image title

New asphalt binder alternative is less toxic, more sustainable than conventional blend

September 18, 2023

Bio-based patch from ASU will lead to safer travels and recreation

Asphalt is primarily known for use in roadways, but it's also used to pave playgrounds, bicycle paths, running tracks and tennis and basketball courts — all platforms for activities where breathing toxic fumes can be dangerous. Outdoor use on driveways, rooftops and parking lots, especially in the Arizona sun, also can lead to toxic fume exposure.

A team from Arizona State University, led by Associate Professor Ellie Fini in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment (SSEBE), has developed AirDuo, a new, patent-pending asphalt binder that not only diminishes toxic fumes of the overall asphalt-surfaced area, but also increases sustainability. 

But perhaps most importantly for Fini, it reduces health hazards for those exposed to asphalt-surfaced areas, especially for those performing the installation.

AirDuo's first local trial was initiated in late August as a patch in ASU's Gammage Auditorium parking lot. Frank Castro, associate director of Facility Maintenance, helped get the research out of the lab and into the parkig lot, facilitating the lab-to-market transition. On the morning of the install, the Parking and Transit Services team, led by Assistant Manager David Triana, completed the patchwork in a few hours.

Attendees of a theater production at Gammage the same night gave the patch a workout as they arrived and departed, and Castro reported to Fini the next day that the patch had “held up great.”

Fini envisions the new low-carbon, bio-based binder will ultimately be used for all asphalt paving products, not just patches.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration notes that about a half-million workers annually are exposed to fumes from asphalt, with health effects that include headache, skin rash, fatigue, throat and eye irritation, cough and skin cancer.

Asphalt binder is the glue that holds together the stones, sand, gravel and other aggregates in asphalt pavements. The AirDuo binding mixture is composed of low-carbon, bio-based materials that are an alternative to more toxic petroleum products, also known as bitumen. Moreover, AirDuo acts as a toxicity filter for the overall product.

After the traditional blend of aggregates and binder is laid on the roadways, the stress from heat, sun, weather and traffic causes the release of breakdown products — molecules that vaporize — some of which are odorous, highly toxic or both.

“We breathe 11,000 liters of air per day,” Fini said. “But our nose isn’t smart enough to know when the air may be dangerous for our health. That new-car smell people like? That may not be good for your lungs. We run away from a smelly trash can, but the pleasant smell or fumes from certain materials can be far more toxic.”

Fini and Judith Klein-Seetharaman, a professor in both ASU’s College of Health Solutions and School of Molecular Sciences, collaborated to review literature about the health effects of various asphalt mixtures and mapped the effects on a network of biomarkers. Citing specific contaminants present in asphalt, the team discovered that all are not created equal and that different formulas have different levels of toxicity — the majority of which have not been studied comprehensively.

According to Klein-Seetharaman, there have not been sufficient studies of the long-term effects of asphalt-related toxins on the body.

“To give justice to the complexity of the problem, we need a systems-level view of the interactions between asphalt fume components and their biological targets,” Klein-Seetharaman said. "There are thousands of molecules present in asphalt, as well as thousands of biomolecular targets inside the human body that can bind to these molecules and respond to their presence with downstream biological effects, some of which can lead to adverse health outcomes.”

Fini has conducted ongoing research to investigate alternative asphalt binders, including a study on how iron-rich biochar absorbs volatile organic compounds from asphalt surfaces, and how it is both an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to bitumen components.

“When we use algae to make AirDuo, as we did from last year’s November harvest from ASU’s Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI), it can be carbon negative,” said Fini, who collaborated on the algal components of the project with Peter Lammers, a research professor in SSEBE; Taylor Weiss, a Polytechnic School assistant professor; and Shuguang Deng, a professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy (SEMTE).

“The use of algae in the AirDuo binder provides a critically important environmental benefit,” Lammers said. “As algal photosynthesis removes carbon dioxide from the air, the AirDuo manufacturing process retains that carbon in an improved asphalt product relative to petroleum-derived binders.” 

“We plan to scale up the process by growing algae on wastewater, thus providing an additional ecosystem service," he said of future plans for substituting algae for petroleum products in other roadway projects.

Other bio-based materials the team has used include biochar from fire-reduction efforts in California and northern Arizona. Process sustainability depends on the feedstock sourcing and, in the case of AirDuo, the use of biomass waste from forest residue, according to Fini.

“This promotes resource conservation and waste valorization, as well as enhances public health and safety — all while providing a more sustainable pavement material.”

SSEBE Professor Mahour Parast oversaw sourcing and supply chain to enable scale-up for AirDuo. DPE Materials, the team’s partner based in Yuma, brought 10, 40-pound bags of AP1 (AirDuo Paving) for the patch at Gammage.

“AirDuo represents a complete sustainability package,” Fini explained. “We are using biomass as our feedstock — it has already pulled CO2 from the air prior to harvesting. The AP1 helps create a sustainable built environment and provides reduced health risks to both asphalt workers and those using asphalt-surfaced areas.”

Fini’s lab studies showed a nearly 70% reduction in emission when AirDuo was used. While not a one-to-one translation to the field, according to Fini, it clearly illustrates toxic fume reduction. The mix also had notably less smell than any other mix made in the plant. 

The research on bitumen asphalt binder alternatives began with a 2019 grant from the National Science Foundation on algae-derived products. A grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a focus on emission reduction and environmental health supported the research and also helped with the lab-to-market transition.

“Our next steps are larger projects on the ASU campus, and then perhaps in Flagstaff and Tucson. Our team invites other states and institutions to join the AP1 (AirDuo Paving) campaign and test it on their sites, too,” Fini said.

But Fini and her team are delighted ASU is leading the effort. 

“It is an Arizona-born technology inspired by Arizona’s sun and heat,” Fini said. “Arizona is ideal for growing our feedstock algae, and also a great testbed for AirDuo. With 320 days of sun in the Valley, the smell of asphalt-surfaced areas never stops.

“You can verify this the next time you get out of your car in an open parking lot in summer.”

SSEBE students and postdocs engaged with AirDuo research include Sand A A Aldagari, Abdullah Aloraini, Mohammadjavad Kazemi, Anna Melis, Masoumeh Mousavi, Albert Hung and Farideh Pahlavan.

Top photo: ASU’s Ellie Fini surveys the ASU Gammage Auditorium parking lot site where the first trial of AirDuo, a low-carbon asphalt binder, was used for a recent patch. AirDuo has the potential to be used for many asphalt paving processes, not just patches. Photo by Bobbi Ramirez/ASU

image title

Federal commission meets at ASU to discuss equitable outcomes for Hispanic students

September 14, 2023

University, local, state and federal leaders spoke at meeting held during Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week

A federal advisory commission on education equity for Hispanics met at Arizona State University on Tuesday and voted on four priorities to send to President Biden for consideration.

The President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics gathered at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus to hear from university, local, state and federal leaders.

Last year, ASU was designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education, and the President’s Advisory Commission’s meeting was held during Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona addressed the meeting via video, saying: “HSIs serve more than two-thirds of our Latino students nationwide.

“They provide inclusive campus communities for everyone involved, including immigrants, Dreamers and first-generation college students.

“We know we must do more to put college within reach of Latino families and families.”

Vanessa Ruiz, deputy vice president for education outreach at ASU, told the commission that the university was the appropriate place for them to meet.

“The commitment we have at ASU to comprehensively support our Latino students and families, and our faculty and staff, is truly a testament to our success in enrolling over 15,000 first-year, undergraduate Latino students last year, a record for us,” she said.

“Many of us are here today because of what our university charter compels us to do, and that is to open the door of opportunity to those we serve. And we do so with a full continuum, beginning with K–12 programming and initiatives across our state and embedding a college-going culture in our high schools, right through the admission process into the university, where students come in and find that they have a community of support here.”

Women speaking at advisory meeting

Vanessa Ruiz, ASU's deputy vice president for educational outreach, delivers welcoming remarks at the President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics meeting, held Sept. 12 at ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

The four recommendations the commissioners voted to send to Biden and Cardona for consideration are:

• Elevate and expand the Raise the Bar: Lead the World initiative launched by Cardona, which focuses on improving K–12 education, eliminating the teacher shortage, investing in student mental health, ensuring a pathway to college and career, and promoting multilingualism.

• Support community colleges, which are experiencing declines in enrollment, by increasing financial aid, increasing graduation rates, improving transfer to four-year institutions and promoting dual enrollment.

• Improve career pathways, particularly in areas of critical need, such as teaching, health care, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, where Hispanics are underrepresented.

• Increase the number of Hispanics in leadership positions in higher education by raising the number of Hispanics in post-graduate degree programs and leadership-development programs, and track the data.

During the daylong event at the Beus Center for Law and Society, the commissioners heard several presentations on the state of education and economic opportunity for Hispanics.

Highlights include:

A pivotal moment for equity

The government is making enormous investments with initiatives such as the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, which will create tens of thousands of jobs that need to filled. At the same time, political divisiveness and inequity are flourishing.

• Tom Perez, senior advisor and assistant to the U.S. president: “We’ve never had this level of investment, in CHIPS, in broadband, at one time, and that’s why the unemployment rate for Latinos is as low as it is. But we have way too many disproportions in health status, educational opportunities and home ownership. … My parents taught me, and the evidence teaches us, that education is the great equalizer.”

• Neera Tanden, Domestic Policy Council director in the White House: Tanden said the administration is working to ensure that Latino workers and businesses benefit from these federal investments. “We are seeing successes with some of the plants coming online, that the workforces are more diverse than we’ve seen,” she said.

Helping Latino students thrive

Beyond the critical issue of financial aid, post-secondary institutions need to help Latino students feel welcome and succeed on campus.

• Amalia Pallares, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion at the University of Chicago and the incoming vice president for inclusive excellence at ASU: “When you come from a community that is very collective, it’s very hard to enter academia because academia is very individualized. While one-on-one mentorship is great, it’s important to create communities.” The University of Chicago created a summer institute for Latino second-year grad students in which they received support and participated in a research project. “By the time they were done, they knew a community of people who were doing work they were excited about and they didn’t feel isolated any more. When you create that community, they generate their own leadership and agency.”

Woman speaking into microphone during meeting

Thunderbird School of Global Management graduate student Cecilia Alcantar-Chávez speaks during the advisory commission meeting. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

• Cecilia Alcantar-Chavez, a Master of Global Management student at the Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU and former student body president of the Polytechnic campus: Alcantar-Chavez gave several examples of Latino students who faced obstacles on the path to a college degree, including health issues and the need to reject prestigious but unpaid internships. “I was in my junior year when I came into class and the professor was talking about a study abroad trip. I’m scrolling through and wondering what the price is and I see it’s $17,000. I closed the tab and thought, ‘I can’t do that.’” A few months later, she learned that another student won a scholarship for the trip. “I messed up. I shouldn’t have closed off that opportunity. … We should be giving students the resources to make the best decisions for themselves.”

Experiential learning is key

Latino students and families need to see themselves in college and in 21st century careers.

• Octavio Heredia, director of global development, global outreach and extended education for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU: Heredia cited several university initiatives, including the $270 million Materials-to-Fab prototyping facility with Applied Materials Inc. that will give ASU students hands-on experience with specialized equipment and the AZNEXT accelerator, focused on apprenticeships and experiential learning. “We have a Rio Salado College partnership where students in the manufacturing and nanotechnology certificate program come to ASU to access a clean-room facility and equipment that makes the program richer by giving them hands-on, applied learning.” He also discussed ASU’s Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program. “That’s really about providing the tools and resources to families with first-generation students and low-income students to have the knowledge and skills to see themselves as successful in a higher education environment.”

man speaks into microphone during meeting

Octavio Heredia, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering director of global outreach and extended education, speaks during the advisory commission meeting. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

• Leah Palmer, executive director of the Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Institute at the Maricopa Community Colleges: Palmer shared how the community colleges developed a 10-day “boot camp” for certification as a semiconductor technician, charging only a $15 registration fee. Of 600 enrollees, 598 finished. Of those, 60% were people of color. “We recognized that only by removing barriers could we get more students to see semiconductors as an option for them,” she said.

• Gabriela Cruz Thompson, senior director of university research and collaboration at Intel: “It’s important to give students access to touch the equipment, put on a bunny (clean-room) suit and feel what the tools are like. A lot of students, especially in high school, think they need to be math geniuses and that’s not the case. We need carpenters and welders and all kinds of people, and we have not done a great job explaining that to the public.”

Top photo: Members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics listen to a speaker during a meeting held on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at ASU’s Beus Center for Law and Society on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


Conference brings Alzheimer's research heavy hitters to ASU

September 14, 2023

More than 400 scientists participated in the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium Annual Scientific Conference on Sept. 11.

Mayo Clinic, one of the original seven members of the consortium, hosted the conference at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, and there were more than 100 attendees who tuned in via Zoom.  Woman standing behind a lectern speaking to a crowd in an auditorium. Alzheimer's disease prevention and risk reduction were key focus areas of the 2023 Arizona Alzheimer's Consortium Scientific Conference, where Dr. Kristine Yaffe gave the keynote lecture. Photo by Brandon Nazari/Edson College Download Full Image

Participants were welcomed in person by Dr. William Faubion Jr., Mayo Clinic Arizona’s dean of research and associate medical director of the Center for Regenerative Biotherapeutics. There was also a video welcome featuring Mayo Clinic Arizona CEO Dr. Richard Gray and ASU President Michael Crow. 

A primary focus of this year’s event was disease prevention efforts, an area keynote speaker Dr. Kristine Yaffe dedicates her science to.  

“I think there are several really promising ways we can reduce risk. There are things I think we can do right now that are low cost and don’t have a lot of side effects,” she told attendees. 

Yaffe is an internationally recognized expert in the epidemiology of dementia and cognitive aging and the foremost leader in identifying modifiable risk factors for dementia.  

Those risk-reduction strategies include improving sleep, reducing the risk of traumatic brain injury, getting enough physical activity and addressing cardiovascular issues.  

Yaffe pointed out that while it’s believed that 30–40% of Alzheimer’s disease risk might be modifiable, there needs to be a better understanding of modifiable risk factors in diverse populations.  

Another area for more research is prevention trials that combine the use of drug therapy and risk reduction strategies.  

“We shouldn’t be talking about drug therapies or risk reduction; they have to come together. We can’t think of these as separate. We need to know how these things work together,” Yaffe said. 

ASU University Professor Eric Reiman, who is also the executive director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and director of the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium, shared there is real promise on the preventative drug therapy side. 

“We’re doing ongoing prevention trials right now of the very same treatments that were just shown to work,” Reiman said. 

The goal is to find and support the approval and availability of the first secondary Alzheimer’s prevention therapies in the next three years for those who have blood test evidence of amyloid plaques but are not yet cognitively impaired.  

“The general thinking currently is that amyloid clumps associated with plaques play a particularly early role in the progress of the disease, so if that’s right and we’re attacking them and preventing them from occurring in the first place, it should have a pretty profound effect,” he said. 

One of the unique things about the conference is that it brings together experts from different specialties, backgrounds and research areas within the Alzheimer’s and related dementias field.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to be steeped in the cutting edge of Alzheimer's disease-related research as a person who works closely with people living with Alzheimer's, as well as their family and friends who assist them," said David Coon, associate dean of ASU’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and director of ASU’s Center for Innovation in Healthy and Resilient Aging.

In his work, Coon designs and evaluates interventions focusing on culturally diverse groups of midlife and older adults and their family caregivers to reduce stress and distress and conduct effective care planning.

“I’m committed to research that leads the way toward prevention, treatment, cures and better care,” he said. 

It’s fitting that the conference falls in September, which is healthy aging month, given that cognitive health is central to overall health as we age.

“If you woke up this morning, you got a day older, and we want to understand how to make that day the best day of your life. That’s really important for avoiding all types of disease, but especially Alzheimer’s, where age is the number one risk factor,” said Matt Huentelman, TGen professor of neurogenomics.

Huentelman’s research uses genomic technologies to better understand personalized neurological disease risk and mechanisms. He’s the scientist behind MindCrowd, an online research study designed to analyze how brain performance changes with age.

So far, more than 415,000 people have participated in the study. Huentelman is hoping to reach 1 million people and is working with the Precision Aging Network to make it happen. 

“I’m really pleased to be involved in the Precision Aging Network, where we are focused on people who don’t yet have Alzheimer’s disease. They may never have the disease, but we’re trying to understand what might happen individually with those people and learn how we can keep their brains functioning as well as possible for as long as possible,” he said. 

Amanda Goodman

Senior communications specialist, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation


ASU and College Track co-design curriculum to bridge education, opportunity gaps for first-gen students

September 13, 2023

First-generation students face many barriers to pursuing higher education — from cost to lack of access and support.

A new partnership between Arizona State University and college-completion nonprofit College Track seeks to address this issue by creating an integrated curriculum that provides first-generation and underserved college students the skills to thrive across the most formative years of their lives. ASU sign surrounded by palo verde blooms. The partnership aims to make the transition from high school to college seamless by facilitating enrollment in ASU Universal Learner Courses, which are taught by ASU faculty and aligned with degree programs. ASU photo Download Full Image

The partnership aims to make the transition from high school to college seamless by facilitating enrollment in ASU Universal Learner Courses, which are taught by ASU faculty and aligned with degree programs. The curriculum spans 10 years of a student’s education, starting from ninth grade through college — and beyond.

To allow for flexibility, the high school program is blended — combining ASU’s online coursework with College Track’s on-site staff to provide in-person engagement. The high school scholars can access the integrated curriculum at any of College Track’s 12 centers across the country, while college scholars can access ASU’s Professional Skills for Everyone curriculum online, 24/7.

Through ASU Local, participating students can choose to learn and collaborate with peers and professionals in downtown locales like Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. These ASU Local cohorts enable students to stay in their communities while they pursue their degrees.

“ASU’s partnership with College Track reflects our commitment to enable more learners to turn their dreams into realities," says Maria Anguiano, executive vice president of ASU’s Learning Enterprise. “If we meet learners where they are with learning opportunities early on, and we really stay with them and support them, there is nothing they can’t accomplish. This is a commitment to every learner that we will help them reach their college and career goals." 

The innovative partnership is also opening up new opportunities at ASU’s Tempe campus. Up to five College Track scholars will receive full tuition to ASU, advancing their journeys together as a campus-immersion cohort through Barrett, The Honors College.

“We are looking forward to welcoming these College Track scholars,” says Tara Williams, dean of Barrett, The Honors College. “In Barrett, they’ll have access to incredible resources and opportunities to enrich their undergraduate experience and prepare them for their next steps. We’re excited to become a part of these students’ learning journeys and to support them as they thrive in — and enhance — the honors community.”

As a college-completion nonprofit, College Track equips students facing systemic challenges with the tools to graduate and unlock a world of possibilities. Starting in ninth grade, College Track embarks on a 10-year journey with each student, providing a program they can leverage to create a pathway to success and brighter horizons.

This partnership enables us to fully explore the efficacy and potential of a blended learning environment that offers coursework in a space that is intentionally designed to affirm the talent, intellect and contributions of students from underserved communities who want to be the first in their family to earn a bachelor’s degree,” says Shirley M. Collado, president and CEO of College Track. ASU and College Track co-designed this program to deliberately create something new, something that would demonstrate how it's possible to shift the paradigm of American education toward inclusion and full participation.”

Strategic Communications Advisor to the EVP, Learning Enterprise

Mosquito research course gives students cutting-edge experience, skills

September 12, 2023

Microorganisms exist all around us, interacting closely with their living host organisms. We know that these microbes are critical to the way our world functions, but we still have so much to learn about how they affect host biology. 

A new course at Arizona State University is putting students at the forefront of this rapidly growing field of study. Created by School of Life Sciences Assistant Professor Nsa Dada, Host Microbe Interactions is a course-based research experience designed to give students the chance to engage in the full process of research — from research development and design to sample collection, handling and molecular analysis; bioinformatics analysis; and synthesis and communication of findings. Two people wearing white coats standing at a table in a lab. Host Microbe Interactions is a course-based research experience that gives students hands-on experience conducting research as they work to determine how changes in the microbiome of local mosquito populations affects mosquito biology and, subsequently, disease transmission. Photo courtesy School of Life Sciences/ASU Download Full Image

“Just being able to have a teacher that can (oversee) what you are doing really helps with confidence. That way, when we get out to the work field, out to the industry, we aren’t scared to do our jobs,” said Ricardo Chapa, who graduated in the summer of 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in molecular biosciences and biotechnology.

Students in the new course examine host-microbe interactions by studying the world’s deadliest animal: the mosquito.

RELATED: Inside the insectary: ASU faculty innovate mosquito control and disease prevention

As a vector biologist and microbial ecologist, Dada is interested in how microbes shape mosquito biology and mosquito-borne disease transmission. She is the founder and lead of the Mosquito Microbiome Consortium, leads pioneering and award-winning research on microbe-mediated evolution of insecticide resistance in mosquito populations around the world, and leads initiatives toward expanding disease vector genomics research in Africa.

The research aim of the first iteration of the Host Microbe Interactions course in spring 2023 was to characterize the microbiome of mosquito populations within Maricopa County as a baseline for monitoring changes in the microbiome over time in response to environmental pressures like insecticide use. 

Students used a next-generation sequencing technique called high throughput amplicon sequencing to process samples, and then analyzed the resulting data using a Python platform called QIIME 2 (Quantitative Insights into Microbial Ecology), an advanced bioinformatics tool.  

“It’s cutting edge; one of the coolest skills you can have as a biologist is computational biology. We have supercomputers on our laptops,” Chapa said. 

“A lot of people in this class, including myself, have been coding for the first or second time, so it’s definitely a shift in how you think about things. I’m getting a lot out of it,” said Don Ward, a first-year PhD student in biology.

“I am thankful for my very first cohort of students at ASU,” Dada said. “I am really proud of how far they have come and I could not have asked for a better group of people to begin my journey here at ASU.”

Hands-on research experience is an invaluable part of the academic journey for students pursuing STEM degrees. 

“I can read things all day but until I practically get in the lab and make mistakes, and feel and see how long it takes things, and just play around, I’m not going to really retain anything,” said Sarah Rydberg, biology graduate student and research specialist in the Center for Evolution and Medicine.  

“It’s nice having a block of time for me to do both of these things, and I think it will make me a stronger employee overall,” she added.

Video courtesy ASU's School of Life Sciences

Firsthand experience with laboratory procedures and techniques, computational biology and bioinformatics methods prepare students for future opportunities in graduate programs, medical school and research careers. 

“It’s certainly good for resumes later on, when you tell the employer I have experience with mosquitos, with plants, DNA extraction, purification, PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), gel electrophoresis. When you name all those things, they recognize that a student is well prepared to be in the field, to work,” said Osami Alani, a molecular bioscience and biotech major who graduated in May 2023. 

“Other than that, it’s pretty fun; if you like what you’re doing, it’s pretty fun,” Alani added.

Host Microbe Interactions was held for the very first time in spring 2023 and has now entered its second cohort. The overarching goal for students of this second iteration of the course is to determine how changes in the microbiome of local mosquito populations affects mosquito biology and, subsequently, disease transmission. The research outcomes could potentially be leveraged for mitigating mosquito-borne diseases.

In addition to being an assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences, Dada is affiliated with the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics. She joined ASU in the fall of 2022, and Host Microbe Interactions is the first course she has created for the School of Life Sciences. It is an integral part of her new public health and educational program at ASU, which explores the use of the mosquito microbiome as a tool for monitoring mosquito population and disease transmission dynamics. 

The research that comes out of the Host Microbe Interactions course has the potential to serve as an early warning system for potential mosquito-borne disease outbreaks or the detection of insecticide resistance hotspots in Maricopa County. To that end, Dada is establishing new collaborations with the county's vector control unit to combine efforts toward controlling mosquito-borne diseases in the county.

Dominique Perkins

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Life Sciences


Partnering to bolster education equity

ASU Sanford School teaches introductory sociology to high schools in partnership with National Education Equity Lab

September 7, 2023

Each week, graduate teaching fellows from the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University lead online discussions with high school students nationwide, focusing on contemporary sociological topics like law, culture and globalization. Their goal is not just to learn together, but to enhance educational equity in a groundbreaking partnership that brings introductory college courses to high school students. 

Through a partnership with the National Education Equity Lab, a national nonprofit, high-achieving students from Title I or disadvantaged high schools can earn transferable college credit at no cost to them. In a mission to increase college access, the National Education Equity Lab allows students to attend classes from their high school computer labs — reducing the need for home internet and computer access, which students may not have. High school students seated at a table working on laptops in a library. Through the partnership between ASU and the National Education Equity Lab, high-achieving students from Title I or disadvantaged high schools can earn transferable college credit at no cost to them by attending classes from their high school computer labs. Photo courtesy Adobe Stock

Using ASU Learning Enterprise's Universal Learner Courses for remote learning, ASU offers classes on various topics through this partnership, such as poetry in America, cloud computing and, in this case, Introductory Sociology. Now in its third semester, Introductory Sociology covers a range of topics in human society — from environmental issues to class conflict.

Teaching fellows, many of whom are sociology graduate students or alumni, utilize materials developed by ASU professors and instructional designers. At the end of the semester, their students receive transferable college credit for completing and passing the course. 

The goal is for students to be able to apply for college with a head start and newfound confidence. Indeed, many students end up applying to ASU and other universities — some of whom never previously considered college but developed the interest after succeeding in a college-level course. 

One of the course’s teaching fellows, Karen Gribosh, says it’s gratifying to see these students continue their education. 

“I’ve enjoyed the connections we are able to make in such a short period of time, seeing them engage and show interest in the topics,” Gribosh said. “A big reward for me is hearing of some of the students applying for ASU and other colleges.” 

Achievement is high, with the National Education Equity Lab citing that over 80% of students pass these university-partnered courses. Many more go above and beyond. In the spring semester of ASU’s sociology course alone, dozens of students earned their way into the National Education Equity Lab Honor Society, meaning they scored in the top 20% of learners nationwide. The National Education Equity Lab honored them for their accomplishments in a ceremony Aug. 23.  

Besides bolstering success for students from Title I schools, the course also serves as an enriching experience for teaching fellows. In some cases, the partnership has influenced career paths, with one fellow deciding to work for the National Education Equity Lab full time after teaching the course. Others have remained in their roles longer than they initially planned, motivated by the mission. 

Teaching fellow Brandi Mayo, who first joined the course while pursuing a graduate degree in sociology, shares that the class doesn’t feel like just a job — it feels like “a life experience.” 

“I have been energized by the students’ engagement with the content, and I love being in the virtual classroom with each class, as they are all uniquely different,” she said. “Overall, this experience has given me more than I had ever thought possible.” 

As the course continues to expand, the waiting list for high schools to participate only grows. With the support of these teaching fellows and university professors like Jennifer Harrison, who developed much of the SOC 101 teaching materials, this course is positioned to make a tangible difference in students’ lives and shows no signs of slowing down.

Jennifer Moore

Communications Specialist Associate, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics

Caregivers should balance self-care with the help they give others, crisis interventionist says

Anyone who cares for others might face 'compassion fatigue'

September 7, 2023

Every job poses occupational hazards. Some are easily prevented, as when carpenters learn how to avoid smashing their thumbs with a hammer. Others are more complex and not as easily identified or overcome.

If not dealt with properly, such hazards can have lasting detrimental effects, according to a crisis interventionist who spoke to caregivers about compassion fatigue at the recent Summer Institute for Behavioral Health hosted by the Arizona State University School of Social Work. Man wearing a bright vest that reads "police" seen from behind looking toward people at an event. Photo courtesy Pixabay Download Full Image

Compassion fatigue affects individuals who work directly with trauma survivors. People such as nurses, case managers, supervisors, psychologists, social workers, therapists and first responders can suffer from potentially harmful effects of compassion fatigue, said Denise Beagley.

Beagley is the associate director of crisis and justice systems of complete care for Banner Health and has taught at the School of Social Work. She is also a crisis interventionist for the Chandler Fire Department. Her seminar was titled “Occupational Hazard: Overcoming Compassion Fatigue.”

Professor Charles Figley of Pennsylvania State University called compassion fatigue “the cost of caring.” In a 2006 book, “Compassion Fatigue in the Animal-Care Community,” Figley defined it as “the deep physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion that can result from working day to day in an intense caregiving environment.”

“Working in this field, we cannot avoid being affected by the populations that we serve,” Beagley said. “But we can work at lessening the absorption of it.”

Compassion fatigue doesn’t only affect professionals. Beagley said a study she read reported that before the COVID-19 pandemic, 65 million Americans were caring for another person or persons.

Symptoms include hopelessness, a decrease in experiences of pleasure, constant stress and anxiety, sleeplessness or nightmares, and a pervasive negative attitude, said Beagley, who teaches self-care techniques to neutralize compassion fatigue.

‘Get over it’ attitude can be harmful

Beagley has been teaching this topic for 11 years. She often uses the idea of a traffic signal to help caregivers identify where they are: green is feeling fulfilled, yellow is not so much, and red is feeling bad.

She said she’s found people in the compassionate professions generally feel positively about treating a close family member or friend who is suffering, but have negative thoughts about helping themselves deal with similar feelings — a sort of “get over it” attitude that can be harmful.

“In our job, part of it is to keep going, go on empty, and we expect things to change. But our fixes don’t work,” Beagley said. “How many times do you say, ‘I need a drink’ or ‘I need to call in sick’ because you’re so stressed out? We become consumed with our work even in our off-hours. We deny it, we stuff those things down into that five-gallon Home Depot bucket of bad stuff. You have to dump it out and fill it with good stuff.”

Sometimes professionals cope with trauma in unhealthy ways, such as with drugs or alcohol, she said.

“We don’t express our feelings because we think we’re the helpers and we shouldn’t need help,” Beagley said. “I walk them through that. I say what is draining my tank, then I ask them to say what’s draining theirs. Write it down. What are you excited about? Stressed about? If you can, how do you limit your access to negative effects?”

‘Find someone smarter’

Professional helpers need time to heal what Beagley called “emotional fractures,” just as they would treat a physical fracture.

“Unload your bucket in a safe place. Ask for help,” she said. “If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Find someone smarter. Don’t take more work on. It takes time to reverse it.”

Beagley said she once spoke to a police officer who experienced a traumatic incident but didn’t take leave afterward to deal with it.

“I asked him how he was coping, and he said he was drinking more, and you could almost see the light bulb go on,” she said.

In another instance, a firefighter approached Beagley and asked, “What is this stuff called compassion fatigue? I don’t think I have it.” She showed him a list of symptoms.

“He said, ‘I have every one of those symptoms.’”

Beagley advises caregivers to ask what’s out of balance in their lives to help them “stay in the green.”

“If you keep driving on a tire that’s out of balance, you could have a blowout,” she said. “Take inventory on your out-of-balance wheel.”

A few other tips for caregivers:

  • Practice positivity. Have a positive relationship with yourself.
  • Counter one negative thought with six positive thoughts.
  • Borrowing a phrase from Ted Lasso, the eponymous character of the recent Apple TV+ series: “Be 1% better than you were yesterday.”

The School of Social Work is part of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


Comedian Kristina Wong to deliver ASU Graduate College Distinguished Lecture Nov. 3

Wong to explore intersection of comedy, community aid while shedding light on detrimental effects of food scarcity

September 6, 2023

In the politically stressful years before the COVID-19 pandemic, with a heavy workload full of performances and travel, Kristina Wong found relaxation during her downtime by binge-watching “food-haul” YouTube videos, where micro-influencers tried to make a week’s worth of meals on a meager budget.

“I’ve always had a difficult relationship with food as an adult. It was tied to traumatizing situations where I didn’t feel safe in my home, so I didn’t feel comfortable cooking. Also, food would often go bad or I’d cook and it didn’t taste good, so I thought I wasn’t good at cooking and the only way I could feed myself was either from a restaurant or out of a can,” she said. Two people among crates of fresh produce smile and hold up fruit and vegetables for the camera. Kristina Wong and Glen Curado at World Harvest Food Bank in Arlington Heights, California. Photo courtesy Kristina Wong Download Full Image

Then, after a chance encounter, Wong found her life — and her relationship with food  forever changed. Today, the performance artist, comedian, actor and writer is known as the "Food Bank Influencer," using social media to promote the work of food banks and educate about food disparity.

This fall, Wong will serve as the keynote speaker at the ASU Graduate College Distinguished Lecture on Nov. 3. Her speech, “Sex, Lies, and Food Banks: Reimagining the Future of Emergency Food,” will cover food disparity, uncovering crucial resources and how students can jump-start personal activism. A reception of hors d’oeuvres will precede the lecture, followed by a 45-minute Q&A with Wong and guest panelists. Registration information coming soon.

The birth of the 'Food Bank Influencer'

Watching others make magic in the kitchen inspired her to try making healthful dinners on a budget. On the way to get her sewing machine fixed in Arlington Heights, California, she walked into the World Harvest Food Bank, mistaking it for a grocery store. While browsing the fully stocked aisles, Wong noticed something peculiar: There weren’t any prices. She was told at checkout that you could buy groceries a la carte or in bulk for cheaper than retail. World Harvest Food Bank also had an offer where customers could volunteer and fill a grocery cart for $55. Not wanting to take food from those in need, Wong returned a few weeks later to volunteer and struck up a conversation with CEO and owner Glen Curado.

“He just kept handing me sashimi-grade fish, flats of sour cream and fancy cheese. I never witnessed this kind of generosity before! (Meeting Glen) is where it started; when I came across this food bank, I was mind-blown about what it could be,” she recalled. 

As a Doris Duke Artist Award winner, Guggenheim Fellow and a Pulitzer Prize finalist in drama, Wong is no stranger to thinking big and getting her message in front of the right people. Her career has spanned North America and broken ground internationally. With such an extensive reach, she began brainstorming how to use the newfound inspiration from the food bank for the greater good.

Wong leaped into being of service, and shortly after, the COVID-19 pandemic hit full force. Concurrent with volunteering, she started the Auntie Sewing Squad. This collaborative project focused on sewing and distributing masks to those in need. As more local businesses shut down, she worked almost around the clock, sewing to support the community. That is when an idea struck her: Both of these community-building initiatives could merge — the food bank could also have a significant impact during this time.

“(At the food bank), I saw Girl Scout cookies, Starbucks coffee and excess snacks from airlines because no one was flying,” Wong said. So she recruited the Auntie Sewing Squad, and together with Curado, they started rerouting hygiene supplies and nonperishables to their local partners. In addition to distributing masks, they sent surplus coffee to the Navajo Nation, diapers to the border and formula to migrants. 

While trying her hand at food-haul videos during the pandemic, Wong dubbed herself the Food Bank Influencer, a playful riff on other social media influencers who promote beauty items, travel and lifestyle content.

Opportunity knocks (again)

Soon, Wong found herself with an additional avenue to aid the community — the 2023 Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike. The writers' strike has been going steady since May, and the actors' strike since July; many performers, creatives and artists have found themselves negatively impacted by job loss and stalled opportunities. As an actor, Wong strongly relates to wanting to keep up with appearances, even when that is to her detriment.

“In my 20s and 30s, I definitely qualified for food stamps, but I didn’t realize it until now," she said. "I thought I needed to be an extreme picture of destitution to qualify: a distended belly from malnutrition, living in a broom closet by the light of a bare lightbulb, covered in roach bites. Turns out I would have qualified as a very poor person who had just finished college. It would have helped to have taken advantage of that."

During the strikes, Wong noticed a shift in her perspective regarding what “struggling” looks like and felt passionate about helping the striking actors. “(Even before the strike), a lot of my friends in this town were working but were unable to put together a living,” Wong explained. Those affected by the strike have shown up to the World Harvest Food Bank for the first time.

Curado and Wong have committed to providing food for strikers throughout the strike, no matter how long it lasts. Since the beginning of the strike, the food bank has provided for an average of 100 striking union members and existing clients daily.

Spreading the word through humor

The need for food-related assistance is not limited to struggling guild members. Arizona is also facing tremendous disparity, something Wong learned more about when ASU Gammage asked her to participate in its residency. “The Navajo Nation in Arizona is a food desert. The reservation has 13 grocery stores across an area the size of West Virginia. When Gammage asked me to be their artist in residence, I agreed because I’m obsessed with my food bank and wanted to do a Food Bank Influencer show to spread the word,” she said. 

Having not previously been to the reservation, Wong was shocked by the food scarcity upon arrival. She noticed only a few places for people to eat and fewer suppliers.

“I thought that was so bizarre. In these food deserts, if you can’t make the four-hour round trip to get fresh produce at one of the 13 grocery stores, maybe you go to the gas station. Still, they won’t have as reasonable prices as a big-chain store. I mean, Spam is over five bucks. I just wanted a way to get residents healthy food,” she said. 

With the size of a problem like food deserts, scarcity and a withering community, it’s easy to want to solve it overnight.

“My initial instinct was to put on my cape and fix everything. I stopped and said, ‘People have been trying to figure this out forever. So what is the solution that you have?' It’s not saying don’t touch the problem, but it might be a more minor gesture than you think and a more creative one that will affect many people,” Wong said. 

Sometimes, the best means to reach people and get a message across is humor. At least, that is what Wong has discovered. Being the Food Bank Influencer has successfully drawn attention to the work of World Harvest Food Bank.

“The most has happened with this recent SAG-AFTRA and WGA promotion, offering food to strikers. I’m using my sexuality not to promote beauty projects or travel but to promote a food bank. It’s self-deprecating,” she explained. 

Wong also joined forces to put on a show with an artist friend named Brian Feldman, who relies on public benefits to get food. Sewing is a signature of Wong’s work, so the audience sewed giant replicas of food stamps to draw the future of what a food stamp or food bank could look like. The giant food stamps placed on the set mimicked the kitschy aesthetics of a typical Vegas lounge. They sang karaoke songs with reimagined lyrics that fit their message during their performance.

“For example, instead of Britney Spears’ ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time,’ it’s ‘Expiration Dates Are Lies,’ and it’s about food waste that is still good to eat. Humor breaks down that barrier to entry and makes it easier to talk about. It opens the door to rethinking our relationship with food and the shame we don’t realize we’ve internalized around it. I’m in my 40s and finally have a healthier relationship with cooking and food. I hope other people have that discovery as well,” Wong said.

Inspiring future 'influencers'

She hopes that even those with smaller platforms or students feel empowered to make a difference in food activism — or anything they’re passionate about. As the current artist in residence at ASU Gammage and the The Kennedy Center Social Practice Resident until 2026, Wong aims to inspire others and feels positive about what is to come.

“When I think about ASU students, I see the future of urban planners, community builders, movers and shakers. I hope students continue to ask questions and use the power they have in their lives to rethink the systems,” she said. 

Wong believes you must sometimes go with the flow regarding tangible tips for making a difference.

“When people ask my career advice, I’m like, start a sewing group in the pandemic, make a show about it, have a premiere off Broadway. Become a finalist for the Pulitzer and then you’ll be good for a while,” she joked. “It’s so strange and so personal. I elected myself the Food Bank Influencer and kept posting about it. It’s not as popular as some posts, but I care. As long as you care about the things you’re making, an audience will find you.”

Marketing Content Specialist, Graduate College

ASU faculty member to discuss latest book on drugs in America at upcoming events

September 6, 2023

Benjamin Y. Fong, associate director at Arizona State University's Center for Work and Democracy, published his latest book, "Quick Fixes: Drugs in America from Prohibition to the 21st Century Binge," with Verso Books this July.

The center will host two events celebrating "Quick Fixes" on Tuesday, Sept. 12: a virtual event from 10:30 a.m.–noon, in which Fong will discuss the book with center Director Michael McQuarrie, and an in-person book launch from 3– 4:30 p.m. in room 135 of West Hall on the ASU Tempe campus. Photo of Benjamin Fong Benjamin Y. Fong is an associate teaching professor and Honors Faculty Fellow in ASU's Barrett, The Honors College, as well as an associate director at ASU's Center for Work and Democracy. Download Full Image

The in-person event will feature a conversation with Fong, ASU Associate Professor Alexander Aviña and Barrett Honors Faculty Chair Jenny Brian. Both events are free and open to the public. Register to attend the events here.

In advance of those events, Fong, who is also an associate teaching professor and Honors Faculty Fellow in Barrett, The Honors College at ASU, talks about "Quick Fixes" in relation to his broader work as a researcher and teacher.

Note: Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Question: Like many of your colleagues at Barrett, your research is broadly interdisciplinary. How did you come to drugs as a focus of your research?

Answer: I noticed that more and more people were experimenting with drugs and talking to me about their drug use — people who did not fit the stereotypical mold of “drug user.” And looking into the data, I found indeed that Americans are in the midst of a world-historic drug binge. Across the board, from opioids to amphetamines, marijuana to antipsychotics, Americans are using more drugs than ever and the trends are all going up. At the same time, we’ve got the largest prison system in the world, with a full one-fifth of prisoners in for nonviolent drug offenses. It’s a massive contradiction, and I wrote the book to try to make sense of it.

Q: For several years, you have been teaching an upper-division honors seminar at Barrett on drugs in America. Did teaching this class in some sense inspire "Quick Fixes"?

A: Very much so. Drugs and drug policies are great lenses through which to examine many things about American society, from the egregious marketing practices of large corporations to the particular stressors of everyday life. The ways in which my students have connected with the topic, and in which they can express their ambivalence about American society through their ambivalence about drugs, have really stuck with me and were a key motivator to pursue the project.

Q: The response to the book since publication has been impressive, with a mention in the New York Times and reviews all over; you've also had the chance to talk about it on more podcasts than I can count. Anything surprising to you about the reception so far?

A: Well, I’m still waiting on that devastating review that will get me to rethink some of the core claims of the book, but for now, I’m just pleasantly surprised by the warm reception. One thing that some respondents are quite surprised by is that I’m critical of both drug warriorism, which has historically come from the political right, as well as liberal drug reformism. ... I think we need protection from both the drug war and drug peddling alike, and for that we can’t simply legalize and destigmatize. We need instead broader changes to American society.

Q: If you could prognosticate based on your historical research, what do you imagine the most profound changes in our national relationship with drugs will be over the course of the next few years?

A: I don’t make any predictions in the book, except for one: The psychedelics market is going to expand greatly in the next decade. It’s expected now that MDMA will be FDA-approved in the first or second quarter of 2024, and likely psilocybin will follow soon thereafter. There is an alignment of interests today that makes the moment ripe: earnest psychedelic therapy practitioners from below, who see the healing potential of these drugs, combined with powerful corporate actors at the top, who finally see some profit-making potential in these drugs. And then there’s the broader mental health crisis in America, as well as the decrepit state of psychiatry. The solution is really overdetermined, and so I think we’re going to see a mainstreaming of psychedelics.

ASU sports historian to speak on state of sports in the US

September 5, 2023

A former NCAA national champion with a PhD in the history of sport, Victoria Jackson is well suited to speak on the subject, something she does often in the media and at Arizona State University, where she is a clinical associate professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

On Sept. 6, Jackson will continue doing what she does best when she gives opening remarks for a public hearing: The Future of Olympic and Paralympic Sports in America. Portrait of ASU Clinical Associate Professor Victoria Jackson. ASU Clinical Associate Professor Victoria Jackson Download Full Image

The hearing, held by the Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics, will hear witnesses from across the movement, including more than 11 million Americans participating in youth and grassroots sports at all levels.

During her opening remarks, Jackson will share a historical view on the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movement. Following her remarks, other key members of the sports industry will discuss topics including: 

  • Governance and accountability.

  • Protecting the safety of participants.

  • Athletes’ rights, equity and accessibility, and ensuring fair play.

  • How to build a better future for sports in America.

C-SPAN will begin broadcasting the hearing at 6 a.m. Arizona time.

ASU News talked to Jackson about how history can keep sports accountable ahead of the commission’s public hearing.

Question: How can history help keep sports and the future of sports accountable?

Answer: I believe strongly that any policy team should have a historian at the table. Historians’ jam is contexts and complexities, and an essential part of the job of policymaking is to foresee and nip in the bud “unanticipated consequences.” Historians know how to look at a complex institution of the past and explain how and why it developed and the individual decision-making and broader forces influencing that development over time. A knowledge of history helps us understand the present and build a better future.

Q: Why is providing historical context vital to setting the stage for the hearing?

A: I have been asked to set the stage for the day by providing a sweeping, 10,000-foot historical overview of the past half-century of the American sports ecosystem. The commission will then hear from various stakeholders in the Olympics, Paralympics and grassroots sports. I will be showing, through history, the evolution of the system, recent reforms, and how this system does and does not operate the way it is intended to under the law. The historical analysis I provide will not only set the stage for the day, but it will also set the stakes.

Q: As a sports historian, what does it mean personally that you are being asked to speak and provide that historical context?

A: My goodness, I am so grateful for this opportunity. My work sits at the intersection of Olympic sports, college football, women’s intercollegiate athletics and big-time college sports, and it also positions the U.S. approach to sport within a global context. Making connections among institutions and factors often considered individually and independently of the others — looking holistically at the American sports ecosystem — is more valuable than playing whack-a-mole and treating the various parts of our sports industries as if they are not interrelated. That the commission has asked me to speak in this manner tells me they want to take on a bold, ambitious project, too.

I also care deeply about building a society where sports are for all. I want sports to be fully inclusive, equitable and accessible for all Americans (for everyone everywhere, but in this context, we are talking about U.S. sports) because I know that sports can be personally transformative and can serve communities in ways to help everyone thrive and to bring people from all backgrounds together. I believe in the power of sport. Speaking at this hearing matters a whole lot to me.

Q: Congress created the commission to seek better oversight of the Olympics and Paralympics in this country. What can you share about the topics discussed throughout the hearing?

A: One focal point will be an evaluation of the USOPC’s execution of its dual mandate from Congress to serve both the apex of the sports pyramid — Olympic and Paralympic development — and the massive grassroots base. I look forward to hearing from grassroots sports experts, including Tom Farrey and Dr. Vincent Minjares from the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Initiative and Project Play. Their work on youth and grassroots sports is a game changer.

Another topic, and a primary reason for creating the commission, is athlete health, well-being, safety and protection from abuse. Grace French, the founder and director of The Army of Survivors, Donald Fehr, who has served as executive director of players’ associations in the NHL and MLB, and others will testify about athletes’ rights and protections.

Q: What is the importance of these hearings to help move forward the future of sports in America, especially the Olympics and Paralympics? What does this mean for supporting athletes?

A: The American sports ecosystem is at a crossroads. Business practices in some sectors have been irresponsible and unsustainable to a breaking point. Barriers to access we see in other elements of society are very much present in grassroots sports, making access to sports teams too often a product of privilege. Though intercollegiate athletics is not part directly of the American Olympic and Paralympic Movement, Olympic development happens within American higher education, and recent events show that significant changes to the design of big-time college sports are likely on the horizon. We have the best sports infrastructure in the world, thanks to our schools, and more — all — Americans should have access to sporting spaces, not just as spectators but as participants, too.

I will not be making policy recommendations at the hearing. But I do have lots of policy ideas. I would like to see an overhaul and redesign of the American sports ecosystem. I want to see an independent body, perhaps a sports ministry, that serves as a hard backstop of regulation, coordination, transparency and accountability through checks on power, something the American sports ecosystem does not have.

The impressive people on this commission know what they are doing and will be putting brilliant policy recommendations before Congress in a convincing way. I am honored to play a small part in this critical work. 

Stephen Perez

Marketing and Communications Coordinator, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences