Regents' Professor Alberto Ríos launches multifaceted collaboration

October 6, 2011

Creative acts come from inspiration and they, in turn, inspire others. Take this concept and multiply it by several talented artists working in various disciplines and you’ll start to understand the genius behind the multimodal collaboration “Amexica: Tales of the Fourth World.” 

This story of an aspiring poet on a search for his birth mother through the border towns of Mexico is co-written by ASU Regents’ Professor of English Alberto Ríos and alumnus James E. Garcia (MFA 2005), founder and producing artistic director of the New Carpa Theater Co. in Phoenix. “Amexica: Tales from the Fourth World” Download Full Image

The narrative Ríos and Garcia created follows a young poet on a journey that is both timely and timeless; by seeking a deeper understanding of his own origins he humanizes the worlds of the border towns he visits. Although the story is not autobiographical, Ríos did infuse some of his own unique understanding, having grown up in the border town of Nogales, Arizona.

In the play, each locale is captured as a concrete, discrete place in a layered, multimedia experience: projected images of the locations provide a backdrop for the narrative. Interspersed are Ríos’ poetic interludes, which, he said, are intended to allow the audience to find “a reasonable pathway to things that seem impossible.”

Accompanying the action is original music by Quetzal Guerrero and coordinated by Ruth Vichules, with choreography by dancer Michele Ceballos. Together, these artists weave a dramatic understanding of this “fourth world” that takes their audience beyond the daily news reports and makes real the places and the lives lived there.

Ríos and Garcia had been planning a collaboration for a couple of years, Ríos said, and when funding became available from CALA Alliance, a “community-based organization dedicated to educating and inspiring all Arizonans about the richness of our Latino cultural heritage” (, the two got to work, completing their project in a matter of months. The Mesa Arts Center offered its Nesbitt/Elliott Playhouse, director Barbara Acker signed on, and additional support came from Childsplay, ASU Gammage, and the Herberger Theater Company.

“Amexica: Tales from the Fourth World” will show at the Mesa Arts Center’s Nesbitt/Elliott Playhouse, 1 Main Street, Mesa, Arizona, from October 22 through November 6. Tickets are on sale at

Written by Jan Kelly

Kristen LaRue-Sandler

Manager, marketing + communications, Department of English


ASU embarks on next phase of project to rapidly assess radiation dose

October 6, 2011

Arizona State University has announced today it is entering the next phase of a multi-million, multi-institutional research project to develop technologies that would rapidly measure an individual’s level of exposure to radiation in the event of a radiological or nuclear incident.

The project will enter a $5 million contract option as part of a potential $35.44 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to extend feasibility testing for the development of a prototype that will measure gene expression in individuals exposed to abnormal levels of radiation. Currently, no rapid, FDA cleared, high-throughput system exists to measure the radiation dose of individuals within a large population. Download Full Image

“As Japan’s tsunami and resulting nuclear crisis has demonstrated, there is an urgent societal need to rapidly assess an at risk population’s exposure to radiation,” said Lee Cheatham, deputy director of the Biodesign Institute and lead investigator of the project. “Our ultimate goal is to develop a diagnostic system that would ensure that medical responders have the information necessary to provide appropriate medical treatment and ensure human health and safety.”

ASU will continue to oversee the research program management, coordination and integration necessary for effective development of the technology, which will develop a high-throughput system for radiation biodosimetry that is capable of processing a high volume of blood samples per day for gene expression analysis on an automated liquid handling and imaging platform consistent with FDA guidelines.

Developing the system requires utilizing a biomarker signature set based on gene expression markers. This set of markers will provide a distinct indicator for the level of absorbed radiation. Along with Biodesign Institute biomarker research expert Joshua LaBaer, director of the institute’s Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics, will be collaborators with extensive experience in researching radiation responsive genes and development of microassay reagents and imagers, including: Sally Amundson, at Columbia University Medical Center; Bruce Seligmann, founder and CSO at HTG Molecular Diagnostics, Inc.; and Amelia Bartholomew, at University of Illinois, Chicago.

“We are honored to be part of this multi-institutional program and believe our work with ASU has further established HTG’s dynamic offerings,” said T.J. Johnson, CEO of HTG Molecular Diagnostics.

The ASU effort is part of a BARDA initiative to feed the pipeline for advanced development, manufacturing and regulatory activities that would position ASU’s biodosimetry device for potential use in human triage and treatment decisions.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library