ASU partners with Purdue to co-host inaugural Cold Case Symposium


September 15, 2022

For years, America's consumption of true crime documentaries, books, podcasts, movies and TV shows has steadily grown, with the category easily becoming one of the most popular among all genres. 

A new event co-hosted by Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and the Purdue University College of Agriculture’s Department of Entomology seeks to go beyond entertainment and bring awareness to the cold case crisis in the United States. Yellow police caution tape that reads "Crime scene do not cross." Download Full Image

With over 200,000 unsolved murder and missing persons cases in the U.S., increased visibility and advocacy is more important than ever, said Lauren Weidner, assistant professor in the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences.

“​​I am excited to share this information not only with the ASU and local community but also on a national scale, thanks to our collaboration with Purdue University,” Weidner said. “Through the symposium, we hope to shed light on the cold case crisis in the U.S. while also sharing how we can all be advocates for this important cause.”

The inaugural Cold Case Symposium is open to community members, students, faculty and staff, and will be hosted from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, at ASU’s West campus and online via Zoom in recognition of National Forensic Science Week. The event will feature three speakers who will share their personal experiences working with cold cases, including:

  • Kelsi Germanadvocate and sister of Liberty German, who will speak about the 2017 unsolved double murder of Abigail Williams and Liberty German and the experiences and challenges her family faced in their pursuit of justice.
  • David Robinson II, advocate and father of missing geologist Daniel Robinson, who will speak about his son’s case, the evidence recovered and his continued search to locate his son.
  • Sarah Turney, advocate and host of the true crime podcast "Voices for Justice," who will speak about the power of social media and her experience with propelling missing persons cases into the spotlight.

Attendees of the symposium will also learn about cold case resources and hear about student work being conducted at New College and Purdue University. Last spring, New College launched FOR 496 - Forensic Science Service Learning, a new course created by Weidner in collaboration with Krystal Hans, an assistant professor of forensic entomology at Purdue University. In the course, students use their knowledge of forensic science to work on various service learning opportunities that include working on cold cases, lesson planning and activity design with high school educators and educating the general public.

“This year, we’ll be focusing on a lot of Arizona cases, particularly ones in the Phoenix area, with the hope that families that are local can attend in person to better network with people who have shared experiences and to understand the resources that are available to them,” Hans said. “We will have counselors on site as well, as we realize the nature of this topic and its accompanying material is triggering. We want to support families and our participants as much as we can.”

Registration for the event is open to ASU students, faculty, staff and community members. Learn more or register at newcollege.asu.edu/destinationwest.

Emily Balli

Multimedia specialist, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

Innovation in health care focus of Edson College California Center launch event


September 15, 2022

On Aug. 25, Arizona State University's Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation held a launch event at the ASU California Center.

"Innovation in Health Care: Charting the Future" featured a panel of experts discussing innovative solutions and directions for tackling some of our most pressing health care workforce needs.  Speakers sit on a stage in the ASU California Center looking out at an audience. Signage for ASU's Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation can be seen in the background. Panelists share ideas for tackling health care workforce needs at the ASU California Center last month. Download Full Image

Edson College Dean Judith Karshmer and members of the college’s executive leadership team were joined by trusted industry leaders with decades of health care experience. 

The distinguished participants included:

  • Keynote speaker Dan Weberg, innovation executive with experience leading change in large, top five health systems and three-time ASU alumnus.

  • Panelist Diane Drexler, vice president of patient care and system chief nursing officer for Community Memorial Health System in Ventura, California, and ASU alumna.

  • Panelist Anita Girard, chief nursing officer and vice president of nursing at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and president of the American Nurses Association of California.

“The robust discussion at this event included an assessment about how we can move from talking about workforce issues to putting actionable and impactful practices into motion,” Karshmer said. “It was the start of what will be an ongoing conversation on diverse topics in areas critical to health care professionals, educators and students.”

The panel discussion can be viewed in its entirety here.

Edson College is developing a comprehensive slate of programming and events at the California Center, including programs and workshops on topics around wellness, human trafficking, innovation in healthy and resilient aging, health care workforce development, and clinical research management and regulatory science.

“In addition to alumni and students who call California home, we also have a number of partnerships and collaborative opportunities with area health care educators and providers,” Karshmer said. “Having this physical presence in the Los Angeles area allows us to broaden our reach and deliver dynamic and impactful programming around in-demand health care topics.”

Arizona State University’s California Center is located in the historic Herald Examiner building in downtown Los Angeles. Learn more about upcoming events here.

Written by Lisa McQuerrey, director, Strategic Marketing and Communications, Edson College

ASU philosophy camp teaches local high school students how to have disagreements


September 13, 2022

Over the summer, the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University hosted its inaugural philosophy summer camp for high school students.

The camp came together as a combined effort between philosophy graduate students and philosophy faculty to get young students interested in philosophy and to understand what it entails.  PhD candidate Angela Barnes sits among a circle of high school students. Philosophy PhD candidate Angela Barnes guides a discussion with high school students at an ASU philosophy summer camp. Photo by Rachel Bunning/ASU Download Full Image

Philosophy Professor Joan McGregor was happy to bring the students onto campus to give them the opportunity to not only learn about philosophy, but to see themselves as university students as well.

“The experience for them can be transformative,” McGregor said. “High school students are natural philosophers, asking the big questions.”

PhD candidate in philosophy Angela Barnes initiated the idea based off of a similar project she was involved with when she was a student at Ohio State University.

“In high school especially, we are starting to really wrestle with philosophical questions, about ourselves and our identities, our systems of beliefs and morals, and the value and purpose of living well,” Barnes said. “I am interested in building homes for curious minds, and this summer camp was one way that I could share that vision with our community here in the Valley.”

Barnes worked with fellow graduate students Aubrial Harrington and Triston Hanna to create a schedule and agenda for the camp. They settled on the topic of "disagreement" as the theme for the camp. 

“We are constantly bombarded with the idea that we should hate people that have different beliefs than us, particularly different political beliefs,” Barnes said. “The polarization of ideas and the news outlets covering them make it seem as though you just have to pick a side — that critically engaging with the other side is a waste of time. My other instructors and I disagree.”

In helping students engage in disagreement, Barnes says students can examine and learn from people who think differently than them. The benefits of doing so are that students can come closer to knowing the truth by knowing all sides of an argument, and they don’t have to engage with the world as if half the population is their enemy. 

The high school students showed up to the camp with many questions and a curiosity to learn. Over the week, they learned how to listen carefully, break down arguments and be charitable. 

“The opportunity to teach these young people how we can have actual influence on our day-to-day lives using philosophy has multiple good effects,” Barnes said. “Watching philosophy at work in young minds, opening them up to new possibilities, gave me so much satisfaction. That is the very thing that drove me to pursue a PhD in philosophy.”

PhD candidate Aubrial Harrington and Angela Barnes lead a discussion with the campers.

Philosophy PhD candidates Aubrial Harrington (right) and Angela Barnes presenting to the campers. Photo by Rachel Bunning/ASU

Owen Fisk, a high school sophomore student who participated in the camp, said he felt he was able to use what he learned over the summer in a class that did a Socratic seminar this fall. 

“One thing that impacted me the most was definitely the argument structures, specifically how to not include logical fallacies in my arguments and how to listen to other arguments,” he said.

Another high school student, a junior named Adelina Grotenhuis, said she enjoyed learning the principles of philosophy and getting to meet other kids her age who shared her interest in philosophy.

“I love the sense of community,” she said. “I just wish more people knew about this.”

Next year’s camp is already in discussion. The focus of the camp is still an ongoing topic and the students and faculty are working on securing more funding to increase access to the program. 

“We hope to be able to provide more scholarships this year so that there are no barriers to curious minds that would want to come participate in this program, see ASU's campus and start to get a feel for what it might be like to come study at a university,” Barnes said.

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

ASU blockchain research elevates the health care experience

Research collaboration with JennyCo aims to put users in control of their health data


September 12, 2022

In an always-evolving digital age, it is crucial to find ways to secure user data and protect online privacy.

Research Professor Dragan Boscovic is exploring how to do so as the director of the ASU Blockchain Research Lab in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Graphic illustration of health care data, represented by various digital icons. A human hand reaches toward one of the icons to select it. Download Full Image

“Blockchain has three components — scalability, security and decentralization — and our goal is to find a proper balance between them for the given application,” says Boscovic, a faculty member in the computer science and engineering program in the Fulton Schools.

These tenets are driving one of the ASU Blockchain Research Lab’s newest research endeavors: using the blockchain to help secure and protect medical information through a novel app that has the potential to put patients in control of their health data. ​​By collecting information on the blockchain, the app will help users around the world store their health records, make decisions about how the data can be used and receive personalized health recommendations.

“To be taken seriously in this industry, you need to increase the throughput on a specific network so it can handle hundreds of transactions per second,” Boscovic says. “To put it into perspective, Visa is handling 65,000 transactions per second, so our initial objective for research was to get into the thousands.”

Industry interest in collaborating with the ASU Blockchain Research Lab grew after its work with Dash, a digital currency for payments and e-commerce. That success led to collaborations with several companies, including IntelEarly WarningKudelski SecurityBDSRPThreshold NetworkConstellation NetworkHelium Network. The work explores a wide variety of blockchain applications, such as identity management, supply chain, inventory management and a concept called zero-knowledge proof, or how to uniquely identify a person without disclosing any personal information.

“The great thing about our work is that there is no one topic; everything we do identifies specific problems that our industry partners face and how to optimize the industrial workflow, which can be solved through decentralization,” Boscovic says.

In 2019, the lab began exploring how to translate blockchain research into health care. Manish Vishnoi, a Fulton Schools alumnus and former graduate student researcher for the Blockchain Research Lab, was focusing his master’s degree thesis on how people can maintain ownership of their medical data and only share it on a need-to-know basis with doctors, pharmacies and insurance providers. The lab took this research to the NuCypher + CoinList spring hackathon, winning the Community Choice Award.

Two years later, CEO Ben Jorgensen of Constellation Network — a company that develops scalable solutions for processing and transferring large data sets — gave an industry presentation to Boscovic’s student club, Blockchain at ASU. That gathering connected members of the lab with the network’s partner, JennyCo, a new company aiming to elevate the health care experience in the same way.

JennyCo seeks to enable consumers, large companies and brands to seamlessly share and access user data through a novel HIPAA-compliant blockchain service exchange managed by a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO.

According to JennyCo Founder and CEO Dr. Michael Nova, “Users of our app will be able to contribute their commerce, electronic health records, social, internet of things, device and any other health data, and will receive personal AI-generated recommendations along with compensation.”

The goal of the app is to utilize blockchain technology to put users in control of their own health care data, which is a first-of-its-kind opportunity. In addition to data ownership, users who elect to store information on the app will have access to valuable health insights, AI-generated personalized recommendations for lifestyle changes and suggested wellness products, a community of other users to engage with and the opportunity to receive rewards through cryptocurrency tokens if they choose for their data to be used in research and product studies (users may also decline).

“Blockchain technology has the potential to transform health data, placing the patient at the center of the health care ecosystem and increasing security, privacy and interoperability,” Nova says. “In our collaboration on this project, Dr. Boscovic and his students have shown a deep understanding of the use cases we’ve presented and have smartly suggested system flows and technologies which will ultimately further our cause.”

Vishnoi, whose master’s degree thesis in part led to this collaboration, will continue his work with Boscovic and the ASU Blockchain Research Lab in his new role as a member of the JennyCo team, serving as its chief technology officer.

“JennyCo’s mission was really similar to the core principle of my thesis, so it felt like a natural fit,” he says. “If it’s your data, you should be the one in charge of it. You should know where it is being shared or who it is being shared with, and you should be the one who is rewarded for its use.”

Vishnoi says there is still work to do to get the app functioning and ready for next steps since blockchain is a very new technology.

“It requires a lot of research and planning, which is the phase we are in now with the Blockchain Research Lab,” Vishnoi says. “Currently, we’re brainstorming ideas for how we would like to implement blockchain and working through different solutions with Dr. Boscovic, and the students involved are creating proofs of concept. Health care data is very sensitive, so we’re committed to making sure what we implement is highly secure.”

In addition to the opportunities available to students in the lab, this collaboration is also funding the JennyCo Blockchain Scholarship Program to provide support for undergraduate and graduate students in the Fulton Schools, enabling them to gain exposure to blockchain technology.

ASU students can also look forward to a new online course focused on the blockchain data market to complement the existing Fulton Schools master’s degree program in computer science, in addition to guest lecture appearances by JennyCo executives.

Annelise Krafft

Communications Specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

602-543-1590

 
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Mayo Clinic medical students learn about food as medicine from College of Health Solutions experts

September 6, 2022

A group of second-year Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine students felt like they were on the set of a cooking competition TV show on a recent August morning.

In reality, the nine students were in the kitchen at the College of Health Solutions on the Downtown Phoenix campus of Arizona State University. And while they spent five days in that kitchen chopping vegetables, sautéing meats and sampling exotic spices, they weren’t competing for cash, prizes or a spot on some Food Network show.

They were learning valuable nutrition and cooking skills that they hope to be able to pass on to patients when they’re practicing medicine.

In addition to spending time in the instructional kitchen under the direction of Health Solutions chef and kitchen coordinator Kent Moody, they attended lectures on nutrition presented by faculty from both ASU and Mayo Clinic. College of Health Solutions faculty taught on food as therapy (Professor Carol Johnston), the gut microbiome (Associate Professor Corrie Whisner), anti-inflammatory diets (Professor Dorothy Sears) and the pitfalls of processed foods (Clinical Professor Christy Alexon). Mayo Clinic faculty member Dr. Heather Fields (internal medicine) taught a session on plant-based diets.

“It’s a different perspective than we normally hear,” student Connor Lentz said. “We don’t have nutritionists come speak to us. They bring a different set of knowledge, different experiences.”

“A lot of medical professionals don’t understand nutrition all that well. We don’t get much of it in the classroom.”

The idea of providing future physicians with that perspective is what was behind this selective course when it was introduced in 2019. A selective is a one- to two-week block of time that enables the Mayo Clinic medical students to steer their education toward their specific interests. Johnston, professor of nutrition and an associate dean for faculty success at the College of Health Solutions, explained the selective came about through a Flinn Foundation grant.

Johnston said the grant included the charge of developing programs for medical students and doctors. Among the results are a one-year master’s degree program in medical nutrition (offered exclusively online) for health care professionals or students who plan to pursue a career in a medical profession.

“The master’s degree is not so much the science of nutrition — although everything is based on scientific evidence — but how you can apply it and provide nutrition information to patients,” Johnston said.

A graduate certificate in medical nutrition is in the development stage as well, with the goal of having it up and running in fall 2024.

The “Food as Medicine” selective is another component of that grant. It’s a short version of some of the things the students would learn in the longer medical nutrition degree program.

“Medical doctors, through the Flinn Foundation, said they wanted to support this because they didn’t know much about nutrition, and when patients would ask about it, they didn’t know how to answer,” Johnston said.

This course gives future doctors some new knowledge and practical tools in nutrition. 

Mira Shoukry, another of the medical students taking part in the program, said that kind of nutritional background was exactly what she was looking for.

“A lot of times for patients with chronic diseases, we might say something like, 'You need to eat a high-fiber diet,' or 'Cut carbs,' but we really don’t know how to explain in reasonable terms how to do that,” Shoukry said. “This selective helps us do that.”

Jess Qu, who was paired up with Shoukry to make an Indian-inspired meal that included roasted curried cauliflower, vegetable khichdi and pickled mangos, said she had been looking forward to this selective since she heard about it while interviewing for medical school.

Qu plans to focus on lifestyle medicine, and learning how to recommend healthy foods would be beneficial.

“(Lifestyle medicine) is a lot about using food to prevent and manage chronic diseases,” Qu said. “I think it’s important for future providers to learn how to cook and be able to explain things to our patients as well. It’s especially important to be able to explain things in ways that are actually reasonable to incorporate into their lifestyles.”

The week in the kitchen was also enjoyable, Qu said.

“I think it’s cool for us to learn different recipes and expand our arsenal of what we can cook,” she said. “I feel like I’m on a cooking competition show.”

Shoukry added that beyond the potential benefit for future patients of the week’s worth of lectures and demonstrations, there was a more immediate bonus: learning to cook healthy and tasty meals for themselves.

“At the end of the day, we’re also students with poor diets,” Shoukry said.

Top photo: Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine students (from right) Ramiro Lopez, James Kim, Demian Herrera and Jaxson Jeffery learned about nutrition during the "Food as Medicine" selective at ASU's College of Health Solutions. Photo by Weldon B. Johnson/ASU

Weldon B. Johnson

Communications Specialist , College of Health Solutions

 
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Supporting our military's mental health

September 1, 2022

ASU psychology professor's expertise tapped for US suicide prevention committee

Active-duty suicides are trending upward in all branches of the military, especially among women, and the U.S. secretary of defense wants to know why.

That’s why he’s called on a group of select individuals to dedicate a year of their lives to understanding this critical issue and report their findings to Congress.

Congress mandated the creation of an independent assessment of the issue, and on March 22, Lloyd J. Austin III, the secretary of defense, announced the formation of the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee

The committee of 10 includes clinical psychologists, epidemiologists, social workers, doctors, retired military and a chaplain. The group has expertise in suicide ideation and mortality, mental health disorders, substance use, sexual assault and weapon safety.

One of the members is clinical psychologist Rebecca K. Blais, an associate professor of psychology at Arizona State University. Her research studies the link between military sexual violence and suicide and how to best support military service personnel after these experiences.

Since May, Blais and the nine other members of the committee have been traveling to various military installations to collect intelligence and gather information from key players. She has also been making monthly visits to the Pentagon where the committee has an office.

In December the committee will deliver a report to Austin that makes recommendations for policy changes for the military community at large. The findings and recommendations of the committee will be presented to Congress in February 2023 and will be implemented by the Office of Force Resiliency

ASU News spoke to Blais about her committee work in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Week, which is Sept. 4–10.

Woma in black dressing sitting down

Rebecca K. Blais

Question: Congratulations on being named to the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee. What does it mean and how big of a deal is this to you?

Answer: As a civilian coming from a military family, it is a great honor. Having not served in the military myself, this is a pivotal way that I can give back even more directly to my family and my country. I’ve been fortunate because part of this designation means I’m able to go to these miliary installations and see things for myself, which helps make me a better researcher, psychologist, academic advisor and human.

While seeing these events unfold is heartbreaking and terrifying, it is a necessary view to make us all better at reducing death by suicide. To be selected by (U.S. Secretary of Defense) Austin was another honor. I had the privilege of meeting him and it was clear that his commitment to these individuals was as deep and strong as mine. Combined with our dedicated team, I have to believe we can make a difference and reverse these trends.

Q: I understand that this appointment took you away from ASU for a year to work for the Department of Defense. What have you done in that time?

A: I started in May and was traveling back and forth from Tempe to the Pentagon for a period of three to four months. I met with the secretary of defense and other entities to understand how Washington views what is happening. For the next few months, I’ll be traveling to military installations both nationally and internationally and meeting with other key players.

Our team just got back from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada and we’re heading to North Carolina in about a week to meet with the NC National Guard and Camp Lejeune, the latter of which is a Marine installation. We will be conducting these site visits till the beginning of November. We have already completed a site visit to Fort Campbell and will also visit Camp Humphreys (South Korea), three installations in Alaska and Naval Air Station (San Diego).

In November and December, we’ll be tasked with writing our final report, which will be given directly to the secretary of defense and then on to Congress. The final four months of our term will be testifying before Congress to push our agenda forward in getting what we think needs to change to get these suicide trends moving in a different direction.

Q: What are some of your key observations?

A: In addition to active military suicides going up, the acceleration is particularly noteworthy among women. Men are still more likely to die by suicide, but when you look at how steeply risk is increasing, we’re seeing (women's) rate increase faster than men. There are several systemic reasons as to why, and we will address these in our recommendations. We are also seeing increased risk among those who identify as LGBTQ, with top risk factors including failing romantic relationships, job stressors and difficulties navigating post-war society.

And, paramount among these issues, we are seeing high rates of racial and sexual harassment. Unfortunately, harassment and assault are perceived to be pretty normative in the military. When I’ve gone on these site visits, I’m being told that it’s “part of the culture and you just have to accept it.” As a civilian, as a psychologist and as a woman, I push back against that and say, “No, we do not accept this.”

Q: What are going to be some recommendations from the committee?

A: We need to reconceptualize what suicide is and not frame it as an individual issue. I hear frequently, “Oh, this service member was depressed or had PTSD. That is why they died by suicide.” PTSD and depression are contributing factors but it’s not the thing that leads to suicide. We need to be thinking about this issue as having independent factors as well as systemic factors that include military culture. We need to be doing more than targeting prevention among specific groups. That’s an older way of approaching suicide prevention. This is not, “Oh, it's tragic this person died of suicide,” but, “This person died of suicide. How did our community fail them?”

Q: What can we as civilians do to help our service members in the military?

A: The thing we can do as civilians to best help someone we know in uniform is to support them. That is to show that we care, show that they matter, and to be there when they call.

Kimberlee D'Ardenne, who is a science writer for the Psychology Department, contributed to this story.

Top photo courtesy iStock

Reporter , ASU News

480-727-5176

Former Sun Devil makes strides against opioid epidemic

Sociology alum serves in community outreach at Phoenix nursery, advocates for addiction treatment options


August 31, 2022

Helping people isn’t something former Sun Devil Michael White only does when he’s feeling generous; for him, it’s a daily mission.

Having earned a sociology bachelor’s degree in 2011 and a criminal justice master’s degree in 2013, White is now the director of community programs at Hushabye Nursery, a Phoenix nonprofit assisting pregnant women with opioid use disorder. The organization specializes in treating neonatal abstinence syndrome, where a baby experiences opioid withdrawals due to exposure during pregnancy. Portrait of ASU alum Michael White. ASU alum Michael White.

Besides his work at the nursery, White is involved in numerous policy groups. He’s a member of the Harvard Medical School Policy Group, the Georgetown Recovery Policy Collaborative, Gov. Doug Ducey’s Substance Abuse Task Force and is also a technical assistant with the Department of Justice for the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program grant. When he isn’t strategizing with government leaders to improve opioid treatment, he is educating local hospitals and other institutions on the services available to them.  

Throughout his career, White has advocated for Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), an effective opioid addiction treatment method, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He has helped 14 states integrate the treatment into their correctional facilities so patients can choose it if they wish, and has helped the American Civil Liberties Union and Legal Action Center with several litigations regarding MAT. A big win for White and his colleagues occurred earlier this year when the Department of Justice issued protections for individuals seeking this form of treatment. 

White says he loves this work and rates it a 10 out of 10. “It does not feel like work; just helping people,” he says.

Uncertain beginnings

White’s journey began as a sociology major at ASU’s T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, where he wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do. 

“I knew I wanted to help people, but that was about it,” White says. “I wanted to change the world for people that are usually not cared for or (are) treated poorly.”

White says sociology gave him a crucial foundation of skills such as empathy, active listening and open-mindedness. It has been especially helpful, he says, to understand models of social and human behavior in different settings and groups.

While pursuing his degree, White cultivated his passion through internships. He first interned at a juvenile facility where he interacted with young people navigating the criminal justice system, and then at Head Start, where he learned to work with families and children needing early childhood support. These experiences culminated in a full-time counseling position for an opioid treatment program, where he was able to act as both a nurturing force and an advocate for people struggling with drug use disorders.  

After completing his master’s degree in criminal justice from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, he felt that significant, systemic change was possible in this field, but was amazed by how many people felt powerless to truly help others. 

Nearly 10 years after graduating from ASU, White knows that even one person can have a big impact. 

His advice to current students? “Go change the world,” he says. “It's messed up.”

Jennifer Moore

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

Thunderbird student and physician combines technology, health care to improve lives


August 30, 2022

Dr. June Lau already has a successful career practicing medicine in her home country of Malaysia. She has spent the last eight years as a physician, administrator, mentor and educator, having gained experience working in clinical practice in the heart of an emergency department.

"The dynamic, highly charged and raw nature of the emergency medicine environment has cultivated a deep sense of passion and duty in me to see health care as a precursor to improving the lives of others," she said.  Master of Global Management student June Lau in front of Thunderbird's Global Headquarters. June Lau is a second-year student in Thunderbird's Master of Global Management program and a Thunderbird SHARE Fellowship recipient. Download Full Image

In the years before coming to Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, Lau was based at the National Institutes of Health in Malaysia, where she worked on COVID-19-related research and national COVID-19 statistics for the Crisis Preparedness and Response Center. 

Now, Lau, a rising second-year student in Thunderbird's Master of Global Management (MGM) program, is looking to transition from her clinical practice into the global health and medical technology landscape. She believes in universal health care, and her dream is to contribute to making health care better for all.

"Technology can alleviate health care systems and delivery, thus improving care and ultimately the quality of life," she said. "I strongly believe that a better quality of life will eventually contribute to growth and productivity across the globe."

As a Thunderbird student, Lau saw an opportunity to create an alignment between her clinical background, technology and global management that will help her execute her aspirations in the next steps of her career and beyond.

"The MGM program has enhanced my view of the world," Lau said. "I see the next 10 years as perhaps one of the most crucial periods in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. With the knowledge I have already gained from this program and the potential brought about by the unification of technology with health care, I have the capacity to advance global health care and make it more equitable."

Wanting to help advance her understanding of medical and health technology, she took an internship with EdgeOne Medical. Co-founded by a Thunderbird alumnus, Jim McGough, EdgeOne is a U.S.-based contract development organization that specializes in supporting the development of drug-device combination products and regulating connected health care devices for five of the top 10 global biopharmaceutical firms. 

During her internship, Lau had the opportunity to experience being part of a regulatory team with a strategic focus on programs and regulatory content development.

"Regulatory affairs are an important and essential part of a larger ecosystem in a pharmaceuticals or medical device company," she said. "Every medical product prior to being marketed requires a detailed review and conversation with many stakeholders. Understanding what they do is an important aspect of medical affairs and marketing strategy." 

Thunderbird SHARE Fellows celebrating in front of the F. Francis and Dionne Najafi Thunderbird Global Headquarters in downtown Phoenix.

Lau is also a Thunderbird SHARE Fellowship recipient, a program founded by Thunderbird alumnus Marshall Parke '77 to develop changemakers from emerging and developing countries. The SHARE Fellowship awards merit-based scholarships to selected MGM students, empowering them to enact social change in their home regions. Typically, six students are chosen to join the program each year, and over the last 15 years, 87 fellowships have been awarded to students from 45 different countries. 

The scholarship covers full-time tuition costs as well as funds to cover most expenses, thereby lessening the financial burden that often comes with life as a college student and enabling them to fully participate in campus life, internships and academic programs. Since awarding its first scholarships in 2008, the SHARE program has also attracted countless volunteers to serve as mentors to the SHARE Fellow recipients.

To support his vision, Parke brought in Maria Houle '87, a fellow Thunderbird alum, to be the program's executive director. She helps connect students to mentors, many of which are Thunderbird alumni.

"When exceptional students are free from financial concerns, they can focus on achieving," she said. "Philanthropy is crucial for SHARE because it allows students to have the bandwidth to develop their skills and business plans in order to make an exciting impact. The story of SHARE is very much a story of generosity."

Lau is grateful for the fellowship, saying, "I am grateful to all the alumni who have supported this wonderful program over the years and to the people I have met here — professors, mentors and friends — who have enriched my life. Most of all, I am grateful for my family and friends back home in Malaysia who constantly keep me grounded throughout my life journey."

The considerable generosity of donors, alums and previous fellows enable the SHARE program to continue and succeed.

"This is not a modest, 'feel-good' program. We are asking alums and others to make a serious commitment to share their success, both financially and personally. We each have our own way of giving," Parke said when speaking about philanthropy's fundamental role in the program. 

To learn more about Thunderbird’s Master of Global Management program, visit thunderbird.asu.edu/mgm.

To learn more about the SHARE program and how you can help, visit asufoundation.org.

Dasi Danzig

Senior Media Relations Officer, Thunderbird School of Global Management

480-268-6766

 
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'News addiction' can cause stress, anxiety, study says

August 30, 2022

ASU wellness expert says it's important to unplug from 24-hour news cycle

The news is everywhere.

On your cellphone.

On your Twitter account, Facebook feed and other social media accounts.

On TV, the radio and in newspapers.

Unless you completely unplug, you know what’s going on every second every of every day.

That can be a good thing. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”

But there’s also a downside. Think of the news we’ve been inundated with the last few years: COVID-19, the war between Russia and Ukraine, mass shootings, political upheaval, protests, drought conditions and more.

The obsessive urge to keep up with that news can lead to stress, anxiety and worsening physical health, according to a study in the journal Health Communication.

The study found that 16.5% of 1,100 people polled in an online survey showed signs of “severely problematic” news consumption, which led them to focus less on school, work and family, and contributed to an inability to sleep.

Just more than 73% said they experienced mental health issues “quite a bit” or “very much,” and 61% reported their physical health suffered.

A “news addiction,” the journal called it.

Portrait of woman sitting on a chair

Nika Gueci

ASU News talked to Nika Gueci, executive director for university engagement in the Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience at Arizona State University, about the consequences of a news addiction and how people can wean themselves off the 24-hour news cycle.

Editor's note: The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Question: How does an unending diet of news impact one’s physical and mental well-being?

Answer: We are being oversaturated with the news, and when that happens, we can become anxious. We can become stressed, we can become worried. And I think we’ve been living in this state for a couple of years now. So when we’re living in this constant state of constant anxiety, it can really lead to detrimental health outcomes. Our immune systems can suffer. Our digestion can suffer. We can experience colds and headaches more easily.

When we hear about negativity in the news, it can really affect our entire outlook on life. So being aware of what we consume — whether what we’re consuming is food, news, TV, social media — being aware of it is really the first important step in maintaining our balance and maintaining our mindfulness in our daily lives.

Q: It sounds easy. Just get off the phone and avoid social media. But those are at our fingertips every day. How do we do that?

A: I don’t think that the solution right now is to unplug completely. I don’t think that it’s a viable solution, and I don’t think anybody is going to stop being on their phone, watching the news or looking at social media. But mindfulness can help us provide that choice point. A lot of time, when we act on a daily basis, we do so habitually and automatically. We might not even think about picking up our phones, which are right in front of us. So I think the more that we practice being in the present moment … it presents us with an opportunity to make a choice. We can have a choice in what we engage in, who we engage with, what kind of news sources we look at and for how long. Just knowing that you have that choice is a really important step.

Q: Social media obviously plays a big role because of the constant availability. Twenty-five years ago, you watched the news at night and/or read the newspaper the next morning. That’s how you got your news. Would you advise that people set aside time every day where they don’t look at their phone or computer?

A: Of course. I think time limitations are really important. For example, having an alarm clock instead of your phone as an alarm clock, because it’s so easy to just use your phone as your alarm, pick it up and that’s what you’re doing for the next hour. Creating those habits throughout the day can lead to more informed decision-making. And if a news source or social media platform brings up feelings of great discomfort, try not to interact with those people and create that choice point as to who you want to engage with. There are so many choices.

The more you’re in tune with, “How is this affecting me, how is this affecting my mental and physical well-being, how do I feel after I wake up and I’m on my phone for two hours?” … If you don’t feel great, then that’s a time to implement new habits.

Q: This constant cycle of negative news seems like a car accident on the side of the road. You don’t want to look, but you can’t keep yourself from looking.

A: That’s a great point. I don’t think our brains are meant to process this amount of information in the amount of time that we’re taking it in. And when we’re constantly being flooded with it, no wonder we’re getting sick and no wonder we’re feeling anxious. We’re giving our system something that it’s really not intended to handle. I think there are good uses of technology. It can help us keep connected to family and friends. But again, it’s that knowing: Does this bring me joy? Does this bring me happiness? Or does it bring me terror and fear?

Top photo courtesy Pexels

Scott Bordow

Reporter , ASU News

 
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ASU, Los Angeles Community College District partner on transfer-pathways collaboration

August 26, 2022

MyPath2ASU tool minimizes credit loss, shortens the time for students to complete 4-year degree from ASU

The Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) and Arizona State University have formed a new alliance that provides students at any of the district’s nine colleges with a seamless transfer experience using the unique MyPath2ASU program for student success in achieving a four-year degree from ASU.

MyPath2ASU is a set of customized online tools available to transfer students from accredited, U.S. regional institutions such as LACCD’s nine colleges. These tools not only ensure students a smooth transfer experience to ASU but can also shorten the time to completion for their four-year degree and help minimize credit loss.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with Arizona State University to bring this new and innovative online resource to our students who want to pursue a clear, educational transfer pathway to ASU,” LACCD Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez said. “The MyPath2ASU online toolkit makes it easier for our students and educational counselors to map out their transfer classes, so that they can obtain the four-year degree of their choice.”

Through this partnership, LACCD students using MyPath2ASU will find their transfer experience simplified. They will have access to personalized benefits to help them navigate the transfer experience, including: 

  • End-to-end learner navigation through more than 400 course-by-course guided pathways into immersion, local and online ASU degree programs.
  • Ensure course applicability by assisting students with taking courses that apply to their associate and ASU bachelor’s degree.
  • Guaranteed general admission to ASU and admission into MyPath2ASU major choice if all requirements are satisfied; some majors have additional or higher admission requirements.
  • Self-service, degree-progress tracking through My Transfer Guide to minimize loss of credit.
  • Connected experience through personalized ASU communications to prepare academically and build a connection to ASU.

“ASU is committed to student success,” said ASU Vice Provost for Academic Alliances Cheryl Hyman. “We understand transfer students all have unique learning journeys. Through our new partnership with the Los Angeles Community College District and our MyPath2ASU transfer tools, we encourage all transfer students to have a connected pathway experience that will enable students to shorten their time to degree completion with minimal credit loss.”

LACCD students will also have the opportunity to attend ASU in downtown Los Angeles through ASU Local, its new hybrid university experience. ASU Local empowers students to thrive in college and life while rooted in their communities. ASU Local students have access to 130-plus online bachelor’s degrees and receive personalized college and career success coaching through in-person programming at the ASU California Center in Los Angeles.

Students at any of the nine LACCD colleges The nine LACCD colleges are: Los Angeles City College, East Los Angeles College, Los Angeles Harbor College, Los Angeles Mission College, Los Angeles Pierce College, Los Angeles Southwest College, Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, Los Angeles Valley College and West Los Angeles College.are invited to explore the over 400 course-by-course transfer pathways available through the LACCD-MyPath2ASU transfer partnership by visiting asu.edu/mypath2asu.

This latest partnership with LACCD builds on a long history of ASU partnerships with California community colleges. ASU has partnered with all 116 California community colleges to deliver over 400 articulated guided pathways into ASU on campus, local and online degrees. Last year, about 3,600 California community college students transferred to ASU.

An infographic showing the four steps for MyPath2ASU: create MyPath2ASU, MyPath sign-up, track your progress, apply to ASU

Top photo of the Los Angeles skyline by Deanna Dent/ASU

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