Cybersecurity expert recognized among world’s top computing professionals

December 18, 2015

Fifteen years of research in cybersecurity and keeping the world’s data safe has earned Gail-Joon Ahn a special designation among leading members of the computing field.

Ahn was named a Distinguished Scientist by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s leading association of computing professionals. Gail-Joon Ahn is pictured with one of his patent certificates. He has earned six U.S. patents for his research in user-centric identity management and was recently named a Distinguished Scientist by the Association for Computing Machinery. Photographer: Nora Skrodenis/ASU Download Full Image

Ahn is one of 49 distinguished members selected in 2015 for significant accomplishments or impact within the computing field. The recognition aims to highlight how the work of these innovators is changing the world.

"Whenever we use an app on our phone to get driving directions, securely pay bills online, or conduct an internet search, we are benefiting from the research and efforts of computing professionals," said ACM President Alexander L. Wol in a press release.

This year’s awardees include ACM members drawn from leading academic institutions, as well as corporate and national research laboratories around the world, including Argentina, Belgium, Canada, China, Egypt, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Portugal, Qatar and the United Kingdom.

Ahn is a Fulton Entrepreneurial Professor in the School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering, one of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and director of the Global Security Initiative’s Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics.

Pioneering contributions in secure computing

“Ahn’s early work, focused on access control models and mechanisms, is the core of modern security systems,” said Ziming Zhao, an assistant research professor at ASU and one of Ahn’s former students. “His work has significantly advanced our understanding of role-based access control (RBAC) models and mechanisms, which are used by the majority of public organizations and private enterprises,” added Zhao.

Ahn is known as an expert in security analytics and big-data-driven security intelligence.

"Ahn is a skilled researcher who has done pioneering work on digital identity management and access control,” said Elisa Bertino, a professor in computer science at Purdue University who has collaborated with Ahn on joint research proposals, conference organizations and service activities.

Ahn’s research is imperative as society becomes increasingly mobile and cyber-dependent. This has been the inspiration and thrust behind his research in addressing critical cybersecurity challenges.

“The notion of identity is the most important component of the current computing age,” said Ahn, who has earned six U.S. patents for his research in user-centric identity management.

When users interact with Internet services, such as video conferencing, e-commerce and web-based applications, the services are often tailored for their personal use. Ahn has invented a technology that allows users to better manage their online identities by controlling what information is stored, the content of that information, and who is allowed to view the information.

Ahn’s contribution is extremely important in the context of user privacy.

Sometimes you are required to show a credential to prove identifying attributes such as age and zip code, but a user might inadvertently offer excess information such as what state they are from when providing a driver’s license, described Ahn.

“I believe the concept of user-centricity will help empower users to have a more controlled release of their personal information,” Ahn said.

His contributions enable more secure transactions and mobile payments and allow more autonomy in an individual’s privacy control. They also have the potential to dramatically reduce identity theft.

The import of his research can be seen in the names of his financial supporters: the National Science Foundation, National Security Agency, Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research, Army Research Office, Department of Justice, Department of Energy, Bank of America, Google and Microsoft.

He has attracted funding in excess of $3.4 million since joining ASU in 2008. He has authored more than 150 refereed research papers.

Leadership in research collaborations

Ahn is currently helping to lead ASU’s contributions to a $28.1 million national research program to develop cybersecurity tools and standards to protect the country’s electricity infrastructure from attacks. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of Illinois is leading the program, called the Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium (CREDC).

As director of the Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics, Ahn will continue to fully leverage ASU’s capabilities in cybersecurity.

“He is a great educator and has created a research group at ASU that has gained visibility as a top academic cyber security research group,” Bertino said.

Zhao complimented his doctoral mentor’s teaching style saying, “Ahn supports his students to pursue their own research interests instead of assigning them to work for him. As a leading researcher who has developed models, algorithms and systems for solving real-world security problems, he guides his students to tackle the most urgent problems in their areas of interest.”

“I aim to continuously focus on three major activities: education, research and innovation,” Ahn said. By focusing on these areas Ahn said he intends to play a role in producing an outstanding workforce in the area of national security, tackling short-term and long-term security challenges, and significantly contributing to economic growth in Arizona and the U.S. by transferring innovative and patented technologies to the marketplace.

Ahn plans to expand current security-related research activities at the center through collaboration with diverse experts at ASU and other universities, government agencies and industry.

His career has been characterized by recognition including earning the Department of Energy’s prestigious Early Career Principal Investigator Award in 2003 for achievements as a junior faculty member, the Educator of the Year Award from the Federal Information Systems Security Educators' Association in 2005 and becoming an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Senior in 2007.

Media contact:
Rose Serago,
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

Scientists blueprint tiny cellular ‘nanomachine’

Team including ASU researchers answer long-held questions about how enzyme performs critical functions

December 17, 2015

Scientists have drawn up molecular blueprints of a tiny cellular “nanomachine,” whose evolution is an extraordinary feat of nature, by using one of the brightest X-ray sources on Earth.

The scientists produced the structural map of this nanomachine — diacylglycerol kinase — by using a “hit and run” crystallography technique. In doing so, they have been able to understand how the tiny enzyme performs critical cellular duties — answering questions that have been on the table for more than 50 years about this “paradigmatic protein.” This graphic shows the structure of diacylglycerol kinase (DgkA) determined with the Free Electron Laser in Stanford, California. This new structure has been deposited in the protein data bank under the code 4UYO. Download Full Image

Kinases are key players in metabolism, cell signalling, protein regulation, cellular transport, secretory processes, and many other cellular pathways that allow us to function healthily. They coordinate the transfer of energy from certain molecules to specific substrates, affecting their activity, reactivity and ability to bind other molecules.

Diacylglycerol kinase, the focus of this study, plays a role in bacterial cell wall synthesis. It is a small, integral membrane enzyme that coordinates a particularly complex reaction: Its lipid substrate is hydrophobic (repelled by water) and resides in cell membranes, while its co-substrate, ATP, is entirely water soluble. 

How it does this had remained a mystery for decades, but the newly produced blueprints have answered these questions.

“How this diminutive nanomachine, less than 10 nm tall, brings these two disparate substrates together at the membrane interface for reaction is revealed in a molecularly detailed crystal structure. It is the smallest known kinase, and seeing its form with crystal clarity is now helping us to answer questions that formed from over 50 years of work on this paradigmatic protein,” said Martin Caffrey, professor of membrane structural and functional biology at Trinity College Dublin. 

Figuring out how this tiny machine works at the molecular level was enormously facilitated by the use of one of the brightest X-ray sources on Earth, the X-ray free-electron laser at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

Professor Caffrey added: “This instrument produces bursts of X-rays just femtoseconds (a quad-trillionth of a second) long. With these short bursts we were able to obtain structural information about the enzyme before it vaporized through radiation damage in what I tritely refer to as 'hit and run' serial crystallography.”  

According to Petra Fromme, the director of the Center for Applied Structural Discovery at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute and a co-author of the current study, “This is the first structure of a protein that is a membrane-integral enzyme and important biocatalyst in the cell.” (Biocatalysts speed up the rate of critical biological reactions.)

The tiny kinase is one of the research targets for the NIH-funded Center for Membrane Proteins in Infectious Diseases at ASU, which is devoted to unraveling the molecular basis of viral and bacterial proteins involved in diseases as well as the human proteins defending the body from pathogen attack.

The ASU team contributed to the work with expertise in crystal growth and sample injection, as well as data collection and evaluation. In the future, the scientists hope to extend their free-electron laser work to make “X-ray movies” of this remarkable nanomachine, so as to watch how it “does chemistry” in atomic detail in real time. The article describing the work has just been published in the leading journal Nature Communications.

The team of researchers at ASU includes faculty Wei Liu, Petra Fromme and Raimund Fromme from the School of Molecular Sciences, and John Spence, Uwe Weierstall and Nadia Zatsepin from the Department of Physics, researcher Ingo Grotjohann as well as graduate students Shibom Basu, Christopher Kupitz and Kimberley Rendek.  

ASU’s Fron Nahzi named to VEGA board

December 17, 2015

As part of its continued development of strong global partnerships that will generate impactful sustainability-based projects in developing nations, ASU’s Fron Nahzi was elected to the board of directors for Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA).

Nahzi is the global business development director for the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at ASU. Through its Global Sustainability Solutions Services, the Walton Initiatives have developed 80 projects across five continents since 2012. ASU's Fron Nahzi attends a USAID press conference with project partners in Albania ASU's Fron Nahzi attends a USAID press conference with project partners in Albania. Download Full Image

VEGA, founded in 2004 through USAID, works with its 25 NGO members to implement projects that focus on economic governance, capacity building and local governance strengthening.

"VEGA welcomes Fron's participation on the board of directors and looks forward to increasingly closer ties with the ASU community in promoting innovation and technology transfer to help fill the 'talent gap' in frontier and emerging markets,” said Michael Deal, president and CEO of VEGA. “ASU and the Walton Initiatives add invaluable expertise to our network that helps drive economic growth necessary to meet global challenges."

In 2015, ASU and the Walton Initiatives became the first university to become a regular member of VEGA. This year, the Walton Initiatives partnered with the VEGA member Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture and others to successfully bid for a $23 million agribusiness project in Egypt that will increase incomes of smallholder farmers through sustainably intensifying their agricultural productivity, increasing the efficiency of post-harvest processes, improving the marketing of these goods and improving the nutritional status of women and children.

Since its inception, VEGA has undertaken 35 programs funded for more than $300 million. VEGA’s members have more than five decades of experience in 140 countries implementing integrated programs that range from economic growth to food security, environment, energy, health, education and more.

Jason Franz

Assistant Director, Strategic Marketing and Communications, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory


Top ASU engineering grads receive honors

December 17, 2015

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of student profiles that are part of our December 2015 commencement coverage.

As the end of the fall and spring semesters approach, each of the six Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering select one undergraduate student in each of its academic degree programs as its Outstanding Program Graduate. A number of other students are honored as Distinguished Graduates, chosen both by the Fulton Schools as well as the Dean’s Office for their notable accomplishments beyond the classroom. group photo of engineering grads 2015 Outstanding and Distinguished Graduates. Download Full Image

Below are a few of the students that were chosen as this years Outstanding and Distinguished Graduates. View all profiles here.

Outstanding Graduates

These students are among the leading performers in academic studies, with high grade point averages for their classroom work and related research training throughout their undergraduate years.

In addition, they have contributed to the Fulton Schools of Engineering’s mission through their efforts in activities such as research, mentoring, service to others and leadership on student engineering projects and team competitions.

portrait of ASU engineering grad Samantha JankoSamantha Janko
BSE in Engineering
Home schooled in Gilbert, Arizona

Samantha Janko started at Chandler Gilbert Community College when she was 14. She participated in FURI for the spring 2015 and fall 2015 semesters. As a part of FURI, she participated in research related to adaptive control of campus cooling systems, with the aim of reducing cooling system costs and energy use on the ASU campuses. She feels her biggest achievement was continuing research with her advisor, Assistant Professor Nathan Johnson, which resulted in presenting at a conference, being lead author on a journal article and a study abroad trip to Aruba

Why did you choose ASU?
I chose to come to ASU for the vast number of opportunities they offer within engineering including research and chances to work with industry partners. Specifically, I chose the Polytechnic School for their hands-on engineering program that would provide me with opportunities to gain real experience in my field.

Tell me about a memorable moment at ASU?  
One of my most memorable moments at ASU was my experience with studying abroad. I traveled to Aruba with a group of students to learn about sustainability in an island setting. The experience opened my eyes to the multidisciplinary characteristics of sustainability, and that becoming green is as much of a socio-economic and cultural issue as it is a technical engineering issue. This travel, along with my research in sustainability with my advisor, inspired me to continue my studies in graduate school with a PhD in systems engineering.

Can you name a professor that was instrumental in helping you grow?
Nathan Johnson was a professor who impacted my education and growth as a student. He has provided me with so many opportunities to grow and learn from research, as well as assisted me in improving my project management and writing abilities. He has introduced me to the real world of engineering research, and is always open to answering questions I have whether it be technical questions or questions about professional development and graduate school.

What are your plans after graduation?
I have plans to continue my education next year as a master’s student in the Engineering M.S. program, followed by work as a PhD candidate in systems engineering.

portrait of ASU engineering grad Kenneth LozesKenneth Lozes
BSE in Aerospace Engineering
Graduated from Washington High School in Phoenix, Arizona

Lozes was in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) aircraft design club at ASU that designs, builds and flies a radio-controlled aircraft to compete in the SAE Heavy Lift Competition. He was the composite structures and aerodynamics team lead, and led the wing design and fabrication effort this year for the project, helping to build an eight-foot foot wing prototype that improved on the wing the club built last year. He also worked with the Orbital Sciences company (now Orbital ATK), where he learned about the engineering of space launch vehicles. He was awarded the ASU Provost’s Scholarship and made the Dean’s List every semester.

What led you to choose to study engineering and to decide on the specific major you chose?
I grew up fascinated by the idea of living in space, like in all the science fiction shows I watched, and I always loved going to aerospace museums and air shows, and even reading all technical books about fighter jets that my father would bring home for me. So I think I kind of chose aerospace engineering a long time before I went to college.

What has been most rewarding about your undergraduate years at ASU? What has been most challenging?
The most rewarding experience has been working at the Engineering Tutoring Center, where I am one of lead tutors. I have really enjoyed helping students understand all the fundamental engineering concepts. In addition, the deep understanding of these concepts I have gained over the years has helped tremendously in applying them to my higher-level classes as well as real-world problems.

What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to continue going to school to earn a master’s degree in the 4+1 program, focusing on studying the engineering of propulsion systems for high-speed aerial vehicles and rockets. I would like to be part of making access to outer space much safer and more economical. My dream would be to start a company to develop a propulsion system to do just that.

portrait of ASU engineering grad Sydney VandaSydney Vanda
BSE in Biomedical Engineering and BSE in Computer Systems Engineering
Graduated from Corona del Sol High School in Tempe

Sydney Vanda is a double major in Computer Systems Engineering and Biomedical Engineering and is in Barrett, the Honors College. She holds a Regents High Honors Endorsement, was a three-time recipient of the Kroger Dependent Scholarship, received the 2012 Impact Award for EPICS and has been inducted in the Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu Engineering honors societies. She participated in FURI and EPICS. She also sang in the Barrett Choir and was on intramural co-ed basketball and volleyball champion teams on engineering-sponsored teams.

Why did choose to come to ASU?
I grew up with ASU in my backyard practically and wanted to be a Sun Devil! Also because I knew there were plenty of great engineering programs, which I knew I wanted to pursue at the time.

What led you to choose to study engineering?
I knew I was great at math and science from an early age. Originally I was enrolled at ASU as an electrical engineering major, however I went to a talk given by the director of the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering at the time, William Ditto, and he inspired me to make a difference in the medical space and I switched my major to biomedical engineering. During my second semester, I took my first programming class and really loved it. Not wanting to give either up, I decided to take on the challenge of completing both degrees.

Name a professor who was particularly instrumental in helping you grow as a student?
Lecturer Debra Calliss — she inspired me to stick with computer systems and helped me make the decision to include it as another degree. She also served as a role model and an outlet that I felt comfortable talking with about current struggles and also future goals.

How do you see your future?
I would love to work on embedded devices for the medical field and hopefully create something that truly helps someone someday.

Distinguished Graduates

These students have made a positive impact at ASU and in communities in Arizona through their leadership, public service, K-12 education outreach, research achievements and social entrepreneurship efforts.

portrait of ASU engineering grad Evan HammacEvan Hammac
BSE in Aerospace Engineering
Graduated from Highland High School in Higley, Arizona
Originally from Towcester, England

Hammac participated in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative (FURI) program for two semesters. He devised a new design for a force balance that works in a sub-sonic wind tunnel, and began constructing it. It’s now used to teach fellow students about aerodynamics.

What led you to choose to study engineering and to decide on the specific major you chose?
Ever since I can remember, I have been looking up at the stars and been fascinated by how the world works. Getting involved in engineering seemed the natural progression for my life.

What has been most rewarding about your undergraduate years at ASU? What has been most challenging?
The most rewarding experience at ASU would be without a doubt FURI. I learned so much about myself and about engineering. The most challenging thing has been learning to balance life with schoolwork.

Is there a professor who has been particularly instrumental in helping you grow as a student? How and in what way did they impact you?
Lecturer Benjamin Mertz has been instrumental in my success at ASU. He was my FURI mentor and prior to that my professor for a required course in my major. It was a conversation with him that first inspired me to engage in FURI.

What great engineering achievements would you most like to be part of making happen In the future?
My long-term career aspirations are to be instrumental in a large aerospace company. I don’t quite know exactly how, but I know once I get into industry I will make quite an impact. I see my future as a very bright one. My dream is to go into space.

portrait of ASU engineering grad Peter HarperPeter Harper
BSE in Mechanical Engineering
Graduated from Heritage Academy
Originally from Mesa, Arizona

Peter Harper served as the chair and president of the ASU chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He worked with a Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative (FURI) team, helping to select and set up a gamma radiation detector to study whether lithium-ion batteries could determine where the nuclear material came from in a nuclear weapon.

What led you to choose to study engineering and to decide on the specific major you chose?
I chose to study engineering because I grew up around it. My dad worked as an engineer in the aerospace industry. I chose to major in mechanical engineering because it gives me a broad skill set and a lot of employment opportunities.

Was there a particular “Ah-Ha!” moment when you knew that you were on the right path in your college studies?
By participating in ASME, I was able to gain leadership experience and network with other students and employers. The networking experiences led to my first internship experience, which in turn has opened the door to two more internships. These internships have been valuable opportunities to not only gain experience, but also better understand what I want to do as an engineer.

Is there a professor who has been particularly instrumental in helping you grow as a student? How and in what way did they impact you?
James Middleton has helped me by encouraging me to love learning, learn from my mistakes and by answering my questions, both in class and outside of class.

What are your plans after graduation?
I will stay at ASU to earn a master’s degree in mechanical engineering through the 4+1 program. I want to work in the defense or aerospace industries. While transitioning from attending classes to looking for a full-time job is intimidating, I‘m excited about the opportunities ahead. I would love to work for an aerospace company, because each day I could look into the sky at planes flying overhead and know that I help make them fly.

portrait of ASU engineering grad Mayank PrasadMayank “Max” Prasad
MS in Computer Engineering
Graduated from VIT University in India
Originally from New Delhi, India

Mayank Prasad came to ASU for the computer engineering curriculum and proximity to companies such as Intel, Freescale, Microchip, NXP. He was also drawn to the great entrepreneurship program. He earned an Experiential Learning Grant from Fulton Schools Startup School to attend the European Innovation Academy in Nice, France in July 2015. He works with ASU’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation as an E+I ambassador, was an ASU Startup School certified facilitator and was one of the founding members of the new ASU Startup Hotline to help students with their startup-related questions.

Did you participate in any student organizations?
I started a new Fulton student organization — SPARCe (pronounced “sparky” – Students’ Project and Research Consulting in Engineering). It’s a student-run consulting group that helps engineering students get application based hands-on experience by giving them an opportunity to work on real-world projects from local businesses and non-profits. After its success, I started The Talent Network. The Talent Network makes it easier and faster for tech companies to discover and hire student developers for internship/part-time/full-time work.

Can you name a professor who was particularly instrumental in helping you grow as a student?
Yes — two actually! Lecturer Brent Sebold and Faculty Associate Ken Mulligan. Brent is the director of Fulton Schools Startup Center and Ken is with the same startup center. I took the course — FSE501 Technology Entrepreneurship with them. They helped me learn the lean launch methodology for startups and helped me convert my idea into a business. They helped me realize that entrepreneurship is a way of life. They are also my two biggest cheerleaders.

What are your plans after graduation?
I am an entrepreneur — going full-time for my startup, The Talent Network. Also maybe work part-time at a paying job until we raise seed money for my startup. In the long term, I would like to see The Talent Network become a successful company. At the same time I would like to get involved with a tech startup and help them build a revolutionary product (like internet of things), something that aligns with my purpose on this planet.

'Independent Lens' launches neighborhood screening series

ASU's Project Humanities a partner in Indie Lens Pop-Up

December 17, 2015

"Independent Lens" has announced the launch of Indie Lens Pop-Up, a neighborhood screening series that brings people together for community-driven conversations around films from the award-winning PBS series.

Formerly known as Community Cinema, the long-running screening series has been renamed Indie Lens Pop-Up to strengthen the bond between the "Independent Lens" television series and local communities, and bring new energy and new audiences to the in-person events as well as online OVEE screening events and the broadcasts on Arizona PBS. Over the past decade, screenings of "Independent Lens" films have brought more than 331,000 participants together at more than 5,700 events to discuss issues that impact local communities. Download Full Image

The Indie Lens Pop-Up lineup includes a diverse selection of new documentaries that explore issues from race to gun violence, from veterans’ issues to autism.

ASU's Project Humanities, an award-winning university initiative, is serving as a community partner for this PBS film series, the values and messages of which align seamlessly with the types of dialogues critical to their style of programming. Throughout this series, Project Humanities is also collaborating with several community organizations and hopes to use these partnerships to foster community bonds and connections.

The screenings will feature different, diverse partnerships, each fueled by shared interests. Partners include such institutions as the Burton Barr Central Library, which will host a timely film about the Black Panthers for Black History Month in February and a film about the relationship between law enforcement and the public in April.

For the December screening of "Autism in Love," Project Humanities co-hosted with local organizations with a specific focus on autism advocacy and support. Groups included Arizona ASSIST and Arizona Autism United, two organizations specifically focused on helping communities, families and individuals affected by autism. One screening was held this month at Ability 360, an advocacy and support organization for people with disabilities. Another will be held in January at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, also in Phoenix, an institution widely known for its open and affirming congregation.

Sharon Torres, coordinator for Project Humanities, explained her excitement and enthusiasm for the upcoming film series.

“I feel honored that Project Humanities has been selected as a community partner for this film series. PBS’ progressive films align with critical topics that we use to engage our communities in 'Talking, Listening, Connecting.' We are absolutely excited to partner with other organizations and to include more community organizations and advocacy groups who are equally embedded in these types of initiatives,” Torres said.

Indie Lens Pop-Up 2015-2016 lineup

"In Football We Trust," by Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn

6-9 p.m. Jan. 26, Memorial Union, ASU Tempe campus

"In Football We Trust" intimately follows four Polynesian high school football players in Utah struggling to overcome gang violence, family pressures and poverty as they enter the high-stakes world of college recruiting and the promise of pro sports. The odds may be stacked against them, but they’ll never stop fighting for a better future.

This event will be held in the Pima Auditorium on the second floor of ASU's Memorial Union in Tempe.

"The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution," by Stanley Nelson

6–9 p.m. Feb. 16, Burton Barr Central Library

A new revolutionary culture emerged in the turbulent 1960s, and the Black Panther Party was at the vanguard. Weaving together a treasure trove of rare footage with the voices of a diverse group of people who were there, Stanley Nelson tells the vibrant story of a pivotal movement that feels timely all over again.

This event will be held at the Burton Barr Central Library at 1221 N. Central Ave, Phoenix.

"Peace Officer," by Scott Christopherson and Brad Barber

6–9 p.m. April 12, Burton Barr Central Library

The increasingly tense relationship between law enforcement and the public is seen through the eyes of someone who has been on both sides: a former sheriff who established Utah's first SWAT team, only to see the same unit kill his son-in-law in a controversial standoff 30 years later. Now a private investigator, Dub seeks the truth in this case and other officer-involved shootings.

This event will be held at the Burton Barr Central Library on 1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, Arizona, 85004.

All events are free and open to the public.

For more information about Project Humanities and other upcoming events, visit or call us at 480-727-7030

ASU center, PARC create world's largest flexible X-ray detector made with thin film transistors

December 17, 2015

The Flexible Electronics and Display Center (FEDC) at Arizona State University and PARC, a Xerox company, announced today that they have successfully manufactured the world's largest flexible X-ray detector prototypes using advanced thin film transistors.

Measuring 10 diagonal inches, the device has been jointly developed at the ASU center and PARC in conjunction with the Army Research Lab and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The device will be used to advance the development of flexible X-ray detectors for use in thin, lightweight, conformable and highly rugged devices.

“This achievement is a fantastic example of how academia, industry and government can collaborate to advance key technologies and national priorities,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development at ASU. “Flexible electronics hold tremendous potential to accelerate our global competitiveness in the area of advanced manufacturing by partnering with federal agencies and industry leaders." Download Full Image

The thin film transistor and PIN diode processing was done on the 470- by 370-mm Gen II line at the Flexible Electronics and Display Center. This device showcases the center's successful scale up to GEN II, and the ability to produce sensors and displays using thin film transistors in standard process flows with the center’s proprietary bond/de-bond technology. These detectors are unique in that they showcase both of the flexible substrates the center uses to make devices. Some of the new detectors are on polyethylene naphthalate and some are on polyimide.

“This success came from a rewarding collaboration that combines FEDC’s flexible array fabrication technology and PARC’s experience with digital X-ray systems,” said Bob Street, PARC Senior Research Fellow.

The system design and integration was done at PARC. The flexible X-ray sensor was coupled to a tablet device for control and image viewing. This system shows PARC’s capability to build user-defined prototype systems incorporating novel device physics, materials and technology. PARC has extensive experience in building large-area electronic systems, display and backplane prototypes, and organic and printed electronics.

ASU media contact: Judy Keane,

ASU School for the Future of Innovation in Society holds inaugural convocation

December 16, 2015

The School for the Future of Innovation in Society celebrated its first cohort of graduates since becoming a new academic unit at Arizona State University in August. The school honored 26 graduates, 14 of which attended its inaugural convocation ceremony on Dec. 14.

Graduates of four of the school’s six graduate degree programs were hooded in the Lyceum Theater on the Tempe campus. The unique school grew from ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, which came to ASU in 2004 and is led by Daniel Sarewitz and co-director David Guston who became director of the school. The school’s focus of research is exploring how decisions made today about innovations can transform the world tomorrow. SFIS is planning to introduce an undergraduate program, including two majors, a minor and a certificate. Group photo of SFIS first convocation cohort Graduates at the first convocation of the School for the Future of Innovation in Society (from left): Jonathan Jacobson, Michael Hammett, Randall Lucas, Jordan Hibbs, Yasameen Sabera Aboozar, Chelsea Coyne Ritland, Allison Leach, Alexandra Nicodemo, Donna Abrantes, Silas Miers, Neekta Hamidi, Daniel Paul Moseke, Jacob D. McAuliffe, Jillian Forte. Download Full Image

“SFIS (School for the Future of Innovation) is a school created from a problem in the world rather than from a centuries-old tradition of scholarship or the coalescing of a professional community. For us, that problem is the complex and sometimes ambiguous role of innovation in society, and the role that we all have in making our own futures,” Guston said.

The graduates were addressed by Tania Simoncelli, senior adviser to the director of the Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Through her work challenging gene patents at the American Civil Liberties Union, as a top advisor at the Food and Drug Administration, and most recently as the leader of an initiative on forensic science at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Simoncelli exemplifies the school's vision of scholars working to help solve real-world problems at the intersection of science, policy, and human well-being.

Michael Hammett, a graduate of the Global Technology and Development master’s program, was featured as the student speaker. “I would encourage incoming students to really savor the time spent in SFIS — it goes so fast!  Explore beyond the textbooks and lectures and engage with your fellow students. The diverse student body in SFIS — made up of students from different cultures and age groups with a variety of career and life experiences — will offer a more well-rounded experience.”

Chelsea Coyne Ritland, also of the Global Technology and Development program, was chosen, as honor graduate and student marshal, to carry the school’s gonfalon in the university commencement earlier in the day. Jordan Hibbs, from the Master of Science and Technology Policy program, was selected to represent the school in ASU's video "Outstanding Graduates: Class of 2015."

ASU’s commencement and the school's convocation marked the unveiling of the school’s new gonfalon, which was carried for the first time in the processions. The signature image of an eye featured on the gonfalon reflects the transdisciplinary nature of the programs in which students research the societal potential and challenges of new technologies and ideas that affect our world. The icon’s colors were chosen to depict the essence of multiple disciplines including humanities, science, engineering, art and design, sustainability, and service that contribute to the confluence of innovation for the future.

More information is available on the SFIS graduation page. Visit a gallery of images from convocation on the SFIS Facebook page or on CSPO’s site.

Marissa Huth

communications specialist, School for the Future of Innovation in Society


ASU honors students awarded scholarships for international research

December 16, 2015

Two Barrett, the Honors College students have been awarded prestigious scholarships that will allow them to travel the world next year to conduct research projects of their own design.

Carlyn Harris, a junior majoring in microbiology and global health, was awarded the Circumnavigators Club Grant. From May to August 2016, Harris will travel to Guatemala, Spain, the Netherlands, India, South Africa and New Zealand to research societal and cultural influences on antibiotic consumption and resistance. Carlyn Harris Carlyn Harris, a junior honors student majoring in microbiology and global health, has won the 2016 Circumnavigators Club Grant. Download Full Image

Brigitte Nicoletti, a junior majoring in history, received the Barrett Honors Intercontinental Study Award. Also from May to August next year, she will travel to Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Malawi and Japan to study compliance with international norms of restorative justice practices advanced by the United Nations.

Each award is worth approximately $9,000 and covers the cost of travel, lodging, and research materials.

Harris and Nicoletti were assisted in their application by staff in the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarship Advisement (LWFONSA) housed at the Barrett Honors College Tempe campus. LWFONSA assists students from throughout ASU with applications for significant scholarships including Circumnavigator, Marshall, Truman, Udall and Fulbright.

According to Kyle Mox, LWFONSA director, the competition for these awards was stiff. Ten applications — each requiring a five-page proposal and letters of recommendation — were submitted. 

From the 10 applications, five finalists were chosen for interviews by a joint committee consisting of members of the Circumnavigators Club — an organization which funds the Circumnavigators Award — and a contingent of staff from Barrett Honors College and LWFONSA. The finalists were then asked to revise their applications into fully-developed 10-page proposals.

"While the applicant pools were fairly small, the overall quality of the applications was extraordinarily high. Each of the students who submitted a proposal had done a remarkable amount of background research and legwork to establish contacts in the prospective host countries," Mox said.

“Carlyn impressed the committee with her eloquence and sophisticated understanding of this important public health issue. She had previously conducted similar research in Guatemala, and she did an excellent job of explaining how the proposed research would contribute not only to her honors thesis, but her post-graduate study and career,” he said.

“Similarly, Brigitte demonstrated an impressive depth of knowledge surrounding her project, and she conducted herself with remarkable poise and comportment. The committee agreed that she would represent ASU and BHC well during her studies abroad. Her project was interesting and compelling, and her research will contribute directly to her honors thesis,” he added

“I am completely amazed and humbled that I received the grant. I am beyond grateful. Putting together the proposal and establishing contacts around the world took a lot of work but I'm thrilled to travel to new places and learn from experts in microbiology and public health fields,” Harris said.

She said her ultimate goal in assessing sociocultural ties to public health knowledge of antibiotic resistance and consumption is to develop new educational initiatives and awareness campaigns.

Harris is no stranger to international travel. In the summer of 2015, she was a research assistant in the Arizona State University Global Health Medical Anthropology Field School in Guatemala, where she helped with the investigation of maternal health care systems and family size in rural areas of that country.

This time, her research will focus another public health issue that is spreading throughout the world.

“Culture plays an important role in how societies interact with the healthcare system and what public health information they receive. I decided to study cultural influences on public health knowledge regarding antibiotic resistance and consumption because antibiotic resistance is a current global issue threatening the treatment of serious bacterial infections. This is largely because communities are overusing and misusing these 'miracle' drugs and many do not understand how this can influence resistance,” she said.

The project also will allow Harris to blend her passions of microbiology and public health.

Harris currently is an undergraduate assistant in the Biodesign Institute, researching antimicrobial therapies against Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a strain of staph bacteria that has become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat staph infections.

Harris is set to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in 2017. Her goal is to earn a master’s degree in public health and attend medical school. Her “dream job” would be as a medical officer for the World Health Organization or a medical adviser for a global health nonprofit benefiting underserved populations.

“For now, I'm just excited to learn all that I can and see where my experiences take me. This incredible trip will undoubtedly help me on my path and open up many opportunities,” she said.

Brigitte Nicoletti

Brigitte Nicoletti, a junior honors student majoring in history, has received the 2016 Barrett Honors Intercontinental Study Award.

Nicoletti's interest in law was sparked in ninth grade when she joined her high school's mock trial program. In eleventh grade, she began participating as a juror and attorney in Coconino County's Teen Court, a diversionary and restorative justice program for juveniles.

She brought that interest to Arizona State University where she took a class with law professor Anne Herbert called The Global Legal Community and directed a research project that examined international, regional and national approaches to juvenile justice to design a restorative juvenile justice model for Latin American countries. She is now Herbert's research and teaching assistant and is coauthoring a textbook with the professor in which she plans to incorporate her juvenile justice research. 

“I am incredibly excited to have won this award. I have been passionate about juvenile justice since participating in Teen Court back in high school,” she said.

Teen Court is not a court of law. Its goal is to determine a fair sentence for first offenders who have admitted guilt for low-level offenses rather than subject them to the mercy of the criminal justice system. In Teen Court, juvenile offenders are tried in a court of their peers that is presided over by a Superior Court Judge. The lawyers, jurors, clerks, and bailiffs are all teenagers. Sentences have ranged from referral to social services, community service, group counseling, or public apology.

“My experience with this program (Youth Court) taught me that one of the major problems with our justice system is that is fails to see juvenile offenders as individuals with the ability to grow and change. This is not only harmful to the kid, but also to the community as a whole, because it depletes it of its best resource; youth potential,” Nicoletti said

Nicoletti said she believes that by studying how other countries comply with international norms of restorative justice advanced by the United Nations in the "Convention on the Rights of the Child," she can help develop strategies for the implementation of restorative justice in the United States.

“I will examine how these international norms of restorative justice come to be incorporated in domestic legal systems. From this, I hope to gain an understanding of the reasons some countries successfully adapt international norms while others struggle to uphold even the most basic of human rights,” she said in her proposal.

“My goal is to cull best practices for international norm creation and domestic norm implementation from this research and further study how best to promote restorative juvenile justice in countries that do not meet international standards, beginning with the United States,” she added.

Nicoletti, who is set to graduate from ASU with an undergraduate degree in 2017, plans to pursue a joint juris doctorate and doctorate in criminal justice studies. "I plan to make juvenile justice my life's work," she said.

Nicole Greason

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


ASU's Project Humanities 'So Excited' to host conversation with Ruth Pointer

December 16, 2015

How does one find humanity in sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll?

Well, Grammy artist and singer Ruth Pointer is going to give it the old college try and explain it in her own words, and in person. A Conversation with Ruth Pointer Download Full Image

ASU’s Project Humanities is hosting “A Conversation with Ruth Pointer of the Pointer Sisters” as part of its spring 2016 kickoff for its campaign, “Humanity 101: Creating a Movement.” The event starts at 6 p.m., Feb. 11 at the First Institutional Baptist Church, 1141 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix. Admission is free and open to the public.

A limited number of VIP tickets will be sold, which includes a reception from 4 to 5:30 p.m., a signed copy of Pointer’s new memoir, "Still So Excited!" and a reserved seat for the main event. Go here to reserve your seat for either or both events.

During this campaign, Project Humanities will host a wide range of events and activities at the ASU campuses and at different community events around the Valley; bringing together students, staff, faculty, alumni, emeriti and the public to engage critically with these seven values — respect, integrity, compassion, forgiveness, empathy, kindness and self-reflection.

“We are extremely excited about and honored to host Ruth Pointer’s visit,” said Neal Lester, founding director of ASU’s Project Humanities and Foundation Professor of English.

“So many across the country grew up on the Pointer Sisters’ musical energy and admired their vintage dress style. It will be interesting to hear her story of triumph and challenge and triumph from an important perspective we don’t necessarily witness every day.”

Few musical acts have seen the extreme highs and lows of the Pointer Sisters. From their humble beginnings in West Oakland to the center of the pop music scene in the 1970s and 1980s, they’ve endured more than 40 years under the harsh heat of the media spotlight. Their music entertained and brought joy to millions of fans around the world, but for Ruth Pointer, the journey wasn’t always a happy one.

The group’s popularity and multiple hit songs (“I’m So Excited,” “Jump,” “Automatic,” “Neutron Dance” and “Slow Hand”) thrust the sisters into international stardom, winning four Grammy awards, a slew of MTV “Moon Man” trophies, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

While their success may have served as an introduction to the good life, it was also the introduction to the "high life" of limos, champagne, white glove treatment and addictive habits that were the norm in the high-flying '70s and '80s.

Though it sounds like all the makings of a thrilling life, it was also one filled with heartbreak, inner demons and years of struggle for Pointer, whose devastating drug and alcohol abuse took her to the brink of death in 1984.

“There are certain truths we must all face about ourselves, and sometimes you don’t always like what you see when looking into the mirror,” Pointer said. “In my case, there were a lot of things I didn’t like in that reflection. I would like to say that I saw a stranger, but what I saw was a true reflection of who I was — an alcoholic and drug-addicted woman who was more concerned about getting high than tending to her family’s needs. But the beauty of being broken is that it allows you to pick up the pieces of your life.”

Pointer says she eventually found recovery through a pair of 12-step programs, embracing a sobriety through structure and measure that she has stuck to for more than three decades.

“Today my life is filled with both blessings and heartaches, but the blessings far outweigh the other,” Pointer said. “I’m so excited … and I just can’t hide it.”

Project Humanities is an award-winning university-wide initiative at ASU with the expressed goal to show the interactions among humanities and other areas of scholarship and human endeavor. Through public programming and scholarship, Project Humanities seeks to make visible locally and nationally the excellence, range, and impact of humanist thinking and practice.

For more information, call 480-727-7030 or visit

Colorful abstract art focus of new ASU Gammage exhibit

December 15, 2015

Colorful images of abstract and modern art by two Arizona artists will be featured in an exhibition at ASU Gammage Dec. 13-Feb. 9.

Melissa Schleuger’s dynamic art incorporates geometric shapes into an organic backdrop, creating work that blends the unexpected with sophistication and beauty. Specializing in abstract expressionism, she begins each painting without preconceived influence and follows the lead of brush strokes and paint. abstract painting "Plus One" by Arizona artist Melissa Schleuger Download Full Image

Schleuger recently was named one of the finest emerging artists in the Valley by the 2015 Chancellor Awards of Maricopa Community Colleges. A student at Scottsdale Community College, she has shown her work at local venues including the Herberger Theater and Art Intersection.

Geoff Gildner’s work reflects his experience in the architectural field, using color, form and the shapes of the natural environment as a foundation. Many of the vibrant pieces on exhibit at Gammage are created using found objects such as wood, glass, sheet metal and old canvas paintings.

A 1994 history graduate from ASU with an emphasis on architecture, Gilner is a self-trained artist who is influenced by the works of Mondrian, Rietveld, Kandinsky, Pollack and de Kooning, as well as the organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. His work can be found in private art collections both in the United States and abroad.

abstract art

"Witnesses to the Actions of One" by Arizona artist Geoff Gildner

Exhibit hours at ASU Gammage are 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays, or by appointment. Due to rehearsals, event set-up, performances, special events and holidays, it is advisable to call (480) 965-6912 or (480) 965-0458 to ensure viewing hours, since they are subject to cancellation without notice.

The street address is 1200 S. Forest Ave., Tempe. Parking is available at meters around the perimeter of ASU Gammage. Entrance is through east lobby doors at the box office.

Media contact: Brad Myers, art exhibit coordinator, 480-965-6912