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Visionaries to be honored at 2023 Founders' Day

January 20, 2023

ASU’s signature event honors the changemakers who exemplify the pioneering founders

Each spring, the ASU Alumni Association hosts Founders' Day, Arizona State University's signature event that honors the changemakers who exemplify the pioneering leaders who founded the university's predecessor, the Tempe Normal School.

The event commemorates the March 7, 1885, anniversary of the day that the Thirteenth Territorial Legislature issued a charter for the school, planting the roots of what has become a leading public research university that is recognized by leading rankings publications and services.

Faculty, staff, students and members of the community are all invited to join ASU President M. Crow, the ASU Alumni Association, community leaders, alumni and this year’s award recipients at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 2, to celebrate 2023 Founders’ Day at Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, located at 340 N. Third St., Phoenix, 85004. Registration for the event can be found here.

“It is a privilege to recognize the accomplishments of this group of visionary changemakers who represent the pioneering spirit of our founders,” said Christine K. Wilkinson, president and CEO of the Alumni Association. “Their achievements contribute to ASU’s role as a leader in innovation, sustainability and student success and as the model of the New American University.”

Meet the 2023 Founders’ Day honorees

Faculty Achievement Awards:

Carolyn Compton

Dr. Carolyn Compton
Faculty Service Achievement Award

Dr. Carolyn Compton, an Arizona State University professor of life sciences, medical director of ASU’s Biodesign Clinical Testing Laboratory and professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, is the recipient of the 2023 Faculty Service Achievement Award.

Compton was named a top female scientist in the world in 2022 and one of the world's top 100 pathologists in 2016. In 2022, she was on sabbatical as an honorary professor at Queen Mary University of London, Barts Hospital.

Under her leadership, the ASU Biodesign Institute converted its research infrastructure to focus on testing, tracking and mitigating the coronavirus. The institute’s achievements include developing the first saliva-based coronavirus test in the Western U.S., receiving accreditation from the College of American Pathologists and administering over 1 million COVID tests.

The Mayo Clinic School of Medicine where Compton teaches represents a partnership formalized in 2017 between ASU’s Alliance for Health Care and Mayo Clinic, a collaboration aimed at transforming medical education and health care in the U.S.

Compton also teaches a highly popular course exploring cancer and heart disease. This course serves 300–400 students each year.

Portrait of ASU Regents Professor Peter Buseck.

Peter Buseck
Faculty Service Achievement Award

Peter Buseck, a world-renowned researcher in solid-state geochemistry and mineralogy, cosmochemistry and atmospheric geochemistry, and faculty member in the Arizona State University School of Molecular Sciences and School of Earth and Space Exploration, is the recipient of the 2023 Faculty Service Achievement Award.

Buseck has spent 60 years on the ASU faculty and has published prolifically, with more than 400 papers that produced more than 30,000 citations. Buseck is a pioneer in the use of transmission electron microscopy to study minerals, meteorites and aerosol particles at close to the atomic scale.

Due to this broad and impactful research in the area of meteoritics and cosmochemistry, ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies was recently renamed for him and became the Buseck Center for Meteorite Studies. In 2012, a new meteorite mineral, “buseckite,” was named in his honor. Buseck and the center are credited with helping boost ASU’s reputation as a leading research institution.

Buseck served as special assistant to the director of the National Science Foundation and on the science staff of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 1994 to 1995. He has trained generations of scientists from 25 countries across six continents, and has mentored 39 PhD and MS students, as well as 96 postdoctoral researchers and senior visiting scientists. Many of his former students are faculty members, including three at Arizona universities.

Karen Mossberger

Karen Mossberger
Faculty Research Achievement Award

Karen Mossberger, the Frank and June Sackton Professor in the School of Public Affairs in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University, is the recipient of the 2023 Faculty Research Achievement Award.

Mossberger, a distinguished political scientist and scholar of public policy and public administration, is the director of the Center on Technology, Data and Society and a senior sustainability scholar with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

She is an expert on public policy, with a focus on the impact of internet access in the United States for individuals and communities. Her research topics include digital inequality, urban policy, digital government and the evaluation of broadband policy.

She has authored seven books, including her most recent work (with Caroline Tolbert and Scott LaCombe), “Choosing the Future: Technology and Opportunity in Communities,” which won the prestigious Goldsmith Book Prize from the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University. The book fills in the gaps of previous data and research to show with nearly two decades of evidence that inclusive and widespread broadband use over time leads to greater prosperity in communities.

Sara Brownell

Sara Brownell
Faculty Teaching Achievement Award

Sara Brownell, an internationally recognized neuroscientist turned full-time education researcher who studies how to make undergraduate biology learning environments more inclusive, is this year’s recipient of the 2023 Faculty Teaching Award.

Brownell is a professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences and the founding director for the Research for Inclusive STEM Education Center. She is known for teaching large courses in active learning ways, taking a student-centered approach of building community, normalizing the sharing of identities and listening to and empowering students in their learning process. She is keen to pick up on what is working or not in her classroom by asking her students and constantly adjusts her teaching to become more effective.

Brownell is a national education leader who questions what we think we know about undergraduate science education. She has made several discoveries about obstacles to student learning that were surprises to almost everybody. While many studies have shown that active learning works better than passive lecture on average, her research group was the first to explore some of the challenges of active learning for students with anxiety, LGBTQ students and students with disabilities.

Her research team has also led some of the first studies that have shown that instructors revealing their concealable identities can positively impact students by normalizing identities and providing role models for students.

Alumni Achievement Awards:

Laurie Leshin

Laurie Leshin
Alumni Achievement Award

Laurie Leshin, an internationally recognized geochemist, space scientist and the director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is the recipient of the 2023 Alumni Achievement Award.

Leshin has received accolades for her barrier-breaking leadership in the space industry and academia and her accomplishments as a distinguished geochemist and space scientist. The first female president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Leshin’s career encompasses two White House appointments and having asteroid 4922 named for her.

She credits ASU with planting the seeds to her success. Her passion for space exploration began first as a student at ASU and continued as a faculty member. After earning her bachelor’s degree at ASU, she received her master’s and doctoral degrees in geochemistry from the California Institute of Technology.

Among academic posts she held at ASU, she was the Dee and John Whiteman Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences in 2001 and director of ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies in 2003. Leshin also led the creation of the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration. In 2004, while a faculty member at ASU, she served on President George W. Bush's Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy.

vivek kopparthi

Vivek Kopparthi
Young Alumni Achievement Award

Vivek Kopparthi, ‘14 MS in management, W. P. Carey School of Business, co-founder and executive chairman of NeoLight — which launched a phototherapy treatment tool that has helped tens of thousands of infants around the world to survive neonatal jaundice — is the recipient of the 2023 Young Alumni Achievement Award.

NeoLight started as a dorm room idea at ASU and has grown into an international medical device company with markets in more than 90 countries, nine patents (with more pending) and more than $20 million in capital from strategic investors. NeoLight allows, for the first time, infants with jaundice and other issues to be treated at home instead of in hospitals and in parts of the world where treatment was previously unavailable.

It was while Kopparthi was at ASU that three fellow ASU students received more than $500,000 in awards and investments to design the phototherapy treatment tool that cures neonatal jaundice. Worldwide, jaundice is responsible for 10 infant deaths an hour.

Kopparthi has won numerous awards, including the Forbes 30 under 30 super achievers for health care, Times Now NRI of the year and the top 20 influential AZ millennials. He was the 2018 Young Alumni Award recipient at the W. P. Carey Alumni Hall of Fame and is a volunteer judge for the J. Orin Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative.

Philanthropist of the Year Award:

Dorrance Family Foundation

The Dorrance Family Foundation

The Philanthropist of the Year Award celebrates those whose generosity and philanthropic leadership further Arizona State University’s mission. Those recognized by this honor are exemplars of how individual giving can have a meaningful impact on social issues and people’s lives.

Laurie Merrill

Marketing Copy Writer , ASU Alumni Association

Applications now open for the ASU Leadership Institute

Join Class 6 and learn invaluable leadership tools

January 19, 2023

Applications are now open for Sun Devil alumni to join Class 6 of the Arizona State University Leadership Institute, an immersive nine-month professional and personal leadership program that convenes once a month from August 2023 to May 2024. 

The leadership program gives members the chance to grow their leadership skills through a personalized curriculum, see the university’s impact firsthand through exclusive tours, build connections with fellow alumni leaders and discover ASU opportunities that align with the values and goals of their communities. ASU Leadership Institute  sign on a table surrounded by pom-poms. The ASU Leadership Institute gives members the chance to grow their leadership skills through a personalized curriculum, see the university’s impact firsthand through exclusive tours, build connections with fellow alumni leaders and discover ASU opportunities that align with the values and goals of their communities. Photo courtesy ASU Download Full Image

During ASU Innovation Days, participants meet ASU renowned professors, practitioners and executive leaders and learn about how higher education, businesses and the community can succeed together. 

Program highlights

  • ASU Innovation Days: Once a month, participants spend a day focusing on critical components of higher education and ASU. Each ASU Innovation Day features guest speakers who are experts in their respective fields. A tour of resources on ASU campuses is also included.

  • Social events: Social events include opportunities to interact with your institute classmates through the ASU/Sun Devil Impact Project, opportunities to attend ASU athletic events and leadership-style exercises.

  • Panel element: Participants share their insights with current students, the ASU Alumni Association Board of Directors and National Alumni Council and the Trustees of ASU. This is a one-time commitment.

Applications are open through May 1. Click here to apply. 

For more information about the leadership program, including application criteria and other details, please visit the ASU Alumni Association website.

Laurie Merrill

Marketing Copy Writer , ASU Alumni Association

Measuring uncertainty

ASU Professor Marc Mignolet wins Distinguished Research Award for lifelong achievement in modeling uncertainty to improve structural safety

January 19, 2023

How can one estimate the unknown? Arizona State University researcher Marc Mignolet has spent his career taking on the hefty task of modeling uncertainty in engineered structures to promote safety and performance.

To recognize his body of work in this area, Mignolet received an International Association for Structural Safety and Reliability, or IASSAR, Distinguished Research Award.  Portrait of ASU Professor Marc Mignolet. Marc Mignolet, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, was recognized for his influential work in modeling uncertainty with the International Association for Structural Safety and Reliability Distinguished Research Award. Graphic by Rhonda Hitchcock-Mast/ASU Download Full Image

The award is conferred every four years to two senior researchers who promote the study, research and application of the scientific principles of probability, safety, risk and reliability in the design, construction, maintenance and operations of structures and other engineered systems.

Mignolet, a professor and graduate program chair of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU, earned the award for his contributions to the modeling of uncertainty in structural dynamic systems and their effects. 

This work includes the development of efficient and accurate models for complex structures like bladed disks, such as those used in the turbine engines of aircrafts, and panels of hypersonic vehicles. These structures are often subject to uncertainties in geometry, material properties and other factors.

“The goal is to be able to identify and propagate possible uncertainties that exist in the field due to manufacturing or operation in a simple way and assess their effects, in particular to determine if changes in behavior occur,” Mignolet says.

Experiments in labs are usually conducted meticulously with all parameters precisely measured, but the outside world contains vast amounts of variance. 

For instance, manufacturers of aircraft need to predict the performance and durability of their designs. To do so, they must first have the geometric specifications, such as length and thickness, of all of the aircraft’s components.

However, manufacturing is never perfect, and there will be variance among the size of a structure’s parts. For example, one aircraft and another that was manufactured immediately after will have slightly different dimensions. 

The crux of Mignolet’s research lies in putting these variations into a probabilistic setting, performing a statistical modeling of a structure’s geometric properties and synthesizing them with modern computational abilities available at ASU. These models are not only valuable to assess performance when the design and manufacturing is completed, but they can also assess the tolerance of a design to uncertainties prior to its construction and establish permissible tolerances in the manufacturing process. A component will pass inspection only if it is within the acceptable tolerance limits.

“The benefit of all this modeling is to give a range of values of prediction that can be used to avoid early product failures and effectively produce a component, whatever it is, that’s going to meet expectations even with existing uncertainties,” Mignolet says.

Roger Ghanem, a professor of engineering at the University of Southern California, nominated Mignolet after working in the field of structural uncertainty for many years.

“Tackling these problems and producing engineering solutions of practical significance requires keen engineering insight and mastery of mathematical constructs,” Ghanem says. “Professor Mignolet has made seminal contributions at the confluence of stochastic mechanics (the study of uncertainty in mechanical engineering), nonlinear dynamics and operational feasibility.”

Ghanem understands firsthand the impact that Mignolet has had on the community.

“In addition to his impactful research contributions in the area of rotating machinery, Professor Mignolet has been a thought leader in framing and solving complex problems in stochastic mechanics,” he says. “He has made lasting contributions to the simulation of stochastic processes and to the characterization of parametric and model uncertainties for complex linear and nonlinear dynamical systems. He has organized dozens of workshops and minisymposia on these topics over the past 30 years.”

These key contributions to the study of uncertainty from Mignolet’s research group include explaining and accurately predicting the worst maximum response in bladed disks due to uncertainties. His group was the first to efficiently optimize these disks against uncertainties by combining two different types of blades. 

They were also the first group to effectively model uncertainties in structures undergoing large deformations and the first to effectively model uncertainties in rotordynamics, which characterizes the behavior of rotating mechanical parts. In another innovative development, Mignolet’s group recently published a novel model of uncertainties that has great potential to solve very large computational problems.

For Mignolet, this award is confirmation of a successful career.

“Receiving the award is a wonderful feeling,” he says. “It is the satisfaction that the hard work that my group and I have put in for the last 35 years has been appreciated by the community. It is like getting an 'A' at the end of a hard class, except that the class has not lasted for a semester, but for 35 years.”

Hayley Hilborn

Communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

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ASU student worker program awarded $1.5M

January 18, 2023

Strada Education Network grant to help expand Work+ program to include 8 partner institutions

Arizona State University’s Work+ program, which aims to enhance and create holistic on-the-job experiences for working learners across ASU, was awarded $1.5 million by the Strada Education Network as part of its Beyond Completion Challenge.

Piloted last spring, Work+ is a collaboration among the University CollegeCareer and Professional Development Services and the Student Employment Office. The program offers a personalized experience that empowers students to hone their sense of identity, agency and purpose in their lives and careers throughout their paid work experience at ASU.

The program started with around 500 students, and the initial $250,000 grant from Strada supported technology, digital assets, stipends and administrative costs, but Sukhwant Jhaj, dean of University College and vice provost for academic innovation and student achievement, says the additional grant funding of $1.5 million over the next three years will greatly expand the program’s reach and impact to scale Work+ efforts both internally and to other institutions across the country. 

Work+ is in a great place for significant expansion across ASU, empowering student employees across the university to leverage their roles to gain high-quality work experience that is helping them build skills transferable to any industry they move into post-graduation,” Jhaj said.

The program aims to scale its reach to the more than 12,000 students employed annually at ASU. In addition, eight partner institutions have committed to participate in a Work+ Institute: Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Georgia State University, Northern Arizona University, University of Central Florida, University of Illinois Chicago, University of Maine, University of Michigan-Dearborn and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Jhaj added that he and his team are thrilled to expand the program nationwide by launching new options for collaborative engagement with two- and four-year partner institutions. 

These partners are jumping right in with us to co-design customized strategies for their institutional needs that they will take back and pilot in their campus environments beginning in late 2023 through 2025,” Jhaj said. “As they pilot, they will be sharing their successes, challenges and advice with not just ASU, but a broader community of practice of additional higher ed partners who are also interested in evolving what student employment looks like at their institution.” 

Partners will serve a minimum of 50 student workers and their supervisors at each institution, with the potential of serving up to 19,000 working learners across the country.

At the end of this grant, we will have a new national model for on-campus employment that redesigns student employment to be a transformative educational experience,” Jhaj said. “This program will deliver the relevant career skills that students expect and employers value.

According to Jhaj, so far the feedback on Work+ participants, both from ASU working learners and supervisors, has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“This work will inform improvements to Work+ at ASU and will also hopefully lead to a national movement that is changing traditional student employment experiences into transformative working and learning opportunities for the 14-plus million students who are currently working while attending school," he said. "It’s time to reinvent work-and-learn programs so they deliver much greater value for our learners during their time on campus.” 

Krista Hinz

Copy Writer , ASU Media Relations

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The future of the internet

January 18, 2023

Joseph Lukens, head of ASU's new Quantum Networking Lab, breaks down the science and potential behind a growing field

Those who remember the days of dial-up internet may especially appreciate this decade’s developments in high-speed connectivity. We’ve come a long way since the days of "you’ve got mail," and thanks to quantum networking, Arizona State University is poised to make the next leap — with broad social and economic implications.

Through a series of new initiatives, ASU is signaling its commitment to advancing quantum information science and technology, or QIST, on a national stage. In collaboration with organizations such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Cisco, ASU Knowledge Enterprise has designed a Quantum Networking Lab that is housed on ASU’s Tempe campus and serves as the central location for research and experiments throughout the metro area.

The lab is fully funded through Knowledge Enterprise and ASU’s recently launched Quantum Collaborative, a nationwide partnership among industry leaders and top academic and research institutions. 

“Quantum networking is a key element of ASU’s quantum technology initiative, and advancing this field will create a new wave of computer systems with the potential to deliver information faster, more securely and more accurately. This impacts every industry,” says Sally C. Morton, executive vice president of ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise. “The Quantum Networking Lab is an exciting example of ASU’s commitment to advance research and discovery that is of value to our local, national and global communities.”

Foundational leadership

Leading the new lab will be Joseph Lukens, who recently joined ASU as senior director of quantum networking after seven years at Oak Ridge. Renowned for his studies of experimental and theoretical quantum information, and extensive published works, Lukens demonstrated a telecom-compatible "temporal cloak" early in his career as a graduate student at Purdue University. 

As a subfield of QIST, quantum networking focuses on solving problems related to the connections between computers. Just like social networking pioneered new ways for people to communicate, we may one day view quantum networking as the catalyzing field for computers to communicate in ways difficult for humans to fathom. 

Lukens believes that ASU and the Quantum Networking Lab have the potential to become national leaders in QIST. Continuing to prioritize partnerships, like those created in the Quantum Collaborative, will play a key role.

Joseph Lukens

Joseph Lukens, ASU senior director of quantum networking. Photo courtesy Carlos Jones/ORNL

 “No one researcher or institution can do everything alone,” Lukens says. “An attitude of openness and working together will be the key to pushing this field forward.”

Since joining ASU, Lukens explains that his work at the university typically consists of “designing and analyzing experiments, running simulations, writing papers and troubleshooting any roadblocks.”

“Ultimately, my mission at ASU is to develop a state-of-the-art quantum networking research program supporting end-to-end entanglement throughout the Phoenix area and beyond,” he says.

Entanglement refers to a group of particles that are so intertwined that actions performed on one can impact the others, even when they are very far apart from each other — like rolling two dice and getting matched numbers every time.

Working at the speed of light

Lukens aims to support entangled quantum systems at ASU that share properties with another quantum system far away from it. Harnessing end-to-end entanglement, quantum networking would allow a computer to be entangled with devices on the other side of the world — interacting with them at unprecedented sensitivity and security, on demand. 

“Take away quantum, and what do we want overall from networking? We want to access resources and to communicate and share information,” says Lukens, who aims to simplify and demystify complex concepts. “In quantum networking, we are after the same goals. But we're applying the most sophisticated features of quantum mechanics to help us achieve them.”

At the ASU Quantum Networking Lab, Lukens’ seminal work in entanglement could eventually lead to the creation of a powerful quantum internet and safer communication between systems, among other groundbreaking advancements.

Pathways to quantum innovation 

Bolstered by its strong partnerships in academia and with industry including IBM, Dell Technologies and Quantinuum, ASU also aims to usher in the next generation of quantum innovators as it fosters its talent. For Lukens, the journey to a career in quantum networking wasn’t straightforward. As a bass player interested in making music, and a student successful in mathematics, Lukens enrolled in engineering as an undergraduate hoping for a future as a studio engineer.

“Ultimately, I found a field that I love and that fascinates me, but it's not a direction that I could have predicted,” Lukens says.

Quantum encompasses principles of math, engineering, design, policy and more — making a diversity of pathways to careers in the field. 

In fact, one might say getting started with QIST is all about embracing the unknown. No one has all the answers because we’re just starting to uncover them as a field, making it an especially exciting time to join.

At ASU, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering offer a variety of programs that provide the foundation and skills for a career in QIST, ranging from computer science to mechanical engineering to innovation ventures and automation. As home to programs in mathematics and physics, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences contextualizes scientific principles and developments towards bolstering societal progress. 

Quantum industry leaders are also calling for technicians with a general understanding of quantum concepts to support atomic physics engineers and other highly specialized members of the workforce, making technology and education training key. ASU's Bachelors of Science in information technology, on the Polytechnic campus, provides a solid basis for quantum.

“If I were to give advice to a student considering the field, I would say don't let the enormity overwhelm you,” Lukens says. “You don't have to fully understand quantum mechanics to do quantum mechanics.”

Learn more about ASU’s quantum work and partnerships.

Written by Samantha Becker and Annie Costakis

School of Music, Dance and Theatre to celebrate Black history, theater in Arizona

January 18, 2023

As Black History Month approaches, faculty at Arizona State University’s School of Music, Dance and Theatre are hoping to engage the community in in a discussion about Black history – and theater – in Arizona through an upcoming event.

“There is a tendency not to acknowledge that there’s a Black community here,” said Rachel Finley, assistant professor in the school and co-coordinator of the event. “I think it’s really important to raise awareness about the history of civil rights in Arizona. There are things happening right now that are part of a civil rights movement.” Collage of portraits of speakers particiapting in “The State of Black Liberation in Arizona: Where We Were Then and Where We Are Now” event. “The State of Black Liberation in Arizona: Where We Were Then and Where We Are Now” speakers (from left to right) Brian Hardaway, Miriam Araya, Kiana Sears, the Rev. Warren H. Stewart Sr., Iisha Graves, Crystal Blackwell and ASU Assistant Professor of African and African American studies Aaron Mallory. Photo courtesy the ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre Download Full Image

The State of Black Liberation in Arizona: Where We Were Then and Where We Are Now” will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20, in the Galvin Playhouse on the Tempe campus.

The event will feature the Rev. Warren H. Stewart Sr. as the keynote speaker.

Stewart has been the senior pastor at First Institutional Baptist Church (FIBC) in Phoenix for more than 45 years and was an instrumental activist in the push for Arizona to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He is nationally and internationally known for his writing, advocacy and commitment to community. Last fall, Stewart was honored by the Phoenix City Council with the naming of 12th and Jefferson Streets near FIBC as “Dr. Warren H. Stewart Sr. Way.”

Stewart’s address will be followed by a panel discussion with Black community leaders Kiana Sears, Brian Hardaway, Iisha Graves, Miriam Araya, ASU Assistant Professor of African and African American studies Aaron Mallory and Crystal Blackwell.

The Jan. 20 event will also feature selections from James Ijames’ play “Kill Move Paradise,” which tells the story of four Black men stuck in a waiting room for the afterlife, presented by ASU students and directed by Finley. (ASU Theatre will present the full play beginning March 31.)

“It showcases the joy and the beauty of our culture — what’s fun and funny alongside the difficulties and the tragedy,” said Finley. “It’s a play that emphasizes the often overlooked humanity of Black men.”

“ASU’s program highlights Black theater and Black issues,” added Dontá McGilvery, an ASU PhD in theater for youth and community alum (2001) and co-coordinator and moderator of the event. “The community can learn how theater plays a role in the issues that we grapple with and that we experience.”

“The State of Black Liberation in Arizona: Where We Were Then and Where We Are Now” is free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended.

Lacy Chaffee

Media and communications coordinator, School of Music, Dance and Theatre


ASU celebrates Online Master of Arts in International Affairs and Leadership's 1st graduating class

January 13, 2023

In 2021, recognizing the need for a program that would prepare students to meet the complex challenges of an increasingly volatile and uncertain world, Arizona State University’s School of Politics and Global Studies launched an online master’s degree program in international affairs and leadership.

The program set out to empower students to be future leaders in diplomacy, national security and the global arena, providing them with the opportunity to learn from experts who have spent decades in the field as ambassadors, generals and senior U.S. and international officials. ASU Online Master of Arts International Affairs and Leadership students stand together with the Washington Monument in the background. Students in ASU's international affairs and leadership master’s degree program during a week of activities in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy the School of Politics and Global Studies Download Full Image

This past December, the program celebrated its first graduating class, a cohort of six students who completed the degree in a little over one year while taking classes in the fall, spring and summer.

“I am incredibly proud of our first graduates,” said Ambassador Roderick Moore, professor of practice at ASU and director of the master’s degree program. “Through their hard work and commitment, they have established a high standard of academic achievement that we hope many future generations of IAL graduates will match. ... We expect to see them in rewarding careers in international affairs in the years ahead.”

“Our first graduates delivered a powerful set of recommended solutions in their capstone presentations, ranging from peacekeeping in Africa to reversing democratic backsliding around the world,” added Michael Polt, an ambassador-in-residence at ASU.

Recent graduate Joey Joson had seen several global events that helped shape his worldview, ranging from 9/11 to multiple wars, financial recessions and climate change. He was considering a career change that fit more with his interest in history, social issues and world events when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“I felt compelled to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to help shape future policies that would better serve Americans and the international community alike,” Joson said. “These events, among myriad others, inspired me over the years to be an agent of positive change and policy influence so that future generations would be more safe and secure.”

James Baker, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation based in western North Dakota along the Missouri river, also graduated last December. He chose the program because of the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., and learn from experienced diplomats about real-world problems.

“It was a very rewarding experience to be a part of this inaugural class,” Baker said. “As a proud Native American man who was raised on a reservation, to be in a place like this was very rewarding and eye-opening.”

Throughout their time in the program, Joson and Baker shared that they were able to expand their knowledge as well as receive professional mentorship from instructors — especially during their time in Washington, D.C.

“These movers and shakers were able to confer their lived experiences with us and it will be very useful in our careers,” Baker said. “Learning how to bring your people together for a common goal while also being personable is a valuable skill. This program has taught me this and much more.”

“Experiencing the mentorship and expertise of diplomatic professionals such as Ambassadors Polt, Moore and (Edward) O'Donnell, as well as (Lt.) Gen. Freakley, greatly enhanced my personal commitment to the foreign policy space, and also strengthened my abilities as a character-driven leader,” Joson said.

Courses in the international affairs and leadership master's program are taught by distinguished fellows from ASU's Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab.

“Our MA in International Affairs and Leadership program is unique,” said Magda Hinojosa, School of Politics and Global Studies director, who will soon serve as dean of Social Sciences for The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Our faculty in this program bring exceptional, real-world experience in international affairs, providing our students with a learning experience unlike any other.”

Joson said the program aided his pursuit of a career in foreign policy by helping him to build a robust skill set in analytical research, critical writing and oral communications. He added that the program’s course in leadership, taught by Lt. Gen. Freakley, taught him the importance of ethics and values in navigating complex global arenas.

“Having such a wide and deep breadth of knowledge about these sectors has helped me better understand the dynamic relationships between each sector, ultimately allowing me to better chart my career path,” Joson said.

“I just want to thank the educators that put this program together,” Baker added. “The many life lessons that I will carry with me and the skills obtained will help me to succeed to be a character-driven leader.”

Matt Oxford

Assistant Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications, College of Global Futures


Scholar, artist brings new meaning to desert places

January 13, 2023

If you Google image search the word “desert,” you’ll find a series of glamorized yet homogenous landscapes of sand dunes, mountains, open sky — and a significant lack of people.

Scholar and author Celina Osuna works to understand the relationships between these perceptions and their connection to lived experiences and land use of deserts.
Self portrait of artist Celina Osuna. Osuna is picture from below, reaching toward the camera. Behind her is a blue sky and she is framed by bricks stacked in a cylindrical formation. The ASU Social Transformation Lab will host scholar and author Celina Osuna as its Postdoctoral Scholar Lecturer for a talk titled "Desert Distortion" on Thursday, Jan. 26. Photo courtesy Celina Osuna Download Full Image

On Thursday, Jan. 26, the Social Transformation Lab at Arizona State University will host Osuna as its Postdoctoral Scholar Lecturer for a talk titled "Desert Distortion." The talk will explore Osuna's current research on the aesthetics of desert places in literature, art and film, and their impact on cultural imagination and geopolitical relationships to land, with an emphasis on Indigenous and Latino environmentalisms.

Registration for the event is now open.

Born in El Paso, Texas, Osuna is a student of desert places. She’s one who sees the Valley as a vast and beautiful place, but knows there is more to it than what meets the eye.

In a challenge to "desert-as-void thinking," Osuna’s talk will explore the reciprocal bonds between place, stories and animacies that reveal the multiplicity and possibility of desert places by turning to the poetry of three Indigenous women writers — Ofelia Zepeda, Leslie Marmon Silko and ASU's own Natalie Diaz.

Through close readings and an interdisciplinary analysis bridging the environmental humanities and Indigenous studies, Osuna employs desert distortion to emphasize story as an epistemological practice.

Her monograph "Desert Distortion" is under contract with Texas Tech University Press and explores distortion as a desirable technique emerging from entanglements with desert places — their stories, material conditions and representations — through which we as humans become better kin to our other-than-human relatives and each other.

Kyra Trent

Communications Specialist, Social Transformation Lab

Associate Professor Jason Bruner named new director of Desert Humanities Initiative at ASU

January 13, 2023

Jason Bruner, an associate professor of religious studies in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies (SHPRS), has been appointed as the new director of the Desert Humanities Initiative at Arizona State University's Institute of Humanities Research (IHR). He will be replacing Ron Broglio, who has moved into the position of director of the IHR. In this new role, Bruner hopes to build on the interdisciplinary nature of Desert Humanities and develop a focus on the critical issue of water.

“We are thrilled to have Jason Bruner join the Institute as the director of the Desert Humanities Initiative,” said Broglio. “Jason brings a wealth of experience to the table with his transdisciplinary background in politics, culture and the arts, and we are excited to have him join the team!” Portrait of ASU Associate Professor Jason Bruner. Jason Bruner, associate professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and director of the Institute for Humanities Research's Desert Humanities Initiative. Download Full Image

Bruner has contributed to collaborative research in the areas of comparative genocide and global health, and he recently began work on a documentary project on urban farmers in the Phoenix metro area. His scholarly books include “Living Salvation in the East African Revival in Uganda” (University of Rochester Press, 2018); “Imagining Persecution: Why American Christians Believe There is a Global War against Their Faith” (Rutgers University Press, 2021); “How to Study Global Christianity” (Palgrave MacMillan, 2022); and “Global Visions of Violence: Agency and Persecution in World Christianity,” co-edited with David C. Kirkpatrick (Rutgers University Press, 2022).

He has also co-authored photo and art books, including “Sonoran Water” (2021, with David Blakeman), “Body of the Earth” (2022, with Keeley Bruner) and “Dreaming along the Laurel” (2022, with Keeley Bruner). His photography and creative work have also been published in “River Teeth,” “Slag Glass City” and the “Oxford American.” 

Bruner has used historical and ethnographic methods to explore Christianity’s complex entanglements, focusing geographically on East Africa and the United States. While he has trained as a historian of modern Christianity, ASU’s ethos of collaborative, engaged and transdisciplinary research has allowed him to explore topics and issues beyond his graduate training in colonial East African religious history. As a result, his research now expands to include comparative genocide and genocide pedagogy, religion and global health, as well as medical humanities.

The Institute for Humanities Research generates and supports transformative, transdisciplinary, collaborative and socially engaged humanities scholarship that contributes to the analysis and resolution of the world’s many challenges. IHR scholars explore such issues and concepts as sustainability, human origins, immigration and natural disasters, and utilize historical, philosophical and creative perspectives to achieve a deeper understanding of their causes, effects and cultural meanings. The IHR encourages transdisciplinary research that contributes to our initiatives and promotes outreach.

Mina Lajevardi

Marketing and Communications Specialist, Sr., Institute for Humanities Research


Gail-Joon Ahn named IEEE Fellow

Research achievements earn computer science and engineering professor high honor

January 12, 2023

Gail-Joon Ahn, a professor in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, has been named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE.

IEEE is the world’s largest organization of technical professionals dedicated to advancing electronic technology. The announcement of Ahn’s fellow status specifically cited his computer science and engineering contributions to the development of applications of information and systems security. ASU Professor Gail-Joon Ahn pictured holding an award certificate in an office setting. Professor Gail-Joon Ahn has led research to make advances across a broad range of computer science and engineering pursuits, including security analytics and big data-driven security intelligence, identity and privacy management, cybercrime analysis and security-enhanced computing platforms. Photo by Nora Skrodenis/ASU Download Full Image

The IEEE Fellow designation is for members whose extraordinary accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest are deemed worthy of this distinction. The number of IEEE Fellows elevated each year is no more than 0.1% of the institute’s membership. The exclusivity of this status reflects the significant impacts of Ahn’s accomplishments.

His research has encompassed security analytics and big data-driven security intelligence, computer system vulnerability and risk management, access control and security architecture for distributed systems, as well as identity and privacy management. It has also involved cybercrime analysis, security-enhanced computing platforms and formal models for computer security devices.

He has authored more than 180 peer-reviewed research papers and was the founding director of ASU’s Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics, which is now the Center for Cybersecurity and Trusted Foundations, and founding director of the former Center for Digital Identity and Cyber Defense Research at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Ross Maciejewski, director of the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, notes that in the U.S. News & World Report’s national rankings of undergraduate degree program, the school’s cybersecurity program is currently ranked No. 20 on the list

“This high ranking can be traced back to Ahn’s tireless work in developing the Center for Cybersecurity and Trusted Foundations,” Maciejewski says. “As the center’s founding director, Ahn’s research and team-building skills were foundational to lifting ASU’s stature in cybersecurity research and education. His elevation to IEEE Fellow status underscores the importance of his research achievements.”

Ahn’s accolades include receiving the U.S. Department of Energy Early Career Principal Investigator Award and the Educator of the Year Award from the Federal Information Systems Security Educators’ Association. The National Science Foundation, National Security Agency, U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research and the U.S Department of Justice have funded his work.

In the private sector, Ahn has received funding from Allstate, Intel, Bank of America, CISCO, GoDaddy, Google, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, PayPal, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Samsung.

Ahn is currently the information director of the Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control in the Association for Computing Machinery, or ACM.

“I am both honored and humbled to be elevated to IEEE Fellow,” Ahn says. “I will continue to devote myself to achieving technological advancements that will eventually help overcome security and privacy challenges.”

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering