The Biodesign Institute expands its scientific reach with 5 new faculty

September 21, 2022

The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University welcomes five new faculty members, beginning this fall. The incoming researchers, all outstanding scientists in their respective fields, will further extend the already broad reach of the institute’s portfolio, which encompasses human health, national security and environmental sustainability.

Joshua Hihath will be the new director of the Biodesign Center for Bioelectronics and Biosensors. He will replace N.J. Tao,  whose innovative work had raised the center to one of international prominence in the field of nanotechnology. Exterior of a Biodesign Institute building on Arizona State University's Tempe campus. The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University welcomes new faculty members to its Centers for Bioelectronics and Biosensors; Mechanisms of Evolution; Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics; Health Through Microbiomes; and Biocomputing, Security and Society. Download Full Image

Portrait of

Joshua Hihath

In addition to his appointment at the Biodesign Institute, Hihath is a professor with the School of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering at ASU. Previously, he was a professor and vice chair for undergraduate studies in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California Davis, having earned his PhD in electrical engineering from ASU in 2008.

Hihath has pursued research at the intersection of engineering, chemistry, biology and physics, and focuses on understanding the electrical and mechanical properties of nanoscale and molecular systems for applications in electronics, sensing and health care.

“I'm excited to return to the Biodesign Institute. ASU has an expansive, dynamic and highly interdisciplinary research environment that spans engineering and the physical, chemical and health sciences,” Hihath says.

“I look forward to a variety of new collaborations aimed at harnessing the unique electronic properties of molecules for new applications in electronics, diagnostics, sensing and health care.”

Navish Wadhwa has joined the Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution. He was trained as an engineer and physicist but has long been preoccupied with biological problems as well. His eclectic academic background includes an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering (IIT Delhi), MS in engineering mechanics (Virginia Tech), and a PhD in physics (Technical University of Denmark).

Portrait of

Navish Wadhwa

His postdoctoral research brought him to Harvard’s Molecular and Cellular Biology Department, where his love for biophysics was solidified.

His work has focused in part on how physical interactions enable or constrain the ways biological organisms move and interact with each other and their surroundings. His research into bacterial motility, guided by tiny rotary motors composed of distinct protein components, is one example. He also holds a position as assistant professor with ASU's Department of Physics and Center for Biological Physics. 

“I was attracted to Biodesign due to its emphasis on interdisciplinary research and an exceptional group of people, both in scientific and research support roles,” Wadhwa says. “Altogether, Biodesign has created a fantastic environment to do science and I look forward to taking advantage of everything it has to offer as I launch my independent research career.”

Nsa Dada begins her new research position with the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics

She is the founder and lead of the Mosquito Microbiome Consortium, a collaborative initiative for the advancement of mosquito microbiome research. She is also a global health research consultant for institutions like the World Health Organization and Pan-African Mosquito Control Association. She is also the first black faculty member appointed to ASU's School of Life Sciences, where she is assistant professor. 

Working within the global health sphere, she has led or been involved in research at the intersection of the biology, evolution, ecology/microbial ecology, and control of parasites and disease vectors at leading research and public health institutions around the world, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she was a resident American Society for Microbiology Postdoctoral Fellow, and subsequent research fellow.

Portrait of

Nsa Dada

Her research efforts are now largely concentrated on how mosquito-microbe interactions shape mosquito biology and evolutionary responses to changes in their habitats. She currently leads a pioneering and award-winning research program that is aimed at understanding how microbes may contribute to the development of insecticide resistance in mosquito vector populations. She is a strong proponent of equitable 'Global North-South' research collaborations, and as such fosters several collaborative and research exchange initiatives between different institutions around the world.

Dada earned her BSc degree in zoology from the University of Calabar, Nigeria, and her MSc degree in biology and control of parasites and disease vectors from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, England. She pursued a multidisciplinary doctoral research program at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Aas, Norway, and earned a PhD degree in microbiology — focusing on mosquito-microbe interactions.

"I joined Biodesign for its focus on finding solutions to global health challenges through research; an essence that encompasses what I do as a scientist. Being a part of Biodesign will allow me to explore an intersection of different life science disciplines (vector biology, molecular biology, and microbial ecology) that are usually explored independently. It especially provides an adequate platform for answering questions about the biology and behavior of disease vectors from the perspective of their association with microbes. It is also important for me to be in a community of scientists with similar research interests, and I look forward to interacting and collaborating with ASU colleagues."

The newly established Biodesign Center for Health Through Microbiomes, under the direction of Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, welcomes its first new hire. Taichi Suzuki is an evolutionary biologist interested in the role of the microbiome in the health and fitness of animals, including humans.

“My research aims to build a comprehensive picture of host-microbial coevolution in animals that harbor complex microbial communities, ranging from genes to organismal biology to macro-evolutionary patterns,” Suzuki says. 

Suzuki comes to ASU via the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Germany, where he has been a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Microbiome Sciences since 2018. His research involves the identification of common genes that mediate host-microbial interactions across populations and species of mammals. Despite an existing body of research on the human gut microbiome, the microbial composition of such communities within wild, non-human populations remains a largely blank slate.

Using populations of wild house mice, Suzuki has explored the complex roles of symbiotic microbial communities in shaping host ecology and evolution. Research into the beneficial effects of the mammalian microbiome in natural populations has deep implications for the study of human health.

Portrait of

Taichi Suzuki

Joshua Daymude joins the Biodesign Center for Biocomputing, Security and Society and shares an appointment with ASU’s School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence. He completed his PhD in 2021 at the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering (CIDSE) at ASU. Prior to his professorship, he was a Mistletoe Research Fellow at the Momental Foundation, a three-time ARCS Foundation Johnston Endowment Scholar and a CIDSE Dean's Fellow.

Portrait of

Joshua Daymude

Daymude’s wide-ranging research connects distributed computing theory to collective and emergent behavior. His work involves areas of computer science such as distributed computing, stochastic processes, swarm intelligence and bio-inspired algorithms. His interdisciplinary approach encompasses theoretical immunology, microbiomic ecology, active matter physics, dynamic networks and programmable matter systems.

The research will explore the potential of distributed computing theory to “help solve unanswered questions about distributed systems in biology and society,” Daymude says.

“The Biodesign Institute offers a perfect interdisciplinary environment to pursue this research, where I can learn from and lend my expertise to biological and social research areas outside of computer science."

Richard Harth

Science writer, Biodesign Institute at ASU


ASU Online students, alumni network in DC

Current, past students of Master of Arts in global security gathered for reception in nation's capital

September 20, 2022

In September, the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University hosted its first Washington, D.C., reception for current students, alumni and faculty of the ASU Online Master of Arts in global security program.

"From day one, our MA in global security has emphasized networking and creating new career opportunities not just for our students, but also for our alums,” said Magda Hinojosa, professor and director of the School of Politics and Global Studies. ASU Online students and alumni mingle at a networking event. Peter Bergen (far left), ASU professor of practice, talking with students and alumni of the global security master's program. Download Full Image

“I was humbled to be in the room with individuals who had incredible life stories,” said Michael Lapadot, a current global security student and service member in the U.S. Army. “I had never met anyone at the reception in person before, but as soon as I arrived, I felt that I was meeting with teammates.”

This event, which took place at ASU's Barrett & O'Connor Washington Center, is part of a broader effort to connect students, alumni and faculty of the online program based on areas around the world they are located.

“Washington, D.C., is the center of activity in global security and home to our largest concentration of alumni outside Arizona, so there are tremendous opportunities in the area for our students to network, learn and advance their careers,” said Thomas Just, a lecturer with the School of Politics and Global Studies.

The reception took place the night before the Future Security Forum, which is jointly hosted by New America and ASU's Center on the Future of War, among others. Attendees were able to meet and engage with Peter Bergen, who is the vice president of global studies and fellows at New America, the co-director of the Center on the Future of War and a professor of practice with the School of Politics and Global Studies.

“We have the privilege of working with an amazing group of graduate students from diverse backgrounds,” said Daniel Rothenberg, professor of practice in the School of Politics and Global Studies, co-director of the Center on the Future of War and co-director of the grad program.

“It is exciting to stay in touch with our students after they graduate as part of our commitment to creating and sustaining a vibrant intellectual and professional community focused on addressing pressing global security challenges.”

Lapadot shared that the graduate program has helped him identify mentors and professional career goals. He hopes to continue to stay connected because of the diverse group of alumni.

“D.C. is full of people who are at the cutting edge of national security policy, intelligence and/or commercial technology,” Lapadot said. “This reception connected people from all of these backgrounds. Given the university's relationship with New America, the McCain Institute, etc., I think ASU can really establish a footprint in D.C.”

Jennifer Abdulla, who graduated in 2021 with her master’s degree in global security and works in the intelligence field (nuclear security), attended the reception as well, noting networking as an “important part of exploring career opportunities.”

She looks forward to more events like this that provide opportunities for mentorship between students and alumni of the program.

“It was good to be able to provide insights to new students,” Abdulla said. “It was also great to meet a couple of my former professors.”

Chris Conte, another global security alum in attendance, has credited the program in helping him navigate his career path over the last few years. He has been pleasantly surprised with how engaging the faculty and fellow students have been.

“I believe one of the best things a person can do to set themselves up for success professionally is to surround themselves with high-level individuals and build a strong network of quality people around them,” said Conte. “The program is filled with outstanding people in both the faculty and student base, and staying connected with this community certainly has put me in a better position to tap into the well of connections that expand from the MAGS program.”

He credits the leadership of the program for building a community within the student and alumni base.

“While often times online education can feel artificial and distant, the MAGS program does a great job at overcoming some of these challenges,” said Conte. “Seeing as many faces as I did at the reception just shows how many other MAGS members feel the connection to community within the program and how strong the potential is for this network to continue to grow.”

The event brought together members of the global security MA community who work for a number of employers such as the FBI, Voice of America, Verizon and the Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security.

The School of Politics and Global Studies plans to offer more engagement opportunities in the future as the number of students and alumni continue to grow from the MA in global security, its cybersecurity concentration and global security and competitive statecraft graduate certificate.

ASU students and alumni pose for group photo at networking event.

Peter Bergen (far left), ASU professor of practice, met with students and alumni of the global security master's program in Washington, D.C.

Matt Oxford

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Politics and Global Studies


Theater professor named 2022 Victoria Foundation award recipient

September 19, 2022

Arizona State University Professor Micha Espinosa has been named the 2022 recipient of the Professor Alberto Ríos Outstanding Literary/Arts Award by the Victoria Foundation. A longstanding member of the Screen Actors Guild, Espinosa is known as a national and international presence and a leading voice for social justice in the classroom. 

Espinosa is a full professor in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre with affiliate appointments in The Sidney Poitier New American Film School and the School of Transborder Studies. She said she is honored to be acknowledged for her work by the Victoria Foundation. Professor Espinosa with her son at the awards ceremony on Sept. 14. Photo courtesy MIcha Espinosa. ASU Professor Micha Espinosa is pictured with her son at the Higher Education Awards Reception on Sept. 14 at the Helios Education Foundation in Phoenix. Photo courtesy of Micha Espinosa Download Full Image

“The work of the Victoria Foundation inspires me,” said Espinosa. “It is a great honor to receive recognition from an organization that shares my values of strengthening educational opportunities for the LatinxThe gender-neutral term for a person from, or whose ancestors were from, a Spanish-speaking land or culture or from Latin America. communities of Arizona.”

Espinosa has been working on a book co-edited with Cynthia Santos DeCure that addresses the systemic invisibility of Latino actors in the industry and develops culturally conscious pathways to career success. She is also working on a project with ASU Barrett College Fellows Marcus Cruz, Chelsea Hernandez Martinez and Jaime Orozco Velasquez to improve opportunities and perceptions of careers in the performing arts.

“My creative and academic writings have focused on the urgent need to address the inequities that Latinx students face in the field,” said Espinosa. “I hope that receiving this award sheds light on these two projects dear to my heart.”

Espinosa was honored at the Higher Education Awards Reception on Sept. 14 at the Helios Education Foundation in Phoenix.

Lacy Chaffee

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


Sherine Gabriel appointed to facilitate health outcomes at ASU

Gabriel named a University Professor of the Future of Health Outcomes and Medicine, and chair of the ASU Health Outcomes Design Council

September 19, 2022

Arizona State University has announced the appointment of Dr. Sherine Gabriel to the position of University Professor of the Future of Health Outcomes and Medicine, and chair of the ASU Health Outcomes Design Council.

Reporting to ASU President Michael Crow, Gabriel will be responsible for facilitating the continuing evolution of a unified health and health outcomes focus at ASU. Portrait of Sherine Gabriel Sherine Gabriel Download Full Image

She will partner with faculty and staff across the university’s complete health care portfolio, leveraging existing assets to design new, transdisciplinary approaches to teaching and forming collaborations to tackle some of the most complex medical education challenges and opportunities facing our society today.

Gabriel has dedicated her career to advancing innovative education training and equitable health outcomes as an epidemiologist and rheumatologist. She worked closely with teams and in collaboration with academic partners to conduct research, and to design and implement new education models to better prepare future health scientists and health care providers to advance health equity and improve health.

She completed her medical training at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, where she was named a 2022 recipient of the USask Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed by the university. She completed her residency at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in internal medicine and completed fellowships in rheumatology at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine and Wellesley Hospital in Toronto. She received a master’s degree in clinical epidemiology and biostatistics from McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario, Canada.

Gabriel's resume includes an extensive list of leadership positions in medicine and academia, including: numerous professorial appointments within the Mayo Medical School, culminating with being awarded the William J. and Charles H. Mayo Endowed Professor and serving as dean; professor, dean, Distinguished University Professor and CEO appointments at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Medical Group; and most recently the James A. Campbell, MD Distinguished Professor and President of Rush University, as well as Chief Academic Officer of the Rush University System for Health. Rush University is a nationally ranked academic medical center in Chicago and includes a medical college, college of nursing, college of health sciences and a graduate college. One hallmark of Gabriel's time at Rush was establishing the Rush BMO Institute for Health Equity, which now coordinates Rush’s health equity initiatives across all system hospitals.

Among her long history of service to professional associations and on government and non-government boards and committees, Gabriel is a former President of the American College of Rheumatology, the world’s leading professional organization of rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals dedicated to advancing research and training to improve health outcomes for individuals with rheumatic diseases. She has also served on many national committees, most significantly as a member of the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, as chair of the FDA Drug Safety and Risk Management Committee and as founding chair of the Methodology Committee of the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, an institute created through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and an elected member of the Association of American Physicians, the society of leading physician-scientists in the U.S.

Notably, Gabriel comes to ASU with a history of building strong working relationships within the university. During her tenure as dean at Mayo Clinic, she worked closely with the College of Health Solutions and EdPlus to develop and launch the new Mayo Medical School in Arizona and to incorporate the MS/certificate and MD/MS programs in the science of health care delivery. These innovative programs introduce Mayo medical students to health systems design and engineering principles, as well as health economics, leadership and management, with the goal of optimizing health care delivery and health outcomes for all.

ASU faculty member to focus on Día de los Muertos research as part of fellowship

Mathew Sandoval, from Barrett, The Honors College, awarded Faculty Fellowship with ASU’s Social Transformation Lab

September 19, 2022

Mathew Sandoval, Honors Faculty Fellow in Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, recently was awarded a Faculty Fellowship with ASU’s Social Transformation Lab.

Sandoval is among the lab’s faculty fellows for the 2022-2023 academic year, which also includes Angie Bautista-Chavez, Ersula J. Ore and Jerome Clark. Portrait of ASU faculty member Mathew Sandoval. Mathew Sandoval, Honors Faculty Fellow in Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University. Download Full Image

“I’m incredibly honored to be one of the lab’s 2022-2023 cohort of fellows,” Sandoval said. “This is a golden opportunity to work with a dope group of scholar-artist-activists to translate our ideas and expertise into solutions for transforming our community, our university and society more generally.”

The Social Transformation Lab is an ASU Office of the President initiative overseen by Mako Ward, assistant professor of African American studies and women and gender studies at the School of Social Transformation, and Bryan Brayboy, President’s Professor in the School of Social Transformation and vice president of social advancement.

According to Ward, director of ASU’s Social Transformation Lab, Sandoval was selected because, “his research, teaching and creative work embody the spirit of the university’s strivings toward inclusive scholarship of public value. This contributes to innovative knowledge production while advancing the university’s charter.”

Sandoval has spent the last several years using his teaching and service to address issues of racism. He organizes and facilitates the honors college's annual Juneteenth dialogue, and teaches the honors seminars “Race and Performance” and “Race and Identity in U.S. Cinema.” 

He also organizes the “Race & Revolution” film series for the Majestic movie theaters as a way to lead community dialogues about race and social change. Sandoval previously served as the Faculty Fellow for ASU’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy.

“Social change isn’t a side hustle for me. Working on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of what I do and who I am,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval recently was recognized for his work in this area with the 2022 Sangre de Arte award from the ASU Chicano/Latino Faculty and Staff Association. The award recognizes an individual who exemplifies “passion for creatively affecting their community through the arts, mentorship of Chicano/Latino students and leadership within ASU or the community.”

Sandoval plans to use his Social Transformation Lab fellowship to continue work on his research of the cultural history of Día de los Muertos, a holiday celebrated mostly in Mexico to remember and honor loved ones who have died.  

“My intention is to finish writing the final chapter of my book, which is about how Day of the Dead has developed into a global pop culture phenomenon over the past decade,” Sandoval said. 

“Social media and the pandemic have really transformed Day of the Dead in profound ways in the past few years. I’m trying to make sense of what all these transformations mean for the holiday, what they mean for the individuals and communities that celebrate Day of the Dead, and what they mean for Chicano/Latino culture more generally.” 

Sandoval and the other fellows will present their work in a university symposium at the end of the academic year.

Nicole Greason

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


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ASU updates name, image or likeness efforts for student-athletes

September 16, 2022

Group licensing, digital platforms among the ways student-athletes can be compensated

It is a new era for college athletics, as student-athletes can now be compensated for the use of their name, image or likeness.

Endorsing a business on social media, appearances and autograph sessions, or camps are just some of the ways for student-athletes around the nation to be compensated, and Arizona State University has updated its name, image or likeness, or NIL, efforts.

“As we continue to evolve with the rapidly changing realities of college sports in 2022, ASU has developed a balanced, forward-looking approach to help our student-athletes identify, assess and implement NIL opportunities,” said Ray Anderson, vice president for University Athletics. “These are opportunities that can benefit them now as student-athletes, and also benefit them in the years ahead. 

“We have taken a hard look at what is needed to compete today, and we are taking important steps in that direction.” 

Here is a closer look:

  • ASU has established a group licensing program that covers all 26 of its varsity sports. The new program will support the pooled use of student-athletes’ NIL in licensing and marketing, creating opportunities without limiting their individual NIL rights. ASU is working with Florida-based the Brandr Group, which works with universities including Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon State, Florida and LSU on group licensing. The move gives student-athletes a path for inclusion in retail opportunities, including co-branded jerseys, apparel, trading cards, NFTs and the EA Sports College Football video game.
  • ASU is now working with Altius Sports Partners, sports business and education leaders who will collaborate with Sun Devil Athletics to support and advance NIL programs at the university.
  • ASU is working with Opendorse to provide each of its 650 student-athletes with a digital platform designed to help them maximize their individual brands. Opendorse also provides access to 150 on-demand courses that cover best practices in NIL on everything from branding and marketing to managing time and tax withholdings. Opendorse works with universities including Texas, Nebraska and Clemson.
  • Adidas unveiled a sweeping NIL network, and every eligible student-athlete at Adidas DI partner schools can become a paid affiliate brand ambassador. ASU is among the first universities to roll out this unique NIL opportunity this fall.
  • Additionally, ASU developed a multi-part NIL educational series that helps student-athletes learn about NIL storytelling, monetizing their social media, creating marketing strategies and financial literacy.

“As college athletics continues to evolve, a critical component of the experience is a formidable NIL program that educates and empowers student-athletes,” said Jean Boyd, ASU deputy athletics director and a former ASU football player. “Providing guidance to student-athletes to understand personal brands, seek out legitimate opportunities for engagement, and being aware of fiscal responsibility while educating Sun Devil Athletic supporters of appropriate means to connect with them are all foundational components of a strong NIL program.”  

Anderson notes that Sun Devil student-athletes already have extensively utilized the NIL space.

“Twenty-three of our 26 sports have at least one NIL deal, and nearly 200 businesses are already involved in NIL deals with Sun Devils,” he said. “But these steps will help us to be competitive in this quickly changing landscape.”

Top image: ASU gymnast Izzy Redmond. Photo courtesy Sun Devil Athletics.

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Materials matter

September 15, 2022

ASU celebrates opening of Navrotsky Eyring Center for Materials of the Universe with presentations, lab tour

In the world of Alexandra Navrotsky, it’s all about materials. 

Materials both seen and invisible to the naked eye. Materials on the Earth’s surface and deep within its mantle. Materials mined from the moon and from other planets in the solar system. Even materials from galaxies far beyond our own.  

The study of materials continues to change lives — from making cars more efficient, to reducing the greenhouse effect, to allowing rockets to soar in a safer way. And maybe one day, it will help us find another planet to inhabit. 

Ongoing materials research is essential for advancing technology. 

This is what excites Navrotsky, a professor in Arizona State University's School of Molecular Sciences and School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy. So much so that she leads the Navrotsky Eyring Center for Materials of the Universe and has invested $10 million to support the future of materials science at ASU. 

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, the center had its pandemic-delayed grand opening, with deans, colleagues and students from a range of disciplines gathered on the Tempe campus to mark the occasion. The event featured an overview of the center's achievements and plans, tours of lab spaces where work is being conducted, and lectures on a range of topics by researchersHongwu Xu is a professor in the School of Molecular Sciences; Qi-Jun Hong, assistant professor of materials science and engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy; Jie Xu, associate professor at the School of Molecular Sciences; Dan Shim, professor at School of Earth and Space Exploration; and Candace K. Chan, associate professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy Hongwu Xu, Qijun Hong, Jie Xu, Dan Shim and Candace Chan, among other speakers. Shim and Chan are the first-ever Navrotsky Professors of Materials Research, and Hongwu Xu and Jie Xu (not related) are newly hired for the Center for the Materials of the Universe.

It was a chance for event goers to learn more about the center and peek inside its work.

How it began

In 1969, ASU hired Navrotsky at a time when it was difficult for women working in the sciences to get faculty positions. After ASU, she worked at Princeton University and the University of California, Davis. Over time, she was recognized as a world-renowned geochemist and received countless honors, medals and awards, including the prestigious V.M. Goldschmidt Award. 

But in the end, Navrotsky wanted to come back to ASU, a place she calls home. With her return in 2019 came some soul-searching.

“I asked myself a question,” Navrotsky said Tuesday as she kicked off the celebration. “What can ASU do now that would be as exciting as those early days?”

The answer to that question became the Navrotsky Eyring Center for Materials of the Universe.

And what does “materials of the universe” mean? Everything, Navrotsky said.

“It's an all-encompassing term, but really in a way, the Center for Materials of the Universe effectively has several parts to it,” she said.

“The idea of materials of the universe is that there's a natural confluence of materials science and geological and planetary science. Planets, after all, are made of materials. So in order to understand the variety of planets that one has in the universe, one has to have a great knowledge of the materials that they might be made of. 

“... So setting up an interdisciplinary collaboration, the strength of this materials problem and its application to planets, was one of the goals of of MotU, Materials of the Universe. The second goal of course, is you need better material. If you're going to do space exploration, you need to go to space. You need to have resources. You need to build things in space. ... So basically MotU explores this commonality between materials science and earth and space science.”

Collaboration has been key for the center, Navrotsky said, and it will continue to be so.

“We want to be inclusive, not exclusive.” 

Woman speaking at lectern

Alexandra Navrotsky, director of the Navrotsky Eyring Center for Materials of the Universe, speaks during the center's grand opening celebration on Sept. 13. Photo by Samantha Chow/ASU

Present successes and future plans

The celebration included a showcase of some of the center’s successes since its opening, as well as future plans. Among those speaking was Qijun Hong, assistant professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy.

Hong talked about his database and models for melting-temperature prediction, which are the culmination of 10 years of research. The models allow scientists to rapidly screen, design and discover new materials that will survive extremely high temperatures and high-pressure conditions, with such applications as protective barriers for gas turbines and heat shields on aircrafts. The future of his work will focus on creating a model that can determine the physical properties of any combination of elements in just three seconds. 

The center has also received funds from the National Science Foundation for a new lab that is “unlike any in the Western Hemisphere,” said Kurt Leinenweber, associate research professional in the School of Molecular Sciences. 

The lab, called FORCE — Facility for Open Research in a Compressed Environment — will be a one-of-a-kind, high-pressure facility where researchers can observe the impact of extreme pressures and discover new materials. Expected to draw scientists from around the world, the facility is scheduled to be completed by 2023 thanks to a $13.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation. 

After the morning presentations at the Biodesign Auditorium, attendees had the opportunity to tour the center’s lab facilities, and the celebration wrapped up with a reception at ASU’s ISTB4 building featuring university leaders including Chief Science and Technology Officer Neal Woodbury and Sally C. Morton, executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise. President Michael M. Crow, who spoke via video, praised the work being done at the center.

“I think the exciting thing here is that Alex has brought together scientists and engineers and conceptualizers,'' Crow said. “And, in my mind … dreamers.”

He said that the work being done by the center is at the heart of where we are as a species.

“We've gotten to this point where our understanding of the universe, our understanding of the chemistry and of the physics, our understanding of the matter-energy relationships are such that we're just leaping ahead in gaining a fundamental understanding of who we are, where we are, why we're here, how things work now and how they will work in the future.” 

Top photo: Pieces of cubic boron nitride, the world’s second-hardest material, sit on a table at the Physical Sciences Building B on the Tempe campus during a lab tour, part of the Sept. 13 grand opening celebration of ASU’s Center for Materials of the Universe. Photo by Samantha Chow/Arizona State University

Reporter , ASU News

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ASU professor chosen to lead global urban climate research organization

September 15, 2022

This summer, the sweltering heat that swept across Europe contributed to thousands of deaths. In Pakistan, catastrophic flooding displaced millions of people and put a third of the country under water. And in the Western United States, more than 50 million people fell under extreme heat alerts, yet again, breaking historic heat records. 

Across the globe, catastrophic climate events are becoming more and more severe and frequent.

In efforts to find solutions, researchers around the world are working to better understand both how urban communities are impacted by severe weather events and how our urban environments themselves influence weather hazards and even enhance those hazards. 

Ariane Middel

Ariane Middel, an Arizona State University assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, was recently chosen as the president of the leading global organization tackling these challenges focused on urban climate science and scholarship.

Middel was elected the seventh president of the International Association for Urban Climate (IAUC) and will guide the organization for a four-year term from 2022–26.

“We are in this climate crisis right now, and with this backdrop, the IAUC is more important than ever,” Middel said. “The organization's work deals with how cities interact with the atmosphere and, in a way, how cities create their own climate.”

With more than 1,000 members worldwide, IAUC brings together a diverse community of researchers including geographers, atmospheric scientists, health scientists, architects, engineers, computer scientists and urban planners. 

The association members advance research across key areas of urban climate, including: urban heat islands, air quality, remote sensing of surface characteristics to heat mitigation, human-biometeorology, thermal comfort, and climate modeling and observations at various scales.

“It's a very diverse community that embraces multidisciplinarity to solve these problems that one discipline alone could never solve,” said Middel, whose research involves studying how people experience heat at micro levels. “We have these grand urban challenges and I think that positions the IAUC well to see what can be done and to find solutions to these problems.”  

At ASU, Middel also directs the SHaDE Lab and serves on the faculty leadership team of ASU’s Urban Climate Research Center, which, composed of nearly 40 ASU faculty across eight schools, is a hub of applied urban climate projects and impactful research.  

“We have a large group of people at ASU that are experts in various facets of urban climate,” Middel said. “Because Phoenix is at the forefront of the heat problem, we’re well positioned to find solutions. We are a living laboratory and can test heat mitigation strategies and implementations and see what works best and what doesn't work.”

For Middel, to be serving as president of IAUC and leading an organization that has had a significant influence on her academic career, she says, “is a dream come true.”  

“I joined this organization as a postdoc in 2009 and the urban climate community has helped me so much,” Middel said. “Back then, it was in finding mentors, then it was in finding collaborators and now it’s finding students. I've met a lot of people in this field through IAUC.

“It's a great honor and I feel grateful and humbled to be elected in this role.”

Top image: Ariane Middel on ASU's Tempe campus recording shade temperatures on the morning of Monday, June 28, 2021. Photo by Deanna Dent/Arizona State University

David Rozul

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications


2 Watts College-based programs to receive 2022 President’s Medal for Social Embeddedness

Bridging Success, Inside-Out among 6 Watts-based recipients of honor since 2020

September 14, 2022

An Arizona State University program designed to help alumni of the foster care system overcome obstacles to succeed in higher education and a criminal justice course that includes students from ASU campuses and men and women incarcerated at Arizona state correctional facilities will receive the 2022 President’s Medal for Social Embeddedness.

Educators from Bridging Success and the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, both based at the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, will accept the medal from ASU President Michael Crow at a Dec. 8 ceremony. Students and people wearing orange jumpsuits sit on chairs in a circle in a prison classroom. "Inside" and "outside" students and their instructors from the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program in a classroom at a state correctional facility during a recent semester. Photo courtesy ASU Center for Correctional Solutions Download Full Image

These two honored programs bring the total number of Watts College-based winners of the medal since 2020 to six. Two were awarded to Watts programs and one to an ASU team that included a Watts graduate student in 2021. One medal was presented to a Watts-based program in 2020.

Watts College Dean Cynthia Lietz said seeing two of the college’s signature programs honored for the important work they do fills her with pride.

“Our college is committed to building more vibrant, healthy, equitable communities,” Lietz said. “To have two of our programs identified specifically for their collaboration with community partners receive the President’s Medal for Social Embeddedness is especially meaningful.”

Enviable graduation rates for foster care alumni

Bridging Success cited three major accomplishments in the past year in its application for the award: Successfully creating an advisory council promoting and supporting higher education for foster care alumni; attaining significant increases in the admission and enrollment of such students at ASU and high retention rates; and achieving graduation rates significantly higher than the national average, said Justine Cheung, the program’s manager.

Cheung said the medal acknowledges the hard work by everyone involved with the program since its inception more than seven years ago. She said learning of the award made all those concerned “think bigger and broader about next steps to continue to move the needle forward.”

Exterior of an office above which a sign read "ASU Bridging Success"

Bridging Success office at the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions in the University Center on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Photo by Mark J. Scarp/ASU

“It’s a real honor for Bridging Success to be chosen for the President’s Medal for Social Embeddedness and a wonderful way to acknowledge the amazing relationships we have with our community partners,” Cheung said. “This work, supporting higher education aspirations of young people in foster care, is so important but also incredibly challenging.”

In a recent evaluation of the program, the Watts College-based Morrison Institute for Public Policy found Bridging Success saw a 47% increase in admissions of foster care alumni to ASU and a 31% hike in enrollment, Cheung said, with an 82% retention rate that is comparable to the 86% rate for the entire university.

Moreover, while Bridging Success students have taken slightly longer to graduate than the ASU average, 53% complete their undergraduate degree, higher than the 31% national average cited by the federal Government Accountability Office, Cheung said.

‘Inside-Out’ has more than 150 alumni

Inside-Out is a program of the Center for Correctional Solutions at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry. Originally founded in Pennsylvania, it is now taught at several U.S. universities. At ASU, the undergraduate class combines 10 “outside” students with 10 incarcerated “inside” students to learn together in a prison setting, said Associate Professor Kevin Wright, the center’s director.

Inside-Out seeks “to break down the walls of the classroom and prison to empower students to positively impact their communities,” according to its award application, through increasing empathy and understanding and providing opportunities for its alumni to perform transformative work in prison as well as in the community.

Eight Inside-Out classes have been taught by six trained instructors in three prisons, with over 150 students identifying as alumni, according to Wright. Twenty-two “outside” students have enrolled in graduate school or law school and 23 “inside” students are now in the community. Zero inside students have returned to prison.

Each year, the center facilitates an art show called “Inkarcerated” with the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry for artists who are incarcerated. "Outside" and "inside" student alumni curate and exhibit the art in a professional gallery setting to be viewed and purchased by the public, with all proceeds going directly to charity.

So far, three shows have featured the work of more than 250 artists across six prisons, with more than 300 works sold. More than $23,000 has been raised for the Children First Leadership Academy, the Pinal County Family Advocacy Center, Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, Boys & Girls Club-MLB/D-Backs Branch and the Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children.

Wright said Inside-Out has always focused on learning in the community, with the community.

“We’re excited to receive this honor acknowledging the efforts of our students, facilitators, community partners and supporters,” he said. “The President’s Medal is validation for a program that has impacted so many lives, inside and out of prison.”

Watts College-based programs and people were honored with the President’s Medal for Social Embeddedness in 2020 and 2021.

In 2021, the medal was given to two Watts-based programs, the School Participatory Budgeting and Thrive in the 05. Also that year, Stephanie Zamora, a Watts graduate student, was part of the Guadalupe COVID-19 community response team, which received the medal. In 2020, Crow presented the medal to the Watts-based Survivor Link program.

Mark J. Scarp

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


'CBS Mornings' anchor Gayle King to receive 39th Cronkite Award

September 13, 2022

Gayle King, the award-winning co-host of “CBS Mornings,” has been chosen to receive the 39th Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism from Arizona State University.

King, who is also editor-at-large of Oprah Daily and hosts a live, weekly radio show titled “Gayle King in the House” on SiriusXM, will be honored during a ceremony in Phoenix on Feb. 21, 2023, at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown. Still of 'CBS Mornings' anchor Gayle King smiling at a news desk. "CBS Mornings" co-host Gayle King broadcasts live from Times Square. Photo by Michele Crowe/CBS ©2021 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Download Full Image

The Cronkite Award — named after the late CBS News anchor — has honored prominent journalists since 1984. The award recognizes the recipients’ accomplishments and leadership over the course of their careers.

Registration is now open for the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism luncheon.  

“Gayle King’s career and accomplishments are remarkable, and her professionalism embodies everything that Walter Cronkite valued in journalism,” said Battinto L. Batts Jr., dean of ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “Her approach to covering important events and interviewing politicians, leaders and celebrities is unparalleled. It’s an honor to present Gayle with this prestigious award.” 

“I am honored to accept the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism," King said. "The work myself and other journalists do is important, but I don’t do it alone. My colleagues at CBS News also share in this honor and I’m inspired by the unique and meaningful stories we tell.

“Thank you for this award and I hope to inspire others when I meet the students at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in February.”

King’s notable interviews have included embattled R&B singer R. Kelly; former President Barack Obama; former First Lady Michelle Obama and her mother, Marian Robinson, in their first TV interview together; former House Speaker Paul Ryan; Tina Turner; Cher; Taylor Swift; Dave Chappelle; Amy Schumer; Elizabeth Smart; Dylan Farrow; Elon Musk; and the first interview with Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz following the controversial arrest of two Black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks.

King also landed the only national TV interview with former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke after he announced that he would run for president.

In addition, King has covered numerous significant events, including George Floyd’s murder; the Derek Chauvin verdict; the 2016 mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida; the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut; the Republican and Democratic conventions in 2016; and the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy on the Texas border.

She has reported on the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., prior to the museum’s opening, and the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

King previously hosted “The Gayle King Show,” a live, weekday television interview program on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. The program, which featured a discussion of a variety of topics ranging from politics to cultural developments, was also broadcast on XM Satellite Radio, where it premiered in 2006.

Prior to that, she worked for 18 years as a television news anchor for CBS affiliate WFSB-TV in Hartford, Connecticut, where she also hosted her own syndicated daytime program. She has worked at several other television stations, including WDAF-TV in Kansas City, Missouri, WJZ-TV in Baltimore and WTOP-TV in Washington, D.C.

King has won numerous awards, including three Emmys. In April 2019, she was named to Time Magazine’s Time 100, the magazine’s annual list of the hundred most influential people in the world, and was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 2018. King was named a Variety Power of Women honoree in 2017, and was honored with both the Individual Achievement Award for Host-Entertainment/Information and the New York Women in Communications’ Matrix Award in 2010.

In addition, she received an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award as part of CBS News’ division-wide coverage of the Newtown tragedy. King was honored in 2008 with the American Women in Radio & Television Gracie Award for Outstanding Radio Talk Show.

King spent several years of her childhood in Ankara, Turkey, before returning with her family to the United States. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in psychology.

Other Cronkite Award recipients include award-winning weatherman and anchor Al Roker; TV news anchors Lester Holt, Robin Roberts, Anderson Cooper, Scott Pelley, Christiane Amanpour, Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill; sportscasters Al Michaels and Bob Costas; newspaper journalists Dean Baquet, Ben Bradlee, Helen Thomas and Bob Woodward; and media executives Katharine Graham, Al Neuharth and William Paley.

Jamar Younger

Associate Editor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication