ASU School of Molecular Sciences professor wins photochemistry award

October 17, 2022

Gary Moore is passionate about research that has the potential to create a more sustainable, less destructive energy future.

An associate professor in Arizona State University’s School of Molecular Sciences and a researcher in the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery and Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, Moore studies what plants can teach us about solar energy storage, something he and his research team recently explored in depth in a Chemical Reviews articleAuthors include current School of Molecular Sciences graduate students Edgar Reyes Cruz, Daiki Nishiori, Nghi Nguyen and Lillian Hensliegh. titled “Molecular-Modified Photocathodes for Applications in Artificial Photosynthesis and Solar-to-Fuel Technologies.”

Portrait of ASU Associate Professor Gary Moore surrounded by large laboratory machinery. ASU’s Gary Moore, an associate professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and a researcher in the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery and Center for Negative Carbon Emissions. Download Full Image

“Do we want to choose to make investments in research directions, technologies and policies that minimize the impact of climate change, or do we continue making use of an energy infrastructure with components and processes that are over a hundred years old?” asked Moore.

In recognition of his work and accomplishments, Moore was recently awarded the 2023 Inter-American Photochemical Society (I-APS) Young Investigator Award, which will be presented at the 2023 annual meeting at Sandestin Beach, Florida.

I-APS was established in 1975 and today has more than 600 members in academia, industry and government throughout North and South America. Its mission is “to promote and disseminate knowledge, and encourage development, of photochemistry and allied subjects throughout the Americas.”

The I-APS Young Investigator Award was established in 2002 to recognize outstanding photo-scientific contributions by society members.

“I am honored to receive this recognition from the Inter-American Photochemical Society and remain thankful for the interactions I have had with members of this community. I also acknowledge the contribution students in my research group have made toward advancing our discoveries in the photochemical and molecular sciences,” Moore said.

Ian Gould, a School of Molecular Sciences President’s Professor and associate dean of online and digital initiatives in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, called Moore a leader and “a force in the field of photocatalysis for real-world applications.”

“He is building hybrid, multifunctional nanoscale materials that combine multiple functions in most imaginative ways,” Gould said of Moore. “He is extending the boundaries in several scientific areas critical to advancing technology, including interfacial chemistry, energy conversion chemistry and the catalysis of industrially important fuels and basic materials for energy and manufacturing.”

Harnessing the power of sunlight

A photon is a tiny particle of light that carries energy. The amount of energy depends on whether it possesses, for example, ultraviolet, visible or infrared frequencies. Photochemistry involves the chemical effects of light, where reactions are usually caused by absorption of ultraviolet, visible light or infrared radiation.

The photons Moore’s research team works with come from sunlight and are used to convert water and air into domestically produced, non-fossil-based fuels.

“Inspired by the process of photosynthesis, we can develop alternative energy sources and industrial processes to produce clean fuels as well as other commodity products,” Moore said.

In addition to studying solar energy conversion pathways, the design and synthesis of catalysts is also central to the research efforts of Moore and his team.

Catalysts provide low-energy pathways for carrying out a chemical transformation at a desired rate. For this reason, they are used in myriad industrial applications and are imperative to the bioenergetics of all living organisms.

Moore and his group place a strong emphasis on developing effective methods for interfacing catalytic materials with those that harness solar energy. They also seek to better understand the relationships between the structure and function properties of the resulting architectures. Moore’s research provides graduate students and young professionals a wealth of opportunities.

“We are an interdisciplinary group of researchers developing molecular-based materials that are fundamentally interesting and address societal challenges,” Moore said of his research group.

Moore has earned national recognition as an emerging leader in the field of energy materials science. He is a Department of Energy Early Career Awardee, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar, a National Science Foundation CAREER Awardee and was recognized as an “outstanding chemist with Native American heritage” by the National Science Foundation during the 2020 Celebration of Native American Heritage Month.

Moore was also selected to give emerging junior faculty research talks at the 2018 Electron Donor-Acceptor Interactions Gordon Research Conference, the 2017 Photochemistry Gordon Research Conference, and the second International Solar Fuels Conference. More recently, Moore co-organized the 2021 Western Photosynthesis Conference and the 2020 Inter-American Photochemical Society (I-APS) Conference.

Jenny Green

Clinical associate professor, School of Molecular Sciences


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ASU's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering hits record enrollment

October 14, 2022

Rankings, accreditations and student programs contribute to success

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

The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering has reached an impressive milestone — student enrollment hit a high of 30,000 students this fall. 

That’s up 12% from last year and 27% from 2017, making it the largest engineering school in the nation.

Kyle Squires, dean of Arizona State University’s Fulton Schools of Engineering, sums up the college’s recent success in two words: “high quality.” 

“We have a lot of stability in terms of programmatic direction, leadership and faculty growth,” said Squires, who also serves as ASU’s vice provost for engineering, computing and technology. “We have become adept at delivering programs that matter.” 

The commitment to providing a “high quality” education is evident in every aspect of the Fulton Schools — from what students experience inside classrooms, including world-class faculty and labs, to outside opportunities for research, internships and career events. 

And this has not gone unnoticed. 

“This is an engineering college that is widely recognized around the country,” Squires said. “Prospective students and their parents are very impressed when they come to campus.” 

Engineering student and professor working in lab

The Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative provides hands-on lab experience to undergraduate engineering students. Photo courtesy the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

Rankings matter 

Rankings certainly contribute to the school’s draw.

The Fulton Schools placed No. 33 overall in the 2022–23 U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of undergraduate programs, out of 212 universities included in the survey, and placed No. 19 among public universities.

In addition to that, ASU ranked:

  • No. 1 for innovation (for the eighth year in a row) by U.S. News & World Report.
  • No. 4 for the number of STEM graduates by Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
  • No. 8 for patents issued to universities worldwide by the National Academy of Inventors.

The STEM ranking puts the university on par with some of the top schools in the country (ahead of MIT and Stanford University), and ASU's innovation ranking distinguishes it from every other university in the U.S.

The Fulton Schools also offers high quality education for remote learners around the world. The following online graduate specialties are among the top in the nation: 

  • No. 2, electrical engineering.
  • No. 2, engineering management.
  • No. 4, industrial engineering.
  • No. 9, engineering for veterans.
  • No. 12, engineering.

These rankings reflect an overall commitment to what the college calls the Fulton Difference — a group of programs created to build a culture that helps students stay connected with faculty and each other. 

The Fulton Difference started as an orientation program but has grown to be a collection of services and programs that support student organizations, undergraduate students in research projects and teaching and entrepreneurship.

“That’s what we have developed over many years,” Squires said. “It refers specifically to all of the outside activities we want students to become involved with. … There are a lot of pathways to being successful. All of these things add up.”  

Academic offerings for every aspiring engineer

While rankings certainly attract students to the Fulton Schools, it is also its breadth of degree programs that have led to the dramatic increase in enrollment.

The Fulton Schools of Engineering offer almost every conceivable degree in engineering, which amounts to 25 undergraduate programs in seven schools and an additional 47 graduate programs. 

“We attract students because we're so broad. We've got most engineering disciplines and related disciplines covered — everything from students designing airplanes to students flying airplanes,” said Jim Collofello, vice dean and professor in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, which is part of the Fulton Schools.

Beyond that are the opportunities afforded to those attending a college located in metropolitan Phoenix, where the tech industry is booming. The school has cultivated partnerships with companies such as Boeing, Honeywell and many others, including Lucid Motors.

“We are the only intensive college research institution in this area,” said Michael McBride, director of student recruitment for the Fulton Schools. “We are very attractive locally and nationally because of that. It is really all of these things that make the difference.” 

Student working on plane with ASU logo on it

"(We have) everything from students designing airplanes to students flying airplanes," said Jim Collofello, vice dean and professor in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence. Photo courtesy the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

Giving accreditation where it is due

In addition to record enrollment and notable rankings this semester, all of the engineering schools have distinguished themselves with a stamp of approval from the prestigious Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Two of the school’s newest programs — environmental engineering and construction management engineering— were accredited for the first time and are included in the total of 18 accredited for the next six years. 

Having that many programs accredited at one time, for the next six years, is considered unusual.  

“In my experience, it has never happened,” Squires said. “It’s a real breakthrough.”

But this is no small task. 

Accreditation is a rigorous process that requires representatives from all 18 programs to meet with an external review team from ABET. 

“They come in on a Sunday and leave on Tuesday,” explained Collofello, who leads the accreditation process at ASU’s Fulton Schools. “They interview students, industry professionals and faculty. And it is not just a one-time thing.”

ABET evaluates the college’s curriculum, content and, most importantly, its commitment to continuous improvement.  

The nonprofit works with universities around the world to assure that they meet the quality standards for the profession that students will enter upon graduation.

Engineered for student success 

Susanna Westersund, a civil engineering major, is one of many who has benefited from her time at the Fulton Schools. But attending a university in Arizona was not her original plan. 

When she graduated from high school, Westersund was set on going out-of-state for college but soon discovered all that the Fulton Schools had to offer.

The fourth-year student said she has had more research and internship opportunities than her friends at other universities. 

“Because we are such a large research institute, we have the same opportunities as kids at the Ivies. Maybe more,” Westersund said. “Everything I have gotten to do has been super awesome.”  

Student takes online program on the road

For Darius Guerrero, pursuing an undergraduate and master’s degree at the Fulton Schools has not impeded his ability to work full time at the Washington Post and travel around the world — all at the same time.  

Guerrero originally attended Santa Barbara City College but financial constraints forced him to drop out and get a job. When he decided to go back to school, he looked for a program that would allow him to remain in Southern California and work full time. 

ASU turned out to be that place. 

“I was drawn to ASU's online courses, as I was based in Southern California,” said Guerrero, who was accepted into the graphic information technology program at the Fulton Schools in spring 2020. “There was the breadth of programs that I could attend, and it was all remote.”  

Returning to school after many years was challenging for Guerrero.

“It had been a while,” said Guerrero, “but I carried on, working a 10-hour day, taking a nap at 7 p.m., chugging iced coffee to stay awake, and completing my schoolwork from 8 p.m. until midnight. I was thankful that ASU was so accommodating with classes and that I never had to step foot on campus to complete my degree.” 

Student posing in front of mountain range

Darius Guerrero was able to pursue his degrees at the Fulton Schools, work full time at the Washington Post and travel around the world — all at the same time. Photo courtesy Darius Guerroro

While at ASU, Guerrero saw a position for a remote UX designer at the Washington Post. He applied and got the job. His classes at the Fulton Schools contributed to his success. 

“It was interesting. I was taking courses around user experience and we had a module in user testing and personas,” he said. “Then, the following week, I used the knowledge learned in the course to help me at work.”

Since starting at the Washington Post, Guerrero graduated with a bachelor's degree in graphic information technology and will complete his master’s degree this December, all while traveling through Europe.

Right now, he is writing his portfolio for graduation and planning a weeklong trip to Iceland.

All of this because he chose to attend the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“I am very thankful for the online program at ASU,” said Guerrero. “It has completely transformed my life.”

Top photo: Engineering students celebrate at ASU commencement. Photo courtesy the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

Dolores Tropiano

Reporter , ASU News

$1.2M NIH grant to support historically underrepresented students pursuing genomics research at ASU

October 14, 2022

A new program based in the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences in Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences will receive $1.2 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health over five years to support students from underrepresented groups who are pursuing genomics research.

The Training in Genomics Research (TiGeR) program provides financial support for each student in the program to fully cover their tuition and educational research-related expenses as well as health insurance, travel expenses to conferences and stipends. The program is geared toward underrepresented and minority students who have undergraduate degrees in computer science, mathematics or statistics and little to no previous experience working with genomics data sets, but who are now seeking training in genomics and bioinformatics.  Silhouettes of a group of people in front of a sunset holding their hands in the air in the shape of an ASU pitchfork. The Training in Genomics Research program, based in ASU's School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, will receive $1.2 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health over five years to support students from underrepresented groups who are pursuing genomics research. Download Full Image

Genomics research, the growing field of biology focusing on the structure, function, evolution, mapping and editing of genomes, enables medical researchers to develop improved diagnostics, more effective therapeutic strategies, evidence-based approaches for demonstrating clinical efficacy and better decision-making tools for patients and providers.

“The metro Phoenix area is becoming increasingly prominent in the biomedical and biosciences industry, among the fastest-growing sectors in the Valley, and ASU is within this industrial hub,” said Sree Kanthaswamy, professor in the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences. 

“This puts our program within the arm’s reach of industry partners for collaboration and critical infrastructure implementation to facilitate content delivery and experiential learning. The surge in demand for technical skills in the bioinformatics and genomics area is ongoing, and this program can help address the skills gap.”

The TiGeR program integrates genomics research training into New College’s pre-existing master’s degree in biological data science and creates a new track that includes intensive in-person hands-on exposure to genomics data sets and bioinformatics tool sets, as well as mentored research experiences.

"The TiGeR program is committed to enhancing the diversity of data scientists engaged in genomics science research,” Kanthaswamy said. “Students typically do not drop out of graduate school due to academic issues but instead because of financial and programmatic issues. Through the TiGeR program, we hope to recruit highly motivated students from racial, gender and ethnic minority groups, as well as those with disabilities and those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged.

“Too often, folks from these groups with these backgrounds do not have the same opportunities as others to pursue genomics and STEM research in a meaningful way. This program has the potential to develop an incredibly diverse group of thought leaders in the field of genomics.”

The faculty members who serve as mentors for the program have expertise in a wide range of interdisciplinary areas, from wet lab and field research to data science, genetics, genomics and bioinformatics.

As principal investigators of the project, Kanthaswamy and Associate Professor Valentin Dinu, of the College of Health Solutions, will lead the program, with support from Assistant Professor Jonathan Parrott, Assistant Professor Maria Sanin Perez, Associate Professor Maria Vibranovski and Professor Pamela Marshall, as well as Assistant Professor Kim Bussey of Midwestern University. 

The grant funding will be provided by the National Human Genome Research Institute, a branch of the NIH.

The program is now actively recruiting students to participate. To learn more about the program or the application process, students can visit The deadline for fall 2023 enrollment is July 15, 2023.

Emily Balli

Manager of marketing and communications, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

Santa Monica College transfer student overcomes hurdles to reach sports medicine path

October 13, 2022

National Transfer Student Week celebrates transfer students and the professionals who support them on their journeys. This week offers the perfect opportunity to build awareness of common transfer barriers and the diverse needs of students.

Kyle Efole, a junior majoring in sports science and performance programming, overcame various obstacles ranging from transferring coursework to housing as a transfer student in pursuit of his dream and passion for sports medicine. Portrait of ASU transfer student Kyle Efole and student recruitment coordinator Sara Mcfarland. Sara Mcfarland, student recruitment coordinator, assisted Kyle Efole, a transfer student from Santa Monica College, with securing housing, along with other members of the College of Health Solutions Student Success team. Download Full Image

Efole suffered "countless injuries,” including a torn meniscus and rib fracture, while playing sports growing up. As a result, he became intrigued by the recovery and rehabilitation processes, which inspired him to pursue sports science and performance programming at Arizona State University's College of Health Solutions.

“Everything from the sports medicine doctor diagnosing my injuries after looking at my MRI, to working out with the physical therapist to help rehabilitate my knee, all the way to relearning how to breathe and walk correctly was so intriguing,” Efole said. “I loved studying injuries and learning about how simple exercises that we typically ignore on a daily basis can actually strengthen us and potentially decrease the chances of getting injured in the near future.”

He aims to educate athletes about their injuries and encourage them to view physical rehabilitation as a positive experience.

"I want to be able to help future athletes who suffer from injuries and have them look at recovery as an interesting process rather than a grudge, and I know that College of Health Solutions will provide me the best opportunity to do so," Efole said. 

After graduating with an associate degree from Santa Monica College and getting admitted into ASU earlier this year, Efole’s main objectives were finding on-campus housing and transferring his course credits to get enrolled in fall classes.

“The initial issues that Kyle faced, like having questions about his coursework, transferring and figuring out which major is the best fit for him, are very common challenges for transfer students,” said Sara Mcfarland, a student recruitment coordinator on the College of Health Solutions Student Success team.

Mcfarland acts as a first point of contact for students like Efole in helping them understand how to transfer their course credits, what degrees are a good fit for them and what resources are available to them at ASU. 

Efole took advantage of tools like MyPath2ASU to make his transfer to the College of Health Solutions easier. The set of customized online tools showed him what coursework he could take at his community college and transfer for credit into his specific degree program at the College of Health Solutions. These tools not only ensure students a smooth transfer experience to ASU but can also shorten the time needed to complete their four-year degree and help minimize credit loss.

Transfer students can use MyPath2ASU tools to ease their transition

The MyPath2ASU partnership with Santa Monica College provides a seamless transfer experience for students starting their college journey at Santa Monica College (SMC). The agreement, forged by the ASU Academic Alliances team, encourages student progression toward degree achievement and their career goals. The partnership creates a joint transfer experience between SMC and ASU to assist with students’ mobility between institutions. MyPath2ASU includes over 400 courses by course pathways that provide course planning insights so students can be prepared for classes that are both transferable and applicable to their ASU bachelor’s degree.

“It is a fantastic way for students to save money and time because it takes the guesswork out of the transfer process,” Mcfarland said.

MyPath2ASU can be found under ASU’s Transfer Guide, which acts as a resource hub for students interested in knowing exactly how their course credits transfer to ASU, helping facilitate students in their transfer planning process.

Another challenge Efole faced was finding on-campus housing in time for the fall semester. When he was admitted to ASU in February, Efole was placed on the waitlist for Upper Division Housing on the Downtown Phoenix campus.

Efole believed that since he applied early, he wouldn’t have to wait too long. However, after five months, he was still on the waitlist as housing continued to rapidly fill up.

Mcfarland mentioned Efole’s situation to some of her co-workers on the College of Health Solutions Student Success team and asked for suggestions.

Kevin Morris, a student support specialist on the team, was able to help find housing for Efole.

“I reached out to a colleague from University Housing and asked if there was anything as a college we can do to help support the placement of Kyle in a Fusion on First housing unit,” Morris said. “Because of this valued partnership, University Housing was instrumental in placing Kyle almost immediately.” 

Mcfarland shared the news with Efole who was ecstatic to hear they found a place for him.

“There are literally not enough words that I could use to sum up how big Sara’s and Kevin’s roles were in helping me find a home,” Efole said. “If it wasn’t for Kevin’s and Sara’s assistance, I wouldn’t be at this school.”

Efole understands the challenges that transfer students face and shared some advice for others who want to transfer to ASU.

"My biggest piece of advice to anyone who is looking to transfer is focus on your journey. It is way too easy to compare your journey with someone else's journey and, quite frankly, that is the worst thing that one can do,” Efole said.

“With social media, it's very easy for one to become discouraged because they see their friends and family members having fun, but everyone's path is different. If you just keep your head down and put in the work, your time will come.”

Getting involved and invested for the future

After moving in and starting the semester, Efole could not wait to get involved on campus and is now in two student-led organizations — the Sports Medical Society and Black Student Union. He also plans to participate in intramural coed basketball and apply for a job at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex.

ASU transfer student Kyle Efole

Efole is motivated to make the most of his time here at ASU and not take any moment for granted. 

"Due to the pandemic, I've been unable to have an actual college experience such as going to games, making personal connections, attend social gatherings; so me being able to go back on campus gives me a second opportunity to make up for the time that I had lost while being online," Efole said.

After he graduates with a degree in sports science and performance programming, Efole said he plans on earning a master’s degree in sports science while minoring in sports psychology.

“My ultimate goal would be to become a professional sports medicine physician — whether that's for a professional or collegiate team — and at the same time, be a sports psychologist,” Efole said. “Treating people both on a psychological and physical aspect really intrigues me, so if my profession can center around doing both of these things, then it’ll be a dream come true.”

Story by Mindy Lok, digital content producer, College of Health Solutions

The rise of the independents

New ASU research center to examine growing political power of unaffiliated voters

October 13, 2022

For the last 162 years, the course of American government has been based on the competition of the two major political parties, with most U.S. voters registering as either Democrats or Republicans.

But voter confidence in the two-party system has taken a marked turn in the 21st century, and today between 40% and 50% of the U.S. electorate – numbers that are growing – have rejected the norm. Independent voters are now the emerging power in American politics. Illustration of rows of paper airplanes, with one red airplane veering off out of line from the others. Image by Mohamed Hassan/Pixabay Download Full Image

One difficulty in understanding the direction this new force is taking, says Professor Thom Reilly of the ASU School of Public Affairs, is knowing what independents think and want from their government. 

“What exactly is on the minds of independent voters is difficult to know. Sometimes they elect liberals, sometimes conservatives, sometimes moderates, all in the same election,” said Reilly, co-director of the new ASU Center for an Independent and Sustainable Democracy.

Reilly and Co-Director Jaqueline Salit of will officially open the center Oct. 19 with a reception at the university’s Ambassador Barbara Barrett & Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Washington Center in Washington, D.C.

Both politicians and the public need to come to grips with independent voters’ stronger position at the political table, Reilly said.

According to the center, the number of independent voters increasing nationwide coincides with a rise in the number of American voters who are frustrated with their national government. A recent study by the Partnership for Public Service found that 56% of survey respondents said they do not trust the federal government, and 65% believe the government does not listen to the public.

Reilly said that more and more voters believe the two major parties are mostly responsible for the polarization among citizens and dysfunction in government.

“We at the center are seeking to learn whether a viable pathway to nonpartisan governance exists, whether major reform to our political structure is possible and if we are able to remake the terms of self-governance,” Reilly said. “We also ask if there is a part that independent voters can play in such a change.”

The center seeks to:

  • Further study this important, emerging community of voters, and conduct new, innovative research.
  • Create a space for diverse, concerned citizens – academics, policymakers, students, activists, civic groups – to engage in dialogue on how best to address the challenges our democracy faces.
  • Serve as a resource on the state of our democracy and examine ways to make a shift to nonpartisan alternatives and governance.

Salit referred to Arizona as the focal point for what she called many current “dramatic tensions” on the U.S. political scene.

Portrait of ASU Professor Thom Reilly.

Thom Reilly, a professor in the ASU School of Public Affairs, is co-director of the Center for an Independent and Sustainable Democracy, whose official opening is Oct. 19. Photo courtesy Thom Reilly

"We have a third of the electorate identifying as independents, a state swinging red and blue with independents playing the decisive role, and yet the tools for understanding and analyzing these breakaway patterns are limited and out of date,” Salit said. “We hope that our center, with the backing of the university, will open new and innovative ways of engaging political problems."

The center's opening coincides with the publication of a new book Reilly and Salit co-wrote with Omar Ali of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, titled “The Independent Voter.” The book is published by Routledge Press and asserts independents are far from monolithic in their political leanings. They represent major change for American democracy, and may even be responsible for saving it, the authors contend.

By definition, independents’ non-aligned status has them traveling a wide variety of political roads. They hold diverse views from one another, much more than their partisan counterparts, making them a difficult target for candidates trying to corral them into their political column, Reilly said.

Independents, lacking faith in the two major parties, have many different views on political subjects instead of gravitating toward a particular partisan political philosophy, he said.

Independents also have more moderate political views than partisans because more of them are willing to share what they learn on social media with partisans at both ends of the spectrum, according to a recent survey of Arizona voters Reilly co-conducted with Eric Hedberg of Abt Associates of Rockville, Maryland.

Cover of the book "The Independent Voter" by Thom Reilly, Jacqueline S. Salit and Omar H. Ali, featuring an American flag on a wooden background.

"The Independent Voter" by Thom Reilly, Jacqueline Salit and Omar Ali, was released in September 2022 by Routledge Press.

“Respondents, whether Democrats or Republicans, were likelier to speak often about politics with independents than with those belonging to the other party,” Reilly said. “We also found that a larger percentage of Republicans or Democrats say they have an independent in their social network than someone of the other party.”

Independents were also less prone to terminate friendships over political differences with Democrats or Republicans than party members were likely to do so with each other, Reilly said.

Reilly said he hopes the center will be a resource for citizens, media and academics seeking reliable information and research into U.S. electoral and political behavior and insight on how independent voters’ involvement in politics can help effectively change American democracy.

Salit said independent voters have been “misunderstood, classified incorrectly and generally minimized in national and local politics. Yet, they determine the outcome of major elections, stand in the forefront of political reform and are adding numbers to their ranks every day.”

Salit said the center is dedicated to resetting public understanding of these influential voters. “And we are so pleased that ASU has stepped up to plant a flag with us at such a critical time,” she said.

To learn more about either the center or the book, contact Reilly at or Salit at

Mark J. Scarp

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


ASU professor becomes Distinguished Member of nation's oldest engineering society

American Society of Civil Engineers recognizes Samuel Ariaratnam for significant contributions to the field

October 11, 2022

The title of Distinguished Member is an honor reserved only for the most eminent professionals in the American Society of Civil Engineers, or ASCE.

Being recognized requires years of service to the industry and the recommendation of peers. No more than 12 members across the country can be selected in a single year and fewer than 300 have been selected since the title was established by ASCE in 1853. Photo of ASU Professor Samuel Ariaratnam on a yellow graphic background. Samuel Ariaratnam is the Beavers-Ames Chair in Heavy Construction for the Del E. Webb School of Construction at Arizona State University. Photo by Monica Williams/ASU Download Full Image

But Samuel Ariaratnam, the Beavers-Ames Chair in Heavy Construction in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, has stood out among the membership body.

According to his peers, Ariaratnam has shown outstanding leadership and made exceptional contributions to academia, research, practice and education in construction methods used for trenchless and underground construction. These contributions have led to his selection as a Distinguished Member of ASCE. He will be honored as part of the Distinguished Member class of 2022 at the national ASCE convention in Anaheim, California, on Oct. 24.

“I am honored by this recognition,” Ariaratnam says. “I look forward to continuing to serve the profession and help advance the use of underground construction methods.”

According to ASCE, a Distinguished Member “is a person who has attained eminence in some branch of engineering or in the arts and sciences related thereto, including the fields of engineering education and construction.”

“Ariaratnam has worked tirelessly to bridge research and practice through his scholarship and professional activities,” says Ram Pendyala, director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. “As the chair of our ABET-accredited construction engineering program, he is advancing the workforce of the future. We are absolutely delighted to see him recognized with this honor for a lifetime of dedicated service and contributions to the profession.”

Ariaratnam is recognized as the leading researcher within what is known as the “underground infrastructure management and rehabilitation research community,” where the particular focus is on trenchless engineering applications of horizontal directional drilling, pipe replacement and underground asset management.

Trenchless technology methods involve a variety of subterranean excavation tools monitored from above ground. These tools are used with novel methods for replacing deteriorated water and sewer pipes and installing new utility lines. Trenchless methods are also capable of reaching inaccessible areas, such as land underneath roadways and rivers.

It is a technique that Ariaratnam often explains by using a metaphor about open heart surgery.

“Open-cut construction, which is the traditional method for installing and repairing underground utilities, can be invasive and similar to undergoing a procedure with a large incision and long recovery time,” he says. “By contrast, using a trenchless method is similar to an angioplasty, which involves equipment such as probes and cameras with minimal surface disruptions and minimal downtime.”

He says with trenchless technology, the system is functional almost immediately after installations and repairs are made.

Ariaratnam has authored over 350 technical papers and reports, co-authored eight textbooks, is a co-holder of five patents and has given over 270 invited presentations worldwide. He served by appointment on two study committees of the U.S. National Academies. In March 2022, Ariaratnam was appointed by U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to serve on the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee. He is a professional engineer in Arizona and Ontario, Canada.

In addition to this honor of becoming a Distinguished Member of ASCE, Ariaratnam has earned the John O. Bickel Award, the Arthur M. Wellington Prize, the Award of Excellence of the Pipeline Division and the Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering Award from the society. He was also elected to the National Academy of Construction in 2019 and the Canadian Academy of Engineering in 2018.

Monica Williams

Communications Specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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A collaborative approach to community health issues

October 10, 2022

ASU College of Health Solutions celebrates 10 years of health innovation, looks forward

Sometimes a good idea doesn’t have to be sold, it just needs the chance to be heard.

That’s how the idea behind Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions revealed itself to Dorothy Sears, the college’s executive director of clinical and community translational science and professor of nutrition.

As the College of Health Solutions celebrates its 10th anniversary, faculty, staff and alumni are reflecting on the history of the school while looking forward to what’s next. 

The college was formed in 2012 when a group of separate academic units located across three campuses were brought together under one umbrella to offer students a comprehensive education in health.

In 2017, the new leader of the College of Health Solutions, Deborah Helitzer, was asked by ASU President Michael Crow to reimagine how those separate units could be better aligned to address the ASU Charter. That charter says that ASU must assume, among other things, fundamental responsibility for the overall health of the communities it serves.

With that charge, and a courageous changemaker at the helm, a collaborative process began to better align the college’s mission and structure with the university’s charter.

That idea appealed to Sears, who had a taste of a similar collaborative effort while working on a grant from the National Institutes of Health at a previous institution. The only problem was once that grant ran out, so did the spirit of collaboration.

But a chance meeting with College of Health Solutions Associate Dean and Professor Carol Johnston while Sears was on her way to a scientific conference in Mexico gave her an idea where she could find that collaborative spirit again.

Sears said, “While we flew down together, we just talked, talked and talked waiting for the plane and in line at customs and waiting to get bags. We had so much in common.”

Johnston later invited Sears to come to ASU to give a talk and she fell in love with the place.

“I was seeing the beautiful new facilities, that was the initial attraction; I wasn’t even considering leaving my (previous) institution at that point,” Sears said. “Then meeting (College of Health Solutions) Dean Deborah Helitzer was amazing. I felt like I had landed on another planet.

“Learning how the dean had led a process that resulted in eliminating all the departments in the college, I was like, wooo! This is awesome!”

ASU College of Health Solutions Dean Deborah Helitzer stands at the front of a large auditorium, behind a lectern, next to a presentation slide that reads "Visioning Exercise #1."

College of Health Solutions Dean Deborah Helitzer (at podium) leads a visioning exercise shortly after arriving at Arizona State University in 2017.

A new approach to educating health leaders

The evolution of the College of Health Solutions was well underway by the time Sears came on board in 2018.

In 2012, Dr. Keith Lindor, former dean of the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, was named executive vice provost and founding dean of a newly formed College of Health Solutions. Lindor worked to create a new school for the science of health care delivery and strengthen the university’s partnership with Mayo Clinic.

The new health college also included previously existing academic units such as:

  • School of Nutrition and Health Promotion.

  • Department of Biomedical Informatics.

  • School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering.

  • Center for Health Innovation and Clinical Trials.

  • Center for Health Information and Research.

  • Center for World Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

  • Health Care Delivery and Policy Program.

  • Healthcare Transformation Institute.

Those early years saw the college as a collection of health-related units and faculty with significant domain expertise who were spread out across three ASU campuses. Bringing that collection together to form a unified, integrated college would require significant change – change that might not be popular with everyone.

Julie Liss, now an associate dean and professor in the College of Health Solutions, came to ASU in 2013 as a professor in the former Department of Speech and Hearing Science, said that while some adapted to the change reluctantly, others embraced it.

“Other people were saying, ‘Wow, I’m meeting more people than I’ve ever known in the college, I’m able to do things I had never been able to do before,’” Liss said.

She said that accelerated when Helitzer was named dean of the College of Health Solutions in 2017.

“There were two eras,” Liss said. “The Dean Lindor era was getting all of our building blocks in place. The Dean Helitzer era was figuring out how those blocks could build something bigger, synergistically.”

Accelerating a rocket of change

Helitzer came to ASU from the University of New Mexico where she was the founding dean of the College of Population Health. While there, she led the development and implementation of the country’s first undergraduate degree in population health.

Her innovative work there caught the attention of ASU President Michael Crow. She was charged with leading the process of reimagining how the college could be positioned to best address major health issues in the community.

And she was asked to do it quickly.

Portrait of ASU College of Health Solutions Dean .

Deborah Helitzer

“When President Crow introduced me to the faculty he said, ‘I told her I’m going to put her on a rocket and I’m expecting fast change,’” Helitzer said. “I said, ‘Well, President Crow, if you give me the fuel...' Everyone laughed and said, ‘We’re going to have to watch out for her.’”

In the fall of 2017 Helitzer assembled and led an executive visioning team working to reimagine what the college would become. That visioning project included ideas and input from 300 faculty, staff, administrators, community members and health system representatives. A new vision and structure emerged and Helitzer began leading the implementation of that vision, knocking down barriers to collaboration.

“There was no understanding of each other, no knowledge of each other,” Helitzer said. “The faculty were in the same physical building but didn’t know each other or talk to each other. We’ve worked to create structures to address that and we’re still working on it, but I’ve tried to put us on the path.”

One big idea that came out of the visioning effort is the formation of translational teams. 

A unique approach to health solutions

Translational teams, a component of the new college structure, bring together researchers, teaching faculty, clinical and community partners, industry innovators and students with different skills and perspectives. By bringing all kinds of people together, translational teams aim to better understand the different layers of the problem they are trying to solve from the ground up. This translational approach takes advantage of the school’s work to break down barriers that have traditionally stopped faculty and students from different disciplines from working together.

It’s a holistic approach to solving the problems facing health care professionals and the essence of understanding the whole person, rather than specific diseases.

“You can look at the molecular level of a disease or condition,” Johnston said. “Then you can look at the dietary and exercise components. And then you can see how (that solution) can be introduced into a community to promote population health. You have all those fields going on. The translational piece is unique. I never heard of it until we started doing it.”

Translational teams at the College of Health Solutions are working on health problems including:

  • Autism spectrum disorder.

  • Cancer prevention and control.

  • COVID-19.

  • Metabolic health.

  • Substance abuse.

They are studying the health needs of specific populations, such as women, children and those with significant health disparities, because those groups have special needs that are not experienced by other populations.

In addition to the creation of translational teams, the revisioning process also resulted in a charter for the College of Health Solutions.

That charter reads:

"The College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University is committed to translating scientific health research and discovery into practice. We prepare students to address the challenges facing our populations to stay healthy, improve their health and manage chronic disease. We bring people together to improve the health of the communities we serve, reaching them where they live, learn, work and play throughout the lifespan."

That statement helps to provide direction and focus, as well as some insight into the future of the College of Health Solutions. The college’s charter is directly aligned with the ASU Charter, specifically the last phrase, which mentions community health.

In the coming years, Helitzer sees the college being recognized as leading innovation in the field of health education, just as the university as a whole is recognized for innovation.

She would also like to see the college as having played an integral role in addressing the health needs of the community.

“It is critical that we work with the community to solve their problems, not what we see as their problems, but what they see as their problems,” Helitzer said. “That means our faculty must be nimble and will change or tweak what they’re doing to fit the needs of the community.”

Helitzer related that goal with something she experienced while working on malaria prevention in Africa. She said her group was talking to people about taking steps such as using bed nets and screens and ridding the area of standing water to control mosquitos.

“I remember going to one village and saying we want to help you with this,” she said. “They said, ‘First you get us running water and then we’ll be happy to talk with you about that.’ We worked on getting running water in the area and then they trusted us because that was what they needed. Then we could talk about malaria, which was also a problem for them, but it wasn’t the primary problem.”

Another outcome Helitzer would like to see as a result of the collaborative structure is for the students to gain a broader understanding of what the college has to offer and the many ways they can learn to make an impact.

“I’ve been saying we should have the first-year students have a course, or two semesters, to learn about all of the programs in the college and how we work together,” Helitzer said. “Then they could choose a major, knowing what role it plays in solving health problems.”

Helping students achieve their goals

Students are attracted to the forward-thinking, innovative nature of the College of Health Solutions, offering them a unique path toward meaningful change in health.

Vivienne Gellert, BS medical studies ’17, said her personal experience with health care shaped her views of the system and inspired her to take action. She said her education at the College of Health Solutions helped her reach those goals.

Gellert was badly injured in an automobile accident while she was in high school and saw first hand how frustrating and inefficient the system could be.

“You can ask anyone and they’ll tell you the health care system is broken,” Gellert said. “It’s easy to say that and get super frustrated with it, but at the end of the day, what are you going to do about it? In order to do something about it, we have to do something different and (the College of Health Solutions) prepared me to do just that.”

Gellert’s solution started with putting an argument she used in debate class into action. Her idea was based on connecting with people who are experiencing homeless in downtown Phoenix. The title of that speech was “Give a man your jacket, not your dollar.”

That led to the creation of a nonprofit organization called BakPak while Gellert was still in college. It was designed to directly connect people experiencing homelessness to resources and became the basis for a nonprofit, Elaine, and a company she has since founded named Gellert Health.

She said her education in medical studies helped her carry out her vision. And she said the College of Health Solutions will help countless others achieve their goals as well.

“If you look at some of the graduates of the College of Health Solutions I’ve met, they’re incredible,” Gellert said. “They are going to medical school. They are starting their own companies. They are going to work for companies that are directly touching patients' lives and they’re bringing new knowledge from their education to implement change.

“In the spirit of the 10th anniversary, I think we should take a minute to look at the contributions that the College of Health Solutions has already made to our community. They should feel honored they’re there every day with these students. It’s working.”

The College of Health Solutions will celebrate its 10th anniversary in collaboration with the community at Celebration of Health on Wednessday, Oct. 19, at El Chorro in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Sponsorships and tickets are available and all donations will directly support students through the college’s Student Scholarship Fund.

Top photo: ASU nutrition students make a low-sodium, diabetic-friendly Tuscan vegetable soup at the ASU Kitchen Café in the College of Health Solutions in downtown Phoenix. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Weldon B. Johnson

Communications Specialist , College of Health Solutions

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ASU named a top university for community, national service

October 10, 2022

Washington Monthly rankings put ASU ahead of Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill and Johns Hopkins

Washington Monthly announced Arizona State University as a top 10 university in the country for its dedication to community and national service, outranking Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill and Johns Hopkins.

For overall rankings, ASU comes in at No. 50 – ahead of more than 1,500 public, private, nonprofit and for-profit colleges nationwide.

Compiled from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) enrollment and Pell Grant recipient data, the annual report ranks liberal arts colleges and four-year institutions based on their contribution to the public good in three equally-weighted categories: social mobility, research and promoting public service.

ASU ranks No. 9 in the country for community service, and Cindy Parnell, chief of public service for Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, said this honor is a true example of the university's service-first charter. 

“This is a recognition for the entire ASU community and the partners we work with,” she said. “It gives an amazing credit to our students, faculty and our staff.” 

In her role, Parnell leads the Public Service Academy, which is a character-driven leadership program designed to connect students across public, private and nonprofit sectors to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges — including education, national security, health care, socioeconomic disparity, hunger and homelessness. Parnell added that this type of interdisciplinary learning program makes the Public Service Academy one of the first programs of its kind. 

“(ASU) President (Michael) Crow and the university made this program a priority because of our commitment to the community and to developing these types of leaders,” she said. “It's the only place that existed until now and it is expanding. There are 14 other universities that are now picking up this model and starting their own.” 

ASU’s Washington Monthly service score also represents the university's commitment to AmeriCorps and Peace Corps students. This score accounts for students who received a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, which may be used by AmeriCorps participants to repay qualified student loans and to cover current educational expenses. 

Kimberly L. Baldwin is program director of the Next Generation Service Corps, which is part of the Public Service Academy within Watts College. She said that access to quality education is just one of the key components this group of student leaders focus on improving for next generations.

“Our students care about the community and are passionate about very complex social issues, and we don't specify which ones they have to focus on as part of NGSC,” she said “It could be anything: climate change, veterans, health care, homelessness — whatever issue they are passionate about, they want to impact change in a positive way.”

The study also measured college’s affordability for students from lower- to middle-income familiesAverage net prices paid by first-time, full-time, in-state students with annual family incomes below $75,000.. ASU’s average price of attendance for students in this category is $9,652. 

Finally, the service score accounted for the size of each college’s Air Force, Army and Navy ROTC programs, and the percentage of federal work-study grant money spent on community service projects based on data provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service. 

Baldwin is proud that students dedicated to local, national and global service are being recognized.

“This ranking really does show ASU’s commitment to public service and scaling that mission across the university,” she said. 

View Washington Monthly’s full data set and ranking methodology.

Top photo: AmeriCorps member Skyler Anselmo discusses customizable housing designs, for the Gila River Indian Community, in a collaboration between members of the community and ASU graduate students in 2018. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Krista Hinz

Copy Writer , ASU Media Relations

Winners of the 16th annual Barlett & Steele Awards announced

American Public Media, Salt Lake Tribune, KUER public radio and StarTribune take home top prizes

October 10, 2022

A podcast series on abuse at Utah’s homes for troubled teens produced by a multiple-media team of journalists and the Minnesota StarTribune’s revelations of court-aided exploitation of accident victims have taken top honors in the 16th Annual Barlett & Steele Awards for the Best in Investigative Business Journalism.

The Barlett & Steele Awards are administered by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The awards are named for the illustrious investigative business journalist team of Don Barlett and Jim Steele, who have worked together for more than four decades, receiving two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Magazine awards and a long list of other journalism awards. Awards made of glass and metal on a table in front of a sign that reads "Donald W. Reynolds National Cente for Business Journalism." The Barlett & Steele Awards have been given annually for the best in investigative business journalism since 2007. Download Full Image

“This year’s winners are in the finest tradition of what these awards have come to represent — great reporting, fine writing and expert data analysis,” Steele said. “The winners are a testament to the value of in-depth reporting and how it benefits the public.”

The inaugural award for Outstanding Young Journalist was claimed by Neil Bedi of ProPublica for an investigation into faulty mechanical heart pumps.

In addition to the first-ever Young Journalist award, this year marks the first time the Barlett & Steele Awards have recognized publications across two categories — Global/National and Regional/Local — to honor more of the outstanding business journalism being produced throughout the U.S.

Each category features a gold, silver and bronze award. These awards come with cash prizes of $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 respectively. The Young Journalist award features a cash prize of $3,000.

The cold award in the Global/National category was won by a collaboration among American Public Media, Salt Lake Tribune and KUER public radio, for their investigative work into the Utah government’s lackluster oversight of facilities housing troubled teenagers, resulting in widespread abuse. Their work resulted in a seven-part podcast series titled “Sent Away.”

Rounding out the Global/National category, the silver award went to the Wall Street Journal for its investigation into federal judges’ hidden conflicts of interest. The bronze was awarded to a team of reporters from Bloomberg for their revelations about questionable practices at a telemedicine startup.

In the Regional/Local category, the StarTribune won the gold award for documenting how accident victims in several states were convinced to transfer their court-ordered compensation to other parties for a fraction of its value. In one case, the StarTribune said, a mentally impaired car accident victim sold more than half a million dollars in future payments for $12,001.

The silver award in the Regional/Local category went to a duo from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a series on dangerous dwellings, while a team of reporters from the Palm Beach Post and ProPublica won the bronze award for documenting harmful pollution by the sugar industry.

“This addition of more awards this year has allowed us to recognize more groundbreaking investigative business journalism in the U.S.," said Jeffrey Timmermans, director of the Reynolds Center. "While the industry continues to face many challenges, the fact that there is so much outstanding work being done at news organizations throughout the country — from Utah to Florida — is cause for optimism.”

View more about the winners at

The Reynolds Center will spotlight the recipients of the top prizes at an event at 6 p.m., Arizona time, on Nov. 9 in the First Amendment Forum at the Cronkite School in Downtown Phoenix. Check out the Reynolds Center event page for updates on the live event.

Julianne Culey

Communications Specialist, Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology


McCain Institute executive director discusses character-driven leadership with ASU students

October 7, 2022

Evelyn Farkas, a trailblazer for national security and foreign policy in the U.S., has spent the past three decades standing up for democracy. 

“Democracy to me means freedom,” Farkas said. “The freedom to express yourself politically, the freedom to express yourself economically, and it was something that my parents didn’t have when they were born.”  Woman standing at the front of a classroom speaking to people seated at tables. Evelyn Farkas, executive director at the McCain Institute for International Leadership, speaking at the “Leading Now” event, where she discussed the idea of what character-driven leadership means with ASU students. Download Full Image

Arizona State University's School of Politics and Global Studies recently hosted Farkas, executive director at the McCain Institute for International Leadership at ASU, for the event “Leading Now,” to discuss the idea of what character-driven leadership means in collaboration with running for office.

Not only did Farkas’ qualifications lead her to run to represent New York’s 17th Congressional District in the House of Representatives in 2020, but also her upbringing.

Farkas’ parents fled Hungary in 1956 while it was under the influence of the Communist system and the Soviet Union in hopes of finding the freedom to achieve. She said that even as a child, she felt strongly about being in America as opposed to anywhere else. 

“That has motivated me throughout my entire life and probably also determined the fact that I would get involved in international affairs, foreign policy and work for the U.S. government,” Farkas said.

During the 2020 election cycle, Farkas was moved to get involved politically. 

A month later, long-term U.S. Rep Nita Lowey announced her resignation and Farkas went headfirst into campaigning. She would ultimately earn 15.6% of the electoral vote, coming in third during the Democratic primaries. 

Reflecting on her campaign, Farkas shared a few lessons that she learned with students and faculty. 

Farkas revealed that running for office was unlike any other job that you interview for or try to obtain. She emphasized the importance of being organized, raising money and having someone on the campaign who has your back. 

“Campaigning and politics can be really draining, and you don’t oftentimes know who’s giving you good advice, and you need someone to confide in, someone to pick you up,” Farkas said. 

For the remainder of the event, Gina Woodall, principal lecturer at ASU, moderated a discussion and questions from the audience. 

Woodall and Farkas discussed various topics, such as gender stereotypes or double standards during her time campaigning. According to Farkas, she had an easier time as a female candidate because of her prior experience working in male-dominated fields. She acknowledged that she was encouraged by male community leaders to run for office. 

“Bottom line is if you stick to your values, you're always going to feel good, even if you’re losing,” Farkas said. 

Even if her efforts ended in a congressional defeat, Farkas revealed that character-driven leadership while running for such a position was one way to stick up for democracy. 

“I knew that there are many ways to contribute to society and I had already done a lot of them,” Farkas said. “I’d already had lots of jobs, so I knew, ‘Look, if I don’t win, it’s going to be okay. I’ll find some other way to defend democracy.’”

Farkas advised students that to have an attitude of being OK if one thing doesn’t work out and being motivated to do something else is a helpful way to approach life. 

The floor was then opened for participants to engage in conversation with Farkas. 

Students in the audience would ask Farkas questions ranging from how overturning Roe v. Wade might impact midterms to her thoughts on identity politics.

As the event came to a close, Farkas reflected on how the lessons she learned running for office helped form her experience at the McCain Institute.

“I learned to be true to myself when I was running for Congress. In campaigns, you learn about having empathy and leading by example. I think that you learn through your experiences, but you get strengthened by the good decisions you make,” she said.

Student Journalist, School of Politics and Global Studies