Garcia-Pichel appointed dean of natural sciences at ASU

January 23, 2013

Ferran Garcia-Pichel, an internationally recognized microbiologist, has been appointed dean of natural sciences in Arizona State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He most recently served as professor and associate director of research and training for ASU’s School of Life Sciences.

Garcia-Pichel assumes the leadership role held previously by professor Robert E. Page Jr.  Page continues in his position as university vice provost and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Download Full Image

“Professor Garcia-Pichel is a master teacher and a committed academic leader,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “He is a renowned scholar in the natural sciences and has a deep understanding of the vital, exciting and interconnected role they play in our world. Highly respected by the faculty, staff and students, he is exceptionally positioned as dean to help the college attain the ambitious goals before it.”

“Ferran Garcia-Pichel is a superb and broad scientist who has shown his ability to lead groups of researchers and make hard decisions about allocation of resources,” said Executive Vice President and University Provost Elizabeth D. Phillips. “He is an excellent choice to lead our continued progress in the natural sciences.”

Garcia-Pichel's research investigations range from the desert’s biological soil crust communities and cyanobacteria, to microbial sunscreens and biosignatures. He joined ASU in 2000, participating actively in the foundation of the School of Life Sciences, where he has served as associate dean of facilities, associate director for research and training initiatives, and chair of the microbiology graduate program.  

“Ferran Garcia-Pichel has more than 12 years of service at ASU and is a faculty exemplar,” Page said. “His investments in undergraduate and graduate educational reform, interdisciplinary research and collaborations in biology, earth and space studies, chemistry and engineering make him ideal for this position.”

“The natural sciences are at the core of the university’s ability to fulfill its missions in education and research,” said Garcia-Pichel. “As a whole, they provide access to the scientific world view to a large number of students, and allow many of them to delve in state-of-the-art programs of research during their college years. The sciences are paramount in helping produce the highly skilled graduates that are required to achieve and sustain prosperity in Arizona and the Nation in the near future.”

“The excellence of the natural sciences at ASU is largely based on the hard work and brilliance of the faculty, staff and students in its departments and centers,” noted Garcia-Pichel. “I am excited about the possibility of leading the efforts in these units so that the whole exceeds the sum of its parts.”

Garcia-Pichel received his Licenciatura con Grado in science (M.S.) at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, and his master's and doctorate from the University of Oregon in microbiology. Prior to his position at ASU, he was a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Germany. In addition to his appointment at ASU, he is an affiliated scientist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Calif., and research associate with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

Garcia-Pichel speaks five languages and has authored or co-authored more than 100 articles in prestigious journals. He is also a former Fulbright scholar, an elected fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and a Distinguished Lecturer from the American Society for Microbiology.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was established in 1953 and is the largest ASU college, with more than 21,000 students and 753 tenured or tenure-track faculty. In his role as dean of natural sciences, Garcia-Pichel will oversee all natural sciences academic units and centers.

Reporting to Garcia-Pichel will be the School of Earth and Space Exploration, School of Life Sciences, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Department of Physics, Department of Psychology, and the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences.

Centers and institutes he will support are the Center for Bioenergy & Photosynthesis, Center for Biological Physics, The Center for Biology and Society, The Center for Global Health, the Center for Metabolic Biology, the Center for Meteorite Studies, The Center for Practice, Research and Innovation in Mathematics Education, LeRoy Eyring Center for Solid State Science, Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center and the Prevention Research Center.

Sharon Keeler

ASU design students help grow Mesa Urban Garden community

January 23, 2013

Graduate architecture students from Arizona State University are working side-by-side with Mesa residents to help cultivate food and a sense of community as they celebrate Mesa Urban Garden’s grand opening Jan. 26. The free public event continues from 3 p.m. until the rise of the new year’s first full moon in the garden at 212 E. 1st Avenue.

Reid Mosman, Ann Rothove, Jordan Snittjer and Jake Vacek offered their time and talents to help complete the garden by designing structures where garden volunteers and visitors can gather, relax, take classes and share time together. At the grand opening, the ASU students will use presentation boards and a scaled model to help explain how their designs work to interested attendees. Graduate architecture students from The Design School (left to right) Jake Vacek, Ann Rothove, Jordan Snittjer and Reid Mosman share their designs for the new Mesa Urban Garden at its grand opening Jan. 26 from 3 p.m. until moonrise. Photo by Courtesy of ASU Office of Public Affairs Download Full Image

All four students are master’s degree candidates in The Design School in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU with backgrounds ranging from English to interior design and design studies. They have been working with Mesa Urban Garden (MUG) founders and board members, city officials and in-kind donors under the guidance of their former faculty member Milagros Zingoni, a lecturer in The Design School who volunteers with Mesa nonprofit organizations.

“The community had a basic plan for the garden, and they asked Milagros for help completing it,” said Mosman. “They had already constructed large brick columns for the pavilion and needed a roof structure overhead with the main function of providing shade.”

In addition to shade, the roof designed by the students uses steel beams to collect rainwater and channel it to a 2,296-gallon cistern on the ground for irrigating garden plots during summer. The ASU team also included a 3-kilowatt photovoltaic system atop the roof using solar panels to power screens that can enclose the pavilion, folding up or down for both shade and security. Small lights embedded in the screens also rely on solar power.

“Whenever we could, we tried to incorporate double functionality in our design,” said Snittjer.

That paid off when the students presented their structural designs to the City of Mesa’s engineering staff in mid-January. Through its collaboration, the team presented a complete design portfolio, including a structural analysis that verified the pavilion’s fitness for use.

“Jordan spent a lot of time on those calculations and had them double-checked by one of our former professors who is a licensed structural engineer,” said Mosman. “I think the city staff expected us to just have a vague idea of its readiness, and instead, they were blown away.”

Beneath the roof, the pavilion is expected to serve several Mesa Urban Garden community activities, such as yoga classes and cooking demonstrations. A new restaurant scheduled to open next to the garden plans to partner in the cooking classes and include seasonal specials on its menu using ingredients it grows in the garden.

“I dealt with some aspects of MUG not yet finished, such as what is needed for activities happening in the pavilion,” explained Rothove. “I designed the bar-top counters and kitchen space which includes a sink, grill top and storage.”

In addition, the team intends to cover one of the pavilion’s pillars with aluminum etched plaques that acknowledge Mesa Urban Garden volunteers and donors. At the other end of the garden, Vacek took on the assignment of creating a reflection space adjacent to a wood-fired oven and storage building that act as visual barriers to compost and soils.

"My goal was to get the plans done, but funding is still needed to build what I designed,” he said. “My undergraduate degree is in sustainability, so my contributions focused on ways to build and conserve at the same time.”

When they approached ASU faculty, Mesa Urban Garden board member David Crummey said they asked them to produce a sustainable, low-cost design that would require limited maintenance.

“The students went above and beyond in all areas,” he said. “They provided a beautiful, simple solution that is still high-quality, striking and dynamic.”

For the students, the exposure to real projects and real life was invaluable, Zingoni explained.

“It’s made them stronger,” she said. “The idea of helping the community takes them beyond their studio education and it’s taught them not to be afraid to speak up and share their ideas.”

“This experience has been so hands-on and realistic that it’s priceless,” agreed Snittjer. “What MUG is doing is pretty impressive, and it’s been really cool to help out with that.”

To register for the free grand opening or purchase raffle tickets, visit To find out more about The Design School, go to

Public Contact: 
Judy Crawford
Media Relations

Media Contact:
Judy Crawford
Media Relations