Simulated space mission training leads to real orbital flight for ASU instructor


April 14, 2021

Sian Proctor is preparing to launch into space this fall, which makes complete sense. It’s a trip she’s figuratively been training for her entire career.

Proctor, an instructor at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Arizona State University, is among four passengers set to go into orbit this fall on a private flight on SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission. portrait of Arizona State University Osher Lifelong Learning Institute instructor Sian Proctor Sian Proctor, an instructor at ASU's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, is set to go into orbit this fall aboard a SpaceX spacecraft. Photo courtesy of SpaceX Download Full Image

The ASU alumna has been teaching older adults about planetary geology – this one’s and Mars’ – through the institute since 2016. She holds two graduate degrees from ASU, including a Master of Science in geology and a PhD in science education. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is based at the School of Community Resources and Development at ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

What’s more, her class titles reflect her personal experiences. A series called “Overboard” features subtopics such as “A NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Teacher at Sea…” and “Life Below the Surface.” Others communicate her involvement with space: “Searching for E.T.: My ‘Genius by Stephen Hawking’ Experience,” “Mars on Earth: Surviving in a NASA Mars Simulation” and “Reach for the Stars: Exploring Space Up-Close.”

Proctor is an analog astronaut, meaning one who engages in various activities under conditions that simulate being in space. She also participated in four analog missions, including the all-female Sensoria Mars 2020 mission, held at the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (Hi-SEAS) Habitat. Her motto is “Space2Inspire,” encouraging people to use their unique strengths and passions to inspire others. She is also an artist who created Space2Inspire Art to encourage conversations about creating what she calls a J.E.D.I. space (a just, equitable, diverse and inclusive space) for humanity.

Sally Underwood, coordinator at the Watts College-based Partnership for Community Development at the ASU's West Campus, remembers watching Proctor in a documentary about Arizona’s geology. Proctor has been teaching geoscience at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix for the past 20 years.

“My first thought was that she would make a terrific Osher instructor,” Underwood said. “Sian enthusiastically agreed, and that’s how her relationship with OLLI at ASU began.”

Proctor quickly became a “fan favorite” among students, Underwood said.

“She was so engaging and her experiences were remarkable and unique. She is enthusiastic and unstoppable. Each time she taught, she had taken on a new challenge, whether it be as a NOAA Teacher at Sea, a participant on ‘Genius by Stephen Hawking,’ or the NASA-sponsored Mars simulation,” Underwood said. “Through each experience, she taught in a way that made you feel you were right by her side on a wild adventure. She always left us wondering, ‘What’s next?’ The fact that she was selected for this flight should be no surprise to any fan of Sian’s – she was destined to be in the stars.”

For more about Proctor, see this feature in The Arizona Republic.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions

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ASU team trains first crime analysts in 9 Caribbean nations

ASU team trains first crime analysts in 9 Caribbean nations.
April 13, 2021

Professors teach law enforcement how to collect, analyze data to fight crime

Two Arizona State University professors have trained the first crime analysts from nine small Caribbean nations.

Charles Katz, the Watts Family Director of the ASU Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, and Wendy Wolfersteig, director of the Office of Evaluation and Partner Contracts at the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center, spent the past several months teaching methods of crime analysis to several dozen people whose countries have never used data techniques to fight crime before.

The trainees were from Trinidad and Tobago; Suriname; Guyana; Grenada; St. Kitts and Nevis; Antigua and Barbuda; Barbados; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and St. Lucia.

Those countries have police officers and law-enforcement officials, but no organized collection or analysis of crime data, said Wolfersteig, who also is an associate research professor in the School of Social Work.

“It was ‘boots on the ground,’ day-to-day work and not that evaluation and analysis of the overall picture of events that were occurring, and what the data tell us,” she said.

Crime analysts have three general functions, Katz said.

“One is the administrative function – being aware of how many crimes occur by day, by month, what types of crimes occur. Those are simple things to let you know what a problem looks like from 20,000 feet,” he said.

Second, tactical crime analysis can help police manage when and where crimes might occur.

“It’s who to look for, a wanted person or a serial burglar, the time periods and days of the week,” he said.

Lastly, strategic crime analysis can help law enforcement address larger problems.

“For example, if there’s a problem with domestic violence in a community, they can use this information to develop multiple responses,” said Katz, who has worked with Caribbean nations to address gang problems.

Katz and Wolfersteig originally started the training in person in Barbados, but the pandemic forced the project to go remote.

The project was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, which supports U.S. foreign policy and advances national security, and the United Nations Development Programme, which works to eradicate poverty. The agencies wanted to create an official online reporting mechanism to pinpoint criminal incident data in the Caribbean region, Katz said.

“Let’s say your car is stolen in Phoenix. The police come, fill out a report, type it into the computer and create an official report,” he said.

“These Caribbean nations didn’t have that. They had to develop a form with the same definitions across the countries. They needed common definitions, and our job was to show them how to extract and analyze the data.

“Some of these nations do not have the infrastructure that we are used to in terms of internet accessibility, and it was tough on them.”

In order to make the project sustainable, Wolfersteig taught five people to be trainers themselves.

“My office has done quite a bit of work with community groups, helping people to not only understand crime and other data but teaching them how to do their own work and continue that work,” said Wolfersteig, whose office works with partners to design and perform evaluations, provide trainings and disseminate findings.

She taught the trainers how to be facilitators.

“What does it mean to facilitate learning? You don’t want to just lecture, you want to teach them how to interact with people,” she said.

Katz has trained crime analysts locally and in other countries, including Honduras. From 2004 to 2010, he worked with the Ministry of National Security of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to develop a comprehensive plan to reform police services, including adding crime analysts.

“We started with one guy in Trinidad in 2008 and now they have 40 people,” he said.

“Not even all U.S. police agencies have crime analysts because it’s expensive.”

Sadio Harris, operations manager for the Regional Crime Observatory in Barbados, was trained by the ASU team to become a trainer.

"As I took the course, the concept of 'adult learning' was embedded within my consciousness as a mechanism to associate new knowledge and information to previously learned information and experiences," he said.

"I have no doubt that this new association technique, buttressed by the different types of learning styles, such as auditory, visual and kinesthetic, will enhance the Regional Crime Observatory's communication strategy.

"The RCO team is now capable of training its regional membership in the use of crime mapping, evidence-based policing, tactical, strategic and administrative crime analysis, which adds a new dimension to crime reporting."

Additional reporting by Mark Scarp, media relations officer for the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Top image of St. George, Grenada. Courtesy of Pixabay.com.

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now

480-727-4503

Tempe police honor ASU team, police employees for creating de-escalation curriculum


April 8, 2021

A partnership between Arizona State University and the Tempe Police Department has yielded a curriculum designed to help officers keep contacts with the public peaceful and productive — and a Team Award from the department acknowledging the important collaboration.

Officers now benefit from the de-escalation curriculum developed by faculty and doctoral students from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, instructional designers from the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and employees from the Tempe Police Department, said Tempe Police Commander Michael Horn. Michael White, professor, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University Michael White, professor, ASU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. ASU photo Download Full Image

The wording of the award citation purposely identifies all the recipients, including the ASU team headed by Professor Michael White, as “employees,” Horn said, even though they work for the university.

“Dr. White and most of his team are not employees, yet we view him and his team as active partners and just as at home here behind the secured doors as other employees,” Horn said. “I’ve told many a person publicly: Dr. White and his team can walk around our buildings all the time. We trust him, his team and ultimately we genuinely want to be better and help the overall law enforcement community better serve. We are not afraid to learn and trust Dr. White to guide that process and find results, whether positive or identifying where we have to evolve.”

The citation reads: “Team Award (Ribbon and Certificate) – Presented to a group of Tempe Police Department employees whose collective efforts significantly impacted the overall service delivery for the Police Department.” 

White, who is associate director of the ASU Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, said he is incredibly honored to be part of the award.

“I have conducted research with and for the police for the last 20-plus years, but this award recognizes the most innovative and collaborative project of my career,” White said. “Start to finish, this project reflects a true partnership between the Tempe Police Department and Arizona State University.”

Assistant Chief Mike Pooley, a co-leader of the de-escalation project, said White was amazing to work with.

“He and his team brought a methodological approach to this innovative de-escalation project grant. There was little if any academic research on de-escalation training in law enforcement and we wanted to change that. Dr. White’s experience, background, approach and credibility was deeply appreciated in this pursuit.”

Interim Chief of Police Jeff Glover said ASU, being “in our front yard,” is a great partner for the department.

“On this de-escalation grant, we had an ASU team provide us guidance on the curriculum development and instruction while Dr. White and his team drove the research component.  As a result, law enforcement collectively now has a research-based approach to de-escalation that shows incredible promise.”

Other members of the ASU team include: Carlena Orosco, a crime analyst for Tempe Police and a student in ASU’s criminology and criminal justice doctoral program; Victor Mora, a student in ASU’s criminology and criminal justice doctoral program; Watts College instructional designers Mike Burnett and Mary Mathis Burnett; and Corinne Corte and Amanda Voigt from ASU’s Success Courses.

The team worked with funding from a Smart Policing Initiative Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions

602-496-0001

ASU Lodestar Center welcomes first-ever senior fellow for philanthropy

Jacky Alling will bring her talents to the wider nonprofit and philanthropic sector


April 7, 2021

Jacky Alling, the chief philanthropy officer for the Arizona Community Foundation, will depart the foundation after 17 years to join the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation this month as its first-ever senior fellow for philanthropy. Through this new role with the ASU Lodestar Center, an organization she has long served as a leadership council member, Alling will now bring her talents to the wider nonprofit and philanthropic sector.

In her time with the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF), Alling collaborated with many to lead, design, orchestrate or implement some of ACF’s most innovative programs: Affordable Housing Predevelopment Loan Fund; Community Impact Loan Fund; New Arizona Prize; Newton and Betty Rosenzweig Fund for the Arts; Black Philanthropy Initiative; Kellenberger + Tollefson Center for LGBTQ Philanthropy; Pakis Center for Business Philanthropy; and most recently, the AZ Together for Impact Fund, a collaboration among many Arizona foundations. Jacky Alling, senior fellow for philanthropy, Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation, Arizona State University After a long tenure as chief philanthropy officer for Arizona Community Foundation, Jacky Alling will share her expertise with the broader nonprofit and philanthropic community as senior fellow for philanthropy at ASU’s Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation. Download Full Image

“We are delighted that Jacky’s expertise, experiences and strong relationships in philanthropy will substantially bolster our center’s efforts to meet our mission,” said Robert Ashcraft, executive director of ASU’s Lodestar Center and the Saguaro Professor of Civic Enterprise in the School of Community Resources and Development. “Having Jacky in this important role enhances all that we aspire to be and do through the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and especially so related to the role of philanthropy to enhance community well-being."

Alling also led the co-founding of the Arizona Endowment Building Institute (AEBI), an important accomplishment in advancing the nonprofit sector in Arizona and catalyzing ACF’s work with nonprofit organizations’ funds.

“Jacky worked tirelessly to advance our mission by mobilizing and supporting donors, overseeing hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to thousands of organizations, and bringing in hundreds of new donors to ACF,” said Steve Seleznow, president and CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation. “She will now bring her considerable wisdom, experience and talent to hundreds of others who are leading foundations, studying philanthropy, or seeking to enter the nonprofit and philanthropic sector.”

Alling will grow the center’s PhilanthropyMatters programming; serve as a resource to the staff team, leadership council and university on how to add value to the philanthropic culture of Arizona and beyond; and aid the center in its mission to build the capacity of the social sector by enhancing the effectiveness of those who lead, manage and support nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.

About the ASU Lodestar Center

Arizona State University’s Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation educates, empowers and connects nonprofit and philanthropic leaders to accelerate social impact. Housed within ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and its School of Community Resources and Development, the ASU Lodestar Center believes that the quality of life in communities is enriched with impactful philanthropy and effective nonprofit leadership. For more than 20 years, the ASU Lodestar Center has provided education, research, practical tools and convenings to help nonprofit professionals, philanthropists and volunteers solve problems and realize their communities’ highest aspirations.

Written by Phillip Bencome, manager of strategic communications, Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation. Photo courtesy of Jacky Alling

 
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Students elevating Black cultural awareness through LIFT initiative at ASU

April 7, 2021

George Floyd, the man whose death in police custody launched a thousand protests in 2020, has reignited a critical conversation about systemic racism and social injustice around the world. In 2021, almost one year after Floyd’s death, change is starting to happen.

From conversation to activation, constitution to evolution, ASU is among the global institutions rising to the challenge of change for the betterment of its community and society as whole. The voices of some determined and persistent members of the community underscored the urgency of this challenge and helped bring a new initiative to life. 

In the days and weeks following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, advocates and allies of ASU’s Black student community joined the front lines of a global movement —  in the midst of a pandemic —  to speak up and speak out on long-standing inequalities reawakened by Floyd’s death.

ASU President Michael Crow listened. His response: a 25-point action plan to address issues of bias, discrimination and underrepresentation at ASU. Students at the front lines of the movement soon found themselves at the forefront of a new initiative —  the LIFT initiative — and began work on the complex task of implementing the 25 actions alongside experienced members of ASU’s faculty and staff.

As members of the newly formed Advisory Council on African American Affairs (ACAAA), student members have taken part in meetings, created programming and carried full course loads all while answering the call for transformation at ASU.

Kiara Kennedy 

ACAAA member Kiara Kennedy is a senior studying health sciences in ASU’s College of Health Solutions and a student-athlete on ASU’s softball team. She co-created the group Sun Devils United and the Black Student Athlete Association with other student athletes in response to the mass demonstrations for social justice in 2020. Kennedy says being selected to join the ACAAA and help carry out the actions of the LIFT initiative has been an empowering experience in advocacy and leadership development.

“My hopes for the 25 points are to see these points continually move in the right direction for the future and see a change within ASU,” Kennedy said. “I am truly grateful for this opportunity and so glad I've gotten the chance to work with these wonderful individuals.”

Among the LIFT action items elevated to high priority for student members of the ACAAA is the creation of a multicultural space on ASU’s campus. Cornelius Foxworth II, an ACAAA member and a senior studying psychology, business and criminology is looking forward to seeing the multicultural center come into being.

“Minority students at (predominantly) white institutions often get lost in the crowd or looked at as this token item of diversity and inclusion,” Foxworth said. “If we are going to have minority students at this campus feel comfortable and protected, it’s really important that we have those resources for them.”

The working group leading the efforts on the multicultural center are assessing design options for the proposed space and will be sharing recommendations in the months ahead. 

Keeping in step with the LIFT action item to support student organizations and their initiatives on behalf of Black students, Foxworth and other members of the Black African Coalition student organization, for which he serves as vice president, recently unveiled a new guidebook for current and incoming students. The BAC Guidebook is a virtual pamphlet that shares resources and programming available through the 33 member organizations that compose the BAC. In March, the group also launched its first Black Excellence Experience Tour (BEET) for prospective Black students considering ASU as the next stepping stone in their education, and will be hosting another virtual BEET event in late April.

Cornelius Foxworth II 

Through the LIFT Initiative, the student members of the advisory council are also putting work into promoting the success and well-being of students of color; helping to create graduate assistantships for underrepresented students; and organizing recruitment fairs for undergraduates of color across all disciplines.

Another high priority for the students of the advisory council is the effort to reimagine and enhance the efforts of the campus police force to meet the overall needs of the ASU community. The effort is a direct response to criticism that has been leveled against policing practices across the nation in the aftermath of the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and many others.

Kennedy says this action item in the LIFT initiative is necessary, especially in the current social climate. She says students need to be assured that campus police are here to protect all students equally regardless of race, and that starts with making sure that police have the right training and tools to do just that.

“This is how students feel personally,” Kennedy said, “and (the police) need to be able to hear how students feel because it’s really us that are keeping the campus going, which is why this initiative is super important.”

The efforts of the ACAAA’s student members have left a big impression on other council members including co-chairs Colleen Jennings-Roggensack and Jeffrey Wilson. 

“The passion that the students bring is exciting,” said Jennings-Roggensack, vice president of ASU’s cultural affairs.

Wilson, a senior faculty member in the W. P. Carey School of Business, added that the students are honing their negotiation skills through their work in the council.

Jennings-Roggensack and Wilson both agree that everyone is learning lessons from each other in the process. They say having the students as part of the council has helped fuel the commitment that all the LIFT committee members have for the initiative.

Learn more about the LIFT initiative and the Advisory Council on African American Affairs.

Sr. Media Relations Officer , Media Relations & Strategic Communications

480-965-9681

 
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ASU's Social Embeddedness Network Conference has record turnout in virtual format

April 2, 2021

More than 250 presenters shared their successes during the 3-day Zoom-based conference

For a second year in row, ASU’s Social Embeddedness Network Conference was held virtually. But the Zoom-based conference was bigger, better, with more participants than years past, proving community-university partnerships can thrive in an array of settings.

The conference, now in its eighth year, started as a luncheon in 2014 — eventually growing to a full-day conference on multiple campuses, then transitioning to a full-day virtual format in 2020 because of the pandemic. This year, due to high interest, the conference was expanded from two days to three, setting a record for participation and turnout, with more than 80 sessions and about 550 registrations, according to event planners. Overall, more than 250 university faculty, staff, students and community partners presented during the March 24–26 conference, which was themed “Planting Seeds for Partnerships and Cultivating Community Collaborations.”

ASU’s three new enterprise leaders kicked off the conference: Nancy Gonzales, provost pro tempore and executive vice president of Academic Enterprise; Sally Morton, executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise; and Maria Anguiano, executive vice president of Learning Enterprise.

The panel discussion, which was moderated by Jonathan Koppell, vice provost of public service and social impact and dean of Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, delved into the meaning of social embeddedness, ASU’s commitment to community partnerships and ways the university can further leverage its assets to become even more socially embedded.

2021 Social Embeddedness Network Conference

“Social, cultural, community embeddedness is really very personal to me,” Gonzales explained to the panel. “I would say that I wouldn’t have become an academic and a faculty member and stayed within the academy if it weren’t for the fact that I could do that type of research, which is really what I’ve done my entire career.”

Early on in her career, Gonzales said she was advised against this kind of work, but carried on — now researching community, cultural and social factors related to youth development across the lifespan. She values ASU’s strong commitment to social embeddedness and explains that it’s an important component of the educational system.

“We’re finding more and more that the need to have service learning and opportunities out in the community for our students is valuable across all disciplines," she said. "And we’re seeing more efforts to build that into courses, to build that into internships, to build that into a variety of opportunities that we offer our students.”

Faith Dalzell is one of those students who has benefited tremendously from ASU’s vision: to cultivate meaningful and mutually beneficial learning experiences. The senior, who is double-majoring in business and education studies, with an emphasis in organizational leadership through Barrett, The Honors College, shared her experiences during the first day of the conference in a Lightning Talk called “Walking Through the Forest: A Student Perspective on Integrating Social Embeddedness.”

During her time at ASU, Dalzell has worked with a number of community partners, including School Connect AZ, CASA Academy and the city of Tempe. Many of these opportunities came through ASU’s University Service-Learning — courses that let students apply their skills in the real world through community internships or partnerships. It’s in this space, Dalzell believes, that there’s an opportunity to make USL courses universal to all majors.

“As we begin to enter a world that is quickly changing and becoming more and more oriented around the idea of a knowledge economy, these connections from partnerships and exchanges of knowledge become more and more valuable,” she told ASU News. “Social embeddedness brings together various visions and individuals from across different sectors and experiences to help change some of the most complex challenges that face our society today.”

And although those connections and partnerships are happening between ASU and various communities, social embeddedness is playing a large role within the university, especially through ASU’s three new pillars: Academic, Learning and Knowledge enterprises.

“I don’t think any of us works without the other,” Knowledge Enterprise's Morton said during the conference. “Social embeddedness: We often think of people outside the university, but, I think, it’s also how we work together within the university. So I actually think we are an example of social embeddedness — the new structure, which is purposely designed by the university to further its charter and its aspirations.”

Learning Enterprise's Anguiano added that social embeddedness is about being responsive to a community’s needs.

“The vision of Learning Enterprise is to really help ensure universal access to educational opportunities at every stage of a person’s life — no matter where they are,” Anguiano said to the panel. “It’s definitely born out of all the work that’s already been done at ASU, and we hope to even further the work and get even more socially embedded.” 

Questions are often the best starting point when it comes to building community partnerships. It was a recipe for success for Lauren Weidner, a forensic entomologist and assistant professor in the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. She looks at the insects found at crime scenes, helping law enforcement with investigations. But in order to further her research and training, Weidner needed supplies. She turned to social media to ask for help and quickly found a local farm that was looking to eliminate its food waste, to donate materials for her research. A win for Weidner, who tells ASU News that one of her goals for the field of forensic science is to help the community through science.

“Being able to have the community involved with the research used to support this field really strengthens the field as a whole,” she said.

With the right amount of research and training, Weidner hopes the insects she studies will continue to provide clearer evidence for law enforcement and be used to exonerate individuals who are wrongfully imprisoned.

“What I’m trying to do with these insects is reach the point where we’re not having wrongful convictions; we’re stopping that prematurely. One of the ways we’re doing this is providing forensic entomology training to the law enforcement and forensic practitioner communities.”

Big ideas, one collaborative space

Despite the challenges of staying socially embedded virtually in 2020, ASU’s Social Embeddedness Network launched Collaboratory — a digital platform that tracks university-community partnerships. The online reporting tool provides the university more of a real-time snapshot of the work being done by faculty, staff and community members.

In years past, the work was tracked through an annual survey. Now, faculty and staff can input data at any time, while searching the database for other partners. The tool also empowers community members to initiate collaborations by serving as a map of ASU’s partnerships throughout its campuses, across Arizona, around the globe — and now — even the university’s virtual collaborations. The tool also helps the community be advocates for their socially embedded work as well.

“Community partners are recognized for their contributions and role in the work we do together,” said Christina Ngo, director of social embeddedness at ASU and the person who spearheaded the launch of Collaboratory and planned this year’s Social Embeddedness Network Conference. “The database also helps community partners identify possible faculty and staff who might make excellent, values-aligned collaborators. It encourages community partners to consider how and what types of additional connections they might make with ASU.”

Ngo adds that partnership is a core value of a publicly engaged institution, and a necessity within higher education.

“Socially embedded activities serve as opportunities to bring together seemingly disparate individuals and organizations with the expectation that they will work together around a shared vision,” Ngo said. “It also reinforces that we must acknowledge and recognize the important contributions, knowledge and expertise of our community partners. Social embeddedness allows us to practice deep listening and really hear what communities want and need.”

So far, more than 1,000 activities have been logged on the Collaboratory database. Additionally, ASU is also tracking how the university’s socially embedded activities aligns with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted by all member states in 2015 and provide a blueprint for a more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future.

One of those goals (No. 11) is to build sustainable cities and communities. As more and more companies are looking to become more sustainable, ASU is looking for innovative ways to advance those shared visions through private-sector partnerships.

“When it comes to shared goals, such as sustainability and our global future, we have so much to learn from each other,” said Amy Scoville-Weaver, program manager with ASU’s Corporate Engagement and Strategic Partnerships whose presentation at the conference was titled “Partnering with Industry for a Sustainable World.” “Companies want to learn how we’ve led the way, and we want to ensure our expertise is applied and our students are mentored and deployed to solve the issues that impact us all — like the climate crisis. Nurturing and advancing these kinds of partnerships also helps us show our university commitment to improving our world.”

In a pandemic year, the flexibility and adaptability brought on by the transition to a virtual world led Scoville-Weaver and her team to success, with the development of a new corporate partnership — achieved entirely over Zoom. (She could not share the name of the corporate partner yet because of a nondisclosure agreement.) She believes there’s opportunity for virtual collaboration moving forward and is excited about adding virtual tools to the larger toolbox.

“I’ve found our new virtual reality to be an enormous opportunity for camaraderie and relationship building with leaders of Fortune 500 companies that — honestly — I might have been intimidated by pre-pandemic. It has been humanizing and level-setting.”

Virtually, the Social Embeddedness Network Conference has also seen some successes. This year, more community partners were able to present at the conference than ever before. In the year to come, ASU’s social embeddedness director hopes the Collaboratory database will only increase the connectivity between the university and its many important community collaborators.

Ngo shares, “ASU is Collaboratory’s largest higher education partner, and one of my goals is to be able to leverage our fantastic subject-matter experts, including staff, faculty, students and community partners, to help improve the tool for our use as well as to help other institutions seeking ways to organize and map their social embeddedness work.”

To watch some of the presentations from the 2021 Social Embeddedness Network Conference, visit the ASU social embeddedness YouTube page.

Jimena Garrison

Copywriter , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

Minnesota professor named School of Social Work director

Elizabeth Lightfoot, who has a strong commitment to international collaboration, inclusion, begins duties July 1


April 1, 2021

Elizabeth Lightfoot will become the next director of the Arizona State University School of Social Work on July 1, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions Dean Jonathan Koppell announced.

Lightfoot, a University of Minnesota Distinguished Global Professor who has directed UMN’s doctoral program in social work since 2006, has been a member of its faculty since 1999. Elizabeth Lightfoot, new, director, School of Social Work, new director Elizabeth Lightfoot will be the new director of the ASU School of Social Work starting July 1, 2021. Download Full Image

“I’m thrilled to be joining the faculty, staff and students at ASU. I can’t really think of a better fit for me,” said Lightfoot, whose father lived in Phoenix and who has other family in the Valley. “Not only do I love Phoenix … but ASU has one of the best schools of social work in the country and one of the biggest schools in the world. I’m honored that I’ve been chosen to lead it and look forward to working with everyone.”

“Dr. Lightfoot’s joining Watts College to lead our School of Social Work will benefit our students, faculty and college in numerous ways,” Koppell said. “She is a respected scholar and talented innovator, particularly in her attention to the international aspects of social work. I am impressed that she has held honored leadership roles among social work educators and am confident she will apply her experience when working with our dedicated and productive faculty to advance our mission of inclusion paired with excellence.”

Lightfoot will succeed James Herbert Williams, who will return to teaching July 1. Williams, Arizona Centennial Professor of Social Welfare, has been School of Social Work director since September 2017.

“Dr. Williams has demonstrated a strong and steady hand heading the School of Social Work,” Koppell said. “His career has inspired so many to enter the profession and make a difference to so many more. And his leadership in the field has brought attention to the caliber of our program.”

Lightfoot, who will also be appointed as a Foundation Professor, focuses her research in the area of disability policy and services and the intersections of disability with child welfare, aging, abuse and health. She currently has several research projects underway exploring family caregiving during the COVID-19 pandemic; fraud and older adults/people with disabilities; parental supports for parents with disabilities; doctoral education in social work; and social work, disability and aging in Romania and Namibia.

Lightfoot said she incorporated an international approach to teaching social work, which she plans to bring to ASU.

“One of the highlights of my career is to have international collaborations,” said Lightfoot, who said she had “the great fortune” to receive two Fulbright scholarships that took her to Namibia and Romania, where today she maintains deep connections.

“I’m interested in general with further international collaborations, both with faculty doing research projects, but also developing opportunities for students to learn what social work is like in other countries by doing visits and internships,” she said.

Lightfoot said she looks forward in particular to working with first-generation ASU students to determine how to make such trips affordable.

“I have enjoyed taking (Master of Social Work) students who have never had a passport to do field training in a place like Namibia,” she said.

Lightfoot said she was particularly moved by the ASU Charter’s emphasis on inclusion, and the way the university defines success based on whom it includes rather than excludes. She said it aligns with her own research interests and values.

“I love that phrase,” Lightfoot said, adding she encountered it frequently while visiting ASU as a candidate for her new position.

“In every meeting I was at, someone repeated that phrase. I liked that so much,” she said. “It’s wonderful that you can be a world-class university with high levels of research, scholarship, really smart and caring undergraduate and graduate students, and have a message of inclusion. This impresses me so much because I’m a disability researcher. I’m guided by the idea of access.”

Lightfoot’s doctoral degree is a joint PhD in public policy from the Department of Political Science and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her Master of Social Work degree is from the University of Minnesota. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Santa Clara (California) University.

Lightfoot is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare and a fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research. She has served as president of the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE) and the secretary of the Society for Social Work and Research.

Lightfoot has spent sabbatical years as a Fulbright Scholar at the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work at the University of Bucharest in Romania (2018–19) and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Namibia (2008). She has received the University of Minnesota's Award for Global Engagement: Distinguished Global Professor, GADE's Award for Educational Leadership in Doctoral Education, and the College of Education and Human Development's Educational Leadership Award.

Lightfoot said she’s looking forward to moving to Arizona — she has already decided to leave her snowblower behind – and to working with school's faculty.

“It’s a great faculty, they’re doing so many cool things,” Lightfoot said. “I’m lucky to join a place like ASU.”

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions

602-496-0001

Watts College students, alumni tackle the COVID-19 pandemic on the front lines at vaccination sites


March 31, 2021

The good news, of course, is that more and more Arizonans are receiving COVID-19 vaccines, with tens of thousands getting vaccinated in parking lots at large sports stadiums. But the daily challenge is to organize hundreds of supervisors and volunteers to help get that lifesaving medicine from dozens of boxes of vials and into the arms of so many lining up in all those vehicles.

Students and alumni from Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions are there, putting their acquired knowledge to work during the public health crisis in ways few could have imagined a year ago, working all hours to make sure as many people as possible receive their shots as quickly and efficiently as possible. woman wearing a mask standing outside of a car, directing it where to go Paige Corbin, a tourism development management (meetings and events) major in the School of Community Resources and Development in ASU's Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, speaks with someone about to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at State Farm Stadium. Photo by Erin Schneiderman Download Full Image

About 40 students who are members of the Watts College-based Public Service Academy’s Next Generation Service Corps are joined by about 80 students from the Watts-based School of Community Resources and Development.

Throughout the spring semester they have been performing a wide variety of functions at State Farm Stadium in Glendale and Phoenix Municipal Stadium on the Tempe border.

Those working at the State Farm Stadium site earned national attention for their efficiency in administering vaccines to large numbers of people. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris virtually toured the site in February, after which they thanked those working there for their dedication and complimented them for staffing a vaccination site that is a role model for others nationwide.

Arizona is among the top three states in the nation for getting the COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable communities, according to a March 17 report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quoted in an Arizona Department of Health Services statement. The CDC report found that Arizona had the third-highest vaccination coverage for high-vulnerability counties as determined by the Social Vulnerability Index, a nationally accepted framework.

Breanna Carpenter, assistant director, ASU Research Enterprise

Breanna Carpenter, assistant director, ASU Research Enterprise, is a Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions alum.

Breanna Carpenter, assistant director of ASU Research Enterprise, the university’s applied research and development arm, and fellow Watts College alum Marcus Jones, assistant director for special projects at the College of Health Solutions, were instrumental in organizing the logistics for the COVID-19 testing efforts before the vaccinations began, said Watts College Dean Jonathan Koppell.

“Bre and Marcus did such an admirable job planning the administration of COVID tests,” Koppell said. “They continued to show their superior organizational abilities as they played key roles in leading the vaccination rollout at the stadiums. They are among so many of our students and alumni who are doing the kind of vital, important work that President Biden and Vice President Harris took notice of and highly praised.”

Carpenter holds a bachelor’s degree and two graduate degrees from Watts College. She received her Master of Social Work and Master of Public Administration degrees in May 2020.

She said volunteers trained by students are working every shift at the stadium vaccination sites.

“They’re doing patient check-in, observation, registration, hospitality, getting supplies, being zone supervisors,” said Carpenter, Watts College’s former events coordinator, who has been overseeing efforts at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Marcus Jones, assistant director for special projects, College of Health Solutions, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, alum

Marcus Jones, assistant director for special projects, College of Health Solutions, is a Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions alum. 

Jones said several students now working with him at State Farm Stadium are taking his special event programming class (PRM 422). The opportunity to connect their academic knowledge with the hands-on experience they’re gaining at the drive-thru vaccination sites is invaluable, he said.

“Our students are phenomenal. They’re taking what they learned in course work and are applying it,” said Jones, who received a bachelor’s degree in public service and public policy from the School of Public Affairs in 2013. “They’re learning how to think on their feet, and if they don’t know how to do something, they learn how to work up the chain of command.”

He added, “I’m an event planner by trade but I consider myself an educator first. I’m training the next generation of event planners right now and can’t think of a better experience than to give them this opportunity.”

Another Watts graduate, Steven Latino, ASU Research Enterprise's director of research and applied services, spent several weeks supervising efforts at State Farm Stadium, which logged its 500,000th vaccination on March 15.

He said the 24-hour operation has grown to the point where there’s no slow period, even in the middle of the night. Regardless, the team has consistently demonstrated it can handle the volume.

“We’re only limited by the number of doses in the freezer,” he said.

Latino received his bachelor’s degree in public service and public policy from the School of Public Affairs in 2019, and is currently working toward a Master of Public Administration degree.

Brett Hunt, executive director of the Public Service Academy, said work at the vaccination sites is part of Watts College’s ethic of problem-solving.

“All those types of things, all the way up to hopefully solving the pandemic itself. It’s testimony to the kinds of students we’re lucky to work with,” he said.

At the two stadium vaccination sites, students, who are being paid for their efforts, are serving as leads in charge of up to 20 volunteers each, who arrive daily to donate time to assist, Hunt said. Students teach volunteers how to check people in, prepare them for their vaccinations and schedule appointments for their second doses.

Also overseeing volunteers and performing other similar tasks are students in the School of Community Resources and Development's special event management program, supervised by Erin Schneiderman, a clinical assistant professor in the school.

“This operation truly is an event,” Schneiderman said. “From traffic management, safety and security, staffing, hospitality, volunteer recruiting, ADA, technology, communications and conflict management, this environment offers so many valuable lessons for our students to learn.”

Schneiderman said through March 29 her students worked more than 5,000 hours, combined, at both stadiums.

Luis Pintor Zavaleta, a management and tourism business sophomore helping those getting vaccines at State Farm Stadium, said by being there he’s been able to connect what he’s learned in his classes into real-life situations.

“I often relate terms and lessons from my TDM (tourism development and management) classes,” Zavaleta said. “I enjoy working at the site, because I am able to be a part of an historic movement in one of the largest vaccine sites in the country.”

Other Watts College students are also making a difference in the vaccination rollout, even though they aren’t working at vaccination sites. Hunt said many such students are among those staffing Maricopa County’s 2-1-1 call-in line, helping older adults and others who have experienced difficulties getting appointments to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations. The outreach provides callers with access to several public- and private-sector resources, including vaccination appointments.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions

602-496-0001

 
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US News ranks 14 ASU graduate programs in top 10

March 30, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now

480-727-4503

 
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What COVID-19 means for the future of scholarly research

March 19, 2021

10 researchers from across disciplines at ASU on how the pandemic will affect work in their fields going forward

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a globally disruptive force to our human systems for over a year. 

Scholars have already begun researching the effects of the catastrophe as it’s unfolding. But what will that inquiry look like in five years, or a few decades from now? How will researchers measure the shock to and resilience of society?

Some researchers focus their careers on a single disaster. Hurricane Katrina provided a wealth of information for scholars of population mobility and, years later, on housing policy. Scholars of the Great Depression have charted the effects of monetary policy and labor practices. All of which comes down to: How were people affected? And what did they do?

ASU News interviewed several experts across Arizona State University on the questions they think researchers will be asking about the COVID-19 pandemic in the next few years and beyond. Here’s what they said.

Editor's note: Some answers edited for length and clarity.

 

Agribusiness illustration

Agribusiness

Tim Richards is the Morrison Chair of Agribusiness in the W. P. Carey School of Business. 

Tim Richards

Question: With the pandemic as the background, what do you think the experts in your field will be doing research on in five years?

Answer: The shorter term for us is less than five years. Five years is the long term because things move so fast in ag supply chains. Firms will have adjusted by then.

We’ve been scrambling all year, in my own research and as co-editor of the flagship American Journal of Agricultural Economics, taking manuscripts all the time dealing with the resilience of the supply chain. How are suppliers responding? How are consumers responding? What are the shocks?

The thing about food is that people eat it every day. It’s not hypothetical to what’s happening.

Food retailers have to adapt to shifts they see coming down the pike in the next two weeks. Summer is long range.

Five years out, the big things we’ll be talking about is how prepared we are for the next pandemic and how to set up supply chains to absorb the next shock. 

And how will behavior change as a result of COVID? Will people spend more time in the house and cook more and depend less on food service?

Q: What kind of data and trends will researchers in your field be looking at in 20 years?

A:  In the longer term, climate change will be the dominant issue.

Q: What research that is happening now in your field, apart from your own, do you find most exciting?

A: It’s super interesting all across the map.

At the journal, we have four main editors who deal with different parts of ag economics in general. Mark (Manfredo, professor of agribusiness) and I do more supply-chain agribusiness. We had a special issue and called for manuscripts. Our deadline was Sept. 1 and we received 80 on that day.

I had to take 60 of them because they were all on supply chains and food markets and consumer behavior. There are implications for environmental economics and sustainable food supplies. 

By far the most were on food prices, food consumption patterns, business failures (and) food waste.

 

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Social work

Elizabeth Anthony is an associate professor in the School of Social Work in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Elizabeth Anthony

Question: With the pandemic as the background, what do you think the experts in your field will be doing research on in five years? 

Answer: There are so many things to study, it is hard to focus on just one or two. In child development, researchers will want to know how the pandemic has impacted social interactions in particular. Are kids more or less able to relate socially to their peers as a consequence of so much time at a distance? Of course, the other issue will be about academics and the academic divide; some children have really thrived in the virtual school environment while others have struggled significantly. One of the most important questions will be how are children differentially impacted and how has the pandemic highlighted the racial and economic inequities for children. Another fascinating question is how children will report their own experiences of the pandemic — mask wearing, missing major events, attending virtual gatherings, going to remote funerals and weddings, etc.

Q: What kind of data and trends will researchers in your field be looking at in 20 years? 

A: Racial/ethnic, academic, economic and health disparities will all be tracked in relationship to the aftermath of the dual pandemics of COVID and racism in America.  

Q: What research that is happening now in your field, apart from your own, do you find most exciting? 

A: I am fascinated by the work of Indigenous scholars who are examining the concept of community thriving and joy in the midst of grief and hardship. 

Q: There are people who make careers out of studying major events like the Great Depression or Hurricane Katrina. If you were a current doctoral candidate in your field, what about COVID-19 would inspire your thesis? 

A: I would conduct an exploratory mixed methods study examining how children experienced the pandemic. I would use qualitative interview methods to have the children share their distinct perspectives. Adults think we know what children are thinking, but there is an entire unexplored universe in the minds of the children of the pandemic. 

Q: How has the pandemic affected your current research? 

A: The pandemic has made me keenly aware of what is meaningful and important research. Now, more than ever, we need research that makes a difference in the lives of children and families. I am doing more public and community work than ever since the need in our communities is so great. And my scholarship is sharply focused on work that can have a positive impact for our most vulnerable children.

 

indigenous studies illustration

Indigenous studies

Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy is a President’s Professor, director of the Center for Indian Education and ASU’s special adviser to the president on American Indian affairs. 

Bryan Brayboy

Question: With the pandemic as the background, what do you think the experts in your field will be doing research on in five years? 

Answer: I work at the intersections of education, anthropology and Indigenous studies. I’ll try to address this from the perspective of Indigenous education, but it will — by necessity — be broader than that. 

Indigenous education scholars, and those in the field of educational anthropology, will likely be interested in a few things in the coming years. There will likely be a retrospective review of the impact of COVID-19 closing down in-person classes for young people. There will be an exploration of infrastructural issues that include broadband and other technological — and related access to broadband and hardware — concerns, but also an exploration of the physical structures of school buildings. In a 2015 Inspector General Report on Indigenous schools and schooling, the role of the physical space limiting positive and productive academic achievement for American Indian children raised concerns for many of us. How has learning from home changed or amplified that concern is something that will likely be explored. 

I also suspect that there will be an examination of what the learning outcomes and adaptations — by students, parents/families, teachers and administrators — were when schools were largely closed. For those schools that have been opened, I think there will be studies guided by asking questions about the long-term socio-emotional impact on children who were forced to be socially distant.

Q: What kind of data and trends will researchers in your field be looking at in 20 years?

A: There will be a real interest in transdisciplinary and transfield research focused on the well-being of schoolchildren and communities. The intersections between the impact of the pandemics of global climate change, health care and racism will still be of interest, but in ways where there is an overlap and intersectional views of the challenges rooted in the imbrication of these pandemics. The confluence of these pandemics will be well-documented and there will be serious engagement with finding ways to further document and address how they move together. 

And, there will be exciting new research on the impact of tribes taking over their schools. To date, most schools serving Native children on reservations are run and operated by the federal government and the Bureau of Indian Education. Tribal nations and communities are beginning to build capacity to assume daily operations and staffing of the schools. There will be a decade of data and experiences to explore in the area that will be worth exploring. 

Q: There are people who make careers out of studying major events like the Great Depression or Hurricane Katrina. If you were a current doctoral candidate in your field, what about COVID-19 would inspire your thesis? 

A: What a time to be engaged in, by, and through the world around us. I would write about the intersections between the health, climate, economic and race pandemics and their interconnectedness. COVID allows an opportunity to have an honest dialogue about how these issues wrap together. As such, I think new work would offer ways to bring systemic and systems analysis to the breadth of these challenges. There have to be multiple lenses on the current moment that illuminate the rhizomic nature of a challenge that has been framed as singular, rather than the complex, multilayered one that it is.

Q: How has the pandemic affected your current research? 

A: My research is relational. I talk to people. I visit with them. Eat with them. Share stories and make connections. It is intimate and sensual — we use our senses. Some of this can be done online and via Zoom, but some of it requires face-to-face engagements. So, I have been limited in new work. 

But, there have been some interesting opportunities emerge. In the lockdown, I’ve shifted my focus to building international, intergenerational responses to the current challenges. Since February of 2020, I’ve led weekly conversations with Indigenous scholars in New Zealand, Hawaii, California, Illinois and New Mexico where think seriously about how Indigenous knowledge systems may help us better understand the intersecting pandemics. … These gatherings have forced me to listen, marinate, facilitate and learn from really different people. As a result, there are a whole new set of emerging questions to explore in my thinking and research.

 

Supply chain illustration

Supply chain

Hitendra Chaturvedi is a supply chain management professor of practice with the W. P. Carey School of Business.  

Hitendra Chaturvedi

Question: What are your predictions for the future of contactless shopping and delivery? Will consumers continue to prefer shopping that way even when in-person shopping becomes safe again?   

Answer: There were/are believers in online shopping and there were/are believers in in-person shopping, and historically, it has been mostly a generational thing. Just like working from home was perceived to be less productive before COVID-19 and now that we are forced to work from home due to COVID, even naysayers are realizing that it does not impact productivity; the online naysayers — mostly baby boomers — are turning into converts. My prediction is that in-person shopping will become safe but it would have lost a lot of its hardcore believers to online, and the numbers this past holiday season are testament to that shift. 

The biggest change that online shopping has done is commoditize the “shopping experience,” which means we do not have to dress up and drive for our shopping need. Shopping is not an event anymore. Shopping is just like going to the kitchen and refilling our cup of coffee. With this move, holiday season is not only limited to two weeks when malls are decked up, but spread over two months, with many Black Fridays and other special days. Online shopping is here to stay, and you will see technology like artificial intelligence try to bridge the experience gap between in-person experience and online experience. … In-person will evolve with a new purpose while online experience will try to become more personal through the use of oodles of data and technology. 

Q: With the pandemic as the background, what else do you think the experts in your field will be doing research on in five years?   

A: Three key areas: 1) The role of intelligent technology to make virtual shopping feel like an in-person experience. 2) The role of technology and supply chain management to delivery products in “near real time.” This will include drones and robotic delivery platforms. 3) Circular economy issues related to meteoric rise in contactless shopping, including how to proactively plan for returns and waste management. 

Q: What kind of data and trends will researchers in your field be looking at in 20 years? 

A: Twenty years is way out, but over the next 10 years, there are three big areas: 1) Individual “customer lifecycle management,” because unlike the “old” way, where we created and marketed to customer segments by demographics — race, age, location, etc. — we will become a customer segment of “one.” Microscopic data of our likes, preferences, age, gender, partners, kids, etc. all will be cross-referenced, dissected, mined, manipulated and monetized by intelligent algorithms run on some very powerful machines. 2) Privacy concerns in the age of intelligent machines. 3) End-to-end product life cycle management for each product and how to build the best circular economy model as we strive toward a sustainable economy. Material trends to create products that contribute to an economically viable, sustainable circular business model. 

Q: What research that is happening now in your field, apart from your own, do you find most exciting? 

A: Robotic process automation where a bridge is being created between biology and technology, including bio-bots, self-aware robots and artificial intelligence. Robots of the future made out of living cells rather than metal, plastic, gears and motors just fascinates me. 

Q: There are people who make careers out of studying major events like the Great Depression or Hurricane Katrina. If you were a current doctoral candidate in your field, what about COVID-19 would inspire your thesis? 

A: Not sure about a thesis, but a couple of book title comes to mind: ”The Fragility of it All,” or “Revenge of the Bat,” or “The Bat Effect” – a twist on the famous book and movie “The Butterfly Effect.” 

Q: How has the pandemic affected your current research? 

A: Everyone can pontificate and we, as professors, are best at it! There is no substitute in good research for “real world” experience: to be in the field, to sense, to touch and feel, and immerse in experiences that make the data real, which, unfortunately, we cannot do while sitting at home or in an office, just analyzing reams and reams of data. 

 

Ecology illustration

Ecology

Sharon Hall is a professor and an ecosystem scientist with the School of Life Sciences.

Sharon Hall

Question: With the pandemic as the background, what do you think the experts in your field will be doing research on in five years? 

Answer: One of the really interesting things that's been happening in ecological sciences is thinking about what this "Anthropause" means for people in the planet. And when I say Anthropause, I'm thinking about the time when we all stopped traveling and cars were not on the road. Planes were not in the air for long periods of time. One of the first questions that we thought is, "How does this pause in anthropogenic activities affect our planet and the ecosystems that we're living in?" We expected to see some changes rapidly, like air quality. We saw lots of media articles about how pollution is better in Los Angeles. "You can see the mountains for the first time," for instance. But what's really quite interesting is the places where we didn't see a change. … That highlighted the complexity and the tangling of the different types of anthropogenic activities and ecosystem response. … Why wasn't there a change between March and April when things were really locked down? And we're trying to figure that out. 

I think the value of these long-term data and these agencies and the partnerships with ASU is to look at the trends over weeks, months, years, and really to try and see this very small signal in a lot of noise. I think that's the challenge. And so without these sensors that are out there in the environment — not only just air quality sensors, but we've got cameras out in the environment, wildlife cameras looking for patterns and wildlife — without these sensors, essentially helping us look at these long-term patterns, it's hard to see this little signal. I think that the Anthropause will be little in terms of the signal in some areas. And there are other areas, for example, like in terms of the social system, it's going to be an enormous signal. But for the environment, I think it's much more complex than, than we like to give it credit for.

Q: What kind of data and trends will researchers in your field be looking at in 20 years?

A: One of the things I think that's most interesting is the attention on the links between human health and ecosystem health. I think that the COVID pandemic has really brought that into relief. We've known this for a long time, but it's been really under the radar. The idea that ecosystems when they are intact or less degraded have inherent feedbacks and complexities that prevents transmission of viruses and pathogens between people and the animals and other organisms that live in those ecosystems. And when we're breaking apart these ecosystems or we're going in and harvesting, we're getting animals and other organisms closer to people. There's a lot of transmission that occurs. And I think that we've known this for a long time, but you know, sometimes it takes a pandemic for us to get on board and see what's right in front of us.

Q: What research that is happening now in your field, apart from your own, do you find most exciting?

A: I am most excited right now in the renewed look at the environmental movement, the conservation movement, and looking at why it's continued to be so white. It's perceived to be so privileged in that way that when you look at environmental organizations, they tend to be demographically very skewed. And in my opinion, the pandemic and the events of the summer have really put a focus on what are the institutions that we have, what are these organizations and movements that we have that haven't been equitable. If we want to preserve the environment, we've got to get everybody on board. And how do you get everyone on board when there's only a handful, a group of people that feel comfortable in the outdoors? I find it my life's mission to tackle that question and try to get kids of all backgrounds comfortable in the outdoors and be able to receive the benefits from nature.

Q: There are people who make careers out of studying major events like the Great Depression or Hurricane Katrina. If you were a current doctoral candidate in your field, what about COVID-19 would inspire your thesis? 

A: I think that links between human health and ecosystem health is key. I mean, that's kind of a cool question too, because that gets you all the way from the global level, like looking at patterns of large-scale anthropogenic activities like deforestation all the way down to the molecular level, thinking about viruses. So that's very cool cross-scale sort of questions I think would be a great thesis or for a lifetime of work. The third thing I was thinking about is thinking about this Anthropause. If there were a period in the future where people exit some ecosystems, whether it's from climate migration or whatever, how can we restore those ecosystems back to a place that can support the original community of life that lived there? … We've seen that potentially there are some of our activities are reversible. How reversible are they and how long will it take? What will grow in its place? These are all good questions.

 

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Tourism

Gyan Nyaupane is the interim associate dean of research for the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and a professor in the School of Community Resources and Development.

Gyan Nyaupane

Question: With the pandemic as the background, what do you think the experts in your field will be doing research on in five years?

Answer: I research tourism and its relationship with the environment and its relationship with culture. Tourism was one of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic. Probably, tourism was one of the first industries impacted and will probably be the last one to revive. 

The United Nations World Tourism Organization put together data showing that tourism dropped by 74% in 2020 compared to 2019. The question I’m asking myself is, if one event can crush the industry, how can we make the industry more resilient?

The next question would be how to make tourism more sustainable at the destination level. Tourism is impacting small communities in a big way. When the pandemic hit, everything shut down, the borders were closed, planes were grounded and then people started going to public lands and parks. These parks were extremely crowded and some of them had to be closed because they couldn’t handle it. That’s what we’re trying to understand. 

And the biggest question we are all wondering is how this will impact human behavior. Will people still travel and how will they travel and what are they concerned with? 

We’re seeing some trends already. Tourism has the human touch. You’re served by waiters and greeted by people. I think that will be digitized and accelerate the process of technology faster than usual. 

I think we’ll see people be more mindful of the pandemic when they travel. They will probably pause and think about themselves, the environment and about others before they travel. There might be some kind of consciousness that comes out of this. 

Q: What kind of data and trends will researchers in your field be looking at in 20 years?

A: The next few years will be very pandemic-focused, with a focus on how to revive. In 20 years, the pandemic will be one factor but there are many other factors in tourism already.

When you look at tourism beyond the pandemic, there’s climate change – an issue for island destinations and the Himalayas.

There’s technology. People have started traveling to space, which is very expensive and exclusive. There are two types of space tourism. One is going into space and spending a few days going around in orbit. And then there’s a quick shuttle to go into space, feel zero gravity and come back in an hour or so. I think that will happen in our lifetime. I think it will go from $20 million to $30,000 or $50,000 within the next 20 years. 

Another thing in the next 20 years will be social priorities. Travel used to be one way – people from the global north, North America and Europe, traveling to the global south. I think we’ll see two-way traffic going on because the middle class is growing in Asia and South America.

Q: There are people who make careers out of studying major events like the Great Depression or Hurricane Katrina. If you were a current doctoral candidate in your field, what about COVID-19 would inspire your thesis?

A: One thing I would look at is how we can adapt our research. I have a doctoral student who is supposed to do research in the field but can’t because of travel restrictions. Most of the time students think, "This is what I’ll do," and there is no Plan B. It’s a methodological point of view. But what happens if there is a tsunami or a pandemic?

A second question is, people think a pandemic is a big event, and it’s very impactful, but this is a short-term event. Research on resilience should be much bigger than focusing on the pandemic. 

Tourism will be impacted by several other factors — climate change, technology, man-made disasters, social change. I would be looking at the pandemic as just one factor, not the factor.

Q: How has the pandemic affected your current research?

A: I had plans to go to Nepal in the summer and do research on this very topic, the resiliency of communities. Things happen; there’s a flood or an earthquake. And some communities overcome these challenges quickly and some can’t. What makes one community more resilient? 

I also study tourism in Indigenous communities. I’ve been working with the Navajo Nation, helping with public lands planning, and I’ve not been able to go since last year.

I was also planning to go to Taiwan to do research on coral reefs and how they are impacted by tourism. They’re very popular among tourists, with scuba diving and all sorts of things. I was collaborating with some colleagues in Taiwan and I couldn’t.

But the pandemic has also been productive. I was able to spend time writing a book. 

One interesting thing is how people share their knowledge. With everything virtual, you can organize a conference without paying anything. I was planning to go to Nepal and instead I started doing webinars, connecting with people in the industry every month on a different issue.  It’s grown and I’ve established this network because of the pandemic.

Some of the other faculty in my school and I also did a pandemic study in Arizona. We invited people from the industry, public health experts, agencies who work in tourism, and people inside and outside of ASU. We looked at scenario planning, how tourism would look in a year or two or three. Even with the vaccine, there’s a lot of uncertainty.

We came up with four scenarios, and it was great to put that together in a report and share it with our partners.

 

Education illustration

Education

Punya Mishra is the associate dean of scholarship and innovation and professor in the division of educational leadership and innovation at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

Punya Mishra

Question: With the pandemic as the background, what do you think the experts in your field will be doing research on in five years? 

Answer: The UNESCO website that tracks the educational disruption due to COVID-19 showed that, in a mere 45 days, starting in mid-February, schools in over 180 countries shut their doors, affecting the education of 1.5 billion learners. Suddenly, the entire world was conducting a global, educational social experiment that continues to this day. People who study such disruptions are not surprised by the first major effects we are seeing.  

First, in education as in much else, the pandemic has hurt the disadvantaged more than it has the privileged. The virus has laid bare the equity gaps in education and lots of underlying problems in our society, especially the equity gaps, in wealth, access to health care and education. 

Second, the pandemic has accelerated and intensified some preexisting trends. Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in technology use in learning, particularly the growth of distance education. This pandemic, and the need for remote schooling, has really brought educational technology to the forefront. And that will likely persist after the pandemic ends. This does not mean that most instances of remote learning were successful. Millions of parents and kids can tell you that sitting in front of Zoom does not imply learning. But at another level, the genie is out of the bottle.  

So researchers will have to contend with the fallout from these things. They will have to broaden the aperture through which they look at educational equity. And they will have to look closely at technology, at the equity dimensions of technology as well as at issues of pedagogical practice — how we teach, and learning outcomes — how we evaluate what we teach. …

Finally, I hope that this pandemic will allow us to revisit the role that schools play in our society and how we evaluate their success. We usually evaluate schools based on students' success and learning through standardized tests. But the crisis made clear that schools are more than just spaces where students go to learn. These are spaces for socio-emotional development, of growth of character and identity. And let us not forget the economic role that schools play — not just in terms of the future but a more immediate one. Schools, by providing safe spaces for the young to engage, interact, learn and grow, allow for parents to keep the economy running. Thus the role that schools play in our ecology is incredibly complicated but we measure their success only on single measures. I hope that the COVID-19 crisis allows us to rethink and reevaluate the role that schools play in our lives and in our communities.  

Q: What kind of data and trends will researchers in your field be looking at in 20 years?

A: As the science fiction author, William Gibson said, “The future is already here — it is just not very evenly distributed.” 

The learning profile for a migrant child from Syria is going to be different from the learning profile of an inner-city kid in Chicago, or someone growing up in Mesa, Arizona. 

Education is always contextual. It is a rich complex domain that will always feature multiple perspectives and approaches. So the kinds of data that education researchers will look at will be determined by a variety of contexts (Syria or Chicago, wealthy or underserved areas, etc.) and by a range of disciplines (history, philosophy, learning science and much more). This data will be qualitative and quantitative. And, as I mentioned above, there will be a lot of it. The more interesting question, perhaps, is not what kinds of data we will look at but rather, it will be what, given the expected growth of AI and machine learning and the asymmetries of who has access to data, the ethical rules of the road for capturing who owns the data, the conclusions we draw from it and how it is used. 

Q: What research that is happening now in your field, apart from your own, do you find most exciting?

A: I love this question because one of the things that I do in my work is that I think a lot about what we call the “adjacent possible.” The only way to explain it is with an analogy. One can argue that one of the most significant technological advances was the advent of the printing press. It allowed for mass literacy, and in some ways our educational system is built around the “book.” 

What many people don’t know is that one of the side effects of the advent of print is that many people realized they had bad eyesight. That had not been an issue because masses of people had not previously had to peer at small print on a page by candlelight before. Within decades after the invention of the printing press, lens makers were making spectacles. It was a booming business across Europe and led to people playing with lenses. And that play with pieces of polished glass led to the invention of the microscope and the telescope. And suddenly the infinities of the very small and the very large became revealed to us and transformed how we looked at the world and our place in it. This is the adjacent possible. 

So, I wonder not just about the impact of new educational tools and technologies but also about inventions and technologies that at least on the surface do not have a direct impact on education but in other ways can dramatically transform it. And of course this is really hard to predict. For instance, I think about something like CRISPR and I wonder what that could mean for the future and its impact on learning. I look at the advent of AI and what it means for the jobs of the future. 

I do think this is a provocative question, but one we must approach with a great deal of humility. The history of education is littered with examples of technologies that were supposed to transform education but didn’t. But I think as educators we should be always looking outside of education for disruptions and transformation.  

Q: There are people who make careers out of studying major events, like the great depression or Hurricane Katrina. If you were a current doctoral candidate in your field, what about COVID-19 would inspire your thesis?

A: If I were a doctoral student in education at this time, I would focus on issues of institutional resilience. I say this because over the past months it has been interesting to see how different educational organizations (schools, districts, higher ed institutions) both within the U.S. and internationally responded to the pandemic. 

Q: How has the pandemic affected your current research?  

A: In my role as associate dean of scholarship and innovation I get to work with faculty across the college supporting them in their research. I see three different responses. For one group, those who work with existing data sets, in economics of education, or those who study the history of education, nothing much has changed. Their work continues relatively unimpeded.  

For those working in the space of educational technology, in some ways, this disruption has been a bonanza. Their field is now at the center of the action. They are in high demand and rightfully so. 

Finally, there are scholars whose work is dependent on being in the classroom, observing teachers and students, working with Native American populations, or migrant learners. The pandemic has completely disrupted their work. 

 

Consumer illustration

Consumer behavior

Lauren Chenarides is an assistant professor in the Morrison School of Agribusiness.

Lauren Chenarides

Question: Everyone knows about the toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Did people actually hoard food, and what is responsible for hoarding?

Answer: In economics, the way to get around hoarding is to let the markets work. The worst thing is to pass price-gouging legislation.

Let companies do what they want and consumers will be restrained in their behavior. If Fry’s had charged five times the price of pasta in April, there would have been less hoarding. 

It sounds horrible, but it’s how the markets work.

Q: There are people who have made careers out of studying major events like the Great Depression or Hurricane Katrina. If you were a current doctoral candidate in your field, what about the COVID-19 pandemic would inspire your thesis?

A: There’s going to be a lot. What drives doctoral dissertations in economics, especially empirical economics, which is testing theories and examining behavior, is data availability. 

There are data sets that are somewhat real-time, tracking cell phones. We know they went to Costco but what did they buy? How much did they spend?

That data will start trickling out in 2021, 2022, and the really impactful stuff that people will derive from this will be over the next two, three or four years. There will be whole careers made on this … but a lot of the research won’t be directly COVID-related. It’s an example of a larger set of issues that hit markets and shed light on deeper human behavior, like hoarding.

A lot of research deals with hurricanes or earthquakes, and I think we’re realizing this is another in a sequence of events we poorly understood in the past.

Q: Has the pandemic affected your current research?

A: My major stream over the last five or six years is the (agriculture) labor market shortage. It’s the biggest problem for farmers in Arizona and California, the food basket of the U.S. 

They need workers. You have to have hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people, depending on the skill of the operation. 

There was a real concern in March and April about whether the harvest would even happen. Could they bring in workers from Mexico? How could they guarantee their safety? Would they be allowed out of fear of bringing COVID from Mexico? To say it turned out fine would be an overstatement. They managed to get enough workers to get it done, but at the expense of a lot of safety concerns.

Everyone knows about the meat-packing issues in the Midwest, where they were nodes for spreading the pandemic.

At the end of the day, in terms of access to labor and the ability of the food supply chain to supply food, it made do.

It’s opened up a whole new area in terms of supply chain resilience. It’s really exposed to me as a researcher that we didn’t care much before. We have a super-efficient food production system in the U.S., and we found out its resilience has real limits.

There were four or five weeks where there was a shock to the system that we didn’t think could happen.

 

Climate illustration

Urban climate

Matei Georgescu is an associate professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

Matei Georgescu

Question: With the pandemic as the background, what do you think the experts in your field will be doing research on in five years? 

Answer: Experts in the field of urban climate are focused on two very broad themes. The first relies on getting out in the field to undertake observational measurements. Given lockdowns and generally reduced activity, I think the reduction in such observational campaigns will spur much greater activity in the observational realm in the future. These observations inform many of the numerical modeling activities that my group and others using similar computing-based tools rely on to ensure their models work well. The second involves a broader view of how our cities should be built. The community has been thinking about this topic for many years, but perhaps not with the same sense of urgency and not with the same sense of realism to tradeoffs, both social and physical, as we are confronted with now. 

Q: What kind of data and trends will researchers in your field be looking at in 20 years?

A: The advent of AI will continue to be leveraged in ways that advance our field immensely. For example, in my field, we utilize a "first principles" type of approach when examining simulation output. This has led to exciting advances, including quantification of projected urban-induced temperature changes relative to temperature changes due to greenhouse gas emissions across future U.S. cities. However, such a systematic approach also has the potential to be limiting. For example, the climate system is inherently nonlinear, and discovery of patterns and feedbacks not immediately visible to us through standard methodological approaches may be possible using advanced algorithms. Utility of AI is already pushing the frontiers of our field in many ways, but the possibilities by which such techniques may benefit our science, and society, in the future is exciting.

Q: What research that is happening now in your field, apart from your own, do you find most exciting?

A: There is very little research that I do not find interesting (laughs).

Q: There are people who make careers out of studying major events like the Great Depression or Hurricane Katrina. If you were a current doctoral candidate in your field, what about COVID-19 would inspire your thesis?

A: Perhaps not in my field: The social modifications associated with adjusting to a COVID-19 world have been extensive. I would be very intrigued in posing the appropriate questions to obtain a better sense of how this adjustment, i.e., people living and working in this new world, has varied for different populations, demographics; indeed, how some have actually thrived under such conditions and getting a sense for the impetus responsible for their success. So, perhaps I may change my field.

Q: How has the pandemic affected your current research?

A: The pandemic has created a paradigm shift when it comes to time management. Raising young children during this time, all while Zooming; preparing proposals; preparing, developing and delivering classes; ensuring student needs are appropriately met and maintaining strong research advancement has been challenging, but also rewarding. Because of the pandemic forcing lifestyle changes, it has forced me to look within myself and get a sense for how I can improve, how I can become more efficient, how I can be more understanding and grateful for those things that I may take for granted. It has been, in many ways, a forced period of reflection, both professionally and personally, which is always beneficial.

 

Environment

Heather Bateman is an associate professor in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.

Heather Bateman

Question: With the pandemic as the background, what do you think the experts in your field will be doing research on in five years?

Answer: My background is in ecology and I study wildlife, so birds and herpetofauna are my expertise. A whole big suite of researchers have coined this the Anthropause. So we're living in the Anthropocene, which is this area of huge human influence. And the Anthropuase is the lockdown orders all over the world. This might affect wildlife in positive and negative ways. … Maybe people staying at home are spending time in their yard or spending time around their neighborhood, so maybe they're seeing wildlife and plants that they didn't formerly appreciate, beause they're just not taking that time to see it. I hope there's an appreciation for nature. A lot of people have tried to recreate and just find things to do during the pandemic. Here in Arizona our parks were just slammed. So lots of Forest Service lands were being used by the public and within Phoenix, a lot of the regional parks and mountain parks were very busy. And that's good — people connecting to nature. But it also might have human impacts on the resource. So natural resource managers might have new challenges that they hadn't before — just dealing with trash and having a lot of people on the landscape. Wildlife might be avoiding those areas a little bit more where there's a lot of human activity. So I think it can be a really mixed bag, you know, depending on how people are acting in different places.

Q: What kind of data and trends will researchers in your field be looking at in 20 years?

A: Wildlife, like many fields in science and ecology is becoming an area of big data. So there's a lot of sensors that researchers use. This could be everything from putting up acoustical loggers to record songbirds and frogs vocalizing to trail cameras recording a picture when an animal trips it. So we sort of sensored nature, right? And another field is looking at community source data. Sometimes this is referred to as citizen science — a more inclusive term though is community science. So this is where the public can engage and use their skills to identify plants and animals and record those within open source databases. Amateur ornithologists have contributed to that field for over a hundred years easily. So there's been Christmas bird counts and backyard bird counts, breeding bird surveys. But now with iNaturalist and eBird, there's a lot of community source data that's out there. And I think researchers are getting better at understanding how to use the data to ask research questions.

Q: What research that is happening now in your field, apart from your own, do you find most exciting?

A: I'm engaging with social scientists personally. I'm really excited about pairing how people feel about nature and their ideas about who belongs and what species belong in nature. There's several of us that are thinking about that. I don't mean to pass that off as my idea. But several of us have submitted a proposal to look at human-wildlife interactions in the city and also conduct social surveys of people. … As an ecologist, I think that's really interesting. I learn a lot from social scientists and I think it's important to think about people in any conservation plans we have.

Q: There are people who make careers out of studying major events like the Great Depression or Hurricane Katrina. If you were a current doctoral candidate in your field, what about COVID-19 would inspire your thesis?

A: So our proposal that we put in on human-wildlife interaction, we think that people acted differently during the pandemic, during these stay-at-home orders and recommendations, and that it increased their contact with wildlife and some people make decisions based on their beliefs. We've been working with a company that removes snakes from residential areas. And I think that human-snake interactions really increased during the lockdown. Sometimes when people see injured wildlife or they believe wildlife to be injured, they call wildlife rehabilitators. And so I'm guessing that all of that human wildlife interaction really increased during the pandemic. The trick of doing a dissertation or some type of research is having something to compare it to. 

By partnering with a business that is removing snakes, I think this is an untapped data source that people haven't previously looked at. And it's probably the same for these rehabilitation centers. They may or may not have a close relationship with a researcher and maybe researchers just haven't engaged and reached out. But these community organizations and local businesses have a lot of knowledge about the natural world. … These entities have been overlooked just because they don't have a PhD. Our collaborators in the local businesses are just so impressive with their natural history knowledge. They have a lot to contribute. And we have a lot to learn from them.

Q: How has the pandemic affected your current research?

A: As a field biologist, I work outside. This summer we had a project trapping desert rodents across an urban heat island gradient. We kind of got a slow start. It was good that we had already had one year under our belt. So we were able to be out in the field together. We drove separate cars. We were masked in the field, so we were able to collect our data. The projects that we already had in the pipeline still moved forward. So I feel like I've been very fortunate in that. I feel like my research hasn't been very much impacted. It is tough to not see people but you know, "Zoom land," it works. And we were doing that before with some of these large collaborations; we have researchers in Massachusetts, Colorado. And so we're kind of used to that.

Written by Mary Beth Faller, Emma Greguska, Scott Seckel and Marshall Terrill of ASU News

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