ASU center 'mixes it up' with virtual art exhibit honoring National Hispanic Heritage Month

September 22, 2020

The Hispanic Research Center at Arizona State University is home to an extensive collection of work by Hispanic artists. Over the years, the center has showcased this collection through a variety of in-person art shows, exhibitions and tours. Now, for the first time in its 35-year history, the center has launched a virtual art exhibit highlighting the work of artists of Mexican descent. 

Founded in 1985, the Hispanic Research Center is a research unit of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that serves the university and broader community through its academic exploration and distribution of resources in areas of importance to Hispanic culture.  "The Return to Aztlan," Alfredo Arreguín. Oil on canvas, 2005. Image courtesy of the Hispanic Research Center. Download Full Image

Jean Andino, interim director of the Hispanic Research Center and associate professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, said center staff were motivated to find new and engaging ways to make artwork from their collection accessible.

“Obviously in this time of COVID-19 things are a little bit different than they normally would be,” Andino said. “But we're so excited about the possibility of doing a lot more with the community and I’m encouraged by the enthusiasm that exists within the team.”

The virtual tour, titled “Mixing it Up,” features 12 videos narrated by Santiago Moratto, senior research specialist, and produced by Brandon Ortega, media specialist. In each video, Moratto gives a brief description of the work and shares context about the artist and subject matter. The exhibit showcases 10 pieces from the collection that were specially selected to celebrate and honor National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Each artwork depicts themes involving United States’ Hispanic identity including immigration, spirituality, traditional food and drink, and farmworker iconography. These themes are meant to provoke thought and discussion of social issues that are prevalent in present U.S. society. 

Andino said “Mixing it Up” is the first of many virtual art exhibits, with plans to curate more in the coming months. Aside from virtual art exhibits, the center is involved in a number of other projects across the university. With the recent passing of Gary Keller, the center’s longtime director, Andino was appointed interim director. She said she and the team remain determined to move ongoing projects forward while expanding the center’s reach. 

“Ultimately, when we start talking about social justice and social equity, it's crucial to have organizations that are able to speak to the needs of the community,” Andino said. “The Hispanic Research Center has the ability to bring diverse voices into the discussion and if you're trying to develop solutions for society, it's important to have all voices represented. We're always looking for new ideas and new opportunities to do collaborative work that will really impact the Hispanic community and the community in general.”

One of the center’s largest efforts is the Bilingual Press, a publisher that has produced literary works, scholarship and art books by or about Hispanics in the U.S. since 1973. The Bilingual Press has a catalog of 200 books authored by both established and emerging writers in English, Spanish and bilingual formats. 

In addition to the Bilingual Press, the center also leads the Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities, a regional alliance of community colleges, four-year colleges and universities that seeks to expand opportunities for students in Arizona, Colorado and Utah. The program specifically focuses on enhancing and diversifying student inclusion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

As an Afro-Latina woman in STEM, Andino said she feels passionate about the center’s work and hopes its efforts will lead to creating a more culturally diverse, accepting community.

“It’s critically important to have an organization like the Hispanic Research Center that is meant to provide some additional knowledge, especially in this day and age, so that we can all better understand how to interface with each other. The Hispanic population is such a diverse group of individuals — the center represents these different cultures and allows their voices to be heard.”

Emily Balli

Communications Specialist and Lead Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Live from ASU continues virtual concert series this fall

Free live concerts featuring Omar Apollo and D Smoke

September 21, 2020

After presenting Jason Derulo and Icona Pop this summer to thousands of people digitally, Live from ASU is back this fall with more live music on a screen near you with two virtual concerts. Presented by the ASU 365 Community Union, the concerts feature two fresh artists in Omar Apollo and D Smoke. Both artists pay tribute to their diverse cultures and will offer something lively and engaging in a live digital format for the ASU Community and the public.

Mexican American bilingual singer-songwriter Omar Apollo will perform live in the first fall concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8. The second concert features D Smoke, a former Inglewood High Spanish teacher turned breakout star of Netflix’s "Rhythm + Flow," at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12. Both artists produce bilingual music that highlights their own experiences growing up in multicultural environments. Omar Apollo laying on blue silk floor Omar Apollo will perform live in the fall virtual concert series Live from ASU presented by ASU 365 Community Union. Download Full Image

“The shows must go on — and they will with ‘Live from ASU,” said Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU vice president for cultural affairs. “These virtual concerts are reflective of the diversity of our community and will bring the energy and excitement of a live show, plus the intimacy of a postshow Q&A with the artist.”

The Q&A will be hosted by an ASU student and members of the community can begin submitting questions now using the hashtag #ASULive for an opportunity to have their question answered.

The ASU concert series "Live from ASU" was conceived by ASU President Michael Crow as a way to engage with students and the ASU community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each performance will be an opportunity to reinforce ASU’s commitment to students and its culture of innovation, as well as provide an interactive shared experience with artists.

The ASU community and the public can tune in to watch each livestream at Concerts will be broadcast live in Mountain Standard Time and will not be available for replay or redistribution.

Omar Apollo
7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8

Apollo, a 22-year-old, first-generation Mexican American singer from Indiana, began writing and recording his own mix of jazz, R&B, funk, alternative, soul, and pop music. His parents moved to the U.S. to give their kids a better life and the opportunity to go to college; however, Apollo always knew this route wasn’t meant for him. He began playing guitar at 12 years old, but quit soon after because he got bored of only playing in church. At age 18, he began listening to new styles of music and fell in love with the guitar again. His biggest influences are Benny Sings, D'Angelo, Los Panchos, John Mayer, Elliott Smith, Cuco Sánchez, Paul Simon, Gary Numan and João Gilberto. In 2019, Apollo completed back-to-back sell-out headlining tours throughout North America.

D Smoke
7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12

Hailing from Inglewood, California, Smoke personifies the city’s potent cultural duality: ​nurtured by the boulevards, and ​natured​ by a family’s legacy in gospel music. Smoke dove fingers-first into classical piano at the age of 6, honing his talents in church, and eventually lending vocals to Michael Jackson. Focusing on the creative arts helped him to circumvent the throes of violence present on his doorstep and propel himself into the classrooms of UCLA. During his matriculation, D Smoke was a beacon of light for his city, becoming a voice for the voiceless, using language, culture and music as tools to bridge institutionalized gaps and spread the gospel of a united Los Angeles culture. During the same years he spent in Westwood, D Smoke gained a unique and immersive industry experience by collaborating across genres with everyone from Usher, Babyface, Mary J Blige and Jahiem, to Missy Elliot, Timbaland and the Pussycat Dolls. His hard work garnered an ASCAP ​Song Of The Year ​award. After college, he taught Spanish at Inglewood High, applying his personal experiences as an alumnus and lifelong city resident to create a safe space for students to truly express themselves openly.

As of 2019, D Smoke gained global notoriety as champion and undisputed breakout star of Netflix’s ​"Rhythm + Flow."​ Smoke showcased himself as a raw lyricist, classically-trained musician and social activist with “something to say” — and nothing left to prove. The ​"Inglewood High" ​EP, released on Oct. 24, 2019, reveals the beauty and frustration of today’s Inglewood through the eyes of his former students, while capturing the essence of the city that raised him.

Kimberly Inglese

Marketing and Sales Coordinator, ASU 365 Community Union


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ASU Alumni Association business awards hit milestone in 5th year

ASU alum went from selling T-shirts to tailgaters to winning Sun Devil 100.
September 18, 2020

Sun Devil 100 event honors a full complement of top firms led by alumni

David Freedman’s entrepreneurial journey spanned a wide range of experiences at Arizona State University. He went from selling T-shirts at Sun Devil Stadium as a student in the early 2000s to winning the 2020 Sun Devil 100 award for having the fastest-growing business created, owned or led by an ASU alumnus.

Freestar, which was named as the top Sun Devil 100 company on Sept. 17, is an advertising technology firm co-founded by Freedman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in real estate in 2005, and Chris Stark, who earned a master’s degree in real estate development in 2011. They started Freestar in 2015 and now have 62 employees.

“I’m from Philadelphia and people who know me know I have a lot of Philadelphia pride, but now I call Phoenix home and that all started with ASU,” Freedman said during the Zoom celebration.

“W. P. Carey is what drew me to Arizona State and the Palm Walk definitely did not hurt either, coming from the East Coast.”

Freedman started selling T-shirts to tailgaters in Lot 59 and later walked along Mill Avenue selling ads for local calendars before meeting Stark.

“None of this is possible without ASU and the incredible community that’s been built here,” Freedman said.

This was the fifth Sun Devil 100 event, and the first year that a full 100 companies were eligible to be honored by the ASU Alumni Association. All nominated firms have to have been in business at least three years, have annual revenues of at least $250,000 and be founded or led by an ASU alumnus.

The 100 businesses are owned by 127 former Sun Devils who have earned 155 degrees from ASU, across every college.

The Sun Devil 100 Class of 2020 had revenues of $6.1 billion and employ more than 10,200 people in 10 states. The firms include the well-known Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup, Dircks Moving and Logistics, and the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, whose president and CEO is Molly Terbovich-Ridenhour, who earned a master’s degree in dance in 2002. Others in the top 100 include a behavioral health agency, a fitness business, a talent-booking agency, a pizza restaurant, two wineries, a Virginia-based architecture and design firm, and Tommy John, a New York-based clothing brand founded by Erin Fujimoto and Tom Patterson, two alums who cashed in their 401k accounts to reimagine men’s underwear.

The Sun Devil 100 event was hosted by Ray Schey, publisher of the Phoenix Business Journal, and Kylee Cruz, reporter and anchor for AZ Family and a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU. They were in a studio during the event and interviewed the winners, David Freedman (right) and Chris Stark, via Zoom. Photo by Tim Trumble

Rounding out the top 10 of the class of 2020 were:

2. Design Pickle, a graphics-design subscription service founded by Russ Perry, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies in 2005.

3. SeaBay Building Group, a construction firm co-founded by R. Vincent Switzer, who earned a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management in 2004 and an MBA in 2007. The company’s chief operating officer is J. Armando Martinez, who earned a bachelor’s degree in construction management in 2005.

4. Tallwave, a marketing and public relations company founded by Jeffrey Pruitt, who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1994.

5. MDSL, a technology company that has four former Sun Devils in leadership: Charles Layne, CEO, bachelor’s degree in marketing, 1998; Aaron Zeper, vice president, bachelor’s degree in finance, 1995; Rob Stratton, marketing director, bachelor’s degree in marketing, 2006, and Tom Feeley, vice president for global sales, bachelor’s degree in marketing, 1992.

6. Print.Save.Repeat, a toner cartridge business founded by Errol Berry, who earned a bachelor’s degree in supply-chain management in 2002.

7. Envida, a marketing and public-relations firm owned by 2006 graduates Alana Millstein, who earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and Candie Guay, who earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

8. Pinnacle Growth Advisers, a human-resources and labor-relations firm founded by Brent Orsuga, who also is the president and who earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in 2000.

9. Willmeng Construction, whose president and CEO is James Murphy, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in construction, in 1998 and 2009.

10. Press Coffee, co-owned by Jason Kyle, who earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1994.

The event highlighted seven alumni whose businesses have been honored all five years: Errol Berry, of Print.Save.Repeat; Kathleen Duffy Ybarra, of the Duffy Group; Jennifer Kaplan, of Evolve Public Relations and Marketing; Joel McFadden of Fan Interactive Marketing; Matt Michalowski of PXL; Cliff Schertz of Tiempo; and Lisa VanBockern of Skin Script.

VanBockern, who earned bachelor’s degrees in accountancy and computer information systems, said the Sun Devil 100 has strengthened her bond with ASU.

“When I graduated in 1998, I took my two diplomas and put them in $3 wood frames,” she said.

She joined the ASU Alumni Association, but was not active. She founded Skin Script, an online retailer of skin-care products, in 2007.

“One day I got the Sun Devil 100 email. I loved ASU and I had such a great experience, I thought, ‘I’ll nominate myself,’” she said.

VanBocken had endowed a scholarship, but after being honored for the first time, in 2015, when she was one of only three women, she increased the amount of the endowment and became involved in Women in Philanthropy, part of the ASU Foundation.

“I’m glad this program was developed because it brings me back to ASU and the warm feelings I had of when I was going to college,” she said.

“My diplomas have been reframed in much more expensive frames in my office, along with my Sun Devil 100 awards.”

The entrepreneurs also received congratulations from Jake Plummer, the quarterback who led the Sun Devils to an undefeated regular season and the 1996 championship of what was then the Pac-10. He said that’s he’s now an entrepreneur himself, launching ReadyList Pro, an interactive football playbook training platform.

“I’m warning you – I’m a competitor, so watch out. I’ll be vying for that No. 1 spot someday,” said Plummer, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame last year.

Watch the Sun Devil 100 event recording and view the complete ranked list.

Top image by Tim Trumble

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU ranked No. 1 in innovation for 6th year by US News and World Report

September 13, 2020

As world's challenges grow more complex, new ideas are needed more than ever — and ASU's creative minds are finding solutions from the ocean to the reaches of space

Editor’s note:  This story is being highlighted in ASU Now’s year in review. Read more top stories from 2020.

Long before it was a buzzword, innovation was a concept that Arizona State University embraced in the name of reimagining the role of an institution of higher education.

Over the past several years, that credo has manifested in a host of breakthroughs, advancements and transformations. In recognition of the university’s culture of discovery, U.S. News & World Report has announced that it has named ASU the most innovative university in the nation for the sixth year in a row, as well as one of the top 50 public schools in the U.S.

“Innovation is infused in ASU’s DNA because we are designed to spark, support and manifest new ideas,” President Michael Crow said. “Innovation can be found at all levels of our education, our research and our community engagement. It drives our perpetual evolution and it will continue to guide us as we work toward solutions to the next great challenges of a complex future.”

The ranking is based on a survey of peers that includes college presidents, provosts and admissions deans from around the country who nominate up to 15 schools that are making the most innovative improvements to and for curricula, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities, according to the magazine.

After ASU, U.S. News & World Report ranked the most innovative universities for 2021 as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue. Rounding out the top 10 this year are Stanford, California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon, University of Maryland – Baltimore County and Elon University.

In addition to ranking No. 1 in innovation, ASU earned multiple spots on the badge-eligible list of 2021 Best Colleges. U.S. News badges are widely recognized as symbols of excellence in higher education that are conferred by an unbiased trust agent.

Those rankings include:

  • No. 9 in First-Year Experiences. For the second year in a row, ASU’s Tempe campus ranked ninth in the nation — outperforming Brown University, Princeton University and University of Texas at Austin — for its commitment to helping students transition from high school and community college to life at a four-year university. This fall, the First-Year Success Center – which is home to Game Changers, a program specifically for first-generation freshmen – has expanded its remote options to include Zoom sessions with peer coaches and other digital support services, including YouTube videos on how to successfully work in ASU Sync, coaching communities through Slack and one-on-one coach-student texting through SalesForce. 
  • No. 16 in Undergraduate Teaching. ASU is among the top 20 in the nation for undergraduate teaching, with its more than 4,700 faculty members counting five MacArthur fellows, five Nobel laureates, seven Pulitzer Prize winners and hundreds of other award recipients among them. In recent years, ASU has expanded the use of adaptive learning, a personalized method of teaching that combines online and classroom work, and offers a vast array of undergraduate research opportunities. In this category, ASU was ranked ahead of Carnegie Mellon University, MIT and Emory University, among others.
  • No. 19 in Senior Capstones. ASU moved up nine spots from No. 28 last year with the variety and robustness of its senior capstone experiences. Sometimes referred to as a senior thesis, these are large, multifaceted projects that integrate knowledge and skills from the student's years of undergraduate studies. At ASU, those can range from prototyping a robotic explorer for the Psyche asteroid, to delving into how exposure to different media affects people's attitude toward social change, to helping a real-world vehicle-management firm better project its inventory based on repairs data. ASU tied with — among others — the Georgia Institute of Technology, and it was ranked ahead of Swarthmore College and Butler University.
  • No. 46 in Top Public Schools. In the overall category of top public schools, U.S. News ranked ASU among the top 50 in the nation, up seven spots from last year. ASU tied Temple University and the University of Oregon and was ranked ahead of the University of Illinois–Chicago, among others. Universities are graded on more than a dozen diverse measures of academic quality including student outcomes such as how many first-year students return for their sophomore year and how many students earn a degree in six years or less. ASU’s retention rate for first-year students is 86.7%, an increase of 10 percentage points since 2002. The university’s six-year graduation rate is 70.4%, an increase of nearly 17 percentage points since 2002.

In other accomplishments this past year, ASU achieved carbon neutrality six years earlier than its goal of 2025; researchers at the Biodesign Institute developed the state’s first saliva-based COVID-19 test; and ASU Prep Digital, launched in 2017 as a public charter school for grades nine through 12, expanded its offerings to kindergarteners through eighth graders.

This summer, when Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan began his six-year appointment as the 15th director of the National Science Foundation, Neal Woodbury took over as interim executive vice president of ASU Knowledge Enterprise. In this role, Woodbury will continue to advance ASU’s research, economic development, international development and corporate engagement and strategic partnership agendas, as well as oversee activities related to Knowledge Enterprise operations, institutes and initiatives.

“The No. 1 in innovation ranking is a welcome reminder of the mission and beliefs that fuel discovery and progress at ASU,” Woodbury said. “Particularly at a time when universities worldwide are reimagining what traditional and remote learning looks like, I am very proud of our continued efforts to innovate with speed, at scale.”

Top image: ASU scientist Jesse Senko’s solar-powered lights are rescuing sea turtles and transforming the future of sustainable fishing.

Learn more about the stories highlighted in our video:

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ASU launches Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory with audacious goal: Transforming the world for a better future

September 9, 2020

Lab will encompass new College of Global Futures, a major research institute, a solutions service and engagement initiatives

Editor’s note:  This story is being highlighted in ASU Now’s year in review. Read more top stories from 2020.

At a time of increasing challenges around the globe, successful responses and solutions depend on recognizing the complexity and interconnectedness of the Earth’s systems, both natural and societal. This includes confronting the accelerating dangers of a planet out of balance, the multiplicity of threats spurred by systemic failures — and embracing the enormous potential for humankind to set things right.

In response to current crises and driven by the belief in making positive, substantive advances, Arizona State University announced this week the launch of a laboratory dedicated to keeping our planet habitable and enhancing the options for future generations to thrive. 

Such an undertaking might seem insurmountable. We have seen wildfires ravaging Australia. Storms flooding South Asia. Heat records in the Arctic. Drought-spurred refugees. Cities in conflict due to protest movements. All disasters magnified by the global pandemic, expanding the numbers of desperate and displaced people.

Throughout the past century, giant laboratories around the world were created by governments to commit massive amounts of money and brainpower toward defense, energy research and computing. They demonstrated the capacity to achieve large and targeted results on fast timescales. Yet the designs of these enterprises have been too limited in scope to pivot and address the complex dynamics between life on our planet and the systems that support it.    

“We have decided it’s in the collective interest of humankind to build something that’s on the scale of a national laboratory in the United States, but not devoted to weapons and other defensive strategies — devoted to creative strategies and positive global futures,” said ASU President Michael Crow.

ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, building on a strong tradition of commitment to shaping a sustainable future for all humankind through innovation, will encompass a new college with three unique schools, as well as a major research institute and a practice arm devoted to solutions, each significantly enhanced by and integrated with global partnerships.

Infographic of the Global Futures Laboratory organizational structure

The Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory comprises a new college with three unique schools, as well as a major research institute and a practice arm devoted to solutions. 

Its creation represents the next quantum leap in the evolution of ASU as one of the world’s premier centers for studies of sustainability and the future of life on our planet and the systems supporting it, an evolution that started in 2004. The emergence of the Global Futures Laboratory is the outgrowth of a 16-year effort to systematically build these fields of endeavor as anchors of ASU’s discovery, learning, problem-solving and engagement mission — and at a scale unmatched by any other university or research setting. 

This includes construction of a headquarters for the laboratory, to be completed in December 2021, at a cost exceeding $200 million. The new Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 7 on the Tempe campus will be a high-performance research facility to foster an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge generation and leading-edge research across more than a dozen intellectual focal areas. The building — the largest research building on the campus — will be a hub for more than 550 faculty and scholars distributed across all ASU campuses and representing many disciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary areas dedicated to the future of our planet, as well as for more than 1,300 students in the College of Global Futures.

As the world is confronted with an increasing number of crises and accelerating complexities, “we’d better figure out what to do,” Crow said. “We’d better figure out how to become more sustainable. We’d better figure out more and better innovations for the future of our society, looking at things in a completely new and different way. And we’d better understand how to manage complexity.” 

ISTB7 rendering

An artist's rendering of the aerial view from the southeast of ISTB7, which is under construction now. Image courtesy of Grimshaw Architects/Architekton 

Peter Schlosser, one of the world’s leading Earth scientists, is leading the effort.

“We are living in an era characterized by a planetary crisis of increasing proportions. Over centuries humankind has asked our planet to give more than it has to offer and driven it toward its environmental and societal boundaries. To address this crisis under extreme time pressure, we have to face the daunting task of mobilizing intellectual and material resources of proportions never seen before, and we have to do it now,” Schlosser said.

But ambitious goals can be achieved by teamwork combined with national will, Schlosser notes. In less than a decade, for example, society marshalled its resources to land a man on the moon.

At a time when countries around the world are seeking answers to confront the existential threats facing our globe, the Global Futures Laboratory is a bold response to the necessity of concentrating significant resources to make necessary advances. 

This requires a holistic approach. For example, climate change is linked with energy because humans’ energy consumption causes the problem. It also changes the water cycle, which links directly with food production and food security. Both of those affect human health and existence. 

In rethinking traditional approaches to academic work and public engagement — often too slow to ensure needed impact — the Global Futures Laboratory also aims to engage with speed and urgency to address the existential threats facing the planet and global society.

Crow calls the laboratory “a medical school for the Earth.”

COVID-19, the greatest crisis of the 21st century, has demonstrated that global challenges have left nations blindsided when faced with complex problems that affect all aspects of life.

COVID-19 erupted as a medical problem because of changes in the environment that made it easy for a pandemic to establish itself and spread globally. But it has had an immediate impact on society, restricting mobility, production, labor and the economy, plus a host of other problems no one saw coming. Ask anyone if they saw a national coin shortage looming last March. 

Problems like these will require a transdisciplinary approach. 

Peter Schlosser

Peter Schlosser is the vice president and vice provost for Global Futures at ASU. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“These are the challenges where we have to come together from different disciplines and look at an intellectual space that a single discipline cannot cover, that literally transcends each of these individual disciplines while at the same time not excluding them,” Schlosser said. The Global Futures Laboratory gives “us the ability to reach beyond any school, beyond any institute, throughout the entire university and very organically combine learning with discovery with solution with networking and engagement in one structure.”

Consider this: Decarbonizing the energy system will require the production of more renewable energy. In order to do that, societal acceptance needs to be widespread. And to be societally accepted, it has to be economically feasible and just. 

“So that’s one of these problems where you can see how all individual elements that factor into a typical challenge we are addressing come together,” Schlosser said. “We have to understand the engineering, the impact on the environment, but also the economics of it, the acceptance of options for solutions and the human decision-making. The energy transition is just one of many examples of the problems we have to address, but without solving it we will put the planet onto the brink.”

The Global Futures Laboratory will be a hub for ongoing and wide-ranging exchange across all knowledge domains to address the complex social, economic and scientific challenges spawned by current and future threats from both environmental degradation and societal dysfunction. Home to solutions-based innovations such as technology for direct air capture of carbon, globally deployable microgrids, circular economy incubation, portable self-contained educational libraries and more, Global Futures Laboratory drives impact that creates economic opportunity and resiliency while protecting the environment and striving for societal stability and justice for all, across the globe.

The laboratory’s interdisciplinary strength will be based on five pillars:

  • Learning: Exploring new ways of transmitting knowledge to diverse audiences according to their needs and priorities, including most prominently in the new College of Global Futures.
  • Discovery: Leveraging the tools and expertise of transdisciplinary research institutes, centers and facilities across ASU, anchored by the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, to generate new ideas and solve problems.
  • Solutions: Working in networks and in close exchange with the people affected by problems to combine knowledge and develop solutions with urgency — such as with the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service.
  • Networks: Partnering with leading institutions around the world, such as the Earth League, to achieve a critical mass of intellectual resources to address challenges that are too big for any individual organization to solve alone. 
  • Engagement: Engaging with people who are affected by a problem to understand their needs, learn from their knowledge, share ideas and mobilize action.
Global Futures Laboratory key topic areas

The Global Futures Laboratory will be based on five pillars — learning, discovery, solutions, networks and engagement — with key topics being explored across disciplines. 

The newly established College of Global Futures gives ASU the ability to understand and transform a complex system like the Earth by focusing on transformation, innovation and complexity. It will comprise three schools: the School of Sustainability, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the new School of Complex Adaptive Systems — with a goal of building a body of 5,000 students.

“The design of the College of Global Futures is intentionally transdisciplinary so that students participating in this new academic community graduate with the broad knowledge base and skills needed for the 21st century,” said University Provost Mark Searle. “Through coursework, research and applied projects with classmates and scholars from multiple disciplines, students will learn how to collaborate across sectors and design sustainable solutions that solve the complex challenges facing our globe.”

The college will be led by inaugural Dean Christopher Boone, a professor in the School of Sustainability and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. He has served as dean of the School of Sustainability since 2013. 

>> Read Dean Boone's vision statement“The College of Global Futures is dedicated to the principle that we can and should build a better future for everyone,” Boone said. “We can do so by elevating well-being everywhere, stewarding the planetary systems we depend on, and developing learning, discovery and partnership opportunities that are inclusive, fair and just. I am very excited about the extraordinary transdisciplinary approaches of ASU’s newest college. As part of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, our faculty, staff and students will work together to tackle complex issues, develop creative, innovative and enduring solutions, and prepare the next generation of leaders to shape a bright and meaningful future for the planet and all its people.” for the college.

>> Learn about other leaders• The newly established School of Complex Adaptive Systems will be led by Manfred Laubichler as interim director. Laubichler is a President’s Professor in the School of Life Sciences and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute, which is internationally known for its leading work in complexity science. • At the heart of the laboratory’s discovery pillar is the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation. The world’s leading laboratory for sustainability, it harnesses the creativity and knowledge of more than 550 experts working on solutions, engagement, education and research to enable better lives. • David Guston, Foundation Professor and founding and current director of the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, will be taking on a new role as associate vice provost for discovery, engagement and outcomes in the Global Futures Laboratory. Guston will link the research and engagement work of the laboratory with the College of Global Futures. Guston’s accomplishments as a leading scholar include fundamental work on the role of innovation for the future of global society. of the new College of Global Futures and the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation. 

The laboratory’s namesake, Julie Ann Wrigley, is pleased that her vision of a sustainable world will be carried further into reality by ASU.

Wrigley described the laboratory as “an original commitment.”

“We’re stepping outside the box again,” Wrigley said. “We need to leapfrog, because humankind is facing so many critical issues on a planet that is increasingly overexploited. The planet will survive without us, but humankind may not make it. We have exceeded the carrying capacity of the Earth, and we are asking it for more than it has to give without damage to its life-supporting systems. The consequences are increasingly visible in more extremes across the globe. This is the time for that big leap. Peter Schlosser and Michael Crow came up with the concept of not only adding a new level of focus on our future, but a laboratory dedicated to it that reaches beyond the inside of the university to a global scale.”

COVID-19 exists because of our changed relationship with the natural environment, Wrigley said.

“The Global Futures Laboratory is equipping the university to a greater degree to look at the problems of the future,” she said. “And these problems are bigger than just the environment and must include the economical, intellectual, social and cultural functions and their close interconnectivity. And it reaches deep into the university as a whole. For example, one of the goals is to educate not hundreds of students, but many thousands. And through our global partnerships, impact millions in helping maintain a planet where future generations will not only survive but thrive. That’s the Global Futures lab."

Top photo by Pixabay

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


Starship Technologies, Aramark launch contactless robot food-delivery service at ASU

September 4, 2020

Aramark, a leading food and facilities partner with hundreds of colleges and universities across the U.S., has partnered with Starship Technologies to roll out the tech company’s robot food-delivery service on Arizona State University's Tempe campus. The fleet of 40 robots will serve ASU’s on-campus community.

Starship’s autonomous, on-demand robots will deliver from select campus eateries with the hopes to expand over the academic year. The students, faculty and staff can now use the Starship app (iOS and Android) to order food and drinks from on-campus retailers to be delivered anywhere on campus, within minutes. This service accepts Maroon and Gold dollars; there is a delivery charge with each order. Food delivery robot on a sidewalk Starship Technologies' autonomous food-delivery robots near Interdisciplinary B building on the Tempe campus. Students and employees can use the Starship app to order food and drinks from on-campus retailers to be delivered anywhere on campus, within minutes. This service accepts Maroon and Gold dollars. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now Download Full Image

Starship is already providing services to over 10 campuses across the country, including George Mason University, Northern Arizona University and Purdue University. 

To get started, users open the Starship Deliveries app, choose from a range of their favorite food or drink items, then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. They can then watch as the robot makes its journey to them, via an interactive map. Once the robot arrives, they receive an alert and can then meet and unlock it through the app. The delivery usually takes just a matter of minutes, depending on the menu items ordered and the distance the robot must travel. Each robot can carry up to 20 pounds — the equivalent of about three shopping bags of goods.

“Campus life looks a lot different than it did at the beginning of the year,” said Ryan Tuohy, senior vice president of business development at Starship Technologies. “Our robots provide contactless delivery, which can help keep students safe and make social distancing easier. We think the ASU campus community is going to love the convenience that our delivery robots offer, and we’re excited to become a part of life at this innovative university.”

Starship Technologies operates commercially on a daily basis around the world. Its robots have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, crossed more than 5 million streets and completed more than 500,000 commercial deliveries. The robots use a combination of sophisticated machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensors to travel on sidewalks and navigate around obstacles. The computer vision-based navigation helps the robots to map their environment to the nearest inch. The robots can cross streets, climb curbs, travel at night and operate in both rain and snow. A team of humans can also monitor their progress remotely and can take control if needed.

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On the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, ASU looks toward the future of inclusivity

University also to celebrate accessibility on campuses with year of events

September 3, 2020

When Peter Fischer came to Arizona State University as a student in the architecture program in 1995, finding his way around campus using an electric wheelchair wasn’t too much of a challenge. Fischer believes that even when the Americans with Disabilities Act — which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations and communications — passed in 1990, the university had already been working toward making campuses accessible for all students.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, accessibility leaders at ASU are hosting an entire year of celebrations starting on Sept. 3, 2020. Upcoming virtual events include a panel about disability services, a discussion of the history of the ADA and an event focusing on adaptive recreation. A group of students celebrating Image courtesy of Download Full Image

The celebrations are led by the staff and students who work with ASU Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services (SAILS, formerly known as the Disability Resource Center), who are dedicated to making ASU accessible inside and outside the classroom.

“ASU was ahead of the game before it started,” Fischer said. “I don’t remember there being a lot of barriers, and I think that’s because ASU wanted to accommodate students. It didn't matter what their abilities were, they just wanted to do something.” 

Now working as the ADA compliance coordinator at ASU, Fischer is tasked with reviewing construction projects and renovations to assure that the buildings are ADA compliant. However, Fischer’s role encompasses more than just meeting ADA standards. He documents a list of mobility barriers — 18,000 in 2020 alone — that could be obstacles for students and faculty with disabilities. All are important to address, Fischer said, even if they’re small changes. 

“They might be as simple as the toilet paper roll is a little higher than it’s supposed to be or the bathroom’s missing a certain type of grab bar,” Fischer said. “I have an idea of what really is important to do.”

While ASU continues to make existing buildings and future projects more accessible, Fischer has his eye on the future. He believes that embracing universal design and creating spaces with people with cognitive disabilities in mind is the next step to creating a more accessible campus.

Fischer works with SAILS, which has offices on all ASU campuses to offer accommodations for students with disabilities to provide equal access to academic and university services. Accommodations include test taking, alternate formats of class materials, communication access, notetaking and more. Students who register with SAILS work with accessibility consultants who support their needs inside and outside the classroom.

SAILS also provides training to increase institutional awareness and help faculty and staff understand how to serve students with disabilities. These include lunch-and-learns as well as AccessZone, an in-depth, interactive training offered to the Sun Devil community covering the history of disability and laws that impact those in higher education. 

Fischer said the layout of colors and buildings can have a strong impact on people with cognitive disabilities. 

“I try to instill this idea in all of our project managers,” Fischer said. “It’s not about me in a wheelchair or about someone who is deaf or blind. It’s about all of us being able to experience that space the same or in a way that’s useful for them. I think we’re all pretty familiar with the concept of physical disabilities, as well as deaf and blind concepts, but we’re not really sure about cognitive disabilities yet.”

Looking to the future of access and inclusion, ASU also has its hands on the crossroads between technology and accessibility. Terri Hedgpeth, currently the director of accessibility for ASU’s Educational Outreach and Student Services and former director of Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services, works to increase participation of students with disabilities concerning access to online platforms. 

Hedgpeth, who is blind, found how much of an impact technology can have in terms of accessibility during her time at SAILS. 

Before Hedgpeth and SAILS implemented AIM (now DRC Connect), students had to come into the office, make an appointment with a consultant and bring all the necessary paperwork. Although she faced pushback, she believed an online scheduling and consulting platform would help SAILS reach students who didn’t want to come into the office but wanted resources.

Hedgpeth said after the online platform was implemented in the spring of 2010, SAILS went from serving 1,900 students to 3,500 in one semester. Currently, it serves around 6,800 students. 

“Just because you have a disability, hidden, obvious or observable, you shouldn’t have to go through so many extra steps just to get access to the course content and facilities that everyone has automatically,” Hedgpeth said. “Especially people with hidden disabilities, they might have felt inhibited to come into that office.”

Recently, Hedgpeth has worked on more projects to make technology-driven experiences more accessible. She worked on accessibility for several years with Handshake, the college career development platform. When the Sun Devil Fitness and Wellness complex was renewing their equipment contract, Hedgpeth was involved to make sure a good percentage of the equipment was accessible to blind or vision-impaired students. 

Hedgpeth also reaches out to oft-used apps and platforms to help guide them in becoming more accessible. Most vendors don’t have an ADA compliance employee, and some aren’t always willing to listen or change. Yet, Hedgpeth helps them work toward solutions that truly have all users in mind. 

“That needs to be the experience you offer everybody, not just the ones you’ve recognized,” Hedgpeth said.

Keep up with the year of celebration events on the ASU ADA celebration website and join in the kickoff event, a panel discussion on ASU’s disability services and the impact of the ADA on higher education, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4, via Zoom.

Written by Julian Klein, Sun Devil Storyteller

Hannah Moulton Belec

Marketing content specialist, Educational Outreach and Student Services


ASU seeks nominations for 2021 MLK Jr. Student Servant-Leadership Award

September 1, 2020

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Arizona State University vice president for cultural affairs and ASU Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. committee chair, is soliciting nominations for the 2021 ASU Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Servant-Leadership Award. This year’s theme is “Race may differ. Respect everyone.”

The ASU MLK Jr. Committee will present a Servant-Leadership Award to an ASU student at the MLK Breakfast on Jan. 21, 2021, at the Tempe campus.
A black-and-white photo of Martin Luther King Jr. sitting and thinking. Download Full Image

Servant-leadership is a practical philosophy, which supports people who choose to serve first, and then lead as a way of expanding service to individuals and institutions. Servant leaders may or may not hold formal leadership positions. Servant-leadership encourages collaboration, trust, foresight, listening and the ethical use of power and empowerment.

The committee requests the help of the ASU community in identifying a student servant-leadership awardee. The student must be currently enrolled full-time, exemplify the ideals of servant-leadership and have a track record of commitment through volunteer service. A candidate may submit his or her resume with this form. Letters of recommendation are acceptable, but no more than two. Self-nominations are encouraged.

The ASU MLK Jr. Committee will provide a $2,000 scholarship to the awardee to be used toward his or her educational costs. This scholarship is available to ASU full-time undergraduate or graduate students. The winner must be a full-time student during the spring 2021 semester.

All applications will be reviewed, and three finalists will be selected. Finalists will have 30-minute interviews with the committee on Thursday, Oct. 15. Finalists will be contacted for their interview. The awardee must be able to attend the breakfast on Jan. 21.

Please submit this nomination by close of business on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Scan and e-mail to Michelle Johnson at with the subject line: 2021 MLK Student Nomination – Last name of candidate.

Marketing Assistant, ASU Gammage

ASU's newly named accessibility center is primed to serve students

August 17, 2020

Arizona State University’s Disability Resource Center recently announced that it has changed its name to Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services. 

In alignment with ASU’s Charter to be “measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed,” the new title represents the office’s mission of ensuring that every program, service, event and experience at the university is fully accessible and inclusive to all students, not just those who identify as having a disability. Student Emily Bowe utilizes services at ASU Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services Student Emily Bowe utilizes services at ASU Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services. Photo by Spencer Brown. Download Full Image

“The name reflects the importance of creating a culture of accessibility and inclusion; a culture that is fundamental to the educational experience,” said Lance Harrop, dean of students for ASU’s Polytechnic campus and executive director of Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services. 

“It is also important in that it includes those who may qualify as having a disability, as defined by law, but perhaps do not identify in that way,” Harrop said. “A student’s experience in how they identify with and view disability is very personal and important. The new name is an acknowledgment of that experience.”

The name reflects SAILS’ vision for its future as it continue to serve a growing and ever-changing Sun Devil community, where the number of students with disabilities continues to increase and the impact of those disabilities present in varied ways, according to Harrop.

“Given our commitment to providing all students with a world-class education, SAILS will ensure that the entire ASU community will have access to the resources, expertise, training, consultation and facilitation of accessibility needed to ensure that the ASU experience will be fully accessible from design to implementation,” Harrop said.

SAILS will also continue to be a resource and support for faculty and staff, who are critical partners in ensuring their courses are designed and implemented in a way that allows for full participation without barriers.

ASU’s legacy of serving students in this way began in the mid-1970s when the office was originally established as Special Services for Disabled Students. The focus at the time was providing physical access to the university for the increasing number of returning veterans. 

Over the years, its name and focus have shifted to become more forward-thinking about the design of space and how best to meet students’ needs in and out of the classroom. 

Today, SAILS has offices on all four ASU campuses and offers a range of accommodations that provide students with equal access to academic and university services. These include test-taking, alternate formats, communication access, notetaking services and more. 

Students who register with SAILS work with disability access consultants who assess their needs and assist them with arrangements for their classes, housing and other university services and activities.

Chellis Hall and his partner, Kiley

SAILS also offers community trainings to increase institutional awareness and support. Lunch and Learns are offered for faculty and staff to learn how best to serve students with disabilities. AccessZone is an in-depth, interactive training offered to the Sun Devil community that covers the history of disability and laws that impact those in higher education. It also introduces the concept of universal design, which calls for designed environments to be accessible by all people regardless of age, size or ability.

Chellis Hall, a Master of Social Work student, utilizes Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services for things like taking exams and communicating with professors about accessibility services for his classes. He also works there as a testing proctor. Hall says that SAILS has provided him with “many opportunities and created educational experiences that (he) would not have had without it.”

He likes that the office’s new name promotes the inclusive culture that ASU strives for and feels it’s more effective in informing the community about SAILS’ purpose and offerings. 

“I am differently abled and just because I learn and do things differently does not mean I am 'disabled,'" Hall said. “I appreciate the university taking into consideration how the name of something can and does affect students.”

Chloe Breger, who graduated from ASU in 2020 with a degree in biological sciences (neurobiology, physiology and behavior) and is now pursuing a Master of Education at ASU, utilized SAILS services during her time as an undergraduate. She said without them, her trajectory would have been very different.

ASU Grad

Chloe Breger

“The name impacts the Sun Devil community because it shows how we include people within our community no matter how they learn or no matter what support they might need,” Breger said.

As SAILS moves forward with this new chapter in its history, Harrop says it will continue to serve students, educate and inform the campus community, raise awareness regarding accessibility opportunities, and increase connections with campus and community partners in providing support and resources to students. It will also continue its critical role in supporting ASU faculty and staff, and serve as a resource for all within the ASU community.

“ASU students are positively changing and influencing the world in amazing and important ways,” Harrop said. “We look forward to continuing to play a part in that experience by ensuring all students, including and especially students with disabilities, have the opportunity to be successful.”

Visit the SAILS website to learn more or visit its ASU Foundation page to support the important work it does for the Sun Devil community.

Copy writer and editor, Educational Outreach and Student Services


Live from ASU presents town hall conversation with W. Kamau Bell Aug. 27

August 10, 2020

Arizona State University continues its Live from ASU virtual event series with "Black Lives Matter and the Pandemic of Racism: A Town Hall Conversation with W. Kamau Bell," streaming live at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27.

Bell will speak about the Black Lives Matter movement and systemic racism in America. Bell is known for his critically acclaimed and award-winning docuseries on CNN, "United Shades of America." Image of W. Kamau Bell with Live from ASU Logo and ASU Logo W. Kamau Bell is a sociopolitical comedian and the host of an Emmy Award-winning CNN docuseries. Download Full Image

This event will be streamed live free at for the entire ASU community and the public. It will feature a panel discussion moderated by ASU Vice President for Cultural Affairs Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, with a Q&A session with ASU students and members of the ASU community to follow.

“We are currently living through two pandemics in this country, and systemic racism will be the harder one to defeat,” Jennings-Roggensack said. “This special town hall will be the first in a series of events focused on this important issue that is so vital to the ASU and local community.”

W. Kamau Bell is a sociopolitical comedian and the host of the Emmy-award winning CNN docuseries "United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell." He recently made his Netflix debut with the stand-up comedy special "Private School Negro." Kamau also has a book titled, "The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6’ 4”, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian."

He is the director of the documentary "Cultureshock: Chris Rock’s 'Bring the Pain.'" Bell has hosted three critically acclaimed podcasts: "Kamau Right Now!," "Politically Re-Active" and "Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period." Bell is on the advisory board of Hollaback! and Donors Choose and is the ACLU Celebrity Ambassador for Racial Justice. The New York Times called Bell “the most promising new talent in political comedy in many years.”

Bell has been nominated for multiple NAACP Image Awards and a GLAAD award, and he was featured on Conde Nast’s "Daring 25" list for 2016. The SF Weekly called Bell “smart, stylish and very much in the mold of politically outspoken comedians like Dave Chappelle” — though he was mostly just excited that they called him “handsome.” The New Yorker said, “Bell’s gimmick is intersectional progressivism: He treats racial, gay and women’s issues as inseparable.” Bell is also known for his FX and FXX comedy series, "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell."

Kimberly Inglese

Marketing and Sales Coordinator, ASU 365 Community Union