ASU students create innovative solutions for childhood obesity challenge

May 15, 2015

Across the globe, obesity is growing at an alarming rate, especially among society’s youngest members. According to the World Health Organization, 42 million preschool-age children were overweight or obese in 2013, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pegged more than one-third of U.S. children and adolescents as overweight or obese in 2012.

Because overweight children face an increased likelihood of entering adulthood obese and later developing serious health conditions, such as cancer and osteoarthritis, finding a way to halt the obesity trend in youth is a crucial public health concern. Ruben Garcia Download Full Image

Inspired by the Arizona State University Changemaker Challenge, Mayo Clinic-ASU Obesity Solutions recently partnered with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ social sciences schools and the College of Health Solutions to sponsor a university-wide competition aimed at tackling obesity in children.

Challengers were asked to think globally and critically about the problem, taking into account that obesity is affected by environment, genetics, culture, socioeconomic status and education, among other factors.

The winning student teams – FantasyXRT, Nutritional Health Awareness and Partners in Empowerment – applied various perspectives and disciplines to generate creative solutions to key components of the obesity epidemic.

The FantasyXRT team focused on turning the tables on increasingly sedentary youth by using the very tools that often keep them indoors and in a chair. Ruben Garcia (kinesiology) and David Ballard (psychology) are creating a fantasy-sports gaming website and mobile app that use wearable technology to link participants to gaming action. Fantasy-sports privileges are earned through exercise done throughout the day and result in such perks as draft order, roster changes and salary caps.

Shovna Mishra (sustainability) and Kapila Patel (biological sciences) represented Nutritional Health Awareness, a student-led organization that matches college students as mentors with elementary school students. The goal is to instill health consciousness in children from an early age. The program engages kids in activities that reinforce healthy habits and provides learning experiences on health and exercise, specifically the connection between nutrition and preventable conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

The student group Partners in Empowerment uses a mentorship model to deliver support and services to sex-trafficking victims and at-risk youth, including the teen students at Phoenix’s Tumbleweed Youth Center. Team leaders Sierra Morris (global health and economics), Meera Doshi (biomedical engineering) and Samantha Flatland (nutrition/dietetics) plan to use the Challenge award money to build out the program to offer activities like cooking lessons and exercise programs to Tumbleweed youth.

“These winning teams are great examples of how students from diverse academic disciplines can combine their ideas to create interesting and inventive solutions to complex problems,” said Alexandra Brewis Slade, co-director of Obesity Solutions and director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

All of the teams have won additional honors for their work. Partners in Empowerment earned funding from the Clinton Global Change University Initiative, FantasyXRT took fifth place in a national competition and Nutrition Health Awareness received an award to study gut microbiota. Nutritional Health Awareness also won the 2013 Obesity Solutions Challenge.

Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


Laura Emmery appointed as new faculty to the School of Music

May 15, 2015

The ASU School of Music is proud to announce the hire of Laura Emmery as the assistant professor of music theory, effective fall 2015. Emmery is currently visiting assistant professor of music theory at Emory University in Atlanta.

In her new position at ASU, Emmery will teach undergraduate and graduate courses, mentor students, collaborate to recruit students and develop curriculum at the graduate level, and produce high-level research and publications. Laura Emmery will be assistant professor of music theory in the ASU School of Music, effective fall 2015. Photo courtesy of Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts Download Full Image

“Dr. Emmery is a rising scholar in 20th- and 21st-century music theory whose interdisciplinary approach to research draws on philosophy, literary criticism, critical theory and performance studies to derive thoughtful and novel conclusions,” says Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music. “Dr. Emmery’s presence at ASU will enhance the curricular offerings and research collaborations of our school.”

Emmery is pleased to have been selected for this position in the School of Music. “ASU was my first choice for several reasons: ASU School of Music is one of the top music programs in the country, so I will be able to form intellectually vibrant relationships with fellow faculty and talented students,” says Emmery. “Further, ASU is a home to world-renowned remarkable faculty; I am quite pleased and humbled to have the opportunity to become a part of this team. Also, ASU is a Research I category university, offering support for my research.”

Emmery’s research focuses on American Modernist composers, and her dissertation was on Elliott Carter’s evolution and process while composing his string quartets. She received the Paul Sacher Stiftung Scholarship and spent eight months in Basel, Switzerland, studying Carter’s original manuscripts.

She has also received numerous other fellowships and awards, including the UCSB Affiliates Graduate Dissertation Fellowship, Humanities and Social Sciences Research Grant, Albert and Elaine Borchard European Studies Fellowship and the Roger Chapman Award in Music Theory.

She has presented her work at myriad national and international conferences, including Society for Music Theory, Music Theory Society of New York State, West Coast Conference of Music Theory and Analysis, European Music Analysis Conference, Paul Sacher Stiftung Colloquium in Basel, Cardiff University conference on Sacher Perspectives, CSU Long Beach conference on Temporality: Issues of Change and Stasis in Music, SUNY Buffalo Music Lecture Series, UC Santa Barbara Musicology/Theory and Composition forums, and at Chestnut Hill College. Prior teaching experience includes as an associate instructor of record at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

Emmery received rigorous music training from a young age, and completed conservatory training in piano performance. She was a featured soloist with the El Camino College Symphony and a selected participant in master classes with André Watts and Santiago Rodriguez, and has performed with numerous chamber groups and ensembles.

Emmery grew up surrounded by music, thanks to family members who had attended the Paris Conservatory. “Where my story departs from the usual is that having had music theory since I was seven, counterpoint since age 11 and Schenkerian analysis since age 16, I knew, without doubt, even as a young child, that I wanted to study music theory,” says Emmery. “While I always enjoyed performing and participating in piano competitions, I equally enjoyed taking part in regional and national solfège and music theory competitions.”

Emmery has a PhD in Music Theory from University of California, Santa Barbara; a Master of Music in Theoretical Studies from New England Conservatory; and a Bachelor of Music in Music Theory and Piano Performance from California State University Northridge.

Public Contact: 
Heather Beaman
Communications Liaison

Media Contact:
Heather Beaman
Communications Liaison