Fall ASU graduate already working in procurement for state of Arizona

November 29, 2022
Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2022 graduates.

Julia Ladner, an Arizona State University business communication major, will apply what she learned through her honors thesis and an internship in a job with the state of Arizona.

Ladner will graduate ASU in December with a bachelor’s degree in business from the W. P. Carey School of Business, a certificate in applied business data analytics and honors from Barrett, The Honors College. Julia Ladner posing in front of greenery Julia Ladner is graduating Arizona State University with a bachelor's degree in business and a certificate in applied business data analytics with honors from Barrett, The Honors College. Download Full Image

Her thesis had three main foci: cooperative purchasing programs, the Arizona Set-Aside Program and the Department of Homeland Security's Procurement Innovation Lab.

She landed on this topic after learning about the bid proposal process in Narrating Global Development and about public procurement in SMC 494: Public and Non-Profit Procurement.

“I was able to narrow in on cooperative purchasing and the Arizona Set-Aside after I started my internship with the Arizona State Procurement Office where I really learned about the inner workings of public procurement,” Ladner said.

Ladner served as a procurement management intern for the state of Arizona from May to October. She started a full-time position as cooperative program coordinator for the Arizona State Procurement Office last month.

At the ASU Polytechnic campus, she served as a Barrett community assistant, peer mentor and Honors Devil. She was given the honors college’s 2022 Gold Standard Award in the Community Builder category and received funding to represent Barrett at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference in early November.

We asked Ladner, who grew up in Morris, Minnesota, to reflect on her undergraduate experience at ASU. Here’s what she had to say:

Question: What is an interesting moment, story or accomplishment in your ASU career?

Answer: I am incredibly proud of being awarded the Community Builder Gold Standard Award last spring for my work as a community assistant, peer mentor and Honors Devil. I was so happy to have my work recognized at such a high level as someone from one of the smaller campuses.

Q: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

A: I originally intended on majoring in communication, but when I was a junior in high school, I toured the ASU Poly campus with my mom and absolutely fell in love. Business communication was the closest option, and I knew it would give me a well-rounded education to go into a variety of fields.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU – in the classroom or otherwise – that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I learned a lot as a community assistant that changed my perspective on how to approach a variety of situations. It really taught me how to better work with people to meet them where they are.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I really chose Poly. I loved that it offered the small town feel I grew up with while providing the resources of the largest university in the United States. My choice was really solidified when I got to attend an overnight experience with a Barrett Poly student. There I was able to meet a lot of current students, learn about their experiences and see the tight-knit community in action. I even met my now best friend!

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU and what was the lesson?

A: I think the most important lesson I learned was the importance of building connections and having a strong network from Prof. Jeff Macias. In his SCM 494 class, we were able to meet current public and non-profit procurement professionals that proved to be incredibly valuable connections when I started searching for internships.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Go to class! It really does make a huge difference in what you learn, and it is a great way to get on your professor's good side, which is huge when they have opportunities to offer. I would also recommend doing something outside of your specific major/interests. I was focused on communication, so I never thought to take a special topics supply chain class until Prof. Macias told us about his class. This is directly how I ended up in the field I am now in. Taking classes outside your major is also a great way to meet people you may never interact with otherwise, which can lead to amazing friendships.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus for studying, meeting with friends or just thinking about life?

A: The main place I go on the Poly campus to study is the Barrett Suite. On the Tempe campus, I love the patio downstairs by Hayden Library. It is the perfect quiet spot if you have an hour between classes and want a nice cool spot to study.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would want to invest in more sustainable and clean energy. Back in Morris, they are huge on reaching net-zero carbon emissions, so I would like to further invest in that goal on a larger scale by investing in solar, wind and other sustainable energy sources.

Nicole Greason

Director of Marketing and Public Relations , Barrett, The Honors College


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New Pat Tillman Veterans Center executive director named

November 28, 2022

Part-time volunteering leads to top job at renowned veterans center

A combat veteran, book author and pastor who first started working in Arizona State University's Pat Tillman Veterans Center as an unpaid volunteer six years ago was named the center’s new leader, effective Monday, Nov. 28.

Shawn Banzhaf, a retired Nebraska Army National Guard sergeant first class and former police officer, rose to the top of a candidate pool for the executive director’s position during a national search initiated in October.

“Through the process, it became evident that Shawn’s people-first leadership style, exemplary record of service to ASU’s veteran and military-affiliated students, and rich, vibrant vision for the Pat Tillman Veterans Center distinguished him as the top choice,” said Kent Hopkins, vice president of Academic Enterprise Enrollment at ASU. “As executive director, Shawn will primarily be responsible for conceiving and implementing a bold, expansive vision of what veteran and military-affiliated services should be at ASU.”

Banzhaf becomes the third director to lead the Tillman Center since its opening in 2011, but he is the first one to come from the enlisted military ranks. The previous directors were former commissioned senior military officers.

“The Pat Tillman Veterans Center has had two incredible leaders up to this point in Steve Borden and Jeff Guimarin,” said Brett Hunt, ASU professor of practice and former executive director of the Public Service Academy in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. “Shawn is the ideal leader to take the work of the center to the next level. As a retired noncommissioned officer and combat veteran, he is an incredible role model for veterans here at ASU.

“He has stood in front of their formations and walked in their boots.”  

Banzhaf started working in the veterans center in 2016 as a volunteer chaplain, coming in twice a week to offer counseling to student veterans and staff. After a year and a half of volunteering, a paid military advocate position opened up. He went for it but fell short. He wasn’t chosen, at first.

“They offered the job to someone else, and they declined it,” said Banzhaf, a native of Chadron, Nebraska. “So they offered me the job, and I jumped at the chance and became the military advocate.”

Marine veteran Edward Brady, a graduate student with Watts College, has worked at the Tillman Center since 2020 and has gotten to know Banzhaf. 

“Shawn has always served as a leader, a mentor and a friend,” Brady said. “He has helped me in many ways, most notably helping me get accepted into my graduate program. Shawn has an amazing passion for helping the veteran community. 

“As director, I know that he will put our community before himself, will serve with compassion and will do everything he can to make ASU the place for student veterans.”

Most recently, Banzhaf served as associate director of student and academic innovations. In that role, he led a team responsible for providing strategic analysis for student success life cycles for more than 10,600 military-affiliated ASU students enrolled on campus and ASU Online. He has also been a facilitator in ASU’s Treks for Vets program, and he serves as the ASU Staff Council president. 

Banzhaf served in the Army National Guard for 21 years, retiring as the acting first sergeant for the 1057th Transportation Company based in Nebraska. During his time in the guard, Banzhaf earned the Bronze Star and the Army Combat Action Badge for his actions during 100 combat missions around Baghdad, Ramadi and Fallujah, Iraq, in 2006.  

Combat exposure and subsequent post-traumatic stress inspired Banzhaf to write “The Five Ls: A Practical Guide for Helping Loved Ones Heal After Trauma.” Banzhaf supports the “trauma-informed” movement in Arizona and is a sought-after speaker for local veterans groups and law enforcement agencies. He regularly speaks publicly about PTSD and suicide prevention within the veteran community.  

“His experience taught him countless life lessons, and he makes every effort to pass those lessons onto the people he cares about,” Brady said. “Shawn’s caring attitude and determined work ethic are things that I hope to embody in my personal and professional life.” 

The number of military-affiliated students at ASU has grown exponentially from just under 2,000 when the Pat Tillman Veterans Center opened to approaching 11,000 today. Despite the resounding success supporting the student growth, much work remains, and Banzhaf has ideas for the future. 

“People talk about ‘the funnel’ in higher education, and even though we say student veterans are nontraditional, we funnel them through the traditional model often,” Banzhaf said. “I want to flip the funnel.”

In the future, Banzhaf wants student veterans to see the center as a place to prepare them for what’s next and help them achieve what he just did: land that “dream job.”

“Part of that is making some changes that really make career, professional development, a giant thing at the Pat Tillman Veterans Center,” Banzhaf said. “That’s part of what I want to do.”

Veterans come to ASU not only seeking degrees and economic opportunities for their families but also to grow into their next life phase, said Hunt, who worked closely with Banzhaf on civil-military events, such as Salute to Service and the Veterans Scholar Program

“While traditionally the focus has been on providing excellent service in helping veterans access their benefits, I believe the next phase is providing more holistic support to the growth of veterans while they are here at ASU,” Hunt said. “Shawn is perfectly placed as director of the center to build out that part of the work.” 

In November 2017, soon after Banzhaf was hired full time at the center, his supervisor at the time asked him, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

His response: “Running this place.”

That conversation happened “five years to the week” of him finding out he was chosen to be the next executive director of the center, Banzhaf said.

“The Pat Tillman Veterans Center and ASU are national leaders in this space, and with Shawn, we have the right leader to charge forward,” Hunt said.

Top image: Moderator Shawn Banzhaf (left) leads a discussion during the panel "Combating Military Suicide: How the Brandon Act Will Prioritize Mental Health Care in the Military," held April 12 at the Memorial Union in Tempe. The Pat Tillman Veterans Center hosted the event featuring Sen. Mark Kelly and the parents of Brandon Caserta, who died by suicide while on active duty with the Navy. The act, named in his memory, seeks to improve the process for servicemembers to get mental health care. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Jerry Gonzalez

Assistant Director , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

ASU earns No. 2 ranking for Teach for America recruitment

November 21, 2022

For the past seven years, Arizona State University has been a top producer of Teach for America corps members — a trend that continues in 2022 with ASU coming in at No. 2 in the country among large schools.

“Teach For America identifies student leaders who deeply understand the value of educational equity,” said Krishnaa Pradhan, a recruiter for Teach for America and an ASU alum. “ASU stands out in making a college education accessible to students with diverse backgrounds, and many Sun Devils reflect the identities of our corps members and students.” Portrait of ASU student and Teach for America corps member Corbin Kohtz. Teach for America corps member Corbin Kohtz. Photo courtesy Corbin Kohtz Download Full Image

Teach for America (TFA) is a nonprofit organization that recruits top recent college graduates to teach in low-income communities throughout the United States. TFA corps members spend two years in the classroom supporting the educational and personal development of underserved students.

ASU’s No. 2 ranking reflects a total of 36 Sun Devils participating in the 2022 corps, which comprises a group of 1,600 total educators from 1,300 colleges and universities, and represents the most diverse corps in its history: 58% of incoming corps members identify as people of color; 65% come from low-income backgrounds; and one in three are the first in their family to graduate college.

The selection process for Teach for America is rigorous. Along with demonstrating a high academic standard, corps members must participate in interviews, teach a sample lesson and prepare a proposal for a case study on racial disparities.

With educational access a key part of ASU and TFA’s respective missions, Pradhan says Sun Devils are well positioned to have an impact in the program.

“Sun Devils demonstrate strong leadership in Teach for America’s application process, during their two years in the classroom as a corps member and as alumni in crucial industries. We are proud to have ASU represented as the second-highest contributing school for TFA for the first time in history,” she said.

One of this year’s new corps members is Corbin Kohtz, who is from Phoenix and will serve with TFA in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Kohtz will graduate from ASU in spring 2023 with degrees in communication and political science and a minor in English literature from Barrett, the Honors College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

There were a number of factors that inspired Kohtz to pursue serving with Teach for America, including his experience as a student worker at ASU and the topics he researched for his degrees.

“While working in career and professional development services, I met Veronica Aguilar, currently working at TFA, and Julia Tebben, who were both connected to TFA and introduced me to the program,” Kohtz said. “During my junior year, I started investing time into research in rhetorical studies and decided I wanted to direct my research towards education at large, but I wanted exposure in a classroom.”

Kohtz said that working with Teach for America in a Title I school will provide ample opportunity to experience the education industry before he pursues further opportunities in research and education.

The application deadline for Teach for America is Feb. 10, 2023. Learn more about the program here.

Copy writer and editor, Educational Outreach and Student Services


ASU Trustee and Cronkite Alumni Hall of Fame inductee Christine Devine to give convocation speech

November 21, 2022

ASU Trustee and Cronkite Alumni Hall of Fame inductee Christine Devine will deliver the keynote address at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication fall 2022 convocation.

The ceremony will take place at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 14, at Desert Financial Arena, 600 E. Veterans Way in Tempe. The convocation will celebrate the accomplishments of 318 graduates who are expected to receive their diplomas. Portrait of ASU Trustee and Cronkite Alumni Hall of Fame inductee Christine Devine. ASU Trustee and Cronkite Alumni Hall of Fame inductee Christine Devine. Photo courtesy Christine Devine Download Full Image

Devine is an award-winning television news anchor with Fox 11 Los Angeles, where she has worked for more than 30 years, and an active Cronkite School alumna who generously supports the school and ASU. In 2007, she endowed the Christine Devine Scholarship, which provides scholarship support each year to students in the Cronkite School.

Devine is also an ASU Trustee and serves on ASU’s Los Angeles Leadership Council. She is one of about 16,000 Cronkite School graduates.

“Christine has been one of the most ardent supporters of the Cronkite School and we’re honored to have her come back and speak to our students,” said Cronkite School Dean Battinto L. Batts Jr. “Throughout her career, she has exemplified what it means to be a proud Cronkite School graduate.”

Devine has won numerous awards for her journalism work, including 16 Emmys, the Governors Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Lifetime Achievement Golden Mic from the Radio and Television News Association.

In June, she received the 2022 President’s Award for Impact on Media from the Los Angeles Press Club at the 64th annual SoCal Journalism Awards Gala.

“I have lived by the motto ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’ I realized early on all that was given to me, and it was at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication that I learned the tools to share the stories of the communities I love and serve,” Devine said. “I’m excited to share my story — and guidance — with Cronkite’s Class of 2022 and future leaders of the news and communications industry.”

Devine has dedicated much of her journalism career to aiding children in the foster care system due to her personal connection to the cause. Her parents adopted a child, as well as fostered five refugee children during her childhood.

One of Devine’s most notable pieces of work is hosting the weekly “Wednesday’s Child” segment on Fox 11. The segment has been on the air for more than 25 years and aims to highlight foster children that are in need of homes in the LA area. Through this segment alone, more than 500 children have been adopted.

In 2012, Devine was named in Los Angeles Magazine among the “50 Women Changing LA” for her work with foster care. She received an honorary doctorate degree from Cal State LA in the school of social work.

She was also honored in Washington, D.C., as a congressional “Angel in Adoption” and by the Child Welfare League of America.

Devine has also played reporter roles in a number of movies and television shows, including "The Cable Guy," "Wag the Dog," "American Horror Story" and "Beverly Hills, 90210."

Prior to joining Fox 11, she also worked at KLST in San Angelo, Texas, and KVOA in Tucson, Arizona.

Jamar Younger

Associate Editor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

ASU faculty among top female scientists in the world

Research.com’s top 1,000 list includes 4 ASU professors

November 21, 2022

For the first time, Research.com has published a list of the top 1,000 female scientists in the world. Four of them are faculty at Arizona State University.

“We are painfully aware that academic research is still a predominantly male profession, and we believe that female scientists deserve an equal chance to be represented and praised for their achievements,” the site states.   Two female students working in a lab. For the first time, Research.com has published a list of the top 1,000 female scientists in the world. Four of them are faculty at Arizona State University. Photo by ASU Download Full Image

“Our aim is to inspire female scholars, women considering an academic career, as well as decision-makers worldwide with the example of successful women in the scientific community. We hope that it will contribute to providing more opportunities and equal chances for women in science.”

Rankings are based on a meticulous examination of scientists on Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Graph.

“These outstanding scientists are examples to everyone in our ASU community and beyond,” said Kenro Kusumi, dean of natural sciences in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

“As more women pursue careers in the natural sciences and lead groundbreaking research and discoveries, the field is enriched by their perspectives and expertise. I’m grateful that ASU is committed to being measured by whom we include in our academic community and supporting their success in advancing research of public value.”

No. 133: Nancy Eisenberg

Nancy Eisenberg has been a trailblazer in developmental psychology for over 40 years. She created new ways to measure sympathy and distress in young children by tracking facial expressions and physiological measures such as heart rate and skin conductance.

Eisenberg received the Ernest R. Hilgard Award for a Career Contribution to General Psychology in 2007; the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development Distinguished Contribution Award in 2008; the American Psychological Association G. Stanley Hall Award for Distinguished Contribution to Developmental Psychology in 2009; the William James Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science for Lifetime Intellectual Contributions to the Basic Science of Psychology in 2011; and the Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development Award from the Society for Research in Child Development in 2015.

She is Regents Professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at ASU and led ASU’s Eisenberg laboratory, which conducted longitudinal studies on social, emotional, psychological and moral development in children and adolescents. 

See Eisenberg's profile on Research.com. 

No. 488: Barbara Ainsworth

Barbara Ainsworth has expertise in physical activity assessment. Her groundbreaking research measuring the amount of energy burned doing all forms of physical activity changed the way we view health and wellness today. 

She is the lead author of the Adult Compendium of Physical Activities, which lists the metabolic energy costs, or METs, of physical activities ranging from bicycling to jumping rope to playing chess and more. For her lifetime contributions, the American College of Sports Medicine awarded Ainsworth its highest accolade, the ACMS Honor Award, in 2018. 

Ainsworth is Regents Professor emeritus in the College of Health Solutions at ASU. She is also a fellow of the National Academy of Kinesiology. 

See Ainsworth's profile on Research.com. 

No. 877: Alexandra Navrotsky

Alexandra Navrotsky has made major contributions in the fields of ceramics, mantle mineralogy and deep earth geophysics, melt and glass science, nanomaterials and porous materials. 

She is a Regents Professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy and an affiliated faculty member of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU. She also leads the Navrotsky Eyring Center for Materials of the Universe, which explores alien and extreme conditions and environments with the expectation of discovering new, useful materials and understanding the formation and evolution of planets.

Navrotsky was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1993. In 2019, a new mineral was named “navrotskyite” in her honor.

See Navrotsky's profile on Research.com. 

No. 910: Carolyn Compton

Carolyn Compton is an academic pathologist specializing in gastrointestinal disease and is board certified in both anatomic and clinical pathology. She designed and launched national programs for biobanking and biospecimen science that became foundational for the Cancer Human Biobank, and she was involved with the first team to use an engineered human organ (skin) in a life-saving setting to successfully treat patients with massive burn wounds. 

Under her leadership, the ASU Biodesign Institute converted its research infrastructure to focus on testing, tracking and mitigating the coronavirus. The institute’s achievements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic include developing the first saliva-based coronavirus test in the western U.S.; receiving accreditation from the College of American Pathologists (CAP), the nation’s largest organization of board-certified pathologists; and administering over 1 million COVID tests. 

Compton was named one of the world’s top 100 pathologists in 2016. She is a professor in the School of Life Sciences and medical director of the Biodesign Clinical Testing Laboratory at ASU.

See Compton's profile on Research.com.

Lauren Whitby

Digital Marketing Manager, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


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ASU names Regents Professors for 2023

November 17, 2022

4 professors are considered among the top researchers at the nation's most innovative school

Arizona State University announced Thursday its four Regents Professors for 2023 — the most prestigious and highest faculty award possible.

Considered the best and brightest scholars, Regents Professors bring honor and distinction to their disciplines and are considered the top researchers that ASU has to offer. Fewer than 3% of all ASU faculty carry the title.

To receive this designation, they must be recognized by peers nationally and internationally. On Nov. 17, their names were submitted by ASU President Michael M. Crow and quickly approved by the Arizona Board of Regents.

“Arizona State University is home to a gifted and inventive world-class faculty,” Crow said. “The 2023 cohort of Regents Professors represents the highest standard of leading-edge scholarship and instruction, as well as the tremendous impact that an individual commitment to leadership and discovery can make in helping to propel learners, higher education and society forward.”

ASU requires all nominations for Regents Professor to come from groups of tenured faculty members. An advisory committee evaluates all nominations following an established review process. Crow then considers the recommendations and forwards them to the Arizona Board of Regents for final approval.

“These Regents Professors are a nationally recognized cohort of scholars and trailblazers in their fields,” said Nancy Gonzales, executive vice president and university provost. “The varied disciplines from which they come is characteristic of the culture of faculty excellence found throughout all fields of study at ASU.”

The new Regents Professors

Stacy Leeds — the newly announced dean of the Sandra Day O’ Connor College of Law, as well as a Foundation Professor of Law and Leadership. Leeds has served on the judiciaries of 10 tribal nations. She has also served on several institutions within the Department of the Interior and the National Judicial College.

Huan Liu — a professor of computer science and engineering with the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He is a fellow in the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, the Association for Computing Machinery and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2014 received the ASU’s President’s Award for Innovation.

Michael Lynch — a professor in the School of Life Sciences and director of the Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution. He was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences in 2009 and has received several lifetime achievement awards for his work in genetics and molecular biology.

Alexandra Navrotsky — a professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, and the director of the Navrotsky Eyring Center for the Materials of the Universe. She is also the first female faculty member from Princeton University to be elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the first woman to win the Harry H. Hess Medal.

Learn more about them

Stacy Leeds

Headshot of Stacy Leeds

Leeds is considered one of the most important figures in the world of Indian law and policy. She is a frequent contributor to leading Native American law publications, a regular panelist and guest speaker at Indian law events around the globe and has delivered more than 20 keynote or distinguished addresses. Leeds was the first Indigenous woman in the United States to serve as a law school dean at the University of Arkansas School of Law from 2011 to 2018.

She has earned several awards for her work and scholarship. In 2006, she received the American Association of Law School’s Clyde Ferguson Jr. Award, and in 2013, she earned the Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association. Leeds received the Cherokee National Statesmanship Award in 2014. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute.

Leeds’ accomplishments include publication of books and articles, development of new courses, connections to the Native American community, grants and mentoring of Indigenous students.

Huan Liu

Headshot of Huan Liu

Liu is widely regarded as a pioneer in AI research who is exceptionally broad-based relative to most other AI researchers. He focuses on developing computational methods for data mining, machine learning and social computing.

His contributions in big data include development of AI models that can impact health care, social media and mis/disinformation, among other areas. In terms of use-inspired research, he actively collaborates across disciplines to tackle today’s societal problems. They include detecting disinformation, battling cyberbullying for teenagers, preserving user privacy, developing algorithmic solutions for socially responsible AI and, in collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers, improving our nation’s water sustainability.

Liu’s research has led to 10 U.S. patents, and he has graduated 33 PhD students whose work has been recognized with numerous awards.

Michael Lynch

Headshot of Michael Lynch

Lynch’s research focuses on uncovering the mechanisms driving evolution at the genomic, cellular and organismic levels. In recognition of his impact on the field of evolutionary biology, he has received grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Aging, National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of the Army.

He has been hailed as the world’s leading quantitative geneticist, and his 1998 book “Genetics and Analysis of Quantitative Traits” has received nearly 10,000 citations and is considered the foundational work in quantitative genetics. His book “The Origins of Cellular Architecture” became the go-to primer on the domains of biodiversity, the evolution of genomic complexity, and the roles of genomic complexity and population size on mutation and evolution. His upcoming book “The Origins of Cellular Architecture” will be the first to strongly integrate evolutionary theory into cell biology.

In addition to his research leadership, Lynch has counseled 51 postdoctoral fellows, 34 PhD students and 17 master’s degree students, many of whom went on to become leaders in academia.

Alexandra Navrotsky

Headshot of Alexandra Navrotsky

Navrotsky has been described as the world’s leading scientist in the field of thermochemistry of minerals and related solid-state materials. Her discoveries have been of fundamental importance in solid-state chemistry, geochemistry, materials science and engineering, exoplanetary chemistry and materials for space exploration.

She is a driving force for inception of eight large, cross-disciplinary programs at ASU and around the United States. The impact of her research can further be measured by almost 1,000 pieces of scholarly work, with more than 35,000 citations and collaborations with academics and researchers in industry and government.

More recently, the American Ceramic Society established the Navrotsky Award for Experimental Thermodynamics of Solids, named for the ASU professor. The award is considered one of the highest bestowed upon a scientist.

Editor's note: The titles will be officially conferred at a ceremony Feb. 9.

Reporter , ASU News


Veteran local government administrator to mentor ASU students as Harrell-Hutchinson Visiting Urban Management Professional

Robert O’Neill Jr. is former executive director of association of managers; was longtime city, county executive in Virginia

November 17, 2022

Arizona State University students planning for careers running cities, towns or counties will be able to spend a year learning how it’s done from a veteran local government executive starting in January.

Robert J. O’Neill Jr., former executive director of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), will share his many years of experience in those roles with public affairs students in 2023 as the first Harrell-Hutchinson Visiting Urban Management Professional. Portrait of 2023 Harrell-Hutchinson Visiting Professional of Urban Management, Robert O'Neill. Robert J. O'Neill Jr., former executive director of the International City/County Management Association, will share his many years of experience in those roles with ASU public affairs students in 2023 as the first Harrell-Hutchinson Visiting Urban Management Professional. Photo courtesy Robert J. O'Neill Jr. Download Full Image

O’Neill’s position is named for two former Arizona city managers, Lloyd Harrell of Chandler and Mike Hutchinson of Mesa. O’Neill begins his time mentoring ASU students Jan. 1 in a position that will involve in-person visits, Zoom lectures, speeches, discussions and consultations, said Shannon Portillo, professor and director of the School of Public Affairs. The school is based in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Portillo said she is particularly happy that O’Neill will be mentoring ASU students, as she has known him since she was in graduate school at the University of Kansas, when they co-wrote one of her first publications.

“In addition to his long list of career accomplishments, Bob has a long history of serving as a mentor to new professionals in local government,” said Portillo, herself a former county commissioner in Kansas who began her position at ASU in October. “We are excited for our students and community to connect with him over the next year.”

O’Neill was ICMA executive director from 2002 to 2016. More recently, he served as executive-in-residence and fellow for the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Center for Livable Communities at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. He also served as president of the National Academy of Public Administration and held city and county manager positions in Virginia in the 1980s and 1990s before taking a four-month temporary assignment as counselor to the director of the federal Office of Management and Budget in 2001.

'Local government is where policy meets the people'

O’Neill mentioned three things he plans to do when working with ASU students in the coming year.

First, he wants to encourage students to fortify their commitment to public service, because that commitment will be important in managing local government in the near future more than at any time in the nation’s history.

“The reality of it is that local government is where policy meets the people. So that’s what makes it so important. You can have big, broad philosophical conversations about national policy, but at the end of the day, it’s what happens in your own local community that impacts you the most.”

At the federal and state levels, “it’s the policy or the legislation that is the product,” O’Neill said, but in local government, it’s how policy affects each person, family, neighborhood and community.

Second, O’Neill said he wants to encourage students “to be the kind of change agents in their communities to make them better places to live for everyone.” And last, he said, “I want to help them as they make their career choices going forward. Sometimes it’s hard to navigate those choices.”

O’Neill’s year as a visiting professional is supported by a gift from Harrell, who served six years as Chandler city manager after holding similar positions in Texas and Missouri communities, his wife, Nancy, and Hutchinson, who served five years as Mesa city manager, concluding a 28-year career with the city. Harrell served as a School of Public Affairs faculty associate for more than a decade; Hutchinson is executive vice president of East Valley Partnership.

Role model, mentor, 'a great year of learning'

Harrell said he is excited and proud that O’Neill agreed to be the first visiting professional.

“He has had an extraordinary public management career, capped off by leading the premier city-county management professional organization in the country,” Harrell said. “He undoubtedly will be a distinguished role model and mentor for the ASU students.”

Hutchinson agreed, saying O’Neill’s presence will mean a great year of learning for students.

“We are indeed fortunate to have someone of Bob O’Neill’s stature as our initial visiting professional,” Hutchinson said. “Bob has had a stellar career as a practitioner and teacher and will bring a wealth of practical experience and advice to his lectures.”

O’Neill’s Master of Public Administration degree is from Syracuse University in New York. His Bachelor of Arts degree in political science is from Old Dominion University in Virginia. Old Dominion also conferred upon him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Lastly, he is a graduate of the Executive Program from the University of Virginia’s Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business.

O’Neill said he intends to share two thoughts with students that he wished were shared with him at the start of his career:

  • Don’t ever think you can’t make a difference. When O’Neill was starting out in local government, the expectation was that you “kept your head down, your mouth shut and you learned something.” Today, students going into the field are much better prepared to get more involved, he said.
  • Don’t think of your career linearly; a straight line from department head to assistant city manager to city manager, for example. “There are lots of ways to serve the public, and you have to think more broadly where those contributions can be. Housing, social services, financial management — there are different directions that can lead someone to the top position," he said.
Mark J. Scarp

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


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ASU senior awarded prestigious Rhodes Scholarship

November 16, 2022

Nathaniel Ross is the 1st ASU student awarded an American Rhodes Scholarship in more than 20 years

Editor’s note: This story is featured in the 2022 year in review.

Arizona State University senior Nathaniel Ross has been awarded the coveted Rhodes Scholarship to pursue postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford, the American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust recently announced.  

Ross is one of only 32 American Rhodes recipients for the 2023 application cycle and one of only three students representing public universities. He is the first ASU student awarded an AmericanTwo ASU candidates in recent years were awarded Rhodes Scholarships in the Zimbabwean constituency. Rhodes Scholarship in more than 20 years.

Rhodes Scholar Nathaniel Ross standing in front of ASU building

ASU senior Nathaniel Ross has been awarded the Rhodes Scholarship for postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

“I am incredibly grateful to have been selected,” Ross said. “The finalists in my district were all so incredibly kind and impressive in their own right. Being selected among them was an absolute honor. I am beyond excited to be part of the Rhodes community and study at Oxford next year.”

Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of postgraduate study at the University of Oxford. It is the oldest international postgraduate award in existence, and many consider it to be among the most prestigious. The scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of mining magnate Cecil Rhodes and are now supported by a cohort of philanthropies and benefactors.

At Oxford, Ross will study comparative social policy, after which he will attend law school and specialize in disability law. His long-term objective is to shape disability policy as an attorney-advisor for a national disability advocacy organization, federal agency or global non-governmental organization.

“Arizona State University empowers elite scholars who want to have a meaningful social impact,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “Nathaniel Ross is a uniquely gifted thinker capable of simultaneously synthesizing ideas across diverse subjects and applying his knowledge to improve the lives of others. As such, Nathaniel embodies our highest aspirations as a national service university.”

Ross acknowledges the role his time at ASU has played in his success.

“I don't believe there is a single Rhodes scholar that accomplished the feat without a community of support, and I am no exception,” he said.

Ross also acknowledges the immense opportunity the Rhodes Scholarship presents.

“As part of the Rhodes community, I know I can have an even greater impact on the issues I care about," he said. "The fraction of Rhodes scholars who are disabled, attend a state school or are first-generation university students is rather small. After my selection, I hope to encourage other people from similar backgrounds to apply for nationally competitive scholarships.”

The application process for the Rhodes Scholarship is arduous, and competition is intense. In his will, Cecil Rhodes stipulated several criteria for the selection of scholars, most of which are still applied today.

“The first and most obvious criterion is ‘scholarly attainment,’” said Kyle Mox, associate dean for national scholarships and ASU representative for the Rhodes Scholarship. “To be competitive, an applicant must have posted near-perfect grades while completing an exceptionally challenging curriculum.”

Ross clearly fits the bill. In 2019, he was selected as a Flinn Scholar, and he will graduate ASU with honors from Barrett, The Honors College in December with bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences, political science, applied quantitative science and history. In May 2023, he will receive a Master of Science in biology and society. To date, he has achieved no grade lower than an A in any course.

But, per Rhodes’s stipulations, Rhodes Scholars are not “mere bookworms” — they must also demonstrate devotion to enacting lasting social impact and be committed to making a strong difference for good in the world.

“We often refer to this quality as ‘fighting the world’s fight,’” Mox said, adding that, “Rhodes Scholars must show extraordinary leadership potential.”

Ross’s achievements in civic engagement and as an activist have already been well recognized. In 2021, he was selected as a Udall Scholar for his commitment to environmental and disability activism, and in spring 2022, he was selected as the national finalist for the Truman Scholarship in recognition of his devotion to public service.

As a committed disability rights activist, Ross founded EosFighter Connection, a nationwide support network for youth who suffer from eosinophilic and other disorders. He also is politically active, having interned with progressive lobbying firm Creosote Partners. Recently, he launched a bid for a seat on the Mesa City Council and became the youngest candidate to ever make the ballot, falling just 200 votes shy of qualifying for the general election.

Rhodes Scholars are chosen in a two-stage process. First, applicants must be endorsed by their college or university. For the 2023 cycle, the applications of six ASU students and recent graduates were endorsed by a faculty committee on the basis of their academic records, leadership and service activities, previous awards and honors, and letters of recommendation.

Nationally, more than 2,500 students began the application process. Of that number, 840 were endorsed by 244 different colleges and universities. Selection committees in 16 districts then invite the strongest applicants to appear before them for interview. Each district interviews at least 14 finalists over the course of two days. Once again, this year, the interviews were conducted virtually. At the conclusion of the interviews, each district immediately announces two recipients.

Ross said the announcement of his selection came as a shock.

“I honestly was not sure if I heard my name correctly. I kept waiting for the selection committee to say my name again in order to confirm I really was a winner,” he said. “Even days later, I don't think I have even begun to process what this means for my future. All I could think about was the years of work that went into this moment. Although applications only opened up this summer, the process of becoming a Rhodes Scholar often begins during freshman year or even earlier.”

Initially offered only to male applicants from British Commonwealth countries, the program has become far more inclusive over the years, first admitting women in 1977. In recent years, the number of scholarships awarded globally has risen to more than 100 and now includes more than 20 different constituencies that encompass 64 countries, including Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Israel and in Southern Africa. In recent years, two ASU candidates were awarded Rhodes Scholarships in the Zimbabwean constituency: Ngoni Mugwisi in 2017 and Shantel Marekera in 2019.

The largest single constituency is the United States, which is allotted 32 scholarships per year. Historically, the bulk of Rhodes Scholarships are awarded to highly selective private institutions: In the 2023 cycle, six graduates of Harvard and five graduates of Yale received Rhodes Scholarships, and 19 of the 32 awards were netted by either Ivy League universities or U.S. service academies.

The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the academic field and the degree. The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford as well as during vacations, and transportation to and from England. The total value of the Scholarship averages approximately $75,000 per year.

Now that the process is finished, Ross will begin planning for his journey to England and his studies at Oxford.

“I have never been to the U.K., and now I will spend the next two to three years of my life studying at the top university in the world. For the first time in my life, moving to another country is a reality for me. I have realized that this homegrown East Valley boy is going to have to buy his first real winter coat to survive the U.K. winters!”

Since the inception of the Rhodes Scholarship in 1904, six ASU graduates have been awarded the American Rhodes, with the most recent being music education major Philip Mann in 2001. Mann went on to study and teach music at Oxford and won the annual competition to become principal conductor of the Oxford University Philharmonia. In 2010, he was named music director and conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, and in April 2022, joined the faculty of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County as an assistant professor of music and conductor of the UMBC Symphony.

The American Rhodes Scholarship is available to U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 and 24. Current ASU students or recent graduates who wish to be nominated by ASU should contact the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement.

Story submitted by the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement.

3 exceptional alumni to be honored during ASU Homecoming game

The honorees are outstanding members of the ASU community who have consistently contributed their time, energy and expertise

November 16, 2022

The Arizona State University Alumni Association will honor three exceptional alumni leaders during the Nov. 19 Homecoming football game against the Oregon State Beavers.

The honorees are outstanding members of the ASU community who have consistently contributed their time, energy and expertise to help ASU continue to grow in its role as The New American University.  Woman wearing a baseball mitt on a baseball field, walking toward a baseball player in uniform. Kristine Kassel, '91 BS, founder of the Tempe-based Benefits by Design health insurance and employee benefits agency, will be awarded the Past Chair’s Award for her service as ASU Alumni Board of Directors chair during fiscal year 2021–22. Download Full Image

Chuck Inderieden, '87 BS, and Chuck Goodmiller, ‘90 BS, co-managing partners of the Henry+Horne CPA firm, will each be awarded the Alumni Service Award for their long-standing support of the Sun Devil 100 program since its inception in 2015.

Krisine Kassel, ‘91 BS, founder of the Tempe-based Benefits by Design health insurance and employee benefits agency, will be awarded the Past Chair’s Award for her service as ASU Alumni Board of Directors chair during fiscal year 2021–22. 

Inderieden and Goodmiller both graduated from ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business with a Bachelor of Science in accounting; Inderieden earned his degree in 1987, while Goodmiller received his diploma in 1990. Their CPA firm, Henry+Horne, with offices in Tempe, Scottsdale and Casa Grande, is a Top 200 nationally ranked business that has been providing professional services since 1957. 

For many years, Henry+Horne has performed accounting services for the ASU Alumni Association’s Sun Devil 100 program. The Sun Devil 100 is an annual ASU business awards program that celebrates the achievements of alumni who own or lead organizations that exemplify innovation, growth and the entrepreneurial spirit.

In addition to leading their business, both Inderieden and Goodmiller actively volunteer within the community. Inderieden has been a member of the Arizona Cactus-Pine Girl Scout Council Financial Committee and served on the Boys & Girls Clubs of Phoenix Executive Council. Goodmiller has served as a board member of the Banner Casa Grande Medical Center and Banner Casa Grande Hospital Foundation, and he serves as board treasurer of the Casa Grande Rotary Scholarship Foundation.  

Past Chair's Award

Kristine Kassel, a true Sun Devil and an exemplary alumna, was chair of the ASU Alumni Board of Directors during fiscal year 2021–22, an exciting, growth-filled year for the ASU Alumni Association. Kassel’s strong direction helped enhance the services offered to all alumni. 

During her tenure, the Alumni Association benefited from Kassel’s expertise and enthusiasm, her role as representative of the Alumni Association and status as a multi-year Sun Devil 100 recipient. Kassel’s organizational acumen and strong advocacy helped the Alumni Association build a stronger ASU community and advance the university.

While chair, Kassel made the ASU Alumni Association scholarship programs a priority, growing the number of students through the Medallion Scholarship program. The ASU Alumni Chapter organization also expanded under her leadership, as did programming in virtual, hybrid and in-person formats. 

For additional information about the ASU Alumni Association’s celebration of Homecoming week, visit the ASU Alumni Association Homecoming website.

Laurie Merrill

Marketing Copy Writer , ASU Alumni Association

4 outstanding ASU alumni honored as The College Leaders of 2022

November 16, 2022

On Nov. 18, four outstanding alumni from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University will be recognized and celebrated for their accomplishments with an induction into The College Leaders. 

Since 1997, The College Leaders program has recognized over 75 outstanding alumni from across The College’s natural sciences, social sciences and humanities divisions for their achievements in business, research and community service.  Collage of portraits of ASU alums (from left) Steven Gillen, Seth Dobrin, Madeleine Goldman and Jennifer Kaplan. Alumni of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (from left) Steven Gillen, Seth Dobrin, Madeleine Goldman and Jennifer Kaplan will be recognized and celebrated for their accomplishments with an induction into The College Leaders on Nov. 18. Download Full Image

This year’s leaders, Seth Dobrin, Steven Gillen, Madeleine Goldman and Jennifer Kaplan, will join a distinguished group of individuals who showcase extraordinary leadership skills while driving positive change locally and internationally. The College will also be recognizing 137-plus outstanding students from across the divisions. 

“This year’s leaders have applied their knowledge from their time at ASU to address the real-world challenges of today in the fields of science, business, technology, foreign relations and more,” said Patrick Kenney, dean of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “They are great examples to our students of how their studies at The College laid a foundation for diverse and impactful career paths.”

Seth Dobrin

Seth Dobrin received multiple degrees from ASU, including a BS in microbiology in 1996 and a PhD in molecular and cellular biology in 2004. 

Portrait of

Seth Dobrin

“I originally wanted to be a naval architect, and then an environmental lawyer. But I loved the biology classes I was taking so much, I dropped law and wanted to be a physician. And now I am none of those,” says Dobrin.

Instead, he works in artificial intelligence and technology and is the president of the Responsible AI Institute, CEO of Trustwise and founder of Qantm AI. Before his current roles, he was director of digital strategies at Monsanto and global chief AI officer at IBM.

Dobrin’s unique combination of experience and technical expertise allowed him to carve out a human-centered approach in the artificial intelligence field. He has become a prominent voice in the world of AI and has been featured in major international outlets such as Inc. Magazine, Protocol, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and The National.

He credits ASU and his professors with teaching him the critical thinking skills and knowledge that have stuck with him throughout his career.

“ASU taught me how to think, how to learn and how to grow. I would not be where I am today were it not for ASU, particularly the professors and my peers. My professors taught me that serendipity is one of the most important parts of science and that the rigor of the scientific method is critical. My peers taught me the value of networks and relationships and that I don’t know everything, and I don’t need to know everything.”

Steven Gillen

Steven Gillen received three Bachelor of Arts degrees in political science, history and Russian in 1993. He first focused his studies on Russian and Soviet politics and history with an interest in U.S. policy during the Cold War; however, following the end of the war and the Soviet Union, he shifted his interest to Eastern Europe as a whole.

Portrait of

Steven Gillen

Today, Gillen is a foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State. He serves as deputy special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, and before that, served as deputy assistant secretary of state in the department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 

Gillen credits his undergraduate study of political science at ASU with preparing him for his specialty track as a political officer in the foreign service. While at ASU, he gained an understanding of U.S. foreign policy in broad, historical terms, as well as various systems of government around the world.

“My study of Russian as well as Serbo-Croatian and Macedonian at ASU made me more competitive in the foreign service’s selection process and later during the process by which foreign service officers are chosen for their overseas assignments. My study of history at ASU formed my essential understanding of the very societies in which I later served — especially Belarus, in the former Soviet Union, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the former Yugoslavia,” said Gillen.

Madeleine Goldman

Madeleine Goldman graduated from ASU in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. In 1996, she dove into the marketing and advertising field by starting a career at Caesars Entertainment and eventually acquired the role of corporate director of brand marketing at the casino-entertainment company. Currently, she is the president of Madweek Marketing. 

Portrait of

Madeleine Goldman

Business aside, Goldman is also a writer. She enjoys writing romance novels, set in the glamorous world of advertising. Before coming back to the West Coast from Florida, Goldman served on the board of directors at the South Florida Writers Association as well as on Brandeis National Committee.

“My favorite aspect of writing a novel is the process of creating a world that never existed before — a whole universe of people with their own flaws, attributes and challenges,” says Goldman.

Reflecting on her career, the writer and marketing consultant advises others to follow their calling and to stay ambitious toward dreams that might seem unattainable.

“I’ve always believed that if you have a calling and know, unequivocally, that it is your calling, you must listen, commit to it, give it your best effort and dream big. As long as I have the means and ability to write, I will do it forever.”

Jennifer Kaplan

Jennifer Kaplan is a 1996 ASU graduate. She received her BA in communication from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. In 2010, she founded Evolve Public Relations and Marketing, which offers comprehensive services such as public relations, branding, business and media consultation, strategic planning and event planning. 

Portrait of

Jennifer Kaplan

“I feel challenged every single day by the new and changing experiences and the zig-zags that present themselves,” she said.

Kaplan has received numerous awards, including this year's Inaugural Hugh Downs School of Human Communication Alumni of the Year Award, Phoenix Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” Award and recognition among “The Most Influential Women in Arizona Business” by AZ Business Magazine. 

She mentioned that ASU helped her align her passion for being a connector with a career path she later followed.

“ASU helped me tremendously in where I am today — I feel like I grew up at ASU. I was given opportunities to thrive and focus on the things I love — all aspects of communication. I took interpersonal, intercultural, nonverbal and more. It helped me hone my communication skills and learn what was necessary to take my desire to be a connector and find a way to do it in real life as a profession. It’s a dream come true.”


Alek Bustamante Valdez

Marketing assistant, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences