image title

ASU experts share tips for a healthy holiday season

Staying hydrated is key when traveling by plane for the holidays.
Just say no to holiday-meal leftovers. Donate them or bring them to work.
Taking time for yourself is essential amid holiday stress.
Watch ASU video of yoga poses that can help you make it through holiday season.
November 18, 2016

School of Nutrition and Health Promotion professors Huberty and Berger suggest ways to eat well, stay active and de-stress

Even health nuts overdo it on pumpkin pie, after-dinner couch naps and “It’s a Wonderful Life” marathons this time of year, but a pair of ASU professors say a bit of planning and opportunism can help anyone have a healthier holiday season.

School of Nutrition and Health Promotion professors Jennifer Huberty and Christopher Berger share some tips with ASU Now from their areas of expertise to help you eat well, stay active and de-stress. Huberty specializes in yoga and mindfulness, and Berger’s focus is healthy air travel.

Here are their suggestions: 

Eating healthy

At the airport:

“Always bring food,” Berger said, noting that although airports have healthy options, it’s often easier for travelers who are in a rush and looking for something cheap to grab a snack that’s high in saturated fat and sugar.

He suggests durable foods, like citrus fruits and granola bars, and items that won’t get smashed in your suitcase or create a lot of weight.

Also, a little water goes a long way.

“It goes without saying, but stay hydrated,” Berger said. “When you get up to the altitude modern airliners fly at, the air is really dry. And there’s clearly a connection between perceptions of fatigue and being hydrated. You’re not just jet-lagged, you’re probably dehydrated.”

At home:

An easy way to feel like you’re still indulging without paying for it later?

“Make an effort to think about healthier alternatives to traditional recipes,” said Huberty, “especially in terms of fillings. There are lots of options for substitutions, and a good resource for that is Pinterest.”

And when it comes to leftovers, just say no.

“If you want to splurge on a traditional meal, don’t eat the leftovers. Eating that way for one day is not a big deal,” she said. “It’s the leftovers where the weight gain comes in.”

Huberty suggests cooking smaller quantities or donating leftovers.

Staying active

At the airport:

In terms of a climate-controlled environment for moderate exercise, an airport is great, Berger said. Pack a pair of walking shoes and spend that layover burning calories. Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport, and many like it, even have designated walking trails.

“And you can always find room to stretch,” he added. 

At home: 

“When you have family at your house, or even if you don’t, stress can throw off your routine,” Huberty said.

But maintaining a healthy level of physical activity is key. She suggests making it a habit to take three, 10-minute walks every day when you have spare time. If you can’t seem to find any, encourage group walks after meals, or just get up a little bit earlier in the morning for a solo stroll. 

Huberty is also a big proponent of yoga, which requires only enough space to move comfortably. (See the video below, in which she demonstrates some basic yoga poses that can be done anywhere, even by beginners.) 

Being mindful

At the airport:

One thing there’s a lot of at airports: space. So if what you need is a couple minutes to yourself to maintain your sanity, Berger says to just “go find a gate that’s not being used.” 

“It’s a great place to do yoga or meditate so you can be more relaxed for your flight,” he said. 

At home:

Back at the ranch, Huberty says it’s important to take time out for yourself.

“Find a quiet room, spend some time alone and decompress,” she said.

Also, breathing exercises can help with relaxation and calming anxiety, and they can be done anywhere. There’s even a handful of apps for that.

Huberty also says yoga is as good for the mind as it is the body. 

For those interested in accessing more yoga instructional videos, Huberty is a research partner with, which offers a library of more than 400 classes, fitness programs and health and wellness challenges. Use the coupon code ASUxUDAYA for a discount.

image title

Henry Cisneros: Immigrants are key to nation's success

November 15, 2016

Former HUD secretary, speaking at ASU, said immigration reform must be bipartisan, well thought-out and fair

Henry Cisneros, the former U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said at an ASU lecture Tuesday night that the face of the nation has changed dramatically over the past century and that Americans are more racially and ethnically diverse than ever.

Getting other Americans to buy in and realize immigrants are the key to the country’s future economic growth is one of Cisneros’ goals as a new president-elect takes office next year, promising major reform.

“The immigrant’s story is an often beautiful and brutal story because they vote by their feet to get to this country,” Cisneros told a crowd of more than 300 on Tuesday night at Arizona State University’s Galvin Playhouse in Tempe.

“They strive, they struggle, they overcome obstacles and they built this country. The world recognizes the United States’ mix of creativity because of its racial and ethnic diversity.”

His talk — the 2016 Centennial Lecture sponsored by Barrett, the Honors College at ASU — examined the changing demographics of our nation, the impacts of the ongoing reform debate, and the contributions immigrants make to the economic, social and cultural fabric of the United States.

Cisneros is chairman of the City View companies, which work with urban homebuilders to create homes priced for average families. He was secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton and was elected the first Hispanic mayor of San Antonio in 1981.

“Our country just endured one of the most contentious presidential elections in its history. Post-election emotions about many issues, among them immigration, are high, whether from the right or left. Immigration is a timely topic,” said Mark Jacobs, dean of Barrett, the Honors College at ASU, who introduced Cisneros.

According to the Pew Research Center, the American family is changing due to the fact that more than 59 million immigrants have arrived in the U.S. in the past 50 years. The center predicts America will become so diverse in the next few decades that by 2055, the country will not have a single racial or ethnic majority.

Cisneros said Latinos and Hispanics constitute about 55 million people in the U.S. today. That number will grow to 100 million by 2020, he said, about a fourth of the United States’ predicted population of 400 million. He said Hispanics are major contributors to the federal economy. 

“It was Mexican labor that rebuilt the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina,” Cisneros said. “They contribute in many ways economically.”

He said Hispanics work jobs most Americans would not otherwise take, pay into our tax and Social Security system, and are strong patriots. In the next few decades, they’ll be responsible for a 4.7 percent rise in America’s GDP and will help reduce deficits by a trillion dollars, he said.

But in order for them to become successful, immigration reform must be bipartisan, well thought-out and fair. Though he never mentioned President-elect Donald Trump by name, Cisneros said immigration requires of a new administration a level of sophistication and common sense.

“Right now we have 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country,” he said. “How do you deport 12 million people back to their country without it costing us millions? Do we even have those resources? I don’t think so.” 

Cisneros said he does not believe in amnesty and supports border security, background checks, a work-permit program, and a clear and much shorter path to citizenship.

“These are the issues that the country needs to debate and come to terms with,” Cisneros said. “We should allow our immigrants to live like human beings again and teach them how to become citizens.”

Barrett freshman and civil engineering major Andrew Roberts said he is one of the 70 percent of Americans that Cisneros cited who are open to the process of legalization.

“I have an immigrant girlfriend who has an immigrant family,” Roberts said. “Immigrants have a chance to contribute and live in America, and we should allow them to have that opportunity.”

image title

NFL owner encourages athletes to use platform for social change

ASU helps sponsor Race and Sports Town Hall discussion.
Panelists discuss importance of athletes as agents of social change.
November 14, 2016

At ASU town hall discussion on race and sports, Stephen M. Ross says such activism can have impact across nation

The principal owner for the Miami Dolphins said today’s athletes are starting to recognize their power as change agents for social good and that they should take advantage of their platform to shine a light on injustice whenever possible. 

“This isn’t about publicity, but doing something that can have impact in this country,” Stephen M. Ross said. “Athletes recognize the importance of their role in society, and so let’s take advantage of that.”

Ross’ comment was made at a town hall discussion on race and sports hosted by ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson at the Mesa Arts Center on Monday.

ASU’s Center for the Study of Race and DemocracyThe center is housed in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality sponsored the event, which drew about 200 people. The goal of the town hall and subsequent panel discussion was to bring together students, sports figures, academics and community leaders to have a dialogue about racism through the lens of sports and encourage critical thinking and positive change.

“This discussion gives us a framework for understanding the history between race and sports, what’s happening in our communities across the nation and the link between athletes and protest,” said Sarah E. Herrera, the center’s program director.  

From San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem as a protest to police shootings of unarmed black men to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton pushing for the Confederate flag to be lowered at the South Carolina State House to the Miami Heat donning hooded sweatshirts to recognize the shooting of teen Trayvon Martin, professional athletes are using their platform to protest what they see as civil and racial inequality.

“I am probably in the minority when it comes to NFL owners encouraging players to express these feelings and speak out,” Ross said. “This country needs it.”

Growing up in Detroit, Ross said he witnessed firsthand the negative impacts of racism and that he hopes to use his initiative to bring the sports community together to advance equality, respect and understanding.

The panel also included Ann Meyers Drysdale, vice president of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury; Mia Rycraw, a goalie for the ASU women’s water polo team; Eddie Johnson, former NBA standout and color analyst; Kenneth Shropshire, director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative; and Michael Young, Glendale fire captain and Millennium High School football coach.

Speakers said the conversation was reminiscent of a bygone era when sports figures such as Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar openly discussed racism, the anti-war movement and political and social change in the U.S.

After decades of aversion to protest, they believe professional athletes are starting to rediscover their voices as activists and role models.

“It makes me happy when parents say, ‘I admire you as a role model,’” Rycraw said. “It reminds me that I’m a role model for people who are younger and older, and I take that seriously.”

Race and Sports Town Hall

Kenneth Shrophsire (second from left) talks during a panel discussion with (from left) Ann Meyers Drysdale, Michael Young, ASU water polo goalie Mia Rycraw and Eddie Johnson at the Race and Sports Town Hall on Monday. Shropshire, who is on the faculty of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, talked about the lynching threats the black freshmen at the school received last week. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Shropshire said sports is the closest thing the U.S. has to a national language and that he has formed lasting friendships as a result of his time playing football at Stanford. 

“Some of my best friends in life are white guys I played with in college,” Shropshire said. “That’s the magic of sports as the vehicle to discuss diversity.”

Young said that diversity can be woven into the fabric of sports and that coaches have a new responsibility to young athletes.

“When I was growing up, it used to be about if you could play ball, but that’s now at the back of the list,” Young said. “I feel my role as a coach is to teach about character and fairness.”

The panel agreed that educating young athletes about race, justice and democracy is only part of the cure — the other half of the equation is educating adults.

“The biggest problem I’ve always had is with adults, not kids,” Johnson said. “I concentrate on them (adults) to see how they’re teaching, what they’re teaching and if they’re fair.

“And if they’re not fair, I call them out on it.”

Top photo: ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson (right) talks with Miami Dolphins owner and founder of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, Stephen M. Ross, at the Race and Sports Town Hall at the Mesa Arts Center on Monday. Ross said athletes should use their platforms to push for social change. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now 

Reporter , ASU News


image title

Study suggests reducing disease spread could increase gender equality

Report suggests vaccinations, mosquito control may improve gender equality.
ASU researcher's report showing link published in journal Nature Human Behavior.
November 14, 2016

ASU researcher helps hit on new reason to focus on public health efforts, including vaccinations and controlling mosquitoes

An ASU researcher has helped hit on a new reason to fight infectious diseases: Reducing their prevalence can be linked to an increase in gender equality.

Arizona State University psychology professor Michael Varnum, along with his partner Igor Grossmann from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, have produced a study that suggests that “vaccinations, free health care, public sanitation and water treatment might increase equality between the sexes around the globe,” according to a release from the journal Nature Human Behavior, which published their work Monday.

The authors, the release said, made sure to note that their analysis doesn’t prove causality. But it shows that over several decades “when levels of infectious disease are low, people are more likely to adopt slower life history strategies. For women, this might mean delaying reproduction in favor of pursuing education and careers,” the study states.

Varnum discusses his research in a Q&A with ASU Now.

Question: Can you describe your research?

Answer: We tried to find out why societies may change in terms of levels of gender equality. We tested the idea that these kinds of shifts are due to changes in the physical and social environment. We found that the strongest predictor of levels of gender equality over time was the prevalence of infectious disease.

Q: This certainly sounds interesting, connecting infectious diseases to gender equality. Is it groundbreaking? Or does it confirm something we previously suspected? 

A: Although previous work had shown that variations across countries in gender equality are linked to level of disease, this project was the first to test the relationship over time. So although there was some reason to suspect such links, this was the first time anyone tested them as a way to understand cultural change.

Q: What led you to examine this link?

A: We'd previously published a study looking at what factors were responsible for shifts in individualism in the U.S., where we also looked at a number of ecological predictors. We felt that this kind of framework could provide new insight into understanding changes in gender equality, which has also been especially marked over the past several decades.

Q: Did you find what you expected to find? Or was it surprising?

A: What we found was pretty consistent with expectations; however, we were somewhat surprised by just how strong the relationship was.

Q: What does this finding mean? Do you think it will affect policy or create any changes in how nations, charities or NGOs operate? What might change because of this research?

A: I think this work has a number of rather interesting implications. From an academic standpoint, I think it offers a new vantage point to understand gender inequality.

For a more applied standpoint, I think this work has the fairly radical implication that efforts aimed at improving public health (be it through sanitation, providing clean water, vaccinations or mosquito control) might be a surprisingly effective means of fostering gender equality.

So I think this work highlights how such efforts have social benefits beyond their immediate impacts on people's health.

Q: What’s next?

A: We are currently using an ecological framework to try to understand the causes of other kinds of cultural shifts, including fluctuations in aggression and violent crime.

We are also open to collaborating with NGOs, government agencies and other stakeholders who might find our research useful in their own efforts to enhance equality or to understand how and why cultures change.

image title

Game shows sustainability goes far beyond recycling

ASU prof creates game to help cities solve complex solutions quickly.
November 10, 2016

'Future Shocks and City Resilience' allows leaders to take creative approach to handling complicated issues

During a flu pandemic, a homeless woman gets information from the city on how to stay healthy and takes it back to her community of homeless people. With new confidence, she becomes a conduit, providing data to city workers about the health of her friends. Eventually, she becomes such a resource that the city hires her to do outreach.

That is a fictional scenario, but it’s also a potential solution for a city that needs resources during and after a crisis.

The setup is part of a game that was played by about 50 people at the City of Tempe Resilience Workshop, sponsored by the city, the National League of Cities and the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, allowing the decision-makers to take a creative approach to solving complex problems.  

The game is called “Future Shocks and City Resilience” and was created by Lauren Withycombe Keeler, a visiting assistant professorShe also is a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and a founding member of the Center for the Study of the Future and the Risk Innovation Lab. in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at ASU. 

The participants, which included top city officials and ASU faculty, learned how to think about sustainability and resilience in the city, Withycombe Keeler said. In this case, sustainability is a concept much larger than recycling.

“It’s sustainability in terms of, how does a city create an environment that is livable for all different types of residents, and is equitable? And does it achieve that in a way that preserves and enhances the natural environment and allows the benefits to be available for future generations?” she said.

The participants divided into teams, and each got a set of cards with categories including assets, such as buildings and personnel; issues, such as lack of walkability and homelessness; priorities, such as financial stability and quality of life; and a shock, such as a terrorist attack or a pandemic.

Each team had to create a scenario that would use resources and solve problems in a collaborative way. In the pandemic scenario, a city volunteer program for homeless people was the catalyst that empowered the woman to reach out for information and eventually get a job.

“Games are really helpful at getting people to develop skills quickly,” Withycombe Keeler said. “We learn best when we’re having a good time.

“It’s based on a theory called material deliberation — the idea that by engaging with material in your hands, you build a greater investment in the learning,” said Withycombe Keeler, who created the game specifically for the workshopOther facilitators and speakers included Don Bessler, director of public works for the city of Tempe; Cooper Martin, program director for the Sustainable Cities Institute at the National League of Cities, and Arnim Wiek, associate professor in the School of Sustainability at ASU..

Braden Kay, the sustainability program manager for the city of Tempe, said that the collaboration in the game was important.

“My hope is that we now have a little bit more shared language and the opportunity to play in this fun way created some deeper relationships,” he said.

Top photo: Tempe City Manager Andrew Ching talk about his department at the City of Tempe Resilience Workshop lead by the School of Sustainability. ASU designed a large board game, called "Future Shocks and City Resilience," intended to help the executives think into the future and contemplate their own department's resilience and sustainability. This is being funded by a grant from the National League of Cities. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now 

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


Advocating for stillbirth prevention

November 10, 2016

Nearly 3 million children are stillborn every year. The majority of stillbirths globally are preventable (related to medical care and labor). But historically, little research has been done to address the issue.

Over the course of her academic career Joanne Cacciatore, an associate professor in the Arizona State University School of Social Work, has had a hand in completely shifting attitudes toward these deaths. Cacciatore symposium Joanne Cacciatore is an expert on traumatic loss. She will be sharing advancements in research and prevention of stillborn deaths at a symposium at Johns Hopkins. Download Full Image

“Before 2001, you wouldn’t get a birth certificate, just a death certificate,” she said.

Arizona was the first state to change that, followed by 36 more states.

Stillbirths were not on the National Institutes of Health research agenda until 2003. Then, in 2011, The Lancet, a leading medical journal, published a series of articles to better explore current knowledge and set an action plan to halve stillbirth rates by 2020. Cacciatore is a coauthor of the article that launched the series.

One of the first takeaways from the series was the glaring lack of data. Stillborn deaths are not included in infant mortality rates.

“In times of global focus on motherhood, the mother’s own aspiration of a liveborn baby is not recognized on the world agenda,” the authors noted.

As a result, little had been done to research the causes, interventions, costs and cultural drivers that could help improve global birth rates.

“Stillbirth takes the lives of more infants than all other causes combined,” said Cacciatore. “And in half of the cases in the Western world, we don’t know why.”

With knowledge of the causes, professionals could better develop interventions and prevention strategies.

Cacciatore has been very involved in driving efforts at the state and federal levels, including recognition of the emotional and economic toll.

“The grief of mothers might be aggravated by social stigma, blame, and marginalization in regions where most deaths occur,” authors said.

Family systems vary. She has noted a lack of consistency in providing bereavement care to mothers, fathers and children of families who have experienced a loss. There is also significant investment in planning for a baby’s arrival including medical care, home preparation and supplies.

“There are both psychological and economic costs to the family and to society,” she said.

Research in the area has continued to grow since The Lancet series was published.

Cacciatore will be speaking on the topic at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on November 16. Her symposium on cultural perspectives in psychosocial support after the death of a baby covers research from a public health perspective: psychologically, emotionally and socially.  

"We need to continue to understand the tragedy of a baby's death at the macro level, even intergenerationally, and try to reduce the high mortality rate. And psychologically our culture needs to be educated on the long-term psychosocial effects on mothers and fathers and families: ultimately traumatic grief affects us all," she said. 

Heather Beshears

director marketing and communications, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


image title

ASU experts' prescription for post-election healing: Listen carefully

How to heal the rift after the votes are counted? Don't talk — listen.
November 8, 2016

Hearing the other side and working together can move us beyond a divisive election

Tomorrow the presidential election will be over, and friends, co-workers and family members who have been bitterly divided will need to move forward. But how?

One way is to stop talking and listen, according to an Arizona State University expert on interpersonal communication.

“I think one of the things that gets in the way is that we think that we have to agree with people when all we really have to do is hang in there and make them feel understood,” said Vincent Waldron, a professor of social and behavioral sciences in the School of Social and Behavioral SciencesThe School of Social and Behavioral Sciences is part of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. at the West campus. He studies communication in the workplace and forgiveness.

A New York Times/CBS news poll released Nov. 3 found that 82 percent of those surveyed were disgusted by the state of American politics.

“A lot of anger I hear is from people who feel like they’ve been dismissed and haven’t been taken seriously. That’s a basic need that everyone has,” Waldron said.

Genuine forgiveness might be needed for those who were hurt by the insults hurled during this extraordinarily harsh campaign between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

“Forgiveness is an alternative to revenge,” he said. “You could hold this grudge forever. But we might decide to let it go because other things are more important — our relationship with family members or having a democracy that functions.”

Waldron said that 24-hour nature of social media is fueling people’s anxieties more than in previous elections.

“On social media, people can go to the well again and again and again, to their own little community and see this stuff magnified. It blows up that sense of outrage, and the other side becomes demonized and evil,” he said.

Co-workers will have to move on in a personal way with each other, but the country will have to heal on a national level as well, according to Thom Reilly, director of the Morrison Institute for Public PolicyThe Morrison Institute for Public Policy is a research and community service unit of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. at ASU. He was optimistic that it can happen.

“There’s no question it’s been a divisive election. But the country has dealt with divisive elections before, and we’ve been able to wade through it,” he said.

“Obviously, whoever wins the presidency needs to set the tone from a national perspective by both reaching out to individuals who feel that their issues were not addressed and by following up.”

Reilly sees the surge of independent voters in Arizona as one potential way forward.

“In our research, we found that Republicans and Democrats go to certain news sources that reinforce their worldview, and who they talk to about politics is limited. But independents have a broader range of news sources and a broader range of individuals that they talk to,” he said.

“One-third of Arizona voters don’t want to align with the Republicans or Democrats, and it’s growing. Maybe independents are a way to bridge the dialogue,” he said.

To stave off further divisiveness, Americans who are not alike must gather in peaceful, productive ways to forge bonds, Reilly said, and a system of national service for young people would be one way to do that.

“By requiring every young person to serve in some capacity — military, through a teaching corps or environmental corps — it would bring people together who normally wouldn’t be and put them in places where they could interact and form social and political identities with people who think differently than they do.”

The Morrison Institute is nonpartisan but still tries to address controversial issues with people of differing outlooks.  

“We create safe places where people of different political ideologies can come together to talk,” he said.

“It sends a message that it’s a big tent, and we’ll allow for civil discourse.”

So tomorrow, co-workers who have been on opposite political sides will come together in the workplace with winners and losers.

Reconciliation is next, Waldron said.

“If you’re the winner, don’t gloat. You’ve got to be sensitive to the fact that they already feel bad. This is your moment to be that supportive co-worker and try to make it right,” he said.

“If you’re on the losing side, you have to take the high road,” Waldron said.

“I think it would be a good idea for people who have had conflicts to put it in the past and say ‘Let’s focus on what we can agree on.’ ”

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


ASU researcher helps students envision their futures as engineers

New programs aim to remove barriers to career possibilities

November 7, 2016

Engineering has a bit of an invisibility problem, says Arizona State University education researcher Tirupalavanam Ganesh.

It’s an obstacle that presents a particularly acute challenge for efforts to spark interest in the field among youngsters. engineering education, student recruitment, student retention, education outreach, K-12 outreach Tirupalavanam Ganesh (second from left) has developed educational outreach programs designed to encourage young students “to explore things that help them envision the future they could create for themselves as engineers.” Photo by Jessica Hochreiter/ASU Download Full Image

“Engineers do things that impact a lot of everyday life, but you don’t see engineers portrayed in movies, video games or on TV and the other things that are shaping youngsters’ views of the world,” said Ganesh, an associate research professor and the assistant dean of engineering education in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“They know entertainment celebrities, and they know sports stars. But they don’t know the engineers who created the microchip that makes their computers work,” he adds. “It’s not on their radar.”

A result is that many bright and motivated young students — and their parents — aren’t including engineering on the list of potential careers when they start giving serious thought to their futures.

Ganesh’s mission is to change that, especially for those within groups whose young adults have not pursued higher education or careers in the field in significant numbers — a largely untapped talent pool, he says.

He recently began accelerating his drive toward that goal with the help of resources being provided by way of a Tooker Professorship he was awarded earlier this year.

Driving toward diversity in engineering

The professorship was established five years ago with an endowment from Diane and Gary Tooker. Diane Tooker is a former elementary school teacher. Gary Tooker is a former chief executive officer of the Motorola technology company and an ASU engineering alumnus.

The Tooker Professorship supports work to attract students to engineering and provide them innovative learning environments and educational experiences that keep them engaged, and equip them with a competitive edge in the job market.

This fall semester, Ganesh — with help from the Fulton Schools’ student recruitment and retention specialists — is forming a group of about 120 students from six high schools in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area for a program he is calling Young Engineers Shape the World.

Aimed at attracting students who are enrolled in Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses in high school, and who are pursuing advanced science and mathematics courses, this program seeks to increase the representation of women in engineering.

“A more diverse engineering workforce will help increase the variety of innovations that can make a difference in people’s lives,” Ganesh says.

The high school juniors will gather for 90 minutes each week for 15 to 17 weeks during the academic year to engage in a series of activities to introduce them to the possibilities of an engineering career.

Students will get opportunities to interact with university engineering students and see research projects that ASU engineering majors are conducting.

These high school students and their families will get tours of ASU from the Fulton Ambassadors, the student volunteer group that helps promote the Fulton Schools.

two students working with LEGOS

The programs Young Engineers Shape the World and Engineering Futures aim to show teens and young adults the relevance of engineering in everyday life and to provide them a network of mentors, peers and role models. Photo by Jessica Hochreiter/ASU

Keeping aspiring engineers on track to careers

“The idea is to show them rather than just tell them about the kind of impact engineering has on society,” Ganesh said, “and most importantly, to encourage them to explore things that help them to envision the future they could create for themselves as engineers.”

The key to doing that is to remove that cloak of invisibility that makes engineering all but invisible to many young students.

“Engineers help make possible the technology we use every day. The roads we drive on, the medical technology that improves our quality of life, and the energy, security, housing, healthcare and entertainment we have access to all involve engineering. Once students see engineering in that light, they realize all the variety it offers for what they could do with their lives,” Ganesh said.

The cohort will stay together for two years until they graduate from high school and enter college. They will also experience a week-long summer program at the ASU campus exploring what campus life is like.

A second project, called Engineering Futures, which he is getting off the ground with Tooker endowment support, focuses on ASU freshman engineering majors — in particular students who are in the first generation in their families to go to college and/or those with financial need.

The goal is to boost the persistence of young engineering students who may not be familiar with a university environment and may not know what engineers actually do in the workplace.

“They are the students who most often will not have a support structure of peers and role models who are engineers around them,” Ganesh explains. “We want to provide them a network that will give them those things, and help keep them on track with their education and career pursuits.”

Building pathways to future success

The plan is for Engineering Futures groups to stay together from the start of the students’ freshman year until the end of their sophomore year.

During that time they will participate in short courses and workshops designed to instruct them how to effectively build teams to collaborate on academic studies as well as extracurricular projects in which they apply engineering skills.

They will learn to use software and other technologies to help them organize projects and to develop methods, systems, tools and products from the design stage to actual production.

They’ll be introduced to the basics of research, entrepreneurship, professional leadership and communications, with a concentration on skills that are most useful in the workplace.

Along the way, students will get a chance to connect with more experienced engineering students, alumni and professional engineers.

“The industry partners we are recruiting to work with the Engineering Futures program are excited and eager to get involved,” said Robin Hammond, director of the Fulton Schools Career Center. “They understand that these Tooker-sponsored programs are essential to building pathways for the exceptional engineers and talented future employees that their companies have come to expect from ASU’s Fulton Schools of Engineering.”

students working with LEGOs

Ganesh’s outreach programs stress that effective education doesn’t result from students competing against each other for higher grades, but learning skills by working together to achieve goals. Photo by Jessica Hochreiter/ASU

Support network key to sustaining motivation

In the first of these pilot programs, Ganesh explained, “We are showing high school students how to imagine what their future could be like if they chose to study engineering.”

In the second program, “We are showing freshmen and sophomore students how they can begin to construct that future for themselves while they are here at the university, and how that is a collaborative project you do with your teachers, mentors, industry professionals, advisors and fellow students.”

He said education research has shown what is essential to the success of such endeavors: sustained effort, group support and instilling a sense of greater purpose.

“It takes a support network, a community that shares problems and challenges and aspirations,” Ganesh said. Succeeding is not a matter of competing against others to get higher grades, but of working together to learn skills and accomplish goals that benefit the group.

And it takes time for individuals to evolve into such a communal venture.

“Short-term orientation just does not work,” Ganesh said. “To build the self-confidence you need to succeed, you have to explore and experience things over a long period of time.”

Seeing engineering as a 'helping profession'

Beyond that, getting students to major in engineering and persist in the face of difficulty requires showing them they are not training to be simply competent technicians who are going to be doing skilled but unfulfilling jobs.

“They need to feel that their work can make a difference,” Ganesh said. “There is solid evidence that this is a critical motivation for students, to know they will learn things that can improve their communities and society.”

One of the impediments to turning teens and young adults toward engineering is that “it is not always seen as the helping profession that it is,” he said.

“We are living in a world with seven billion people that is going to be in greater need of all the basic things necessary to live well, and engineers are going to have roles to play in providing all of those things,” he said. “We have to make young people aware of the relevance that engineering will always have.”

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


image title

CBS drama 'Pure Genius' leverages real-world technology from ASU

Cardiac 3D Print Lab at Phoenix Children’s Hospital among most prolific in U.S.
The majority of the 3-D printed hearts are used for children’s cases.
November 2, 2016

Partnership between ASU, Phoenix Children's Hospital helps make strides with 3-D printed hearts as surgical models

The solution to a fraught moment in the first episode of the new CBS medical drama "Pure Genius" came from a real-world technology that has been advancing thanks in part to a collaboration between Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Arizona State University: 3-D printed hearts.  

At least twice a week, surgeons at the hospital use the devices as they try to save lives, according to university and hospital statistics. Surgeons use the replicas to plan the best ways to fix any number of defects, before they cut into a patient.  

It’s a relatively recent development. The journey to the Cardiac 3D Print Lab began in 2010 when David Frakes, an ASU engineering professor, started recruiting art majors to join the Image Processing Applications Lab.

He had a hunch that art and design students would be able to see technological possibilities that medical students couldn’t.  

Enter Justin Ryan, then an undergraduate majoring in digital art at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts — who happened to have an aptitude for science.

“David convinced enough people that as long as I passed my” graduate exam, “I should be admitted to the biomedical engineering graduate program,” Ryan joked.

Today, Ryan, an ASU post-doctoral researcher, runs the Cardiac 3D Print Lab, leaning heavily on his background in 3D modeling for computer animation, which can be directly leveraged for 3-D medical printing.   

Although 3-D medical printing wasn’t new, it also wasn’t something doctors could use to save heart patients, such as patients with rare tumors, as depicted on "Pure Genius."

Doctors often need a 3-D printed heart in a matter of hours, at the time the process took weeks.

By concentrating on workflow and borrowing a 3-D printer from an architecture firm to print hearts as training tools for medical students, Ryan and his team got the printing time down to two days, “but what we needed was same-day turnaround.”

The turning point came in 2012 when a grant from the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Leadership Circle funded the purchase of a 3-D printer for the hospital.

“Having the printer at the hospital meant we were right next door,” Ryan said. “The surgeon could look at the images and make multiple adjustments, and then we could print it once.”

A heart can now be printed in nine hours or less, and more than 300 have been produced for surgical guidance, making the Cardiac 3D Print Lab at Phoenix Children’s Hospital one of the most prolific in the nation. The only others that compare are at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and Boston Children’s Hospital.

The majority of 3-D hearts are used for children’s cases, but the lab also produces for adult patients at other Valley hospitals, including a 92-year-old, Ryan said.

The technology isn’t limited to hearts, Ryan said. Early trials are underway that involve skin cells. Researchers are hopeful are to experiment with livers. And 3-D printed bone could be possible for cancer patients.   

Ryan estimates it will be about 25 years before the technology advances to the point that 3-D hearts can be transplanted into patients. But parts, such as heart valves, will be ready in the next five years. Implantable devices, including stents and clips, will likely be available sooner.

In addition to 3-D hearts, the lab prints other surgical aids, including a variety of tumors.

“Not only does the print inform the surgeon prior to surgery, it helps a child conceptualize what the tumor actually looks like,” Ryan said. “After surgery, we give the patient a 3-D print of the tumor and let him or her smash it.”

The technology, meanwhile, also helped a fictional cardiothoracic surgeon at a Silicon Valley hospital conceptualize the best course of action to save a life, merging the art of TV production with the science of high-tech medicine.

The Cardiac 3D Print Lab was recently awarded a grant through the ASU Foundation’s Women & Philanthropy program.

Top photo: Justin Ryan, post-doctoral researcher, Image Processing Applications Laboratory and Researcher, Cardiac 3D Print Lab at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, examines a 3-D printed heart. Photo by Jessica Hochreiter/ASU

Terry Grant

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications


image title

ASU developing game to show impact of home sustainability

ASU prof: Household activities account for 41 percent of carbon emission.
November 1, 2016

Will show everyday people how their choices affect the planet

Datu Agustdinata

Datu Buyung Agusdinata

Researchers at Arizona State University are working to use a role-playing game to show the effects of sustainability efforts in the home.

The project, funded with a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation, seeks to help everyday people understand how their personal choices affect the planet.

Leading ASU’s effort is Datu Buyung Agusdinata, an assistant professor in the ASU School of Sustainability and a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. 

Agusdinata discussed the work and its importance, saying personal consumption of food, energy and water can affect everything from the environment to income inequality.

Question: What are the project’s goals? 

Answer: The project focuses on addressing our over-consumption of food, energy and water. The problem has caused ecosystem degradation, resource scarcity and growing income inequality. 

Household activities account for more than a quarter of U.S. energy use and 41 percent of carbon emission.

Food consumption contributes between 15 percent and 28 percent to total greenhouse gas emissions.

The greenhouse gas intensity of the typical U.S. household’s food, energy and water consumption is an opportunity to mitigate climate change. 

Q: Why would this appeal to the general public?

A: The project tackles a real issue that is intimately close to us as we consume, and unintentionally over consume, food, energy and water every day.

The solutions are within our capacity to act and make an impact.

The project will identify and recommend concrete and cost-effective interventions, including technology and policy, to conserve resources that will lead to sustainable consumption.

The ASU team will actively engage with stakeholders and the general public throughout the project. They will be invited to participate in interactive role-playing scenarios that include homeowners, food, energy and water producers, and policy makers. 

Q: What's ASU’s role? 

A: The ASU team will develop and conduct role-playing game activities to find ways to reduce consumption.

The game allows players to assume the roles of computer characters in various settings.

Their actions will reveal preferences and intentions, and suggest what individuals may do given certain conditions in a safe but realistic environment.

Given these capabilities, the role-playing game allows for testing different options for behavior change.  

ASU researchers will contribute to the overall project goal to understand human household decision-making behaviors responding to framing and psychological cues — specifically feedback and messaging — and social norms.

The team also will incorporate eco-feedback information generated by innovative consumption-tracking technology and advanced life cycle assessment models, and climate, technology and policy scenarios into role-playing games and simulations. 

We'll also leverage systems thinking and perspectives, and gaming and simulation tools to learn and better understand complex interdependencies and interactions among natural, social and engineered systems within the food, energy and water nexus.

Q: How?

A: The RPG module will be incorporated into existing courses in the institutions involved, including ASU, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University and the University of Minnesota. Michigan Tech University is the lead on the project. Joint sessions will be conducted in which students of American and Dutch Universities will play the game.

More importantly, RPGs will be used to engage with relevant stakeholders and the wider public to educate and inform them about what can be done to reduce consumption and environmental impact.

Director , Media Relations and Strategic Communications