Deep freeze puts the squeeze on dwarf planet Ceres

ASU scientists have explanation for fresh spots on ancient surface

December 15, 2015

When NASA's Dawn spacecraft approached the dwarf planet Ceres in March this year, scientists and the public alike were intrigued to see that Ceres has an dark, heavily cratered surface with dozens of bright white spots, large and small.

Even more puzzling, the bright spots lie in all kinds of terrain and appear variously as flat patches on the floors of craters and as an isolated peak, in at least one case.

According to Arizona State University's Marc Neveu and Steve Desch, what's emplacing the white material on the surface is what's happening far below. They recently published their model in Geophysical Research Letters to explain what's likely going on.

Ceres orbits the Sun in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, at nearly three times Earth's distance from the Sun. Discovered in 1801 and the largest object in the main belt, Ceres is nearly 600 miles wide.  

Even before Dawn, scientists knew something was up with Ceres. Earth-based observations and data from orbiting space telescopes had shown it has a surface with water-altered minerals and perhaps a tenuous cloud of water vapor around it.

Dawn's data added to the puzzle. The spots have a brightness that points to ice or salts, and as noted above, they appear as both flat and raised structures in many different types of landscape.

"That was a clue for us," said Neveu of ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration, where he is a postdoctoral researcher working with Desch, a professor of astrophysics in the school.

"Previously published models suggested that Ceres had subsurface liquid water in the past and possibly until today. We also knew that cryovolcanism on Ceres was definitely an option because a present-day underground ocean would be refreezing and pressurizing liquid water down deep."

Cryovolcanism, or cold volcanism, is partly similar to the ordinary (hot) volcanism that occurs on Earth and other rocky planets. The difference is that in the cryo case, what erupts instead of molten rock is molten ice — liquid water or brine. Water ice would quickly sublimate into the vacuum of space at Ceres' surface, leaving behind salt deposits.

Neveu said the pre-Dawn reports of water vapor were tantalizing clues of surface water or young ice.

"When images released by the Dawn team revealed those bright spots, we immediately thought of a cryovolcanic origin," Neveu said.

image of dwarf planet Ceres as seen by NASA's Dawn spacecraft The dark surface of dwarf planet Ceres, seen here in an image from NASA's Dawn mission, shows fresh white spots. ASU researchers Marc Neveu and Steve Desch have an explanation how Ceres gets these puzzling features. Download Full Image

diagram showing ceres internal evolution

Four billion years ago, Ceres formed from a mixture of dust, rocky grains and ices. Today, it has a rocky core under a mantle of ice and rocky fragments. Between the two lie pockets of cold, briny liquid, the source of the white spots on the surface of Ceres. Artwork by Neveu and Desch

Neveu and Desch began with a reasonable assumption that Ceres formed from a mixture of ice and micro-particles of rock and dust. They hypothesized that the rocky particles released heat by radioactive decay. Impacts by meteorites were another likely factor. The heat would melt ice while allowing the denser rock fraction to settle toward the center of Ceres. It would also leave a surface coated with a residue of water-altered minerals.

Said Desch, "Our calculations of Ceres' evolution show that it is just warm enough deep inside Ceres for liquid water to exist." This water, he said, probably has other substances mixed in, making it a brine like seawater. "We calculate a temperature of 240 to 250 Kelvins, or about –27 degrees to –9 degrees Fahrenheit, just warm enough for chloride brines to persist and to be freezing today."

As the brine freezes, Neveu and Desch explained, it will expand (as ice does) and thus raise the pressure on any liquid or briny reservoirs inside Ceres.

"This should drive these fluids up to the surface, where they will erupt as cryovolcanic outflows," according to Neveu.

If cryovolcanism at various places across Ceres’ surface is driven by liquid freezing at depth, this activity may have increased as Ceres has cooled down, making it more likely today.

Cryovolcanism also has a side effect, said Desch: "The eruptions and outflows may contribute to the water vapor being produced at Ceres."

Added Neveu: “Cryovolcanism coming from deep inside Ceres is breathing new activity onto its ancient surface.”

The School of Earth and Space Exploration is a unit in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Robert Burnham

Science writer, School of Earth and Space Exploration


Passion for working with children drives ASU education grad

December 15, 2015

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

Desiree Graham has always had a passion for working with younger people. She volunteered with younger children during her time in middle and high school and always loved being with kids. This, coupled with the frequent moves her family made for her father’s work, which built a foundation for teaching, accepting new people and immersing herself in new cultures and situations, helped Graham decide on a teaching career. ASU student in cap and gown on Palm Walk Desiree Graham graduates with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College this December. Download Full Image

“I’ve never lived in any one place more than a year … and I’ve had many different teachers myself," said Graham, who graduates with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College this December. "So, when it comes to teaching, I have a lot of ideas and excitement. I went into teaching because of a collection of experiences, and I love it!”

“I had to become very social and learn to talk to a variety of people in order to make the most of each move,” she said, reflecting on moves from Oregon to Arizona, back to Oregon and to Arizona once again. In Arizona, her family mainly lived in Phoenix and its various outer suburbs. She quickly realized that every place, even if it is a short drive from the last neighborhood or school, has its own subculture.

“My senior year we moved again, and I enrolled in online school and was basically home-schooled, which, at that age, kind of means you’re teaching yourself. I think that also played into my decision to go into teaching.”

What’s most important?

“The chance to make a difference in a student’s life. The education system is going through a tough time right now and I get to see a lot of the good that’s in the system. I see the pros — the positives and what I can learn. I also see opportunities for how to make, and keep, students and parents excited about education,” Graham said.

Her excitement really is contagious. While she was pursuing her education, her own mother went back to school as well, and Graham says they supported and encouraged one another. She believes that showing people you care about them and their personal outcomes is what can stimulate and maintain excitement about education and learning.

Graham started her higher education career at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. She transferred to ASU and participated in iTeachAZ, which places teaching students in actual school classrooms. She says her experiences in iTeachAZ made her feel “completely prepared” to start interviewing for teaching jobs. In fact, she is stepping right into a teaching job at Stevenson Elementary School in Mesa, where she completed her iTeachAZ program.

“I did practice interviews with 10 principals, and I was able to intern in 3 different schools as I was learning how to teach and preparing to be a full-time teacher,”  she said.

But before all that, while at Chandler-Gilbert, Graham heard a lot of good things about teaching and the ASU programs. She decided to go into elementary education, and her counselor suggested that she sign onto a Maricopa to ASU Pathways Program (MAPP) to make her transfer process go more smoothly. This helped her to immediately know what classes she should take, and also connected her with an ASU career counselor in Student Services.

“It all went so smoothly. I was really pleased with the entire process and everyone was so helpful.”

“I am so excited about teaching and about going into my career with the great experiences I’ve had so far," Graham said. "I’ve seen many types of teachers and classrooms – ones that are strict, and others that are loose. I have seen student-centered schools and teacher-centered schools. I am so lucky to have a variety of experiences to call upon from my earlier education and from my formal education to put into my classroom and to use with the students I will be working with.”

Written by Jennifer P. Mitchell, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

ASU Law receives $100,000 gift from Los Abogados, Arizona’s Hispanic Bar Association

December 14, 2015

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University has received a $100,000 gift from Los Abogados, Arizona’s Hispanic Bar Association, which will be used to fund scholarships.

“This gives us an opportunity to increase how we are able to help out individual students that are coming to ASU Law,” said Ed Maldonado (JD ’00), president of Los Abogados. “There is also Dean (Douglas) Sylvester’s commitment to strengthening the diversity of the law students and the faculty.” ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester ASU's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law Dean Douglas Sylvester. Download Full Image

The scholarships funded by Los Abogados will be given to ASU Law students who show a commitment to helping the Latino community. The scholarships are not limited to Latinos or those of Hispanic descent.

The gift represents a long-standing partnership between Los Abogados and ASU Law. In October, Los Abogados honored ASU Law Professor Charles Calleros with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Here at ASU Law, our primary focus is our students,” Dean Sylvester said. “Through this generous gift we will be able to financially assist more students. In addition, we will continue to partner with Los Abogados to promote diversity at ASU Law.”

As thanks for the gift, Sylvester announced that the third-floor conference room at the Arizona Center for Law and Society, the new home of ASU Law in downtown Phoenix, will be named the Los Abogados Conference Room.

“That’s huge. It really provides a visual representation that ASU Law is committed to Los Abogados, to the Hispanic community as a whole, and the Hispanic legal community,” Maldonado said. “Having our name ever present in this amazing, state-of-the-art law school is something we’re proud of.”

Jason Barraza, vice president of Los Abogados, believes the gift to ASU Law will inspire members of the group to continue giving to legal education.

“This endowment would not be possible without the support of our membership, and I anticipate our members will continue their support, whether individually or through Los Abogados,” he said.

Los Abogados was founded in 1976 and incorporated in 1988. Members of Los Abogados include private and public attorneys, judges, businesspeople, paralegals and law students. Members practice throughout Arizona and serve as officers and directors of county, state and federal bar associations. Los Abogados is an affiliate member of the Hispanic National Bar Association.

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law


image title

ASU's year in review

December 14, 2015

A look back at some of the top stories of 2015

As we say goodbye to 2015 and look back on the year, it has been an exciting one for Arizona State University. From building spacecrafts to receiving innovation accolades, ASU continues to be a role model for the New American University. Here are some of the top stories.


From exoskeletons to new knowledge about Mom's health, ASU researchers are on the cutting edge of discoveries that have implications for us all.


Access to education, creating leaders, helping veterans: These are just a few of the real-world challenges that ASU faculty and staff sought to solve this year.

Global Engagement

The ASU community stretches far beyond the metro Phoenix area, or even Arizona. Sun Devils make a difference all over the globe, and this year was no exception.


Arts and innovation continue to drive ASU, and this year we were recognized for it by being named the most innovative university in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

Lisa Robbins

Assistant Director , Media Relations and Strategic Communications


Family inspires ASU grad to earn teaching degree

December 10, 2015

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

ASU graduate student Jasleen Rooprai's first teacher is the one who most inspired her to become a teacher herself: her mother.  ASU grad Jasleen Rooprai Jasleen Rooprai will graduate in December with a master’s degree in secondary education and a teacher’s certificate from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Download Full Image

Her mother taught middle-school science in India and Rooprai attended school there until the 12th grade.

“It was difficult to come here as a senior in high school … but my mother was already here … she had moved to the U.S. first, and I was glad to join her. The teachers and everyone at the school made it easier for me by encouraging me and helping me.” 

It was that kind of support that helped finalize Rooprai's decision to study education.

“My mom and my grandma, well, my adoptive grandma, went to ASU and so I knew I wanted to come to ASU and study, too. I heard good things about the program and knew it was the only choice for me,” she said.

Rooprai graduated from Arizona State University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, and will graduate in December with a master’s degree in secondary education and a teacher’s certificate from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

“People were kind to me when I came here … I had to adjust to a new learning style and teaching methods as a senior in high school … that’s why in my classroom, I always teach students to respect one another and to appreciate one another.”

Rooprai said that being respected and appreciated when she was new to this country helped her gain confidence and work hard to reach her goals.

What’s most important?

“What’s most important for me is getting my students to learn — not just the material, but also learning to be good citizens. Whenever there are issues or difficulties, I help them to have a class discussion about it so we can see what could be better and how we can do our best. When students show respect for others, most problems or difficulties can be avoided.

“My students do a lot of teamwork. When they work in groups, they see each other’s differences more, and they must overcome those situations. I tell them that throughout their lives they will work in teams. In their careers they will work in teams, and they must develop skills for this. Being respectful of others is one of the most important things anyone can learn.”

Rooprais’s specific teaching tactics in the classroom always include an exploration. She prefers using hands-on activities and stimulating many discussions among students. 

“I love using simulations of any kind to get everybody involved in the lesson and to be talking about anything new we learn. We play Pictionary or Jeopardy games with new material. Science can be very difficult because of all the vocabulary words. Students must have good reading skills and be able to grasp new vocabulary quickly to succeed in science.

“I never want anyone to stop studying or being interested in science because it is too hard. Sometimes when students think something is too hard, it is only because they need to develop several skills at once and apply reading, math and other skills together. By using these varied approaches and exploration in the classroom and having them do a variety of activities, each student becomes involved at some point, and they all can learn,” Rooprai said.

She is now a student teacher in a middle school science classroom and she says her primary goal is “to be an excellent teacher,” and she hopes to one day become an administrator or a college professor. 

“I just hope to keep learning and improving … my goal for myself is the same as my goals and hopes for my students.”

Written by Jennifer P. Mitchell, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

ASU education grad takes teacher role to heart

December 10, 2015

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

Carolina Moreno takes her role in the lives of students very seriously. ASU grad Carolina Moreno Carolina Moreno graduates this December with an undergraduate secondary education degree in Spanish from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Download Full Image

“As a teacher, you really can be the whole world to someone,” said Moreno, who graduates in December with an undergraduate secondary education degree in Spanish from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “Some days, some people feel like they want to cry. It’s frustrating. And yet it is so very rewarding and you go forward, knowing you are making a difference in someone’s life.”

Moreno grew up in Mexico and she had some very influential teachers there — people who helped her realize the important role teachers play in the lives of different students. To some students, a teacher becomes a role model. To others, a teacher is an advocate — the person they most trust with delicate questions or issues. 

“I had many very good teachers when I was growing up, but I remember two in particular who were helpful and who influenced me in my decision to become a teacher. My high school psychology teacher was that person who, if students had trouble with anything, they would go to her. She would help kids with any problems. She was a good teacher and listener.

“My world history teacher connected well with students, and he really made us want to learn more. I knew that I wanted to be that kind of teacher. He actually visited ASU and spoke here as our guest when I was a student ambassador for the college. He is the kind of person who makes people want to learn more and to do their best.”

What’s most important?

“Definitely connecting with students is the most important aspect to teaching. ... Getting to know them, and being passionate about teaching, not just about your subject. Letting students know that you care and helping them to become lifelong learners. Those are very important parts of a teacher’s role.

“Sometimes you, the teacher, are the only person a student can come to with something. They trust you. There was one student who was in danger of failing. He came to a teacher, and that teacher really made a difference.” Moreno says the fact that a teacher really can be “the whole world” to a student and truly make a difference is what is most important.

Moreno started college at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, where she earned an associate’s degree. When she transferred to ASU, she needed additional Spanish pre-requisites and then was able to attend Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. She has worked with both middle and high school students in the Tempe School District while attending ASU and enjoys both very much. Moreno looks forward to securing a teaching position after graduation and hopes to eventually become a department chair and also earn a master’s degree.

“I am interested in eventually being a school counselor,” she said, but emphasized that she wants to continue her own education and feels as excited about learning as she hopes her students are about learning new material.

“Recently we were putting together a childhood unit, and I found an old picture of me playing with my brother and cousin as a child … playing school. I was the teacher. I always wanted to help others … and to be a guide and help people understand things. That is what I get to do every day as a teacher.”

Written by Jennifer P. Mitchell, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Arizona Republic publisher to address ASU journalism graduates

December 10, 2015

Mi-Ai Parrish, the new president and publisher of The Arizona Republic, will give the keynote convocation speech to the fall 2015 graduates of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication next week.

The ceremony will be held at at 7 p.m. Dec. 14, at ASU Gammage. More than 130 students are expected to graduate. Mi-Ai Parrish Arizona Republic President and Publisher Mi-Ai Parrish will give the Cronkite School's keynote convocation speech Dec. 14 at ASU Gammage. Download Full Image

Parrish joined Republic Media as president and publisher of The Arizona Republic and in October. She came to Arizona’s largest newspaper from The Kansas City Star Media Co., where she was president and publisher of The Kansas City Star and since 2011. Her papers have been Pulitzer Prize finalists three times.

Parrish previously served in the same roles at The Idaho Statesman for five years. During her tenure at those publications, she gained a reputation for transforming and diversifying business operations by growing the traditional media companys’ connections with a changing community that wanted news on its smartphones, and new opportunities for interactivity.

“Mi-Ai Parrish is a respected leader in championing innovation and excellence in the news industry,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School. “We are excited to have Mi-Ai speak with our outstanding graduates and thrilled to welcome her back to Arizona.”

Prior to becoming a publisher, she spent the majority of her career in newsroom roles ranging from reporting and copy editing to travel editor and projects editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The Arizona Republic, Chicago Sun-Times and The Virginian-Pilot.

Parrish was The Star’s first female publisher, where she served on the boards of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Kansas City Area Development Council and The Civic Council. She also was a co-chair for KC Rising, a regional development initiative as well as a United Way business council member.

Parrish is a two-time Pulitzer Prize juror, longtime member of the Asian American Journalists Association and was named one of the 100 most important minority journalists of the last century. She was inducted into the University of Maryland Alumni Hall of Fame in 2013.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recognizes fall 2015 Dean’s Medalists

December 8, 2015

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

During the fall 2015 convocation ceremony on Dec. 15, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University will honor their best and brightest undergraduates from the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities. Dean's Medalist James Cornelison from the Department of Physics at Arizona State University. Dean's Medalist James Cornelison from the Department of Physics at Arizona State University. Download Full Image

These students — selected by their department or school for demonstrating excellence — will be awarded a Dean’s Medal to wear with their graduation regalia and will lead their fellow graduates during the processional.

The Dean’s Medalists have impressed their professors, schools and departments by going above and beyond in their academic careers. Through advanced coursework, innovative strives in research and impressive GPAs, these students will impact communities locally and internationally as they go on to develop themselves professionally.

Meet this year’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Medalists:

Benjamin Bresnahan

Dean’s Medal: School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
Major: History
Accomplishments: Bresnahan conducted undergraduate research on the role of public perception in the Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle trials in the 1920s and how this led to the rise of “yellow” journalism.
Volunteer Work: In association with ASU and The Salvation Army, Bresnahan served as a tutor to underprivileged and underserved middle school-aged children in reading, writing and math comprehension.

“Benjamin Bresnahan stands out as an undergraduate at ASU. He is bright, competitive, intellectually curious and intrigued with ideas. He has a strong and positive work ethic,” said Gayle Gullett, associate professor of history.

Bianca Cruz

Dean’s Medal: School of Life Sciences
Major: Biological Sciences
Accomplishments: Originally from Puerto Rico, Cruz learned English when she came to the U.S. at the age of 12. She volunteered as a laboratory aide in the summer of 2014 at the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources Fisheries Laboratory and in 2015 as a laboratory aide at ASU’s Neuer Laboratory conducting her own experiments involving water column modeling.
Future Plans: Cruz has been applying to graduate schools to continue studying the biological carbon pump in the ocean and the mechanisms that drive it.

“(Bianca) impressed me immediately by her intelligence and drive and motivation,” said Susanne Neuer, professor in the School of Life Sciences.

Brenna Goodwin

Dean’s Medal: Department of Psychology
Majors: Psychology and Philosophy
Accomplishments: Beyond completing two bachelor’s degrees as an honors student, Goodwin worked as a research assistant in the Cognitive Science Prototype Abstraction Lab for one semester before starting her honors thesis work with the Embodied Cognition Lab.
Thesis: Goodwin’s thesis focused on electrical activity in the brain and how performing a task with a partner increases motor-neuron activity. Her work, built upon findings of a graduate student, included collecting and analyzing complex data. Dr. Art Glenberg, director of the Embodied Cognition Lab, anticipates using her findings in an upcoming publication in a prominent journal.
Future Plans: Goodwin plans on going into full-time ministry when she graduates.

“(Brenna) has shown strong performance in every aspect of our program. … We are extremely happy to recognize (her) achievements with the psychology department’s Dean’s Medal,” said Michelle Shiota, associate professor of psychology.

Chanelle Johnson

Dean’s Medal: T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics
Major: Sociology
Minor: Psychology
Accomplishments: Johnson has a passion for improving the lives of others, locally and internationally. For the past two years, Johnson participated in a local event to give away free dental services. She is a long-standing volunteer at a senior living home, has worked with abused and underprivileged children, served meals to homeless individuals and traveled to Ecuador to improve teaching techniques.
Future Plans: Johnson plans to pursue a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy.

“Chanelle’s compassion, thoughtfulness and dedication to improving the lives of others coupled with her outstanding academic record have impressed so many of us in the Sanford School community,” said Lois Goldblatt, an academic success coordinator.

Cody Inglis

Dean’s Medal: School of Politics and Global Studies
Major: Political Science
Accomplishments: Inglis has worked with the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, assisting Dr. Lenka Bustilkova on research into the far-right groups of Ukraine. He also co-founded a small-run publishing house for local art, poetry and music and has been playing in shows with his band and exhibiting his photography since 2010.
Thesis: Inglis’ honors thesis, entitled “Curation and Hegemony,” deals with the dynamics of international recognition of secessionist states.
Future Plans: Inglis plans to pursue a master’s degree in comparative history at Central European University.

“Cody embodies the core tenets of the school … his academic research and personal life engage political phenomena within social contexts at all levels of analysis: local, national and global,” said Richard Herrera, associate director of the School of Politics and Global Studies.

Dalton Worsnup

Dean’s Medal: School of Mathematical and Statistical Science
Major: Mathematics
Accomplishments: Worsnup changed his major to math after taking one course. He enhanced his advanced mathematics education through research internships in commutative algebra at the University of California, Los Angeles and foundational mathematics at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
Future Plans: Upon graduation, Worsnup plans to become a naval aviator in the Navy. While in the Navy, he wants to pursue a PhD with focused studies in space systems in hopes of becoming an astronaut one day.

“Mr. Worsnup is an outstanding example of what it means to live the art and science of mathematics,” said Tracey Hayes on behalf of the School of Mathematical and Statistical Science scholarship and awards committee.

Emily Kaba

Dean’s Medal: School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning
Major: Geographical Sciences
Minor: Sustainability
Certificate: Geographic Information Science
Accomplishments: Kaba showcased a passion for learning and an invaluable commitment to the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, impressing her professors with her preparation, attention to detail and probing questions.
Thesis: Kaba’s honors thesis was inspired by the Hole-in-the-Rock at Papago Park and how this phenomenon was formed. As a part of her research, she mastered how to use one of ASU’s powerful electron microscopes. Her research will be submitted to the prestigious Earth Surface Processes and Landforms serial of the British Geomorphological Research Society. 

“We feel very lucky to have been Emily’s academic home,” said Patricia Gober, interim director of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

Emma Fleming

Dean’s Medal: School of International Letters and Cultures
Major: Business Law and International Letters and Cultures (Classics)
Accomplishments: Fleming will be completing concurrent degrees in business law and classics in Latin. She was a member of the Dean’s List every semester at ASU and is a member of Eta Sigma Phi, an honorary society for classical studies. While completing her studies she also tutored and taught young children.
Thesis: Elementary Latin curricula.
Future Plans: Fleming has been accepted to several prestigious law schools and plans to attend one in the fall. 

Eric Escoto

Dean’s Medal: School of Earth and Space Exploration
Major: Earth and Space Exploration (Geological Sciences Concentration)
Accomplishments: Escoto returned to pursue his degree after nine years in the workforce. He conducted undergraduate research with Assistant Professor Christy Till and earned the Ron Greely Planetary Geology Scholarship, which is awarded to one student annually.
Thesis: Volcanism in Hawaii and the processes that occur prior to eruption.
Future Plans: Escoto is currently applying to doctorate programs in geologic science.

“(Eric) is an exemplary role model for the many non-traditional students … he demonstrates that life and work experience can be an asset, not a hindrance, in your education and there may be more doors open to you than perhaps you realized,” said Christy Till, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Hallie Sussman

Dean’s Medal: School of Molecular Sciences
Major: Biochemistry  
Accomplishments: A recipient of the 2015 Biochemistry Award, Sussman has been working in Professor Neal Woodbury’s laboratory at the Biodesign Institute on projects involving photosynthetic reaction centers as part of her honors thesis. She is expected to be a co-author on at least one of the papers that result from the research.
Future Plans: Sussman plans to attend graduate school to pursue a doctorate degree in biochemistry.

“(Hallie) serves as a great example of a molecular sciences student in that she has worked hard both on understanding at a deep level the operation of (bio)molecules and how to apply this understanding to create solutions to real-world problems,” said Kevin Redding, chair of the undergraduate program committee for the School of Molecular Sciences.

James Cornelison

Dean’s Medal: Department of Physics
Major: Physics
Minor: Astrophysics
Accomplishments: Cornelison returned to school after gaining military experience. As a student researcher, he conducted renovations on a radio and implemented software-based signal processing for the telescopes under the guidance of Dr. Christopher Groppi.

“His academic accomplishments are impressive, and he is certainly a student we should be very proud of,” said Ixchell Paape, the academic manager of the physics department. 

John Bruno

Dean’s Medal: School of Social Transformation
Major: Justice Studies
Minor: Political Science
Accomplishments: Bruno is a first generation student who demonstrated determination to succeed. He was accepted to ASU as a transfer student in the spring of 2014. He recently joined the Golden Key International Honor Society.
Future Plans: Bruno hopes to continue his education by attending law school.

“(John) … is a good example of overcoming and succeeding in academia,” said Frank Piña, assistant director of academic services in the School of Social Transformation.

Justin Peterson

Dean’s Medal: School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning
Major: Urban Planning
Minors: Sustainability and Business
Certificate: Geographic Information Science
Accomplishments: Peterson was selected as a Dean’s Medalist for his range of community service, including membership in the Student Planning Association and the Tempe Bicycle Coalition, extensive work at Tempe’s Escalante Community Garden and an internship with the City of Tempe’s Community Development Office.

“Justin is really dedicated, committed to community service and a high-achieving student,” said Dr. Kevin McHugh, associate professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

Noah Leben

Dean’s Medal: Department of English
Major: English (Creative Writing)
Accomplishments: Leben was the first-prize winner of the English department’s 2015 Swarthout Poetry Award, and he has won a number of writing awards. In addition to his activities in creative writing, Leben was selected to participate in the Kakehashi Project, a student exchange program between Japan and the United States.

“(Noah) strikes us as not only a top-notch English student and creative writer, but as the ideal well-rounded, wide-ranging undergraduate we all hope to find in our classes,” said Robert S. Sturges, professor of English.

Susana Valenzuela

Dean’s Medal: Hugh Downs School of Human Communication
Majors: Human Communication and Spanish Linguistics
Minor: French
Accomplishments: In 2014, Valenzuela was awarded one of the top scholarships in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. She served as an undergraduate teaching assistant and as a classroom apprentice, helping students succeed in their classes.
Future Plans: Valenzuela plans to go to graduate school.

“(Susana) is dedicated to moving forward and knows what it takes to be successful, she always works hard at whatever she is doing,” said Carol Comito, academic success specialist in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. “She is a true leader.”

Theresa Pena

Dean’s Medal: School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Major: Global Health
Accomplishments: Pena, an Army veteran, was selected as a Dean’s Medalist for her excellence in student engagement. Beyond her academic achievements, she also participated in a health and environment lab internship at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

“She has worked diligently and successfully to balance both work and school,” said Stefanie Bobar, academic success specialist in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

Wendel Friedl

Dean’s Medal: Department of Economics
Major: Economics
Minor: Psychology
Accomplishments: Wendell served eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve and three years in Iraq as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. He received a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and returned to ASU for a second degree in economics.
Future Plans: Friedl plans to pursue a graduate degree in cognitive psychology with an emphasis on decision neuroscience and neuroeconomics. 

“It is truly an honor for the department to nominate Wendel Friedl as the department’s CLAS Dean’s Medalist,” said Jose Mendez, chair of the awards committee for the economics department.

Amanda Stoneman

Senior Marketing Content Specialist, EdPlus


Innovating for equality

Competition asks students to write letter to future US president

December 8, 2015

Innovation. It is a term that invokes hope, visions of the future, times and places that are different — and better — than today.

But innovation without careful consideration and responsible oversight can build barriers instead of bridges. pen writing "Dear Future "President" Dear Future President: In an essay contest for U.S. undergraduates, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society is encouraging students to write an open letter to the next U.S. president on “Innovating for Equality.”

Who gets to benefit from the latest smart phones? Or the newest health diagnostic methods? Or cutting-edge gene editing techniques, the emerging Internet of Things, or autonomous drones?

And who does not?

More importantly, what can we do to ensure innovation benefits everyone, not just a privileged few?

This is the question being asked in a new competition being run by the Arizona State University's School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

In an essay contest for U.S. undergraduates, the school is encouraging students to write an open letter to the next U.S. president on “Innovating for Equality.”

“Innovation is critically important for improving lives,” said Dave Guston, the school’s founding director. “Yet innovation without responsibility will widen equality gaps and drive an even greater wedge between the haves and the have-nots.  This competition provides a unique opportunity for undergraduates to recommend ways in which the next administration can promote innovation for equality.”

The three winning entries will be awarded cash scholarships, and the top entries will be published by the school.

For more information on the competition, visit

Piano student newest ASU carillonneur

Andrew Boyle selected as Arizona State Credit Union Student Carillonneur; winner of scholarship

December 7, 2015

When he was a first grader at a Montessori school in Tucson, Andrew Boyle’s parents signed up him for piano lessons because they thought he would like it.

“I liked being taken out of class for a lesson,” Boyle said. new student carillonneur Andrew Boyle posing with award Left to right: Carl Cross, co-chair, ASU Carillon Society; Andrew Boyle, new Arizona State Credit Union Student Carillonneur; Judith Smith, ASU Carillon Society. Photo by Paige Shacklett Download Full Image

Those “out-of-class” times paid off. Boyle, a senior studying piano performance with Arizona State University professor of music Robert Hamilton, has been selected as the Arizona State Credit Union Student Carillonneur for 2015-16. He will receive a $1,000 scholarship from Arizona State Credit Union.

Boyle is a first-prize winner in the ASU Concert of Soloists Concerto Competition and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition. He also won a prize at the Jacob Flier International Piano Competition in New York City.

Boyle, a graduate of Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, Arizona, said, “I have a great love for performing classical music at the piano. Together with Lucas Stratmann, a violinist from the Juilliard School I put together a recital at the Tempe Center for the Arts that was nearly sold out.

“I have also played music at wedding, ceremonies, my own church, hospitals and nursing homes because playing music is a joy which is wonderful to share, no matter the genre.”

Boyle said he wanted to play ASU’s Symphonic Carillon, which was a gift to the University from student government in 1966, after realizing that “its sonorous bells were not merely automatic or controlled by computer but could have a human performer behind them.

“Sitting in a tree by the Memorial Union listening to what I had suddenly realized was a rendition of a suite by J.S. Bach ringing out over the campus pathways, it occurred to me that the sounds I had been hearing might come from an instrument and not just an amplified MIDI soundtrack.

“It will be a great privilege to play this unique instrument at ASU because bringing music anonymously to so many people is a small but important way to speak to them through art.”

Audreonna Morris, manager of the ASU branch of the credit union, said, “Arizona State Credit Union has been a proud sponsor of the Carillon Society for many years, and we have awarded Andrew with the Student Carillonneur Scholarship for 2015-2016.

“We are pleased to award such a talented and well-rounded student with the scholarship. On behalf of the Credit Union I’d like to congratulate Andrew and thank the Carillon Society for such a wonderful partnership!”

For more information about the carillon, go to, or send an e-mail to