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16 books to read this Halloween

October 19, 2020

From Frankenstein to true crime, check out these spine-chilling books from ASU faculty

Editor's note: This story is part of a series from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for National Book Month. Read more from this series: ASU collection of rare books made accessible online.

This Halloween season, explore eerie, spine-chilling books written by Arizona State University faculty on everything from gothic true crime and dystopian fiction to vampires, Frankenstein’s monster and ghosts.

Richard Newhauser, English professor in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and author of several books on the seven deadly sins, said topics of this nature can help us examine and understand humanity from a new, unlikely perspective. 

“One of the things that I find so interesting about medieval ghost stories is that those who come to visit humans often bring a lesson with them, something they wish to teach humanity,” Newhauser said. “It’s often the case with longer stories, about people who visit hell and return to tell their tales to an audience they think requires some moral improvement. This is not to say that the lessons are without discomfort. Just the opposite: Pain is part of the message.” 

Discover something to read this fall, with this selection of 16 books curated by The College and the Department of English:

Top image by Jody Lu/The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Emily Balli

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

Graduate College partners with Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation to bring scholars to ASU

Truman Scholars attending ASU will receive additional tuition support

October 19, 2020

The ASU Graduate College is partnering with the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation to bring more Truman Scholars to Arizona State University to complete their graduate or professional degrees. 

To do this, the Graduate College has committed to providing a full-tuition award for up to two years to Truman scholarship recipients enrolled in on-campus graduate programs. This award will be provided in addition to the award Truman Scholars receive from the foundation. Harry S Truman Foundation Download Full Image

What is the Truman Scholarship?

The Truman Scholarship awards merit-based scholarships to undergraduate students who plan to attend graduate school and pursue careers in public service.

Truman Scholars receive a $30,000 award for graduate or professional school, participate in leadership development activities, and have special opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government.

“ASU is deeply committed to promoting public service and is proud to provide additional financial support for Truman Scholars, who are answering the call to public service leadership at a time when public leadership is more valuable than ever," said Mark Searle, ASU executive vice president and university provost.

Well-known Truman Scholars from Arizona

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation has awarded 21 Truman scholarships to ASU Sun Devils since the program began in 1977. In addition, prominent Arizonan Truman Scholars include former Gov. Janet Napolitano, Congressman Greg Stanton, former Ambassador Michelle Gavin and ASU professors Kristin Mayes and David Gartner.

“Now is the time to invest in the next generation of leaders,” said Terry Babcock-Lumish, executive secretary of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. “Arizona State University's generous commitment to add additional financial support for Truman Scholars demonstrates a shared commitment to creating opportunities for innovative problem-solvers tackling society's greatest challenges.”

A living memorial

The scholarship, a living memorial to the 33rd president, is intended for “future change agents” — students who demonstrate the passion, intellect and leadership potential to serve the public interest. Truman Scholars can be found in the White House, Congress and on the Supreme Court. They are ambassadors, journalists, educators, philanthropic leaders and more. 

“For more than 40 years, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation has served as a beacon for public service, inspiring Americans from diverse backgrounds and from across the country,” Babcock-Lumish said. “Thank you to President Crow, Dean Wentz and the ASU community for championing public service.”

The Graduate College oversees the university’s commitment to Truman Scholars who bring their award to ASU for their graduate studies. Scholars should contact after receiving the Truman Scholarship and being admitted to their graduate program to coordinate funding. Review the Graduate College Truman Scholarship webpage for more information.

Undergraduate students interested in applying for the Truman Scholarship should visit the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarship Advisement Truman Scholarship webpage for more information.

Article by Emily Carman and Tracy Viselli

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ASU brings drive-thru COVID-19 testing to Lake Havasu City

September 29, 2020

ASU at Lake Havasu supports the state’s western region with free saliva-based diagnostic testing on Oct. 2

Arizona’s Mohave County is experiencing long wait times for COVID-19 test results, but ASU at Lake Havasu is helping to relieve some of the bottleneck.

The university is teaming up with Lake Havasu City and the Arizona National Guard to offer free saliva-based diagnostic testing, event staffing and a drive-thru site location to residents of Mohave County and Lake Havasu City at large.

“ASU at Lake Havasu is proud to partner with Mayor Cal Sheehy, Lake Havasu City and the ASU Biodesign Institute to bring additional COVID testing options to the western region of Arizona,” said Carla J. Harcleroad, director of ASU at Lake Havasu. “This is an example of ASU’s commitment to the communities we serve.”

The event is slated for Friday, Oct. 2, at the Lake Havasu City Aquatic and Community Center located at 100 Park Ave. Event hours will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and test results are usually delivered within 24–48 hours. The Arizona National Guard Medical Division will provide five staff members to administer the tests. Preregistration is required, and the agency code for scheduling is SALIVATEST.

Sheehy said the current typical wait time for COVID-19 test results in the Lake Havasu City area is about 7-10 days, and he felt that was too long.

“Test results were taking a considerable amount of time, and the city was looking for additional options for our community. That’s when this opportunity with ASU presented itself,” said Sheehy, who has partnered with ASU at Lake Havasu on many community-related issues such as the environment, sustainability, volunteer work and fundraising. This is central to ASU’s Charter commitment to be fundamentally responsible for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.

The saliva-based diagnostic testing was conceived by ASU’s Biodesign Institute and designed with an eye for speed, scale and convenience. The testing process usually takes about 10–20 minutes and participants don’t even have to leave their vehicles.

“The process is easy and painless,” said David Thomas, CEO of ASURE, who works with the team providing public testing for ASU. “When you arrive at the site you get a sample tube, find a comfortable parking space to collect the sample, hand off the tube on the way out, and go about your day.”

The Biodesign Institute announced in May that it had developed the first saliva-based COVID-19 test for front-line health care workers, critical infrastructure and public safety personnel. Since then they have hosted several events throughout the state through a partnership with the Arizona Department of Health Services. ASU has also been using the saliva-based test with employees and students. To date, more than 36,000 Arizonans have received testing free of charge through ASU/state of Arizona partner testing sites.

In addition to the Phoenix area, ASU has hosted testing in Tucson, Flagstaff, Winkleman, Safford, Parker and Salome. The university also has plans to visit Nogales and Rio Rico in mid-October.

Top photo: Throughout the course of the pandemic, ASU's Biodesign Institute has played a major role in tracking COVID-19. Now, the university has developed a free saliva-based diagnostic test for Arizona communities.

Reporter , ASU News


Biodesign Institute, on a research roll, announces new centers, state-of-the-art X-ray lab

September 29, 2020

The Biodesign Institute at ASU is significantly expanding its scientific enterprise, announcing two new centers and one new lab to advance explorations in the fields of microbiomics, green chemistry and pioneering compact X-ray science.

With the new additions poised to begin operations, the institute continues its aggressive effort to probe exciting new domains, pursuing research to address human health, safeguard the environment, improve daily life and advance basic scientific understanding in diverse fields. The Biodesign Institute at ASU is significantly expanding its scientific enterprise, announcing two new centers and one new lab to advance explorations in the fields of microbiomics, green chemistry and pioneering compact X-ray science. Graphic by Stetson Finch Download Full Image

The two new centers are the Biodesign Center for Health Through Microbiomes, under the direction of Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, and the Biodesign Center for Sustainable Macromolecular Materials and Manufacturing, led by Timothy Long.

The Beus CXFEL Laboratory, the first facility of its kind centered around Biodesign’s new compact X-ray free electron laser, is directed by Robert Kaindl.

“Today, science is increasingly called upon to help meet the daunting challenges facing society,” said Joshua LaBaer, the Biodesign Institute’s executive director. “The Biodesign Institute is thrilled to welcome three scientists known for outstanding contributions to their field. Their research will further the institute’s audacious efforts and advance the kind of interdisciplinary investigations Biodesign is specifically designed to nurture. The latest additions will bring the total number of research centers within Biodesign to 17 and significantly enhance our research synergy.”

Microbial universe within

The human body is teeming with nonhuman biological forms — vast ecosystems of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes scientists have only begun to probe. Collectively, they are known as the microbiome and their startling role in health and disease is finally coming to light.

Biodesign’s new Biodesign Center for Health Through Microbiomes, under the leadership of Krajmalnik-Brown, will not only advance pathbreaking research into the subtle activities of microbial communities but further investigate potential microbial-based therapies for diseases including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, altered drug metabolism, autism, depression, severe infections, irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer and a range of other afflictions.

The center will explore microbial biomarkers that can pinpoint disease and guide appropriate treatment, while promoting improved health, through the monitoring and adjustment of the gut microbiome. The center will delve into new study areas while advancing Krajmalnik-Brown’s ongoing investigations into microbial diagnoses and therapies for obesity and autism spectrum disorder, formerly carried out within the Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, where she was a faculty member for 13 years.

Groundbreaking studies have lately unveiled the complex microbial associations between the gut and human brain, with implications for the management of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s — themes the new center will also explore.

In addition to her appointment at Biodesign, Krajmalnik-Brown also serves as a professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment

“I am really excited to lead the Biodesign Center for Health Through Microbiomes,” Krajmalnik-Brown said. “There are 100 times as many microbial genes in our bodies compared with genes from our human cells. The possibilities for harvesting these microbes’ metabolic activities and healing power are huge. This is a fast-growing field, and there is still so much we don’t know. The opportunity to transform health and help many people is immense.”

Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown directs the Biodesign Center for Health Through Microbiomes and also serves as a professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment

Krajmalnik-Brown is currently conducting clinical research focusing on the management of autism and gastrointestinal symptoms through microbiota transplant therapy, along with Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering colleague James Adams. Another active project involves the exploration of the microbiome’s contribution to energy balance and human metabolism. She has also contributed to the formation Autism Diagnostics, LLC, a commercial company focused on developing diagnostic tests for autism based on the observed profile of metabolism in patients.  

The center plans to recruit new faculty with a broad range of relevant expertise, including in nutrition, bioinformatics, engineering and biochemistry and engage industry and clinical partners, while leveraging existing strengths in microbial ecology. 

Another green world

Every year, some 600 billion pounds of plastics are produced, of which only a fraction are recycled. Although these materials have provided many benefits to society, over time they have accumulated in the environment, causing extensive contamination of air, earth and water. The problem has grown into one of the most profound ecological challenges facing humankind.

The Biodesign Center for Sustainable Macromolecular Materials and Manufacturing promises to be one of the top 10 centers of its kind in the world, dedicated to engineering sustainable solutions to the world’s plastics obsession through the development of green materials and the exploration of environmentally sustainable alternatives rooted in a molecules-to-manufacturing approach.

Petroleum-based polymers assume an almost endless variety of forms and are found in everything from synthetic fibers used in clothing, to latex paints, epoxy glues, Teflon cookware and polyurethane cardiovascular devices. In addition to the search for more sustainable substitutes for common polymers, the center’s research is expected to advance biomedical devices, biodegradable polymers, greener synthetic methods, and pioneer the use of sustainable feedstocks.

The center will focus on the principles of green chemistry, using techniques including click chemistry for efficient functionalization, solvent-free polymerization processes, design of degradable polymers, additive manufacturing and development of sustainable precursors for polymer production.

Advances in materials science will be investigated, including stimuli-responsive polymers, adhesives and elastomers using the techniques of block copolymers, highperformance engineering polymers, controlled polymerization and biomaterials with the aim of improving health and energy production and storage.

“The center will demand an unprecedented intensity of interdisciplinary partnership, asking molecular scientists and engineers to speak many different technical languages at the convergence of chemistry, biology, health sciences, and diverse engineering fields,” said Timothy Long, who will lead the new effort. “Our center will nucleate industrial partnerships and entrepreneurship to ensure a molecules-to-manufacturing paradigm both for educating the future workforce and innovating new technologies. We must sustain our passion for sustainability.”

Tim Long directs the Biodesign Center for Sustainable Macromolecular Materials and Manufacturing.

Prior to his new appointment, Long pursued a distinguished career at Virginia Tech, where he was professor of chemistry and director of the Macromolecules Innovation Institute. The new center will continue Long’s study of novel polymer materials for advanced manufacturing, bio-inspired thermoplastics and adhesive technologies, bio-derived polymers with biodegradation, making use of novel 3D printing techniques for reduction of waste and access to unprecedented geometries of printed objects. The recipient of numerous awards, Long received the 2019 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award and was named an AAAS Fellow in 2016.

Long has published more than 320 peer-reviewed publications and has obtained over 60 patents based on his research discoveries. He is also deeply devoted to teaching and inspiring a new generation of young investigators working to pioneer sustainable solutions based on the latest advances in polymer science.

Long’s devotion to integrated research and teaching has earned him numerous awards, including the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Award in Virginia, Thermoplastic Elastomer Award from the American Chemical Society’s Rubber Division in 2018 and the Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Research Excellence 2010. In 2018, he was appointed the editor-in-chief of Polymer International and served as the president of the Adhesion Society.

Flash of light

Since the first X-ray image, a ghostly view of the bones of a hand produced by the German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, X-ray radiation has had tremendous impact on science. 

Though the ability to penetrate soft tissue and reveal skeletal bones may be their best-known characteristic, X-ray beams have been equally transformative in myriad other applications — particularly in the method of X-ray crystallography that has been essential to understanding atomic structure from the first discovery of human DNA up to modern structural analysis in chemistry, materials science, and drug development.

Yet conventional crystallography takes static pictures. Instead, full insight into the microscopic world requires an understanding of its dynamics, recognizing that many of the key processes underlying the function of biomolecules occur on unimaginably short time scales of femtoseconds — where one femtosecond corresponds to only a billionth of one millionth of a second.

This has motivated the recent development of X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) to generate ultrashort X-ray pulses. So far only a handful of XFELs exist in the world, including the Linac Coherent Light Source at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and their design principles entail mile-long electron accelerators and up to billion-dollar price tags.

ASU's Biodesign Institute has taken on the pioneering task of developing a new generation of compact accelerator-based X-ray sources, which target a much smaller laboratory-sized footprint, dramatically lower costs and improved levels of access for scientists.

Housed in a custom-designed space in Biodesign’s newly constructed Building C, these CXFEL labs comprise two instruments conceived by ASU faculty member and accelerator physicist Bill Graves. The first source — dubbed the compact X-ray light source (CXLS) — is currently nearing completion and will produce femtosecond X‑rays for time-resolved crystallography. A second-stage machine, designed in parallel, is slated to produce laser-like X-rays with full wave coherence and durations of less than a single femtosecond.

Robert Kaindl has been appointed to direct the CXFEL lab. Prior to joining ASU, Kaindl was a principal investigator in the Materials Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. A leading expert in quantum materials and ultrafast science, Kaindl has focused on exploring condensed-matter phenomena on the shortest time scales including studies of superconductors and nanomaterials. His research involves the development and application of laser techniques across the spectrum of light, ranging from sub-millimeter wave terahertz radiation up to the X-ray regime.

“These are exciting times,” Kaindl said. “The development of compact ultrafast X-ray sources at ASU will position the university as a global leader in this forefront field. Peering into matter at its smallest dimensions in time and space lets us access some of the most important processes in nature — while realizing that physics, chemistry and biology all converge on these scales. An on‑campus capability of this kind is truly unprecedented for a university. It will attract national and international collaborations while helping train a new generation of students.”

Robert Kaindl directs the Biodesign Beus CXFEL Laboratory.

Kaindl received his PhD in physics from Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, in 2000 and was recently elected a 2019 Fellow of the American Physical Society. At the Biodesign Institute and as a professor in ASU’s physics department he will pursue new frontiers of light-driven materials phenomena using both tabletop time-resolved spectroscopies and ultrafast probes of electronic and lattice structural dynamics in quantum materials with CXFEL’s powerful X-ray pulses.

Among the core bioscience applications envisioned for the CXFEL Lab’s machines are static and time-resolved crystallography investigations by Petra Fromme’s group and colleagues in the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery. Ultimately this will enable scientists to produce movies of biomolecules in action, for instance permitting the visualization of drugs binding to receptors at the surface of cells. Such research is fueled by many national and international collaborations as highlighted by the NSF BioXFEL Science and Technology Center, a multi-institute consortium directed by ASU’s John Spence, which is dedicated to applying X-ray free electron lasers to investigations in structural biology.

Richard Harth

Science writer, Biodesign Institute at ASU


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 News


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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.

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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 News


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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