ASU names Hao Yan as inaugural Glick Chair

February 15, 2012

Arizona State University has named Hao Yan the Milton D. Glick Distinguished Chair of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The award is named for chemistry professor Milton Glick who passed away last year. Glick came to ASU in the early 1990s and worked as a provost and executive vice president before serving as president of the University of Nevada Reno from 2006 until his death. Scientist Hao Yan Download Full Image

“Milt Glick understood the potential of science to solve some of our societal challenges,” said ASU President Michael Crow, who created the award to honor exceptional professors who will have dramatic impact on their areas of science and beyond. “Hao Yan’s inspiration of students and break-neck speed in developing new technologies that may spark entirely new solutions in medicine and energy make him the appropriate inaugural recipient.”

Yan is a recognized leader in the fast-moving field known as structural DNA nanotechnology, or DNA origami. His research team at ASU’s Biodesign Institute was the first to successfully construct closed 3D DNA nanoforms.

The innovation of building closed structures out of DNA provides a type of basket made from the building blocks of life that opens doors to a wide array of future applications. Such DNA containers may be the lynch pin for developing ultra-tiny computing components and nanomedical sentries used to target and destroy aberrant cells or deliver therapeutics at the cellular or molecular level. Yan’s string of discoveries in DNA origami included constructing a DNA Mobius strip and programming an autonomous molecular robot made from DNA to start, move, turn and stop while following a DNA track. Such robots may one day be used for medical therapeutic devices.

“Hao is remarkably bright and energetic with a fantastic record of innovation,” said Stuart Lindsay, director of Biodesign’s Center for Single Molecule Biophysics, where Yan conducts his research. “It is fitting that at 40 he is now probably one of the youngest holders of an endowed chair in the United States. This award is both a tribute to Hao and a sign of how much ASU values its star faculty.”

As a professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Yan has created an interactive environment in undergraduate and graduate courses that allows students to participate in class discussions, developed graduate courses that integrate research advances in cutting-edge interdisciplinary classes, and mentored and inspired students to be original thinkers in both research and the classroom.

“Professor Yan has produced a rapid and constant stream of innovative ideas and patents, an extreme rate of first-rate publications, impressive new approaches to teaching and training, and an astounding rate of winning research funding,” said nominator William Petuskey, chair of chemistry and biochemistry.

Since coming to ASU in 2004, Yan has been a blur of activity. Of the 101 peer-reviewed publications and nine book chapters he has published since his graduate school, 80 publications and five book chapters are based on the work he has done at ASU. Yan’s research has been cited more than 4,000 times – an average rate of 35 citations per publication. Yan’s research enterprise is externally funded at a rate of $1.6 million a year. After just four years as assistant professor at ASU, Yan was selected by Crow for tenure faculty exemplar – a promotion to full professor with tenure, and a feat almost unheard of in academia.

Before spending three years at Duke University as an assistant research professor in the Department of Computer Science, Yan completed a doctorate in chemistry at New York University. He earned a bachelor’s in chemistry at Shandong University in Jinan, China. Other honors for Yan have included an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2008-2010), National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2006-2011), Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award (2007-2010), and the Arizona Technology Enterprise Innovator of Tomorrow Award (2006).

Julie Kurth

Manager, marketing and communications, Biodesign Institute


Sen. Kyl to address 'American Sovereignty and Transnational Law' at Pedrik Lecture

February 15, 2012

U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl will address “American Sovereignty and Transnational Law” in the 16th annual Willard H. Pedrick Lecture at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Kyl will discuss how non-ratified international treaties and agreements are circumventing domestic laws.

The lecture, presented by the Pedrick family, is scheduled for 4 p.m., Feb. 21, in the Great Hall at Armstrong Hall on the ASU Tempe campus. The lecture is free and open to the public. Register at Kyl will be introduced by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (ret.). Download Full Image

“The transnational movement has advocates in law schools across the country,” Kyl said. He added that the law school influence is now reaching the White House, citing the fact that Harold Koh, the former dean of Yale Law School who has a transnational mindset, now serves as Legal Adviser to the U.S. Department of State.

But Kyl called the phenomenon “lawfare” – a type of warfare – against American sovereignty, and pointed to the way the European Union has imposed laws on member states as an example.

“It is an end-run around the democratic process,” Kyl said.

The Willard H. Pedrick Lecture was established in 1997 by the Pedrick family in memory of the founding dean of the College of Law. The annual lecture brings to the law school outstanding legal scholars, jurists or practitioners to enrich the intellectual life of the College and the community.

“The Pedrick Lecture is one of our signature events, providing a forum for thought leaders to present important and often provocative views to our students, faculty and, more importantly, members of the general public,” said Doug Sylvester, interim dean. “This year we are exceedingly honored to have Senator Kyl provide the lecture. We could not have chosen a more important figure to deliver this address, and we look forward to hearing what Senator Kyl has to say – and we hope everyone in the community will join us.”

Kyl said that transnational law advocates attempt to create rights citizens can assert against their governments without going through the legislative process. Those rights, he said, can then be asserted in a nation’s domestic courts, as has been done in Europe.

As an example, Kyl cited Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions, drafted in the mid-1970s, provisions of which Kyl said would permit terrorist groups to receive prisoner-of-war privileges, even if they hide among civilian populations and do not reveal themselves until just before an attack.

The United States signed the agreement, but President Ronald Reagan declined to submit it for ratification. Critics say it would hamper American combat operations and increase risks for U.S. soldiers and civilians in combat zones.

“Nevertheless, the International Criminal Court uses Protocol 1 as a standard to judge adherence to the laws of war,” Kyl said. And, Kyl added, the Obama administration has “deemed” some provisions of Protocol 1 that deal with fundamental guarantees for non-state combatants to be legally binding on the United States.

Kyl sees this as an erosion of the Constitutional responsibilities of the United States Senate, and an attack on the nation’s system of checks and balances.

“Who decides these matters is a key question,” Kyl said. “Those who are elected should make the law of the land, as well as provide advice and consent on treaties. Now we have the Secretary of State deeming a provision of a protocol to the Geneva accords as applicable to the United States, even though we’ve never ratified it.”