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Beus CXFEL Lab dedication offers preview of future breakthroughs

September 26, 2019

Benefactors were inspired to support CXFEL efforts after chance meeting on a plane

Researchers at Arizona State University are busy making preparations for a “first light” experiment — a pivotal moment that will lead to ASU becoming the birthplace of the compact X-ray free electron laser (CXFEL), anticipated to be the first of its kind in the world.

The instrument, which will be capable of peering deep into soft tissues and viewing the dance of molecules, was dedicated to the donors who helped make it possible in a campus ceremony Thursday morning.

Leo (pictured above with ASU Professor Petra Fromme) and Annette Beus made a $10 million gift that enables pioneering research and discovery and is hailed as transformational for the university.

Biodesign Institute Executive Director Joshua LaBaer compared the instrument to the introduction of the personal computer as a paradigm shift for society. 

“We’re here because we’re about to witness the same sort of paradigm shift here at Arizona State University,” he said. “... This is a huge event for all of us.”

Currently there are only a few X-ray free electron lasers in the world. They’re two miles long and booked years in advance by scientists for a few hours of time. ASU’s new tool will fit inside a traditional laboratory space. It will be able see things that are invisible to conventional X-rays. And more scientists than ever before will have the opportunity to advance their research with the new tool. 

The laser will send pulses of X-rays at a femtosecond — one quadrillionth of a second — enabling researchers to film molecules in action. Its capabilities include medical imaging, studying the behavior of quantum materials, and seeing how proteins are shaped in molecules.

“This is going to change what we do, in a device that’s going to be accessible to scientists at a university,” LaBaer said. “That’s what we’re so excited about here.”

ASU President Michael Crow quoted Mark Twain: “If we could only understand the workings of a single blade of grass, I would believe humans are more than animals.”

“This device is nothing more than the extension of the imaginations of not only our scientists and engineers, but thousands and thousands of scientists and engineers around the world who are trying to figure out how do we actually understand how nature works,” Crow said. “People always say to me, ‘Well, doesn’t the government build these?’ Not around here, anyway.”

Crow praised the Beuses’ generosity. 

“The exciting thing for me here today is to have the opportunity to recognize Leo and Annette Beus and the Beus family for their willingness to continue their journey with ASU in what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re trying to build one of the greatest — if not the greatest — public universities ever built.”

Neither Leo Beus, a prominent longtime Valley attorney, nor his wife, Annette, attended ASU, but they’ve been involved with the university for almost a decade. They funded the Beus Center for Law and Society — the home of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law — supported Sun Devil Athletics and provided numerous scholarships to increase student access to a college education. 

“This is a really fun day for us,” Annette Beus said. “We’re very happy that a lot of our family and grandchildren are now attending ASU. Together it has become the institution of our hearts. We have been involved with many aspects now, ranging from personal experiences with students — we’re so proud to be able to help them — through athletics that we love to attend, and I have to say of all the things we have done in our life, this has the most potential to help humanity. For that reason we are thrilled to be a part of it. He has to hurry up and win some more cases, because I’m sold on this.” 

Leo Beus’ interest in the laser came about through a chance meeting with Petra Fromme, the Paul V. Galvin Professor of Molecular Sciences, on a flight to San Diego. Fromme explained to Beus her radical new plan. 

“After I got off the airplane, I shot a note to President Crow saying I met one of the most delightful, phenomenal, fantastic, wonderful human beings I have ever met,” Beus said. “And her name was Petra Fromme. She is one of the head scientists on this project.”

ASU’s new instrument has the potential to be a force-multiplier for discovery. It may one day give scientists and medical researchers throughout academia, industry and medicine access to brilliant X-rays in their own laboratories, accelerating and broadening scientific discovery like never before.

Top photo: Leo Beus, along with ASU Professor Petra Fromme, speaks at the celebration of his and his wife Annette's donation to the Biodesign Institute for the Beus CXFEL Laboratory, in the Biodesign C building on Thursday, Sept. 26. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU News


W. P. Carey Dean Amy Hillman drives an unprecedented year of giving

September 24, 2019

Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business is celebrating an unprecedented year of giving. Kicked off by a $25 million donation from the W. P. Carey Foundation to establish the $50 million campaign, the business school raised $43.7 million in fiscal year 2018-19. This included several major gifts, but also 615 individual gifts from students, alumni and supporters on Sun Devil Giving Day alone. Alumni giving constituted a generous $11.7 million, and 820 donors gave to W. P. Carey for the first time. These gifts help fund scholarships, research and student resources.

At the helm of these accomplishments, Dean Amy Hillman helped lead the record-breaking year of fundraising at a crucial time — the state of Arizona has cut hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for higher education. W. P. Carey School of Business Dean Amy Hillman W. P. Carey School of Business Dean Amy Hillman. Download Full Image

“Of course what we do at W. P. Carey is business, but I always practice that ‘business is personal,’” Hillman said. “What donors share with us, no matter the gift, is about the people who are impacted through a scholarship, research or career opportunity.”

Hillman also was recently named an In Business magazine 2019 Woman of Achievement. She joins Cindy McCain, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and other community leaders who are being celebrated for their business success, connection and service to the community and their efforts to grow business. Earlier this summer, Hillman was elected vice president-elect and vice chair-elect of the Academy of Management.

“Amy’s leadership is a rare mix of authenticity and vision that invites people into our W. P. Carey community," said alumnus and philanthropist Rich Boals. "Whether that person is a student, a donor, an employee or a community business owner, they see how they fit into our story, how they make a difference for our school.”

More than 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at W. P. Carey across all campuses this fall. They are part of a tradition of excellence that spans academic, business and community circles, with Hillman leading the way.

Shay Moser

Managing Editor, W. P. Carey School of Business


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ASU mourns the loss of J. Orin Edson, philanthropist and entrepreneur

August 29, 2019

Gifts from Edson and his wife have increased opportunities for student entrepreneurship, health education and dementia research

J. Orin Edson built his first boat when he was just a kid boating around Lake Washington.

After a stint in the Army during the Korean War, Edson pursued his boating interest in his garage and started a small company that he eventually built up into Bayliner Marine Corp. Four decades later, he sold the largest manufacturer of luxury boats.

Edson died Aug. 27 at the age of 87, but his name and legacy live on at Arizona State University.

Edson — who developed a luxury boat company on his desire, talent and keen entrepreneurial sense — made a gift to ASU to help future generations of students do the same thing. In 2005, Edson gave ASU $5.4 million to create the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative.

The gift formed an endowment that gives ASU students the opportunity to pursue their creative and business goals by providing seed money to help them along in their entrepreneurial quests. The awards are for any type of business — ranging from high-tech for-profit startups to nonprofit public-sector ventures. The endowed initiative was designed to spur innovative thought and entrepreneurial spirit in ASU students by providing them the means to pursue their business ideas.

“Orin Edson represented the quintessential entrepreneur, a man who applied his talent, creativity and intellectual curiosity to his life’s passion and became a leader in every sense of the word,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Orin embraced the challenges and fulfillment in entrepreneurship and philanthropy and through his gifts — both tangible and intangible — empowered ASU students and researchers to bring their game-changing visions to life. Sybil and I will miss his friendship.”

The Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative set the standard for entrepreneurial programs nationwide by providing students with the knowledge, skills and real-world experiences for entrepreneurial marketplace success.

The gift geared toward entrepreneurship was just the beginning of his generosity to ASU. Edson and his wife, Charlene, made a $50 million gift that was announced in March and split evenly among two programs with a focus on health care. The gift renamed the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and established The Grace Center for Innovation in Nursing Education (named for Charlene’s mother, who was a nurse) to enhance education and training for nurses and caregivers. The other half of the gift benefited the Biodesign Institute for research on causes and cures of dementia, as well as tools to manage the disease. 

Sybil Francis, president and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona and standing co-chair and co-founder of the ASU Foundation's Women & Philanthropy, worked closely with the Edsons. She and husband Crow have known the Edsons for more than 15 years.

“Orin was a wonderful friend to me and to Michael, and we will miss him very much,” Francis said. “We were honored by the trust and confidence he placed in us and by his belief in the mission and impact of Arizona State University. Along with his wife, Charlene, his inspired and generous gift to ASU is transforming the university’s impact in carrying out its commitment to caring for the communities it serves.”

The research and education made possible by the Edsons' gifts to ASU will help others for generations to come.

“The generosity of Orin Edson not only helped students pursue their dreams, but also advanced ASU by providing real-world experiences to our students,” said ASU Foundation CEO Gretchen Buhlig. “Orin’s contributions to our university were indispensable and will be remembered for years to come. In all, the Edsons have donated more than $65 million to ASU.”

Edson is survived by his wife and two sons.

Michelle Stermole

Director of communications , Enterprise Partners


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Record class hits the books as ASU bucks national trend of declining enrollment

August 21, 2019

First-year cohort is the largest, most diverse and most academically prepared to attend university to date

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2019.

When Tucson native Sadie Azersky started exploring colleges, she set her sights on attending a school that would challenge her.

She found what she was looking for at Arizona State University: the opportunities of a large research university combined with the intimate setting of Barrett, The Honors College. She starts classes Thursday.  

"I'm able to have those big-school-type of experiences ... but also have a smaller-school environment at the same time, a community that's more accessible," said the music theory and composition major and President's Scholar, who said she is also drawn to the interdisciplinary opportunities offered by the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Azersky is just one of nearly 14,000 first-year students stepping foot on an Arizona State University campus this fall, the largest, most diverse and most academically prepared class to attend the university to date.

That’s a 10% increase in the size of ASU’s first-year class compared with last year. And it comes at a time when enrollment in colleges and universities around the country is actually declining, distinguishing ASU as a success story amid an otherwise unfortunate national trend.

“We have put significant effort into improving the college attendance rate in the state of Arizona, and our 2019 enrollment growth is a reflection of that commitment and of our demonstrated high-quality of educational outcomes at an affordable cost,” said Mark Searle, ASU’s executive vice president and university provost.

Arizona residents constitute about 8,600 students in the first-year class, and California students make up an additional 1,400. Those are increases of 7% and 8%, respectively.

The demand for higher education in the state of Arizona and the desire by students from out of state to come to ASU to study has driven the total university enrollment up nearly 8% this fall. There are now nearly 119,000 undergraduate and graduate students attending the university this semester. ASU is serving more nontraditional students, many seeking out ASU Online degrees for the flexibility to meet life and work demands.

The incoming first-year class is the most academically talented to ever be admitted to ASU. The average SAT score for first-year students increased five points over last year, and about 55% of the class earned one of the university's top three academic scholarships, collectively called the New American University Scholarships. Of the Arizona resident first-year students, 58% received a New American University Scholarship, and the majority of students receiving a coveted Flinn Scholarship — a merit-based scholarship for Arizona students to attend an Arizona university — chose to come to ASU.

RELATED: ASU a top producer of students who win Fulbright awards

ASU has also seen an increase in first-year enrollment from families with lower to moderate income levels. A deep and sustained commitment to accessibility and affordability for Arizona resident students, demonstrated by family and student outreach programs and access to financial aid, has led to a 10% increase in enrollment of students from families earning below $40,000 per year.

Once they’re here, the university dedicates vast efforts and resources to ensure students are successful. And it’s having an effect. The number of students returning to ASU this fall for their second year is also higher than at any time in the past. That so-called “one-year retention rate,” which measures students who stay at the university after their first year, is an important predictor of eventually earning a degree. ASU’s retention rate is nearly 86% overall, and nearly 88% for Arizona resident students.

Those resources are what drew Catherine Nunez to ASU. The National Hispanic Scholar from La Grange Park, Illinois, wanted not just a stellar engineering program but a place she felt wanted.

"The school really had the support and attention that I needed," said Nunez, who had looked into a big-name program in a neighboring state but said she hadn't felt welcome there. "I feel like I was wanted (at ASU), like I would be cared for here and have access to the resources I need."

The Barrett honors student will study biomedical engineering with the goal of working in the neuroscience field. And it wasn't just the university's academic prowess that drew her, but its mission of inclusion.

"We are defined by who we include, not who we exclude," said Nunez, echoing the words of the ASU charter, "and given all these choices of elite schools that only accept X percentage of kids, I think it's really important to include everyone. ... Everyone really does offer their own special thing, and recognizing that is something ASU does well."

Video: Where do ASU students come from? Everywhere

By Linda Nguyen

More facts about ASU:

  • The university offers students more than 350 undergraduate majors and 450 graduate degree and certificate programs, including the newly launched disability studies bachelor's degree and the stackable online master's degree in supply chain management in collaboration with MIT.
  • Of full-time first-year students, 162 are veteran or active-duty military, a 14% increase over fall 2018. For all years, there are 9,063 military-affiliated students enrolled at ASU campuses and ASU Online, 9% more than last year.
  • The number of students transferring to the university is up 2.9%
  • Students who are in the first generation in their family to attend college make up 29% of the first-year class
  • Enrollment of international first-year and transfer students is up 19%.

During their first week on campus, Sun Devils are immersed in the philanthropic culture of the university and all the opportunities available to become involved. Passport to ASU, a Welcome Week event, featured more than 500 student clubs and organizations. Sun Devils can get involved with an existing organization or create one of their own. 

New this year is a redesigned Sun Devil Sync where students can find clubs, organizations and student events, and it allows students to track their involvement.

MORE: New students get schooled in spirit at Sun Devil Welcome

Top photo by Marcus Chormicle/ASU Now

Senior Media Relations Coordinator , EdPlus

ASU Cronkite School initiative receives gift from craigslist founder

Support from Craig Newmark Philanthropies will help fight misinformation, improve journalistic corrections

August 16, 2019

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication announced a $200,000 gift from Craig Newmark Philanthropies to support a project that will combat misinformation by improving the reach and effectiveness of journalistic corrections. 

The initiative will be run by the school’s News Co/Lab, which aims to help the public find new ways of understanding and engaging with news. The lab will partner with researchers, journalists and technologists on the project. Among them are three newsrooms of the McClatchy media company, including The Kansas City Star, and Brendan Nyhan, professor of government at Dartmouth College, who has done groundbreaking research on misinformation and journalism. The Cronkite School received support from the organization of craigslist founder Craig Newmark to fight misinformation and improve journalistic corrections. Photo by Bleacher+Everard Photography Download Full Image

The volume and rate at which information is shared on social media allows misinformation to proliferate online. At the same time, it is increasingly difficult for news consumers to identify trustworthy information. In 2018, the News Co/Lab and the University of Texas Center for Media Engagement conducted a series of surveys that were designed to help journalism organizations understand what their communities know about, think about and want from the news. Nearly 40 percent of participants had trouble spotting a fake headline. 

In the face of these challenges, getting high volumes of trustworthy news in front of online readers and viewers is critical. One goal of the corrections project is to help accurate and up-to-date information stand out in the busy stream of social media posts.

“We’d all prefer that every piece of journalism be perfectly accurate when it’s published or broadcast, but journalists, being human, make mistakes,’’ said Dan Gillmor, co-founder of the News Co/Lab. “Digital design has made it much easier to incorporate corrections into a live story, a big improvement on 20th-century methods. But we can do even better in a world where so much news spreads fast via social media.”

This News Co/Lab initiative will help to send corrections down the same pathways that their original errors traveled. A key element of this work, emerging from an experiment the News Co/Lab and McClatchy ran earlier this year, will be to design and deploy a web-based tool that streamlines the process for reaching news consumers on social media platforms. This will allow news organizations to provide the people who encounter a story error with the corrected information, helping to repair some of the damage that its misinformation caused. Ultimately, the effort will help to increase trust in high-quality journalism. 

“When many reporters and news organizations realize that they have published false information, they are quick to fix that error, but on an impact level, that correction matters only as much as the number of people who see it,” said Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies. “This effort of the News Co/Lab is about getting journalistic corrections in front of a lot of people as quickly and as publicly as possible, and I am quite proud to back such a needed effort.”

“The generous support of Craig Newmark Philanthropies will help us to make corrections a more powerful tool in the arsenal for the fight against misinformation,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School. “Fixing an error is just the beginning. To help repair the damage that misinformation causes, we need to develop tools that can help journalistic corrections reach people on a wide scale.”

Assistant vice president, Media Relations and Strategic Communications

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Generosity to ASU climbs to new heights in 2019

August 12, 2019

Campaign ASU 2020 sets a fundraising record for the fifth consecutive year thanks to support from more than 101,500 individuals

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2019.

Sun Devil supporters bolstered scholarships, medical advancements, professorships and research opportunities as part of a banner fundraising year for the ASU Foundation.

Nikki Hinshaw is one of more than 7,400 students who benefited from private scholarship support through the foundation to advance her learning opportunities. She received the Craig and Barbara Barrett Political Science Scholarship, which enabled her to study abroad and complete an internship in Washington, D.C., as she works toward dual degrees in political science and communication.

Without scholarships, she would not have been able to engage in these learning experiences that require additional expenses including travel and lodging, she told ASU Now in February.

“I hope that (with the experiences), I’m able to make a bigger impact on my community and give back to others someday as well,” Hinshaw said.

This spirit of generosity from donors is what enabled the ASU Foundation to set a fundraising record for the fifth consecutive year. More than 101,500 individuals, corporations and foundations donated $413.7 million in fiscal year 2019, a 65% increase from fiscal year 2018. Of those, 25,520 were new donors.

“Our donors’ generosity provides life-changing experiences for our students and allows ASU to realize its aspirations as a world-class research university,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “ASU would not be the university it is today without the support of those who believe in the power of education to transform lives and our society and commit their resources to make that happen.”

While many students received scholarships, many even donated to scholarships to aid other students.

A group of 42 donors, half of which are current students, worked together to establish the newly endowed James Madison Scholarship that will aid a second- or third-year full-time law student in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law who is also a member of the Federalist Society. In addition to creating new scholarships for law students, the scholarship encouraged 36 first-time donors to give to ASU students.

“We are tremendously grateful for the support given to us this fiscal year, money donated to support ASU’s vision for what higher education can and should be,” ASU Foundation CEO Gretchen Buhlig said. “Every gift is important, whether it’s $10, $100 or thousands of dollars. It all makes a tremendous impact on our students, faculty and the community.” 

Private support funded a variety of initiatives and programs that will transform the university and community. 

Community-based businesses that benefited from private support include food truck and catering small businesses owned by women and underrepresented groups. They have access to Prepped, a free early-stage food business incubator, through a collaboration with Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and support from the College of Health Solutions. An anonymous donor invested in this opportunity to ensure the incubator had the staff and funding needed to help businesses. 

Students in the School of Earth and Space Exploration were able to send their payloads — including live bees — into space thanks to donors Cathy and Peter Swan. The students involved with this project traveled to west Texas in May to watch the launch and used remote acoustic sensing technology to record the bees’ vibrations, pressures and orientation in space. 

“When we launched Campaign ASU 2020 we had six core objectives — several of which focused on students — and we’ve had tremendous success in that area,” Buhlig said. “In the last year it has been really exciting to see a dramatic increase in gifts to support our faculty who are core to this institution.” 

Faculty not only benefited from private support, but also contributed to a culture of philanthropy. Nearly 2,700 faculty and staff members donated to Campaign ASU 2020 last fiscal year.


Video by Joel Farias

Three transformational gifts received in the past year are intended to revolutionize medical discoveries, expand dementia research, further nursing education to offset the nursing shortage and revitalize Maryvale and other Arizona communities.

Leo and Annette Beus donated $10 million toward the Beus Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser (CXFEL) Lab at ASU’s Biodesign Institute. The lab will house a CXFEL laser, which is a first-of-its-kind X-ray technology. Worldwide, there are only five X-ray Free Electron Lasers, and researchers often have to wait as much as a year to use them. ASU’s compact version may provide accessibility that can lead to faster research and discovery for medicine, renewable energy and the computer industry.  

Charlene and J. Orin Edson donated $50 million to be split between the ASU Biodesign Institute and the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation. The money is earmarked for the university’s multidisciplinary dementia research and to increase nursing education. 

Mike and Cindy Watts donated $30 million to advance the prosperity of Arizona communities such as Maryvale, where the Wattses grew up. Through a collaboration between community leaders and the university, the gift will enable embedded community services, strengthen entrepreneurial efforts and increase community engagement through the renamed Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

“Private support is critically important to Arizona State University because it enables solutions to problems that can transform lives and improve communities,” Buhlig said. “Private support enables opportunities for growth, innovation and excellence for our students and faculty.” 

Campaign ASU 2020 was publicly launched in January 2016 to raise the long-term fundraising capacity of the university and focuses on six priorities including student access and excellence; student success; the academic enterprise; discovery, creativity and innovation; enriching our communities; and Sun Devil competitiveness. The fundraising campaign is in its final year.

Learn more about supporting ASU.

Top photo: ASU Foundation staff express their gratitude on Sun Devil Giving Day — a day for ASU community members to designate what university areas they want their donations to support. 

Michelle Stermole

Director of communications , Enterprise Partners


Faculty gift supports creation of program that will teach how to connect classroom lessons and real-life issues

July 25, 2019

Cordelia Candelaria, Regents Professor Emeritus in the School of Transborder Studies, wants to bridge the past with the present by making Arizona State University classroom concepts and theories applicable to real-life situations. She may not teach in a classroom regularly, but she still educates everyone she meets who will listen.

Recently, the former literature and Latino studies professor developed a program called People-Power Undergoing Life Sustaining Education — PULSE — that provides workshops for ASU faculty and students to integrate fact-based reasoning into their analysis and decision-making in areas such as diversity, law and civics.   Regents Professor Emeritus Cordelia Candelaria speaks to a group of international students studying at ASU in 2017. Photo provided by Cordelia Candelaria Download Full Image

“Years ago when I taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder, our students were complaining about tenured professors who were in the dark ages when it came to gender and social equality,” Candelaria said. “This has happened here at ASU, too. We want to show how things are related, make the connection between what they’re learning and real life.”

The PULSE program is funded by a $40,000 gift by Candelaria to the School of Transborder Studies to provide an overview presentation and three PULSE workshops for part-time and full-time faculty and students. The donation will be used to provide 25 grant-in-aids in the amount of $500 for faculty and five $800 scholarships for students.

“Faculty giving is an important component to Campaign ASU 2020 and we are grateful for their generosity and support,” said Gretchen Buhlig, chief executive officer of the ASU Foundation. “The faculty are core to this institution. They engage with our students on a daily basis.”

Candelaria served as an ASU professor from 1992–2008 for the Department of English and what is now the School of Transborder Studies. In 2007, she became the founding associate dean for strategic initiatives in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to advance transdisciplinary diversity programs. Embracing diversity and helping others understand differences is part of Candelaria’s life work. The PULSE program is just the next step in her journey to help faculty and students understand how the past affects current life.

“I can envision PULSE getting faculty and students motivated to consider issues that they have not in the past,” said Lisa Magaña, associate director and professor in the School of Transborder Studies. “Cordelia wants scholars and students to think outside of their traditional frameworks and consider broader impacts of their research on others and the community. The School of Transborder Studies has always been community-focused so a proposal that encourages research in these areas fits nicely with our mission.”

PULSE workshops will be held after the school years starts and there will be optional seminars available with various community groups.

Applicants to the program must complete a two-page application that highlights their interests and goals. The form is available at the School of Transborder Studies. Faculty will need to modify their syllabus and show how they plan to incorporate what they learned from the workshops into their teaching using real-life examples.

Michelle Stermole

Director of communications, Enterprise Partners


ASU Foundation creates new socially responsible investment fund

July 3, 2019

Arizona State University is a leader in higher education for implementing and achieving sustainability standards. A new option that launched last week through its foundation deepens that commitment to future generations and environmentally and socially responsible practices.

The ASU Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization that raises and invests private contributions to ASU, established a socially responsible investment fund that enables endowment donors to select this pool for their money rather than the traditional endowment pool. Download Full Image

“The university remains committed to taking a leadership role in addressing issues that pose a threat to our global community and the creation of this new fund is another example of how we are supporting that effort,” said R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr., chief executive officer of ASU Enterprise Partners, the parent organization to the ASU Foundation. “This is an important topic for faculty, students, donors and other stakeholders and is integral to ASU’s philosophy on sustainability and inclusion.”

An endowment is a permanent gift that is invested for the long term to provide financial support for the university. The gifted funds are pooled together to yield investment returns based on market conditions. A portion of the investment return provides financial support for the donor’s designated use. Endowment gifts typically are geared toward scholarships and graduate fellowships, faculty chair professorships, research fellowships, research programs and specific schools or academic departments.

Establishing a socially responsible investment option allows donors to magnify their impact. Their gift supports the university and the investments will be in public and private companies with strong racial and gender equality, good governance and a focus on economic, social and environmental sustainability. While the traditional endowment pool includes these considerations, this separate portfolio has a more explicit mandate that allows for an even greater focus to invest in this way without needing to shift legacy investments.

“We don’t believe that we will be sacrificing returns to invest in this manner — it just adds a nonfinancial lens to evaluate a company,” said Jeff Mindlin, vice president of investments for ASU Enterprise Partners. “With this new donor option, the money set aside will be a catalyst to demonstrate that we can perform well while making an impact.”

From the establishment of the first School of Sustainability in 2006, support as a founding member of the Intentional Endowments Network in 2016 and commitments to numerous climate change coalitions, the university and foundation have been proactive in finding optimal ways to be good stewards in the community and for the planet as well as with investment dollars, Shangraw said.

ASU has implemented processes to reduce energy consumption and emissions and increase efficiency and established a renewable energy program that includes extensive solar initiatives on all four of its campuses. Reducing landfill waste is another area of focus through recycling, composting and reusing and repurposing and water conservation through low-flow fixtures and landscaping water management. Additionally, ASU uses sustainable products for cleaning and printing, revised methods for grounds and equipment maintenance and is building all new construction buildings it owns and operates to LEED Silver certification standards.

Because they are still building the strategy and identifying investments, donors have a chance to be a part of the implementation process, Mindlin said. Endowment donors have always been able to designate the beneficiary or use of their philanthropic gift. Now they will also be able to choose a traditional or socially responsible strategy for how it’s invested.

Michelle Stermole

Director of communications, Enterprise Partners


ASU anatomy and physiology faculty turn book proceeds into student scholarships

June 12, 2019

When ASU students purchase the lab manual for their human anatomy and physiology courses at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, they're not only preparing themselves for success in the classes, they're contributing to the success of their fellow students.

The customized text, developed in-house by the faculty who teach the BIO 201 and 202 courses, not only costs less than a standard manual, the proceeds directly support ASU students pursuing their passion for science.  ASU SHAPER Scholarship recipients with children at Tide Academy The first SHAPER Scholarship recipients used the funding to help pay for a science-focused ASU Study Abroad experience in Costa Rica. Alyssa Anderson (middle) and Erika McClinton (right) with students at the Tide Academy. Photo courtesy of Alyssa Anderson Download Full Image

Co-authors Jeff Kingsbury, senior lecturer; J. P. Hyatt, associate professor; and Tonya Penkrot, lecturer; in collaboration with then-lab manager Jennifer Legere, were driven in 2017 to create a manual that better served students and was in keeping with the teaching innovations that College of Integrative Sciences and Arts faculty have implemented in science courses.

“We wanted something more relevant, customized and affordable for students. We wanted to develop a product tailored to what we actually do in our labs, that could incorporate the Anatomage Table, and would reduce the cost for students,” explained Kingsbury. “Our manual saves students roughly 50% of what they paid when we used a standard lab manual.”

When the trio ditched the previous lab manual in fall 2017 for their co-authored alternative, they took the benefit to students to an even higher plane, deciding that royalties from the sale of their manual would establish the SHAPER (Scholarship Honoring Anatomy and Physiology Education and Research) Scholarship.

“We all agreed that we wanted to give back to the students,” said Hyatt, about their decision to create the scholarship.

“It’s a good thing to do, and it helps the students,” said Kingsbury. “We worked with our college development officer to start the scholarship with the ASU Foundation. The money goes directly from the publisher to the fund every July and January.”

All three faculty members wanted the scholarship to help students pursue their passions in science in some way.

“We want students to be able to use the scholarship for research, application fees, conference fees or other special educational opportunities in the realm of anatomy and physiology,” said Penkrot.

This includes the study abroad experience that College of Integrative Sciences and Arts faculty direct in Costa Rica. In the program — a partnership between ASU Study Abroad and the Tide Academy, a small school in Costa Rica — students gain exposure to another culture and have the chance to teach and develop science curriculum for K-12 students, helping prepare them to become instructional assistants in anatomy and physiology courses at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.  

By December 2018, the SHAPER fund was able to support its first two scholarship recipients.

Rising junior Erika McClinton and graduating senior Alyssa Anderson both used the scholarship to support their participation in the Costa Rica experience in March. For both, the benefits of that experience are still paying dividends.

SHAPER impacts professional paths 

For ASU health entrepreneurship and innovation major McClinton, the academic plan had originally been to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing. But when she didn’t get accepted into the highly competitive program, she found herself stuck and unsure of what her next move was — until a series of opportunities came her way.

“I found out about the Costa Rica trip through Dr. Kingsbury’s BIO 202 class,” McClinton said. “At first, I told Dr. Kingsbury that I was not able to go, but then he told me about the scholarship opportunity, which was amazing.”

The Costa Rica trip allowed her to combine a few of her passions.

“I wanted to go on the Costa Rica trip because of my love for science. My minor is in Spanish, and I had not been to another Spanish-speaking country since I was 9, so this whole experience was all I had ever dreamed of,” she said. “Also, I knew that we would be teaching children at a school, which really captured my attention, because I had just applied to be an instructional assistant for BIO 201, so everything was lining up perfectly.”

Receiving the scholarship helped change McClinton’s outlook and provided her with new opportunities.

“Getting the scholarship and going to Costa Rica helped me build relationships with the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts faculty, and they encouraged me and gave me the confidence to pursue a summer internship with Anatomage,” McClinton said.

Anatomage, the Silicon Valley-based technology company that created the Anatomage Table that students use for digital dissections in the BIO 201 and 202 courses at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus, took its first ASU intern last summer and has sponsored two for summer 2019.

“I’ll be there for eight weeks, and I will be working on the computer technology and helping build the anatomy software,” McClinton said.

“The scholarship really helped me bounce back after not getting into nursing school. I realized that some of the things you want may not be for you right now,” she reflected. “I’m excited to be in Silicon Valley, the capital of technology, and to be surrounded by lots of opportunities.”

Alyssa Anderson outside the Tide Academy in Costa Rica

Alyssa Anderson took away life-changing lessons from Costa Rica.

The scholarship and the Costa Rica experience have had similar professional impact on Anderson, who graduated from the College of Health Solutions in May.

During the study abroad experience, Anderson said, her passion for teaching impressed the director of the Tide Academy.

“I really like teaching, and I care about teaching younger kids about science so they can be inspired and be the change we need them to be,” said Anderson, who kept in touch with the school in the months following the experience and has been offered a teaching position there.

Starting in August, she will be teaching math, science and ocean awareness to grades 3-12.

“I’m super excited,” she added. “It's an opportunity for a lot of personal and professional growth and will allow me to leave my comfort zone. I plan to learn as much as I can from a new culture, new country and the kids.”  

Anderson said several faculty members had put the study abroad trip on her radar, but it wasn’t until she learned about the SHAPER Scholarship that she realized she could make the trip happen.

“While finances were the root of my stresses regarding whether or not I was even going to be able to go, ASU made it very possible,” she said. “With the SHAPER Scholarship, the grant I got from the Study Abroad office and the money I raised, studying abroad became a reality — and for that, I am still forever grateful.”

ASU Downtown Phoenix campus anatomy and physiology students can apply at any time for SHAPER Scholarship support by emailing faculty members Tonya Penkrot, J. P. Hyatt or Jeff Kingsbury. The request should detail the rationale for why the award would be appropriate for the educational or research activity that students want to engage in. Although the process is relatively new, Kingsbury said, they are generally reviewing students’ requests in December and April.

Written by Kelley Karnes

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ASU receives the first extraterrestrial mud ball in 50 years

May 20, 2019

On April 23 at 9:09 p.m. local time, residents of Aguas Zarcas, a small town in Costa Rica, saw a large “fireball” in the sky.

The reported fireball was a meteor about the size of a washing machine. As it entered Earth’s atmosphere, it broke apart and rained hundreds of meteorites in and around the small town, including a two-pound rock that crashed through the roof of a local house, smashing the dining room table below.

While meteorite falls happen around the world on a regular basis, early reports indicated that this meteorite belongs to a special group called "carbonaceous chondrites" that are rich in organic compounds and full of water. 

“Many carbonaceous chondrites are mud balls that are between 80 and 95% clay,” said Laurence Garvie, a research professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and a curator for Arizona State University's Center for Meteorite Studies. “Clays are important because water is an integral part of their structure.”

From these early reports, the race was on to collect samples and bring them back to labs around the world for scientific analysis.

“These had to be collected quickly and before they got rained on,” Garvie explained. “Because they are mostly clay, as soon as these types of meteorites get wet, they fall apart.”

Fortunately, meteorite collectors had five rain-free days in the region to collect samples from the fall. About 55 pounds of meteorites (collectively the size of a large beach ball) have been recovered so far. 

As of last week, ASU has acquired several meteorite samples from the Aguas Zarcas fall, which were donated by meteorite collector Michael Farmer. Farmer traveled to Costa Rica immediately after the meteorite fall to purchase and collect the meteorites from residents of Aguas Zarcas. A private donor has also provided funds for ASU to purchase additional meteorite samples from this fall. 

ASU leads classification of Aguas Zarcas meteorite fall

Once Garvie had the donated samples, he rushed back to the lab on ASU’s Tempe campus to run the analyses needed to determine the classification of the meteorites. He is now leading an international classification effort.

“I was in the lab by 5 a.m. the next morning after picking up the samples to get them ready for the initial analyses,” Garvie said. “Classification of new meteorites can be like a race with other institutions, and I needed ASU to be first so that we’ll have the recognition of being the collection that holds and curates the type specimen material.” 

ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies has a specialized curatorial facility for meteorites, one that rivals many other international facilities. In particular, ASU has nitrogen cabinets for storage of particularly air-sensitive meteorites where the nitrogen atmosphere preserves the meteorites and stops their degradation. 

“If you left this carbonaceous chondrite in the air, it would lose some of its extraterrestrial affinities,” Garvie explained. “These meteorites have to be curated in a way that they can be used for current and future research, and we have that ability here at ASU.” 

For the meteorite classification process, Garvie is working with Karen Ziegler from the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico. In her lab, Ziegler analyzed the samples for their oxygen isotopes, which helps determine what characteristics this meteorite shares with other carbonaceous chondrites.

Garvie is also working with ASU School of Molecular Sciences’ Professor Emerita Sandra Pizzarello, an organic chemist known for her work with carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. Pizzarello’s analysis is helping to determine the organic inventory of the sample, which may provide insights into whether these types of meteorites provided the ingredients for the origins of life on Earth. 

Ultimately, the meteorites will be approved, classified and named by the Meteoritical Society’s nomenclature committee, an international team of 12 scientists who approve all new classified meteorites. This approval is the first and most important step of an in-depth scientific analysis.

Nature has said, 'Here you are!'

Because of their water-rich composition, carbonaceous chondrites can provide insights into how we may be able to extract water from asteroids in space as a resource beyond Earth.

“Having this meteorite in our lab gives us the ability, with further analysis, to ultimately develop technologies to extract water from asteroids in space,” Garvie said. 

Garvie and his team, as well as scientists around the world, will be analyzing these meteorites — for years to come — for new insights about water extraction from meteorites as well as insights into the origins of the solar system and the organic process.  

“Nature has said ‘here you are,’ and now we have to be smart enough to tease apart the individual components and understand what they are telling us,” Garvie said.

Carbonaceous chondrites

The Costa Rican meteorite comes from an asteroid that was an early planet (planetesimal) that had water and organic materials. “It formed in an environment free of life, then was preserved in the cold and vacuum of space for 4.56 billion years, and then dropped in Costa Rica last week,” Garvie explained.

By happenstance, the last carbonaceous chondrites meteorite fall of this significance happened 50 years ago in 1969 and was curated by another ASU professor and founding director of ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies, Carleton Moore, who is now an ASU emeritus Regents’ Professor. The meteorite fell to Earth near Murchison, Australia, in 1969 and is one of the most studied meteorites in the world.

"Carbonaceous chondrites are relatively rare among meteorites but are some of the most sought-after by researchers because they contain the best-preserved clues to the origin of the solar system,” center Director Meenakshi Wadhwa said. “This new meteorite represents one of the most scientifically significant additions to our wonderful collection in recent years.”

The other ASU connection with this recent Costa Rican meteorite fall is that the samples closely resemble what scientists are discovering on the OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid Bennu, on which ASU has the Phil Christensen-designed Thermal Emissions Spectrometer (OTES). This instrument is making mineral and temperature maps of the asteroid Bennu, which is thought to be composed of a remnant carbonaceous chondrite planetesimal. 

Sample on display and open to the public at ASU

Samples from this meteorite fall, and many others, are on display for the public on the ASU Tempe campus in the Center for Meteorite Studies collection on the second floor of the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV. 

ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies is home to the world’s largest university-based meteorite collection, with over 40,000 individual specimens representing more than 2,100 distinct meteorite falls and finds. The collection is actively used for geological, planetary and space science research at ASU and throughout the world.

Top image: Aguas Zarcas meteorite samples, donated to ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies by private collector, Michael Farmer. Photo courtesy of ASU

Karin Valentine

Media Relations & Marketing manager , School of Earth and Space Exploration