3 ASU professors honored as American Association of Geography Fellows

School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning has most fellows in US

April 3, 2023

Quietly housed on the fifth floor of Lattie F. Coor Hall on the west side of Arizona State University's booming Tempe campus, the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning recently became the most recognized geography program in the U.S. by the American Association of Geography (AAG).

Three more ASU faculty were celebrated as AAG Fellows at the 2023 meeting of the AAG in Denver last week. Collage of three headshots of ASU professors. ASU professors (left to right) A. Stewart Fotheringham, Wei Li and Wenwen Li. Download Full Image

AAG is a nonprofit scientific and educational society that advances the understanding, study and importance of geography and related fields. The AAG Fellows program that recognizes those who have made significant contributions to advancing geography.

AAG announced its 2023 fellows on Jan. 11, recognizing 16 geographers in a variety of practice areas for their contributions to research, advancement of practice and careers devoted to strengthening the field of geography, including teaching and mentoring. 

Of the 90 AAG Fellows, ASU has eight, UCLA has six and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has three. ASU’s 2023 AAG Fellows include A. Stewart Fotheringham, Wei Li and Wenwen Li; previous years’ AAG Fellows include Patricia Gober in 2018, Anthony Brazel and Martin (Mike) Pasqualetti in 2019, and Billie Lee Turner II and Elizabeth (Libby) Wentz in 2020.

“AAG is an organization (the school) is truly invested in, at both the individual and school level,” said David Sailor, director of ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. “To have eight of our faculty awarded this distinction from AAG says a lot about the people who make up this school and is something we are extremely proud of.”

Fotheringham is a Regents Professor of computational spatial science, director of the Spatial Analysis Research Center and a distinguished sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation; Wei Li is a professor; and Wenwen Li is a professor and director of the Cyberinfrastructure and Computational Intelligence Lab.

AAG Fellows serve the AAG, advise on strategic directions and challenges, create initiatives and mentor early- and mid-career faculty.

The AAG Fellows selection committee was composed of Anne Chin, University of Colorado-Denver; Doug Allen, Emporia State University; Jovan Scott Lewis, UC Berkeley; David Butler, Texas State University; Daniel Block, Chicago State University; and Heike Alberts, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Jason D. Farrell

Marketing and communications manager, School of Geographical Sciences & Urban Planning

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Eminent Scholar brings students real-world view of construction industry

Timothy Becker draws on decades of professional experience to prepare next-generation leaders

April 3, 2023

The title of Charles Dickens’ classic novel “Great Expectations” provides a fitting description of the breadth and depth of contributions Timothy Becker is anticipated to make in his new job.

In January, Becker stepped into the position of Eminent Scholar in the Del E. Webb School of Construction within the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Timothy Becker taking a selfie with students sitting in a lecture hall. Throughout his career in construction, Timothy Becker (in foreground) has developed productive working relationships with many industry colleagues. He hopes to give ASU construction management and engineering students opportunities to connect with and learn from those experienced professionals. Photo courtesy Timothy Becker Download Full Image

Becker’s duties include teaching, research and providing a variety of related professional services to the university community. With more than three decades of management and on-the-ground experience in the construction profession, he now aspires to arm students with the knowledge he has acquired.

This spring, Becker is teaching the Construction Planning and Scheduling course and a first-of-its-kind course focused on human resources management in the construction industry. In the summer sessions, he anticipates again teaching the planning and scheduling course, along with a Sustainable Construction course.

Becker will also carry out a research program he describes as building strategically on his earlier research and industry work to advance integrated project delivery methods and lean construction processes and optimize indirect construction costs practices.

Among related efforts, he will strive to upgrade craft workforce development practices. Craft employees are construction workers typically in hourly wage positions who specialize in trades or crafts such as electrical and concrete work, pipefitting and heating and air-conditioning.

Each of these ventures is part of an endeavor to improve the overall efficiency and impact of investment in public and private capital projects on a national level, he said.

Becker brings a wealth of industry experience and the exuberance to apply it at ASU, said Professor Ram Pendyala, director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment.

“He is passionate about developing an inclusive and well-prepared construction workforce of the future. Our students and faculty are going to benefit significantly from his wisdom and expertise in construction management and technology,” Pendyala said. “His presence in the school’s ecosystem reinforces our commitment to preparing students to be ready to contribute to the industry from day one on the job.”

Putting an array of academic, research projects into motion

Becker is already collaborating with Associate Professor Anthony Lamanna, the Sundt Professor of Alternative Delivery Methods and Sustainable Development and chair of the Del E. Webb School of Construction, on a research paper to be presented at the 2024 Construction Research Conference. The paper reports on the pioneering use of a three-party agreement and an integrated project delivery method for the Waaban Crossing Bridge, a major public infrastructure project in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Becker has also proposed an extensive Construction Industry Institute project with Kristen Parrish, Fulton Schools associate professor and Graduate Program Chair for Construction Management and Technology. The goal is to define the expertise and attributes needed to develop the next generation of frontline construction supervisors and provide the industry with a new guidebook for productive workforce development.

“The kinds of skills and competencies needed in construction today have definitely been evolving,” Parrish said. “There’s a growing need for an evolution toward a new set of strategies and tactics for companies to use in identifying, developing, training and retaining people and enabling them to transition effectively into new and innovative construction business and management scenarios.”

For those and related endeavors, Becker will draw on what he has learned in a variety of roles in the construction business.

His job responsibilities have included project planning, scheduling, financial planning and budgeting, subcontracting and procurement of government construction permits and approvals. Becker has also managed real-estate development and engineering processes involving land-use planning, building architecture, landscape architecture, selection and supervision of contractors and coordination of design services.

As vice president of a real-estate development and construction services company, he launched a Phoenix office by establishing client relationships, hiring employees and creating a marketing and branding campaign. In addition, Becker cultivated real-estate development opportunities, sold third-party construction projects and provided development consulting.

Solid foundations in teaching and education leadership

The academic side of Becker’s career has included positions as a civil, construction and environmental engineering lecturer and graduate student instructor and research assistant at Iowa State University, as well as a research assistant in these fields at North Carolina State University.

He taught engineering economics, engineering law, construction estimating and construction project management at Iowa State, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. Becker also earned a doctoral degree in the field from North Carolina State. He also has a master’s degree in business administration from ASU.

For the past decade, Becker worked for Kiewit Corporation, one of the largest construction and engineering companies in North America, as director of craft and technical development.

Eminent Scholar Timothy Becker taking a selfie on construction project worksite.

Timothy Becker’s experience in the construction business encompasses on-site project management and supervision, workforce hiring, training, development and retention, project planning and scheduling, use of new construction technology, advanced workforce education, teaching engineering economics, nurturing client relationships, and involvement in corporate marketing and branding. Photo courtesy Timothy Becker

He also developed a corporate strategy for craft employee training and employee engagement, prepared and supported more than 500 in-house instructors, worked on curriculum improvement, and led the execution and improvement of professional and technical education programs.

Becker brought the company his deep technical knowledge and fieldwork experience, along with strong professional education capabilities, said Alicia Edsen, Kiewit’s vice president of safety.

“Tim’s combination of skills was a great fit for a leadership role in our Kiewit University and talent development team,” Edsen says. “We have operational employees rotate into our education programs to bring field perspectives to our variety of initiatives and training sessions. Having Tim oversee those efforts gave the team the ability to understand the operational challenges and identify ways to improve and train our future workforce.”

Edsen points also to Becker’s important role in updating the curriculum for both new and improved management and leadership programs established in recent years, and his leadership of an effort to enhance the company’s own in-house craft development programs, which have earned certifications from the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

Kiewit University in Omaha, Nebraska, and the company’s technical school in Denver train more than 3,500 workers each year, Edsen said, noting that Becker’s “contagiously positive attitude was appreciated by all of our learners and employees.”

Industry connections are key for Eminent Scholars

Funding for Becker’s two-year Eminent Scholar position comes from a source established in 1992 when the Del E. Webb School of Construction was first endowed. The position is designed to bring well-established, qualified professionals to the school ranging from several weeks to a semester or longer, and sometimes for an instructor’s full sabbatical year. In one case, current ASU Emeritus Professor Clifford Schexnayder was an Eminent Scholar from 1994 to 2003.

Eminent Scholars have not only helped students but also young assistant professors on their research pursuits, introducing them to research agencies and potential research partners in industry, said Fulton Schools Professor Samuel Ariaratnam, the Sunstate Chair of Construction Management and Engineering, as well as chair of the construction engineering program.

“These visiting scholars have also promoted ASU and the construction school through the narratives they share about their excellent experiences here. Some of them have even provided letters to support our faculty members for promotion and tenure,” he said.

Ariaratnam and other school leaders see a substantial benefit for students in learning from professionals like Becker, who can offer lessons based on a broad scope of industry experience. 

“What Tim brings to the table goes beyond his own educational background and his teaching experience. He also has the kind of long-term industry and corporate background that has so much to offer our students,” Ariaratnam said. “He would be a valuable addition to construction education here. More than his engineering, management and construction knowledge, Tim has learned the life lessons that are so critical to developing new leaders for the profession.”

Becker welcomes the opportunity to continue sharing his insights with students.

“I want to bring more of the practical, boots-on-the-ground engineering outlook into the classroom,” he says. “I see a need for more guidance for students in learning how to handle the transition from the world of engineering in college to engineering out in the everyday workplace. That knowledge is one of the keys to success.”

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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Education leader Alan Arkatov joins ASU California Center

March 31, 2023

Arkatov is joined by higher ed professional Claudia Ramirez Wiedeman

Arizona State University today announced the appointment of Alan Arkatov, distinguished education, public policy and communications leader, to serve in a variety of new roles.

Arkatov joins ASU from the University of Southern California, where he served as founding director of Center EDGE (Engagement-Driven Global Education) and the Katzman/Ernst Chair for Educational Entrepreneurship, Technology and Innovation at USC's Rossier School of Education — an appointment with an interdisciplinary emphasis, leveraging the work at USC’s schools of communications, cinematic arts, medicine, public policy and business. 

He will transfer Center EDGE operations to ASU and take on multiple new roles, including senior advisor to ASU President Michael Crow; launching a new ASU Institute for Educational Transformation, for which he will serve as executive director; and co-chairing and directing a new California Education Council to be made up of a cross section of innovation leaders.

Portrait of

Alan Arkatov

Arkatov will also serve as professor of practice in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and at the College of Global Futures. Concurrent with his new roles at ASU, Arkatov will be receiving an appointment as a senior fellow at the USC Rossier School of Education, and also at the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies.

He will join ASU on April 3 and will be based at the ASU California Center in downtown Los Angeles. 

“Alan brings a tremendous amount of knowledge, talent, energy and vision to ASU,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “He’s well poised to tap into, leverage and connect the resources within ASU to help advance major educational issues in California and beyond.”

Arkatov’s goal is to position the new institute as the leading facilitator of accelerated, equity-focused educational innovation and transformation with an emphasis on California; lead public discourse on advancing educational attainment for all students; launch innovation clusters; and speed up and scale sustainable changes through cross-sector collaborations.

“No university has done more to innovate and improve education over the past decade than ASU, and I’m thrilled to be joining President Crow and the Sun Devil family in meeting the unprecedented challenges facing education,” Arkatov said.

“The pandemic has exposed, reinforced and exacerbated the massive structural, pedagogical and social defects throughout the education ecosystem. We’re at a historic societal inflection point that calls for our new institute to be a creative and interdisciplinary catalyst that can rapidly tie together and scale crucial and disparate elements via public policy, research, teaching, practice and communications.”

Main efforts of the new institute will include tapping into California's imagination economy, with unique vehicles like Dreamscape Learn that have the capability to bring about the kind of dramatic and high-quality teaching enhancements that learners will increasingly require and demand. 

Arkatov was previously the president of Changing.edu, CEO of the Teaching Channel, part of the founding team and executive vice president for 2U, and the founder and chairman of OnlineLearning.net. He has guided some of the preeminent communications companies in the U.S. and, as a political media consultant, helped produce the ads for over a dozen successful mayoral, gubernatorial, U.S. Senate and presidential campaigns. In addition to serving on California's State Board of Education, Arkatov was the chair of California's Post-Secondary Education Commission, a U.S. secretary of education appointee to the Congressional Web-Based Education Commission, president of the Los Angeles Commission for Children and Families, and chair of the Los Angeles Information Technology Agency. He currently serves on the boards of the Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking, Roadtrip Nation and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Arkatov was a concert violinist and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.

Portrait of

Claudia Ramirez Wiedeman

Arkatov will be joined in these efforts at ASU by Claudia Ramirez Wiedeman, who will continue as the director of Center EDGE and will be taking on added responsibilities as deputy director for the institute.

Wiedeman has more than 25 years of experience in teaching, research and higher education administration. She earned her PhD from the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies. Before serving in her current role at Center EDGE, Wiedeman was most recently the director of research and evaluation at the USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education. Wiedeman also previously held a tenured professorship at Whittier College, where she taught in the teacher education and master’s programs and served as associate director of its lab school, the Broadoaks School.

Wiedeman will also be based at the ASU California Center and begin her new role on April 3.

Top photo: The ASU California Center building in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Deanna Dent/Arizona State University

From 2 women in department to 35% of faculty: School of Molecular Sciences celebrates growth, impact

March 31, 2023

Regents Professor Ana Moore is the longest continuously serving female faculty member of Arizona State University's School of Molecular Sciences, starting in 1976.

Although initially hired as a teaching intern, Moore’s research capabilities in artificial photosynthesis were quickly recognized, and together with colleagues Devens Gust and Tom Moore, she went on to lead a team of student and postdoctoral associates that developed an international reputation in the design and construction of bio-inspired molecular systems for energy conversion and storage. A group of ASU faculty women posing for the photo. Women make up 35% of the School of Molecular Sciences' faculty. Photo courtesy School of Molecular Sciences/ASU Download Full Image

“When I came to ASU, I certainly was not the first woman in the department,” Moore recalled. “Alex Navrotsky was here before me until 1985. However, there were times I was the only woman with tenure. I didn’t notice though because that’s how it was at the time. And ASU was ahead of the curve, because there were many universities who didn’t have any female faculty.”

In the ensuing years, more female researchers were hired. Under department chair Devens Gust, Petra Fromme, Giovanna Ghirlanda and Rebekka Wachter joined the faculty. Just a few years later, Marcia Levitus and Anne Jones were hired, adding to the strength and diversity of the department.

Diversity has continued to increase since then.

“Over the last few years, the School of Molecular Sciences has hired 12 women faculty members, compared to four men," Ian Gould, associate dean of online and digital initiatives and former interim director of the School of Molecular Sciences, said. "The school currently has three women Regents Professors out of a total of six, and the current administration team consists of four women and one man.”

The school's faculty is now 35% women.

Female faculty are leading major initiatives at ASU. Navrotsky’s project FORCE and MoTU have received widespread recognition, while Fromme and Ros were part of the team that was recently awarded a $90.8 million grant from the NSF to build a free electron laser.

Jones is vice provost for undergraduate programs and Ara Austin leads the online undergraduate research (OURS) program.

Research from the school's female junior faculty is also receiving recognition: Audrey Lapinaite recently received an National Institutes of Health Innovation Award, and Christina Birkel received an National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

“I am very proud of all of the women in the School of Molecular Sciences," Director Tijana Rajh said. "They are making history here and around the world with their research, innovation and creativity. ASU’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is one of its strengths that brought me here.”

Moore noted that having a diverse and strong research group makes the school more competitive.

“We need to be intentional about who we hire today, and how we support them impacts the educational and research opportunities we provide for our students, because our students become the researchers of tomorrow,” Moore said.

Check out this video featuring ASU's women in molecular science:

James Klemaszewski

Science writer, School of Molecular Sciences


ASU honors 13 individuals, 3 community organizations with Social Work Month Awards

Gov. Katie Hobbs delivers remarks at ceremony in Phoenix

March 28, 2023

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs joined leaders of Arizona State University's School of Social Work to pay tribute to students, faculty, staff, alumni and community organizations at the school’s annual Social Work Month Awards.

The school honored 13 individuals and three organizations for demonstrating exceptional accomplishments in social work during the past year at the March 24 ceremony on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Winners of 2023 ASU Social Work Month Awards post for a photo with their awards. Recipients of the 2023 ASU Social Work Month Awards hold their award plaques after a March 24 ceremony in Phoenix. Photo by Mark J. Scarp/ASU Download Full Image

March is Social Work Month and the national theme in 2023 is “Social Work Breaks Barriers,” highlighting “how social workers have enriched our society by empowering people and communities to overcome hurdles that prevent them from living life to the fullest,” according to a statement by the National Association of Social Workers.

Hobbs, who earned her Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from the school, gave welcoming remarks. She pointed out she is the first social worker elected as a state governor in U.S. history.

Many issues social workers and their clients encounter are systemic, the governor said, and require systemic rather than individual solutions. It’s why she became an advocate for public policy, she said, then began her political career as a legislator before later being elected secretary of state in 2018 and as governor last year.

“I quickly realized that if you can’t change policy, (if) you can’t change the laws, you have to change who is making them. And this is why I knew I wanted to run for office,” the governor said.

Hobbs said social work has shaped a great deal of what she hopes to accomplish as governor. She said she and her team are aware of their responsibilities to steer policies that social workers would recognize as representative of their core values.

Cynthia Lietz, Gov. Hobbs, Elizabeth Lightfoot, Social Work Month Awards, 2023

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (center) holds an ASU clock presented to her by Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. Dean Cynthia Lietz (left) and School of Social Work Director Elizabeth Lightfoot (right) pose with Hobbs after the 2023 ASU Social Work Month Awards ceremony. Photo by Mark J. Scarp/ASU

Hobbs closed by telling social workers that the importance of what they do is personal to her.

“And finally, I want all of you to know just how much you and your work means to me. I know the past few years have been especially challenging for human services professionals,” she said. “When it comes to me and my administration, you have an ally, a champion and a collaborator who honors your work and shares your values and perspectives. Together, we will continue to break barriers.”

Cynthia Lietz, a President’s Professor of social work and dean of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, told the gathering that the college’s mission to build more vibrant, heathy and equitable communities not only aligns with the ASU Charter, but also with “social work’s mission to enhance the well-being and meet the basic needs of all people, with a special focus on those who are vulnerable, oppressed and living in poverty.

“In other words, the Watts College would not be the Watts College without the School of Social Work — that deserves applause,” Lietz said, as the audience clapped.

School Director and Foundation Professor Elizabeth Lightfoot said before the ceremony that the awards celebrate local people and organizations whose exemplary contributions in the past year upheld the principles of service that social workers value.

"Social workers break barriers every day, assisting underserved or vulnerable individuals to get past roadblocks to improved and more satisfying lives,” Lightfoot said. “The people and organizations we honor with Social Work Month Awards show us all how important social workers are in helping so many overcome often long odds and significant impediments to better living.”

Social workers assist people with coping strategies, difficulties and challenges in their day-to-day lives, from substance-abuse prevention to help adopting a child, while clinical social workers diagnose and treat mental, behavioral and emotional problems, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Social work is one of the nation’s fastest-growing professions, according to the bureau. The agency projected that jobs in social work will grow by 9% over the next 10 years, representing 64,000 more positions over that period.

Lightfoot said the School of Social Work remains dedicated to readying more students to meet the increased requirements of the future.

“In coming years, our profession will be needed to help people and organizations deal with societal challenges,” she said. “This school and its faculty are proud to be here to embrace the call to prepare caring professionals to serve and empower more people to lead productive and satisfying lives.” 

Lightfoot noted at the ceremony that Hobbs officially proclaimed March as Social Work Month in Arizona.

2023 ASU Social Work Month winners

Professional Achievement Award: Recognizes an alumnus of the School of Social Work who graduated at least five years ago and has achievements of distinction in the social-work profession to promote the general welfare of all people.

  • Matt Pate, MSW ’16, program manager for the Inmate Navigation, Enrollment, Support and Treatment Program (INVEST).

Early Career Achievement Award: Recognizes an alumnus of the School of Social Work who graduated no more than five years ago and has achievements of distinction in the social-work profession to promote the general welfare of all people.

  • Andi Young, MSW ’22, private practice working with LGBTQ+ affirming and Health of Every Size.

Interns of the Year: Recognizes social-work students who made outstanding contributions to an agency or organization as an intern.

  • Downtown Phoenix campus: Osmara Oregon, BSW ’23, working with immigrants, Carl Hayden Community High School.
  • West campus: Kirsten Schroder, MSW ’23, Catholic Charities Unaccompanied Minor Program.
  • Tucson location: Marissa Hernandez, BSW ’23, Palo Verde High Magnet School Youth on Their Own program, Tucson Unified School District.
  • Online: Spencer Potrie, MSW ‘22, Interfaith Community Services.

Community Impact Award: Awarded to an organization or individual who exemplifies social-work values and principles and provides outstanding service of impact to the community.

  • Tempe Community Council, a nonprofit committed to addressing immediate and long-term human assistance needs in Tempe.
  • Child Health and Resiliency Mastery (CHARM), a nonprofit whose programs nurture and strengthen resiliency though evidence-based approaches that focus on coping, confidence, connection, character, contribution, control and competence.
  • The city of Tempe’s Care7 Response Team, which provides 24-hour on-scene crisis intervention services, victim assistance and social and emotional support for youths, services for veterans and community referrals.

Field Educator of the Year: Recognizes exemplary mentorship of students and excellence in collaboration with the School of Social Work to support the preparation of qualified practitioners through our signature pedagogy, field education.

  • Talia Scheletsky, MSW ’03, social worker, licensed master social worker, Skyline High School, Mesa Public Schools.

Emerging Leader of the Year: Recognizes a student nominated by peers as a future practitioner of promise and whose leadership sets an example for peers.

  • Destinee Sior, MSW ’23, interning at Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, Phoenix.

Laura Orr Service Awards: Recognizes School of Social Work staff who made contributions to improving organizational effectiveness while advancing the mission of the school. This award is named in honor of Laura Orr, who began her career with the School of Social Work on May 10, 1971. She retired in 2018 after 47 years of dedicated service.

Instructor of the Year: Recognizes excellence in classroom instruction as nominated and selected by students.

  • Irene Burnton, professor of practice, ASU School of Social Work, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Director’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession: Recognizes a social worker whose career achievements demonstrate exemplary performance in both social work practice and in a commitment to preparing the next generation of social workers through social work education or training at ASU.

  • Cora Bruno, doctorate in behavioral health, associate teaching professor, ASU School of Social Work, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

In comments before the ceremony, Bruno said the award reflects the many roles she’s had at ASU.

“Arizona State University has been a part of my life in multiple ways, including as a student, graduate, lecturer and student mentor,” Bruno said. “The last 21 years as a clinical social worker have given me an opportunity to be part of a greater system of change. I am grateful and humbled by this award and look forward to continuing to contribute to that change.”

Tempe Community Council Executive Director Octavia Harris said her organization is “extremely honored” to receive a Community Impact Award.

“Throughout our more than 50 years of history, (the council) has benefited, beyond what words can express, from the knowledge, skills and expertise of social workers on staff, at partner organizations and students in training to become social workers,” Harris said. “We are thankful for the recognition of the work we strive to do to nurture the sense of community in Tempe through demonstrating care for and about one another — always with invaluable support from social workers on staff and in the community.”

Spencer Potrie of Interfaith Community Services said receiving the Intern of the Year award was a surprise.

“It is only thanks to a couple of my mentors during the MSW program that I was nominated for this, as they took it upon themselves to recognize my efforts. Both of these mentors often stated that I am the type to be set to a task and to innovatively solve the problem,” said Potrie, who thanked his mentors, Maryann Moulinet of Interfaith Community Services and Bonnie Bazata of Pima County’s Ending Poverty Now program.

“I hope to continue this trend in my future career, wherever it may lead. Social work has allowed me to implement change for good in the lives of so many more than I could previously do on my own,” Potrie said.

Mark J. Scarp

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


ASU Biodesign researcher Hao Yan nets 2 prestigious awards

March 27, 2023

Hao Yan, director of the Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics at Arizona State University and the Milton D. Glick Distinguished Professor with ASU’s School of Molecular Sciences, has been inducted as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

In an impressive coup, he has also been elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. Hao Yan standing in a lab wearing a suit with his hands in his pockets. Hao Yan directs the Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics at Arizona State University and is the Milton D. Glick Distinguished Professor with ASU’s School of Molecular Sciences. Photo courtesy Biodesign Institute/ASU Download Full Image

Yan is a renowned authority in DNA nanotechnology and bio-inspired molecular design. His pathbreaking investigations and inventions focus primarily on techniques for manipulating DNA at the nano- or billionth-of-a-meter scale. He is an internationally recognized pioneer in creating designer nanostructures and nanorobots for cancer diagnosis, imaging, computing and multiple electronic applications, engineered from nucleic acids.

His recent awards are further evidence of his profound impact on the global DNA nanotechnology research community. The molecular engineering tools created in his laboratory have played an essential role in rapid advancements in the field.

Yan’s wide-ranging work on self-assembling DNA nanostructures include the development of: 

  • Nanoscale objects for use as diagnostic markers.
  • Responsive enzyme nanodevices for selective chemical amplification.
  • Programmable DNA-based cages for encapsulating molecules, immobilizing enzymes, sensing chemicals and delivering drugs, performing molecular computing and creating responsive materials with unique properties. 

He has founded three companies and played a crucial role in the advancement of nucleic acid nanotechnology platforms for cancer therapy, cancer immunotherapy, targeted drug delivery and single-cell analysis technology. Yan has recently worked with AstraZeneca to create DNA nanostructure-based systems for targeted delivery of designer drugs to treat kidney cancer. 

He has also designed a variety of nano-objects, used as diagnostic sentries. These “theranostic” innovations combine diagnostic and therapeutic properties, providing personalized interventions and improving patient outcomes. 

Yan’s other inventions include DNA nanostructures capable of detecting gene expression within individual cells, offering major advantages over current DNA microchip array technologies for single-cell analysis. 

To date, Yan’s contributions to the field of nanoscience have garnered 16 issued and 24 pending patents, which include applications in the field of nucleic acid-based diagnostics, imaging and therapy. 

Yan’s prolific research contributions have led to more than 210 papers, more than 40 of which appear in prestigious journals including Science, Nature, Cell and their subjournals, with a number of these gracing the journal covers. 

Yan is also widely recognized as an outstanding mentor to a new generation of researchers in the field of DNA nanotechnology. His commitment to fostering the development of his students has resulted in more than 30 of his former graduate students and postdoctoral researchers becoming faculty members at prestigious academic institutions globally, including Yale, Emory, Tsinghua University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Indian Institute of Technology. Additionally, many of his trainees have gone on to become successful group leaders in the biotech industry. 

National Academy of Inventors fellowships represent the pinnacle of recognition for academic inventors who have demonstrated a highly original approach to their field, resulting in exceptional inventions with a tangible impact on society's quality of life, economic growth and well-being. 

Hao Yan is inducted into the organization as a new AIMBE fellow at the Arlington, Virginia ceremony. Photo courtesy Biodesign Institute/ASU

The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering is a nonprofit, honorific society dedicated to rewarding the most accomplished individuals in the fields of medical and biological engineering. Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to a medical and biological engineer. The College of Fellows is comprised of the top two percent of medical and biological engineers.

College membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering and medicine research, practice or education” and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of medical and biological engineering or developing/implementing innovative approaches to bioengineering education."

Yan was nominated, reviewed and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows “for developing new molecular tools and nanomechanical devices for imaging, diagnosis and therapy of cancers and other important diseases.” Yan’s induction ceremony is slated for March 27.

Yan is also the recipient of the Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology in 2020 and the Rozenberg Tulip Award in DNA Computing in 2013. 

Additionally, he was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2019. Other honors include Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business (2019); Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2008); National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2006–2011); Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award (2007–2010); the Arizona Technology Enterprise Innovator of Tomorrow Award (2006); and the Arizona Technology Enterprise Achievement Award (2014). He currently serves as an associate editor for ACS Applied Bio Materials and as an academic associate editor for Science Advances, and has previously served as the president of the International Society for Nanoscale Science, Computation and Engineering.

Richard Harth

Science writer, Biodesign Institute at ASU


ASU athletic bands director receives Arizona Educator of the Year Award

March 22, 2023

James “Hud” Hudson, director of Arizona State University’s athletic bands and professor of practice in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, received the 2023 Arizona Educator of the Year Award at the Arizona Music Educators Association’s (AMEA's) annual conference.

The award is the highest honor bestowed by AMEA, with the recipient exemplifying excellence in teaching, leadership and advocacy for music and arts education in Arizona. Headshot of James Hudson. James "Hud" Hudson, director of ASU's athletic bands Download Full Image

Hudson has been a member of the Arizona Music Educators Association for 17 years and has been involved with music, education and teaching for more than 40 years.

This year marks his 17th year as director of ASU’s athletic bands program. His duties include coordination and direction of the Sun Devil Marching Band and Athletic Bands. During his tenure, the band has consistently been selected by the College Band Directors National Association as an exemplary collegiate program.

Hudson started his career as a public school band director and thought that would be his focus in his music career.

“I loved watching the students grow up from when they started playing their instruments until they graduated,” said Hudson. “The growth and effect we had on them was always very important to me.”

After completing his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music in conducting degrees, he discovered that working with athletic bands was what he really enjoyed the most.

Even when teaching, Hudson said he has always been involved with marching band. He has been a student of drill design, programming and arranging for the band. In addition, he adjudicates for many different Arizona and national organizations and also serves as coordinator of the Midwest Music Camps.

Hudson said he believes that marching band, and specifically the Sun Devil Marching Band, is a family and a culture.

“It’s just different than a concert band setting,” he said. “The friends you make in your college band, especially in a marching band (in my opinion) will be friends for the rest of your life.”

“Because of all of his years leading and working with the students of a marching band, Hud has inspired and helped several generations of music educators,” said Jason Caslor, director of ASU bands and associate professor in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “He fosters his students through music whether or not they end up with a music career. Many do go on to become music educators in their own right, and that is a nice full-circle moment.”

Hudson was nominated for the award by George Hattendorf, a previous award recipient and past president of the Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors Association, band chair for the National Association for Music Education and former band director of Mountain Ridge High School. He said Hudson embodied all of the requirements for the award, including his ability to inspire positive attitudes among students, the school, the community and members of AMEA, as well as making outstanding contributions to music education by active involvement in local district, state, regional and professional organizations.

Hattendorf said he has known Hudson since the 1980s and has had the opportunity to judge Hudson’s prior marching bands during the midwest summer marching seasons, which included bands from Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.

“James Hudson has created such a remarkable program and musical experience for his students over the years,” said Hattendorf. “He has given so much to ASU and the students and band programs of Arizona that this award recognition is a very small way of saying, ‘Thank you and job well done.’”

When asked about the impact Hudson has had on them, several marching band students were eager to sing his praises, saying he made them better musicians, leaders and people in general.

“His love of his band and his students is something unparalleled," one student said, "and only further exhibits his passion for music education.”

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music, Dance and Theatre


ASU School of Math and Stats works with State Farm on new graduate internship program

March 21, 2023

The School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences and State Farm are launching a new program beginning this fall for graduate students enrolled in actuarial science, statistics or applied mathematics at Arizona State University.

The Modeling and Analytics Graduate Network, or MAGNet, program will provide participating students with full tuition support and competitive financial compensation while they pursue a master’s degree at ASU. In return, students will spend 20 hours a week each semester applying their statistical modeling and analytic skills to provide data science solutions for a wide variety of business partners within the State Farm organization. People seated at a meeting space talking. State Farm's regional hub at Marina Heights offers collaborative workspaces with innovative technology. Photo courtesy Rhonda Olson Download Full Image

MAGNet has served as a successful analytic talent pipeline for 15 years through its programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Georgia locations. Due to the program’s success and the growing need for quality data science talent at State Farm, the MAGNet program will be launching its third operation in conjunction with Arizona State University.

“At State Farm, we continue to grow and deepen our data science capabilities and connect them to strategic work throughout the organization. Over the course of 2022, multiple universities were evaluated as candidates for the new MAGNet location,” said Megan Lutz, senior manager of data science HIRED and Research Teams. “The quality of the ASU graduate actuarial science and statistics curricula and students, faculty and staff; the size and diversity of the student body; and the proximity of State Farm at Marina Heights to the ASU campus were primary factors for the selection of ASU as the new location.”

“Our school is excited to work with State Farm on launching the MAGNet program at Arizona State University,” said Donatella Danielli, professor and school director. “MAGNet will help us attract strong students to our graduate degree programs and at the same time provide talented students with the skills necessary to help State Farm meet their analytics needs.”

Students accepted into the ASU’s master’s degree program in actuarial science, statistics or applied mathematics will be able to apply for the MAGNet program.

“A typical MAGNet intern develops an applied understanding of industry best practices in advanced analytics. They will have experience working with big data for model builds, from exploratory data analysis through model validation, while also learning about feature engineering, selection and model selection for both GLMs and machine learning models. MAGNet interns will also develop their professional skills, delivering regular updates to their project partners and a formal presentation to a diverse audience at the end of the semester,” said Lutz.

MAGNet interns will apply their predictive modeling — including machine learning models — natural language processing, computer vision, and other advanced analytics techniques supporting business partners ranging from property and casualty actuarial and underwriting to marketing to claims.

The State Farm regional hub is located at Marina Heights, adjacent to the ASU Tempe campus and Tempe Town Lake. State Farm occupies three buildings on the five-building campus, which is the largest office development in Arizona history, and features over 2 million square feet of office space on 20 acres, including coffee shops, restaurants, business services and fitness facilities.

While participating in the MAGNet program, students are evaluated and given consideration for full-time, post-graduate employment at various State Farm locations, including Atlanta, Dallas, Bloomington, Illinois or Phoenix.

“Our graduates are in strong demand,” said Jelena Milovanovic, professor of practice and coordinator of the actuarial science program at ASU. “Our approach provides a solid foundation of statistics and predictive analytics, allowing companies to expand our graduates’ toolbox upon hire.”

Rhonda Olson

Manager of Marketing and Communication, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences


Cochise College, ASU partner to offer students a seamless transfer pathway

March 21, 2023

Thanks to a partnership with Arizona State University, Cochise College students now have access to hundreds of transfer pathways through the MyPath2ASU collaboration. 

The partnership aims to provide a seamless transition process for students who wish to pursue a bachelor's degree in their field of choice. Silhouette of grad making the forks up sign against a setting-sun sky. Cochise College students now have access to hundreds of transfer pathways through the MyPath2ASU collaboration. Download Full Image

MyPath2ASU is an industry-leading transfer navigation tool available to ASU transfer students from accredited U.S. regional institutions. The tool ensures a positive transfer experience to ASU after earning credits or an associate degree from a U.S. community college or university and shortens the time to degree completion.

Cochise College is a two-year public college that offers over 90 degrees, including 42 workforce and skills training certificates.

Through the partnership, students will have access to personalized benefits to help them navigate the transfer experience, including:

  • Guaranteed admission into a major of choice upon successful completion of MyPath2ASU.

  • Customized course-by-course pathways to minimize loss of credit.

  • The ability to save time and money by planning a path to degree completion.

“Cochise College advisors are committed to student success and providing a smooth transfer experience as students use the MyPath2ASU transfer tool," said Vivian Miranda, director of counseling and advising at Cochise College.

Ways Cochise College students can study at ASU

ASU offers undergraduate degrees for students at Cochise College. ASU@Cochise offers a Bachelor of Arts in organizational leadership and a Bachelor of Applied Science in applied leadership at Cochise College. Cochise College students also have the opportunity to transfer into more than 300 undergraduate majors and can choose to study online or on campus.

The partnership builds on ASU’s history with Cochise College. Over the past three years, hundreds of students have transferred from Cochise College to ASU, with a majority of learners pursuing undergraduate degrees through ASU Online.

The partnership also reflects ASU’s commitment to creating an institution that is accessible and responsible for the communities it serves, as outlined in the university charter, providing students with an opportunity to achieve their educational and financial goals while also empowering and transforming communities.

Transfer partnership student success

Paulette Iniguez Erunez, a transfer student from Cochise College, credits Cochise and MyPath2ASU with providing her “everything she needed to be able to transfer to ASU and complete her bachelor’s degree.” 

Erunez recently graduated with a BSE from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering biomedical engineering program and is on track to graduate with her master’s degree as a part of ASU’s Accelerated “4+1” Program.

Learn more about her success story below.

ASU professor named AAAS Fellow for nanoelectronics research

March 20, 2023

Stephen Goodnick has built his career around the study of nanoelectronics. The David and Darleen Ferry Professor of Electrical Engineering at Arizona State University has focused his research on using tiny nano-sized electronic components to advance the fields they are used in, such as future information technology and solar power generation. Specifically, he hopes to improve capabilities of information technology and to make solar power generation more efficient and affordable.

In recognition of his nanoelectronics research career, which spans more than 40 years, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS, named Goodnick one of 505 fellows of 2022. Goodnick, an AAAS member since 2001 and a faculty member in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU, is one of four fellows from ASU named in 2022 among a cohort from around the world. A portrait of Stephen Goodnick on a background of semiconductor material In recognition of his 40-year nanoelectronics research career, the AAAS named Stephen Goodnick one of its 505 fellows of 2022. Image by Rhonda Hitchcock-Mast/ASU Download Full Image

According to the AAAS, the title of AAAS Fellow “honors members whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications in service to society have distinguished them among their peers and colleagues.”

“It was actually kind of a surprise,” Goodnick says of being named a fellow. “I didn’t know I had been nominated. I was very honored to have that recognition completely out of the blue.”

The AAAS dedicates itself to advancing scientific discoveries that benefit all of humanity. Its programs advocate for investment in scientific research and evidence-based public policy, encourage diversity in scientific fields, support science education and more.

“Such a prestigious organization as the AAAS awarding the title of fellow to Professor Goodnick is a great recognition of his many contributions to areas related to nanoelectronics,” says Stephen Phillips, director of the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering. “This is an honor for Professor Goodnick that builds on his many previous recognitions and adds to the growing list of accomplishments of the faculty in our school.”

Goodnick has worked at ASU since 1996, starting as a professor of electrical engineering and chair of the former Department of Electrical Engineering, which evolved to become the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering. During his time at ASU, he has worked as associate vice president for research, interim deputy dean for the Fulton Schools, and deputy director for both the Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center and ASU’s LightWorks research collaboration.

Before ASU, Goodnick held positions as a faculty member at Oregon State University and Colorado State University. He has also served as a Hans Fischer Senior Fellow, and earlier as an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Technical University of Munich, a visiting professor at Japan’s Osaka University, the Melchor Visiting Chair at the University of Notre Dame and a visiting scientist at Italy’s Universitá di Modena.

Past accolades awarded to Goodnick include the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, Region 6 Outstanding Educator Award, the IEEE Phoenix Section Outstanding Faculty Award, the American Society for Engineering Education Electrical and Computer Engineering Division Meritorious Service Award, and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association Robert M. Janowiak Outstanding Leadership and Service Award.

Goodnick has also maintained involvement in numerous professional societies, including the IEEE, the American Physical Society and Optica, formerly known as the Optical Society of America, among others.

The ceremony for AAAS Fellows, where Goodnick and the other 2022 fellows’ election will be celebrated and each fellow receives a commemorative pin, will take place this summer in Washington, D.C.

TJ Triolo

Communications Specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering