2,100 degree programs for 2022.

U.S. News & World Report provides several higher education rankings throughout the year, and last fall rated ASU as the most innovative university in the country for the sixth year in a row.

The highest ranked graduate degree program for 2022 at ASU is the doctorate in criminology and criminal justice, in the Watts College, which tied for second place with the University of California at Irvine and ranked ahead of Penn State and Florida State. Last year, that ASU program ranked fifth. 

The other top 10 graduate degree programs at ASU, with last year’s ranking in parentheses, are:

  • Supply chain, in the W. P. Carey School of Business: No. 3 (3), ahead of Ohio State, Penn State and Stanford University.
  • Legal writing, in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law: No. 3 (7), ahead of Georgetown University and the University of Michigan.
  • Information and technology, in the School of Public Affairs in the Watts College: No. 3 (not a ranked category last year), ahead of the University of Southern California.
  • Local government management, in the School of Public Affairs: No. 3 (3), ahead of Syracuse University and the University of Southern California.
  • Homeland security, in the School of Public Affairs: No. 3 (3), ahead of Harvard, Columbia and George Washington universities.
  • Project management, in W. P. Carey: No. 5 (4), ahead of the University of Texas.
  • Environmental policy, in the School of Public Affairs: tied for No. 5 (8), ahead of Columbia and Harvard universities.
  • Nonprofit management, in the School of Community Resources and Development: No. 5 (9), ahead of New York University and American University.
  • Leadership, in the School of Public Affairs: No. 5 (6), ahead of Harvard, the University of Southern California and Ohio State.
  • Urban policy, in the School of Public Affairs: tied for No. 5 (5), ahead of the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Chicago and Harvard.
  • Information systems, in W. P. Carey: No. 7 (13), ahead of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California at Berkeley.
  • Elementary teacher education, in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College: No. 7 (13), ahead of Ohio State and Stanford.
  • Business analytics, in W. P. Carey: No. 10 (11), ahead of Duke, Columbia and the University of Michigan.

Overall, 33 graduate degree programs at ASU were in the top 20, including special education and production/operations, both 11th, and accounting and secondary teacher education, both 12th.

“The scholarship and research of our graduate students and faculty in graduate programs across ASU have contributed greatly to the growing national reputation of ASU as a top destination for a high quality graduate education,” said Mark Searle, executive vice president and university provost. “And, the newly released U.S. News & World Report rankings for graduate programs shine a light on the fact that our academic excellence is not siloed in a limited number of academic disciplines, but rather experienced across the university in fields as diverse as social sciences, education, business, arts and engineering.”  

U.S. News & World Report also ranked overall graduate schools.

The overall graduate program in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College tied for 11th place with the University of Southern California, and ahead of Johns Hopkins University and the University of California at Berkeley. Among public universities in this category, ASU ranked fourth. 

The School of Public Affairs graduate program tied for 13th place with American University, Columbia University, Ohio State University, the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Chicago. 

The full-time law program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law ranked as the No. 9 public law school, ahead of the University of Georgia, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The program tied for 25th place overall.

The full-time MBA degree program in the W. P. Carey School of Business ranked 30, up from 35 last year, and ahead of Ohio State, Penn State and Notre Dame. The part-part MBA program tied for 22. Overall, 11 of the 14 graduate degrees programs in W. P. Carey that were ranked were in the top 20.

“We are thrilled to see ASU’s efforts to build outstanding graduate programs for our students recognized nationally because graduate education is critical to ASU’s success,” said Elizabeth Wentz, vice provost and dean of the Graduate College at ASU. “Today’s rankings confirm that our graduate students are learning from top notch faculty, advancing research and the discovery of public value and making a difference In Arizona and around the world.”   

The data for the rankings came from statistical surveys of more than 2,100 programs and from surveys sent to more than 23,000 academics and professionals, according to U.S. News & World Report. 

The remaining degrees in the top 20 are: special education, No. 11; production/operations, No. 11; accounting, No. 12; secondary teacher education, No. 12; dispute resolution, tied for No. 13; curriculum and instruction, No. 14; educational administration, No. 14; education policy, tied for No. 15; management, tied for No. 16; health care law, tied for No. 16; public finance, No. 16; executive MBA, No. 18; industrial engineering, tied for No. 18; finance, No. 20; international business, tied for No. 20; marketing, tied for No. 20; environmental engineering, tied for No. 20; environmental law, tied for No. 20; public policy analysis, No. 20.

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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ASU 2021 Founders' Day celebrated innovators, entrepreneurs and changemakers

March 29, 2021

On Wednesday, March 24, the ASU Alumni Association and President Michael M. Crow recognized the achievements of the university’s faculty, alumni and supporters during the 2021 ASU Founders’ Day celebration. The event was attended virtually by thousands of supporters from around the globe, and friends and family of the honorees were brought in virtually as the background of the studio set to celebrate with them.

Flavio F. Marsiglia, a Regents Professor at the School of Social Work in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, was awarded the Faculty Research Achievement Award. Watch Marsiglia’s Founders’ Day video.

Jeffrey R. Wilson, an ASU professor of statistics and biostatistics with extensive experience in the biomedical, statistics and law, business management and public opinion research industries, was awarded the Faculty Service Achievement Award. Watch Wilson’s Founders’ Day video.

Brian DeMaris, an associate professor and artistic director of music theater and opera at ASU, was awarded the Faculty Teaching Achievement Award. Watch DeMaris’s Founders’ Day video.

More than 350,600 Campaign ASU 2020 donors who raised $2.3 billion to fuel ASU's innovative, world-changing educational model were awarded the Philanthropists of the Year Award. Watch the Campaign ASU 2020 Founders’ Day video.

Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint, Inc., was awarded the Alumni Achievement Award. During Goldin’s acceptance speech she said, “I remember my time fondly at ASU. And as I share with so many people that I have met along the way, but also so many students, I think that the most important thing that I learned at ASU is to just go and try. Just go and do it. And it’s up to you to really set the stage and look at the future and not look at what everybody else is doing. Satisfy your curiosity and take risks. Little did I know that those things would actually add up to being an entrepreneur and doing what I’m doing today. As Steve Jobs used to say, sometimes the dots eventually connect.” Watch Goldin’s Founders’ Day video.

After the awards were given to each honoree, Crow answered questions live from three virtual attendees from Arizona to Dubai and concluded with a question about what’s next for ASU.

“What’s to come for us is really just a greater and more impactful university," Crow said. "There’s huge forces of change all through our society – social forces, cultural forces, political forces, economic forces, technological forces — and one of the things that we know is that we’ve got to find a way to make college and advanced learning available to everybody. Available to anyone, available to families teaching at home, available to people that have been knocked out of work, available to people that weren’t able to finish college, available to people that can’t go to college, available to people that just need a little bit of enhanced learning to be able to do something new so that they can adjust to the next wave of change. Whether it’s a wave related to the pandemic or it’s a wave related to a technological advancement or a wave related to more autonomous technology that’s coming online disrupting the economy. All those things.”

After a year of disruption due to a pandemic, the Alumni Association was still able to bring together thousands of Sun Devils from around the globe to recognize an outstanding group of honorees and continue the annual tradition of celebrating ASU’s Founders’ Day to honor the past, celebrate the present and continue to invent the future.

Watch and share the 2021 Founders’ Day recorded celebration.

Top photo: President Michael M. Crow (center), President and CEO of the Alumni Association Christine K. Wilkinson (second from left), Founders' Day Chair Stephanie Mitrovic (second from right), Founders' Day honorees and Sparky at the March 24 event. Photo by Tim Trumble

Morgan Harrison

Director of strategic communications , ASU Alumni Association


Experienced public television leader to take reins as general manager of Arizona PBS

March 29, 2021

Adrienne Fairwell, a proven media leader with years of communications and public television experience, has been named general manager of Arizona PBS at Arizona State University. The appointment is effective April 19.

Fairwell comes from South Carolina Educational TV and Public Radio, where she has served as assistant general manager and vice president of marketing and community development during the past three years. Adrienne Fairwell Download Full Image

In accepting the position at Arizona PBS, Fairwell said she has great admiration for the work done by the station and is eager to build on its reputation as a trustworthy, accurate, creative and inclusive information source.

“I am thrilled to join the incredibly talented team at Arizona PBS and even more excited for the opportunity to lead, execute and elevate its mission and the mission of public media and the role it plays within local communities,” she said. “With an established reputation built on trust, I look forward to collaborating with community partners and all stakeholders to expand on the great programming, delivery platforms and audience engagement.”

Arizona PBS is a member-supported community service of ASU and is operated by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, located in downtown Phoenix. It is one of the nation’s leading public media organizations with four broadcast channels, a radio station and a growing array of digital platforms.

A trusted community resource for six decades, Arizona PBS fosters lifelong learning through quality programming, in-depth news coverage and critical educational outreach services. It is one of the country’s largest public television stations, reaching 80% of Arizona homes and 1.9 million households each week. It was recently selected as one of eight winners of the Greater Phoenix Chamber IMPACT Awards and captured the top prize in the Arizona Advocate/Small-Medium Business category.

As PBS general manager, Fairwell will report to the Cronkite School’s dean and work with Mi-Ai Parrish, managing director of ASU Media Enterprise, on university initiatives.

“Adrienne brings to the Cronkite School years of experience and a deep commitment to public television. We couldn’t be happier to have her as the new leader of Arizona PBS,” said Cronkite Interim Dean Kristin Gilger.

At SCETV, Fairwell has been responsible for brand management, audience engagement, revenue activities, partnership development, multiplatform content generation, studio and field production, local and national programming, and government transparency work.

Fairwell also has experience in developing content for television, digital and radio audiences. She incorporated both long-form and short-form stories to better connect with the viewers and listeners, and she is credited with identifying new audiences with different needs and attention spans while retaining loyal viewers.

Fairwell has also been a leader in the areas of diversity and equity. She helped establish a new partnership between SCETV and Furman University’s Riley Institute to begin a series of diversity, equity and inclusion classes to help train public media employees. In addition, she has led the streamlining of the recruitment process to be more inclusive of women, people of color, people with disabilities and veterans.

Fairwell was chosen from a pool of candidates during a search administered by Arizona PBS and Koya Partners, a recruiting firm that specializes in placing leaders in mission-driven roles. She replaces Julia Wallace, the Frank Russell Chair in the Business of Journalism at the Cronkite School, who served as interim general manager while a search for a permanent GM was conducted.

“Adrienne understands the critical importance Arizona PBS plays in this state. She is mission-focused and will work to serve the community in deep and meaningful ways,” Wallace said.

Fairwell earned a Master of Arts degree in human resource development from Webster University, Columbia, South Carolina, and a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and mass communication from the University of South Carolina, also in Columbia. She holds the internationally recognized Accreditation in Public Relations and the Certified Public Manager designations. Fairwell and her husband, Michael, and their two children plan to move to Phoenix this summer.

Yoga events bring families virtually into ASU 365 Community Union

Sun Devil family members are invited to join an ASU Family virtual yoga miniseries

March 26, 2021

Julie Bufkin wasn’t the only one in her family excited for the ASU Family virtual yoga miniseries to begin on her computer screen in her Tempe home.

For her 19-month-old son, Calvin, the ritual on the morning of Saturday, March 20, was a familiar one. Mother and son donned their pajamas and rolled out their yoga mat, water bottles and a few toys. Bufkin placed the screen high enough to be out of reach of her young toddler. ASU Family yoga series instructors Pixi Pickthall, Randi Graves and Alexandra Vlachos stand on the deck overlooking Sun Devil Stadium ASU 365 Community Union yoga instructors (from left) Pixi Pickthall, Randi Graves and Alexandra Vlachos, pose on the deck overlooking Sun Devil Stadium. The local instructors are leading the three sessions in the new ASU Family Virtual Yoga miniseries. Photo courtesy of Danny Upshaw Download Full Image

Moments later, instructor Randi Graves appeared on the Zoom screen with her maroon-colored yoga mat on the deck of Sun Devil Stadium, a sun-splashed football field stretched out behind her, and began leading the free class in beginner-level stretching and breathing exercises.

“He’s into it!,” said Bufkin, who works as a project coordinator for the College of Health Solutions and attends graduate school classes at ASU — when not busy taking care of young Calvin along with her husband, Kevin. 

“Calvin usually joins in once we get moving, and I help him place his hands and feet in position. While I might not get the best workout, I love how much fun my exercise buddy has. Of course, his favorite part is getting a little sweet treat after saying, ‘namaste.’”

The session with Graves, an expert Pilates instructor, was the first of three Saturday morning classes in the new ASU Family virtual yoga miniseries organized in partnership with ASU 365 Community Union. 

Two more sessions are scheduled for March 27 and April 3, both from 11 a.m. to noon.

Instructor  pictured overlooking Sun Devil Stadium

Randi Graves

For ASU Family, a university department whose mission is to provide engagement, resources and community for all Sun Devil family members and their students, setting up a program similar to 365 Community Union’s popular Live Well Yoga Series was a perfect fit.

“ASU Family aims to provide all of the families in Sun Devil Nation with opportunities to build their own ASU experience and participate in university events, activities and programs,” said Kellyn Johnson, the director of ASU Family Programs. “We’re excited to partner with the ASU 365 Community Union on the yoga series, and share this opportunity for family members of all ages to move together and join us in Sun Devil Stadium from anywhere in the world.

“We want to continue to grow these types of opportunities for all of our families as we expand opportunities to connect as a community and engage with all that ASU has to offer,” Johnson added.

The ASU Family Virtual Yoga miniseries provides free, family-friendly and healthy fun, led by certified yoga instructors experienced in teaching beginner-level moves for yogis of all ages. More than 60 ASU families and students tuned in for the March 20 event with Graves, who specializes in mindfulness and holistic wellness.

Pixi Pickthall, who teaches fun and inclusive yoga classes for all ages, levels and bodies, will lead the Saturday, March 27, class. With a background in crisis intervention, child welfare and Thai boxing, Pickthall's classes help students feel into the body and intuitively find movement to help regulate the body and emotions. During her session, she plans to guide participants through a safe place to practice yoga as preventative maintenance, so that when a crisis arises they have the tools to assist in their own deescalation.

The final session on Saturday, April 3, will be led by Alexandra Vlachos, who owns Meraki Yoga AZ and who specializes in yoga for children with autism as well as trauma-informed yoga for adults. 

Vlachos said she plans to focus on mindfulness, to help participants to stay in the present moment.

“When we are practicing yoga we aren’t thinking about what we ate for breakfast that morning, or anything else we have done or have to do that day,” she said. “One of the ways my class centers around this concept is with breathing exercises that are simple and fun for all ages to learn. They are stress-reducing and calming — something we could all use a little more of during the past year or so.”

Instructor Alexandra Vlachos stretches on her yoga mat overlooking Sun Devil Stadium

Yoga instructor Alexandra Vlachos will be leading the third session in the ASU Family Virtual Yoga miniseries on April 3. Photo courtesy of Danny Upshaw

The instructor encourages everyone to try out the upcoming yoga classes, regardless of physical ability.

“If you skip out on yoga because you’ve never tried, or you don’t think you’re ‘flexible’ enough, I like to joke that it’s like saying you’re ‘too dirty to take a bath.’ You have to start somewhere and this is a great place to try!”

ASU Family organized the partnership series with a similar goal — that Sun Devil family members seeking fun, healthy activities for the entire family would join the classes. The sessions are also open to ASU students, including Sun Devils who have young families of their own.

Johnson said ASU Family reached out to the ASU 365 Community Union team looking for ideas to connect families to programs more intentionally.

“Through our family communications platform, the ASU Family Hub, we saw tremendous interest in the weekly ASU 365 Community Union Yoga events. We were delighted when they proposed an all-ages, all-levels family mini-series.”

ASU’s free stadium yoga program began in September 2019 and was all about making yoga accessible to the community, according to Kimberly Inglese, ASU 365 Community Union’s marketing and sales coordinator. The pandemic’s emergence in early 2020 forced them to adapt quickly.

“We turned our stadium yoga program into a virtual yoga program, which actually grew the attendance of our program significantly because it became more accessible to people,” Inglese said. “We saw class sizes double — some even reaching 100-plus attendees tuning in on Zoom. Transitioning from live in-person classes to a virtual space was an adjustment for everyone, but we are so lucky that we get to create this opportunity and bring the community together.”

The Live Well Virtual Stadium Yoga series was recently named "Best Virtual Exercise Program" in Phoenix Magazine’s 2020 “Best of Our Valley” issue, an honor that Inglese credits to “the incredible cast of local yoga instructors who partner with us.”

Although the limitations imposed for health and safety reasons have created a challenge, the virtual series is a great start toward the Community Union’s mission to utilize Sun Devil Stadium 365 days a year.

Inglese looks forward to the return of in-person events once it is safe to do so. 

“We plan to bring back some of our amazing community events like Movies on the Field and ASU Pow Wow. Plus, we cannot wait to bring our Concert Series back to the Coca-Cola Sun Deck, and we're currently developing our first major exhibition to debut in 2022.

Inglese said they also hope to bring back partnership event ideas put on hold because of COVID-19, such as a food festival with the Hawker Street Market and TopGolf Live.

In the meantime, virtual yoga sessions have become a star attraction. For parents like Bufkin, the virtual classes meant more than an exercise opportunity. By the time her son was old enough to sit upright and they were ready to participate in social activities with other kids, the spread of COVID-19 made that impossible.

“As time went on, more virtual options became available, but Calvin was too young and I was frankly too exhausted to attend programming designed just for parents,” Bufkin said. 

Then she found out from her neighbor, who happens to be Pickthall, that she was teaching yoga classes for families. Bufkin signed up immediately. 

“Finally, we had a chance to do something relaxing together in our living room or on the patio "with" other people, and it was OK if we didn't follow along exactly or had to pause for interruptions,” she said, adding that her son mostly left her alone while he roamed around the room, between the occasional snuggles.

Instructor  leads a yoga class from Sun Devil Stadium

Pixi Pickthall

Bufkin said she was looking forward to another virtual class with Pickthall.

“I love how Pixi incorporates mental health and parenting advice, how she makes me laugh and never makes me feel guilty. I'll admit I cried after the first class. It was a tremendous relief to have support for our physical, mental and social welfare when there seemed to be not much else for infants/toddlers and their parents. I'm excited to have this community where he can learn and move with me.”

Graves, the instructor for the first ASU Family yoga class, despite not being able to see the participants in the webinar format, offered encouragement to her all-ages audience as she led them through about 45 minutes of stretches and breathing exercises.

“Be gentle with yourself, but try,” she said about halfway through. “No one’s judging you, just have some fun. I’m so proud of you for showing up.”

ASU families are welcome to register for any of the miniseries sessions through the ASU Family Hub. Sun Devils are welcome to sign up through the student registration. Explore even more engagement activities for Sun Devil families with the ASU Family Events Calendar.

Jim Brophy

Communications specialist, Educational Outreach and Student Services


Film producer Ted Hope to co-lead new entertainment program at ASU Thunderbird

Innovative LA-based master's degree in leadership, management and creative processes featured at ASU's Sidney Poitier New American Film School

March 23, 2021

Ted Hope, the former co-head at Amazon Movies, will join Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management as the marquee professor of practice in the new Master of Arts in Global Affairs and Management in the Creative Industries (MGCI). Powered by Thunderbird, the MGCI is a collaborative effort between two ASU colleges, linked together through the Sidney Poitier New American Film School. 

The unique graduate degree program will begin in the 2021 fall semester in downtown Los Angeles at the ASU California Center in the historic Herald Examiner building. The MGCI is designed for learners interested in pursuing global leadership and management careers in entertainment, film/television/new media, music, VR/XR/MR, gaming, design, dance, fashion, theater, sports, themed entertainment and the arts. The program is both for managers who want to learn creative competencies and for creatives seeking management expertise. Ted Hope, the former Co-Head at Amazon Movies, will join Arizona State University as a professor of practice based in the new ASU California Center Ted Hope, the former co-head at Amazon Movies, will join Thunderbird and the Herberger Institute as a professor of practice based in the new ASU California Center. Download Full Image

As a professor of practice, Hope will share his 30-plus years of experience directly with students, tapping his expertise in development, production and executive stewardship along with a distinct inner-working knowledge of streaming services and the entertainment industry as a whole.

Starting with the 2021 fall semester, Hope will co-teach the leadoff class of the MGCI and will teach experienced professionals in Thunderbird Executive Education courses and in select undergraduate courses in the Sidney Poitier New American Film School, which is part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Additionally, Hope will spearhead a burgeoning ASU Film Spark Global Vision Lab, which is being designed to spur tomorrow's business and content innovations while fostering a more diverse, equitable and inclusive industry workforce.

Hope, whose initial engagement with the university was through ASU Film Spark, was inspired by ASU’s commitment to access and inclusion, reflected in the ASU Charter, and the university’s No. 1 ranking as the most innovative in the nation.

“The evolution of the creative industries continues to move on a seismic scale, requiring new outlooks, practices and processes, and on an increasingly more urgent basis,” Hope said. “The various creative communities I have been fortunate to be part of over these three decades in the film business have guided and mentored me in profound ways, inspiring me to do the same for others. Thunderbird, Herberger Institute, ASU and I share the same mission to not just always be learning and innovating but to make sure we measure ourselves on how inclusive we can be. Big change is coming and we are all going to be better prepared for it. I thought I had big ideas, but Thunderbird’s dwarf mine, yet together I think we will spark a bonfire of opportunity. Watch this space!”

Hope led Amazon’s entry into feature-film production and acquisitions, overseeing Oscar-winning films “Manchester by the Sea” and “The Salesman” as well as this year’s Academy Award-nominated “Sound of Metal” and the documentary “Time.” He is recognized for producing over 70 independent films over the last few decades, and currently has multiple new film releases in production, including “The Tender Bar” starring Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan and Lily Rabe and directed by George Clooney, the documentary “Invisible Nation” directed by Vanessa Hope, and “Cassandro” starring Gael García Bernal and directed by Oscar-winning director Roger Ross Williams.

The unique graduate degree program will begin in the 2021 fall semester in downtown Los Angeles at the ASU California Center in the historic Herald Examiner building.

The MGCI graduate degree program will begin in the 2021 fall semester in downtown Los Angeles at the ASU California Center in the historic Herald Examiner building.

Hope has long had an interest in education and thought leadership, having served as executive director of the San Francisco Film Society, where he created the Artist to Entrepreneur program, and as a founder of NYU’s Cinema Research Institute. His book, “Hope for Film: A Producer’s Journey Across the Revolutions of Indie Film and Global Streaming,” is a bestseller on college campuses and is in its second edition.

"Ted Hope is a unicorn — a vanguard global entertainment executive, a legend of independent film, and so much more,” said Sanjeev Khagram, Thunderbird director general and dean. “He’ll use his visionary storytelling talents and deep practical and entrepreneurial experience to help us produce a graduate degree like no other in the world while giving our students invaluable insights into 21st-century creative processes and enterprises.

“The MGCI program is based in the global creative capital of the world, Los Angeles, as ASU opens the revitalized Herald Examiner building and a key pillar of Thunderbird’s LA Regional Center of Excellence," Khagram said. "Our students will have access to cutting-edge learning and networking opportunities with thriving enterprises across the multimedia landscape along with expert faculty like Ted Hope to guide them into a future of their imagining."

The collaboration of ASU’s Thunderbird School and the Herberger Institute is designed to provide new, affordable, local options and innovative programs like the MGCI and related Film Spark events, intended to serve global learners and provide greater access to opportunity.

“We are combining the global leadership of Thunderbird with the largest comprehensive design and arts college in America to offer a first-of-its-kind degree — preparing graduates to lead and manage creative teams in one of the fastest-growing, most dynamic global sectors of our economy,” said Steven J. Tepper, dean and director of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “Ted Hope is an innovator and a perfect fit to help launch this exciting collaboration.”

Apply or get more information on Thunderbird’s MGCI degree.

Jonathan Ward

Associate Director, Media Relations & Strategic Messaging, Thunderbird School of Global Management


Tillman Honor Runs hosted in cities across US

ASU Alumni Association, Pat Tillman Foundation organize in-person runs in 13 locations

March 18, 2021

On April 24, Arizona State University alumni, Sun Devil fans and members of the military community will run or walk 4.2 miles to honor Pat Tillman’s legacy.

Each year, the ASU Alumni Association, in partnership with the Pat Tillman Foundation, organizes Tillman Honor Runs across the country. This year, select ASU alumni chapters and clubs throughout the United States will be offering in-person Honor Runs. From California to New York, communities are coming together to celebrate the impact of Sun Devil and Army Ranger Pat Tillman. 2020 Virtual Tillman Honor Runner in L.A. A Los Angeles Sun Devil participates in a 2020 virtual Tillman Honor Run. Download Full Image

Cities offering in-person Tillman Honor Runs are Flagstaff, Arizona; Lakeside, Arizona; Tucson, Arizona; Newport Beach, California; Sacramento, California; San Diego; Boise, Idaho; Chicago; Minneapolis; St. Louis; New York; Austin, Texas; and Fort Worth, Texas.

Participants and volunteers will be required to wear a mask during the in-person Honor Runs, and each event will have a limited capacity of 50 participants. Runs will follow local health and safety guidelines.

Don’t see your city? Not to worry — there are still plenty of ways to get involved and support the Pat Tillman Foundation. Pat’s Run is being held virtually this year, so runners and walkers can complete their 4.2 miles from anywhere across the globe. Young Sun Devils are encouraged to get involved through kid’s races, where they can run or walk .42 miles.      

MORE: View photos from the 2020 Virtual Tillman Honor Runs

All participants, whether attending an in-person Tillman Honor Run or virtually joining Pat’s Run, will receive a Pat’s Run 2021 T-shirt. All adult runners will receive a medal, and all virtual participants, including kids, will be sent race bibs.

Register for virtual Pat’s Run events, or sign up for a Tillman Honor Run in a city near you. Register by April 1 to ensure you receive your swag before the run.  

Macey Sierka

Student assistant, ASU Alumni Association

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ASU community to rally around causes on Sun Devil Giving Day

March 12, 2021

The Arizona State University community will come together March 18 for the annual Sun Devil Giving Day, a universitywide day of giving that has an extraordinary impact on causes at ASU. 

This is the eighth Sun Devil Giving Day after last year’s celebration was postponed due to the pandemic.

Supporters are invited to connect their passions with their giving and help advance their favorite causes: advancing student access, serving our community, protecting the planet, creating equity in higher education and conducting research for the public good.

“Sun Devil Giving Day is a great way to give to support students, faculty and programs or causes that you care about at ASU,” said alumnus Bill Kavan, '92, associate vice president of donor engagement and outreach. “It gives ASU the margin of excellence it needs to innovate and elevate the university experience for all students, faculty and staff.”

In 2019, more than 9,300 supporters gave a record-breaking $11.4 million on Sun Devil Giving Day to support ASU students, faculty, staff, programs and causes.

The impact of private support stretches far beyond the university. Undergraduate student Brian-Kalani Headen, who has greatly benefited from the generosity of ASU donors, is inspired to give back to his community. 

Donor support has allowed Headen to pursue biomedical engineering and focus on biomedical devices that help people who suffer brain or spinal cord injuries.

“What has been given me, I want to put back into the world,” Headen said. “My whole mission statement, you could say, is to use what they gave me so I can help others.”

This day of giving makes a difference all year long as Sun Devil Giving Day donors continue to positively impact and serve our communities. Their gifts to the Arizona Legal Center, housed in the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, changed the lives of our community’s most at-risk and underserved populations by providing legal services to those in need. 

On the Polytechnic campus, students are tending to the Garden Commons to learn about sustainable food systems and sharing their produce with local food banks. It is through these innovative sustainability initiatives donors are making it possible for ASU to contribute to a better future for our planet.

There are many ways to participate in Sun Devil Giving Day:

  • Give to your passion; it’s here at ASU.

  • Join the discussion on social media by following ASU Foundation on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

  • Share a story using the hashtag #SunDevilGiving and encourage family and friends to do the same.

  • Students can cast a vote for their favorite cause and $1 will be donated to their passion area thanks to the generosity of Desert Financial Credit Union. In honor of Sun Devil Giving Day, it will give $1 per vote, up to $5,000, as part of their Random Acts of Kindness campaign.

Shayla Angeline Cunico

Student digital content specialist , ASU Enterprise Partners


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Contactless COVID-19 test kits provide convenience, critical virus data

ASU students cite convenience of no-appointment drop-off COVID-19 saliva tests.
March 12, 2021

No-appointment Devils’ drop-off service available at more than 30 locations across four campuses

The no-appointment Devils’ drop-off service — the latest in Arizona State University's free, saliva-based COVID-19 testing — makes it easier for Sun Devils to test regularly and provides ASU with vital virus contact-tracing details.

The new testing optionThe drive-thru testing locations will continue to operate. began in the spring 2021 semester and allows students and employees to take a test whenever fits their schedule. Regular testing is an important way to stay aware of any infections that may occur and to help reduce virus spread.

“If we can increase the participation more, we are likely to identify potential positives and then likely to increase the contract-tracing efforts in the community and stop the spread of the virus,” said Vel Murugan, an associate research professor at the ASU Biodesign Institute, where he oversees the development of diagnostic testing. As more people test regularly, Biodesign leaders have greater data for virus mitigation efforts.

ASU Biodesign created Devils’ drop-off as a frictionless testing experience — no appointment needed — and to boost access to COVID-19 testing. People now may pick up a Devils’ drop-off kit at one of over 30 locations across four Valley campuses. Users go online to register the barcodes found on the sample tube, find a private area to provide their saliva sample and then drop off their kit at a pick-up location. Staff then transport the kits to the Biodesign Institute for processing.

Signage points to a Devils dropoff COVID testing location

The Devils’ drop-off sites allow students, faculty and staff the convenience of picking up and dropping off ASU’s saliva-based COVID-19 tests at numerous locations on all four campuses in the Valley, such as the Computing Commons in Coor Hall on the Tempe campus (pictured). No appointment is needed — just grab a kit (clear bin), register the test tube online, provide a sample, then drop it off (gray bin). Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Student Trey Leveque is a fourth-year triple business major and on-campus student worker. He said that his friends previously had resisted COVID-19 testing because they didn’t have a car or couldn’t make a last-minute appointment.

“(Devils’ drop-off) kind of eliminates all of those barriers that come with getting tested, so it makes it really easy for people,” Leveque said. “It’s so amazing when I’m on campus … to be able to just go pick up a kit and drop it off at my convenience.” 

The benefits of Devils’ drop-off and quick test results make Katherine Hostal, a junior studying finance and business law, feel that more people will get tested regularly. She said her recent test processed via Devils’ drop-off came back in nearly 24 hours.

“(Devils’ drop-off) quite literally is the most effective and efficient testing that they’re probably going to have access to in the Valley,” Hostal said.

Biodesign Institute laboratory staff pivoted to integrate the new streamlined service with unique driving routes to pick up kits across all campuses.

“We’re actually able to ensure an almost faster turnaround time with Devil’s drop-off,” said Valerie Harris, a Biodesign Institute clinical laboratory manager.

While testing is necessary for virus management, ASU Biodesign researchers also select students willing to provide details about their virus exposure. As more students use Devils’ drop-off, researchers have the opportunity to obtain crucial information about the virus’s effect on the student population. 

“We measure their antibodies, their virus load, their antigen” throughout their illness and afterward, Harris said.

Murugan said this research is essential as there is still much about the virus we don’t yet know. As vaccines continue to roll out, Murugan, who himself participated in a vaccine trial, cautions Sun Devils that the virus won’t merely go away. He said that COVID-19 testing would remain a vital part of ensuring a healthy campus.

“This is not the time for us to put our guards down,” he said.  

How it works

A photo collage showing the steps involved in using a COVID saliva test kit

Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU News

1. Pick up a test kit at one of over 30 locations across four Valley campuses.

2. Log into or Patient Portal and select "Devils' drop-off" on the left or the drop-down menu. Enter the two barcodes on your test tube. After entering the barcodes, you have 24 hours to collect your sample and drop it off.

3. When you're ready to take the test, rinse your mouth out with water for 20-30 seconds and then spit it out. Then wait half an hour — do not eat, drink, smoke, vape or chew gum for those 30 minutes.

4. Using the straw, fill the tube with saliva till it's between the maximum and minimum fill lines, not counting bubbles.

5. Cap the tube and wipe it with the provided sanitizer wipe. Put the tube in the provided bag and seal it. 

6. Within one hour of collecting your sample, drop the sealed bag with the filled tube to one of the Devils' drop-off locations.

7. Wait for a text or email that lets you know your test results are ready. Results are usually ready within 24-48 hours.

Top photo illustration by Deanna Dent/ASU News

Editor associate , Office of Business and Finance


ASU Interplanetary Initiative launches new podcast partnership with Slate

Listen to thought-leaders imagining, designing and building the future of humans in space

March 12, 2021

The ASU Interplanetary Initiative has announced their partnership with Slate on a new podcast — "Mission: Interplanetary."

"Mission: Interplanetary" is a weekly podcast hosted by former NASA astronaut Cady Coleman and scientist and author Andrew Maynard. Each episode features the hosts engaging with experts about the big questions, challenges and mysteries humans face as we venture out to explore the solar system and beyond.  Download Full Image

Slate will livestream a special live episode of "Mission: Interplanetary" on YouTube and Facebook at noon, PST, March 17. Hosts Coleman and Maynard will be talking about the Mars Perseverance mission with Jim Bell, Mastcam-Z instrument principal investigator and professor at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. The live episode will also feature a special surprise guest.

Slate, which averages 20 million unique visitors a month, produces and distributes more than 25 podcast series. Lance Gharavi, the producer of "Mission: Interplanetary," said, “We’re becoming an interplanetary species. It’s probably the greatest collective endeavor we’ve ever attempted. 'Mission: Interplanetary' is about the big questions facing us as we seek to build positive futures beyond the bounds of Earth.” 

"Mission: Interplanetary" launches March 23. You can find it on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Taryn Struck

Manager of Marketing and Publicity, Interplanetary Initiative