School of Sustainability News

Bicycle Program Manager Joins Parking and Transit Services

February 6, 2014

New position created to encourage, facilitate cycling on and off campus

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Arizona State University Parking and Transit Services announces Donna Lewandowski has been hired to serve as Bicycle Program Manager. Lewandowski, who is the first to work in this newly created post, begins her job duties on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014.

Lewandowski’s primary responsibilities will be to develop, implement and maintain programs and activities that encourage bicycle usage on and off campus. She will be the lead liaison in connecting bike commuters with services that can help them maintain their bikes and stay safe on the roads. Lewandowski will also assist cyclists with incorporating other modes of transportation that contribute to ASU sustainability goals into their daily commutes.

Lewandowski comes to ASU from Tucson Medical Center, where she served as a community outreach specialist since last March. She coordinated Safe Kids Pima County, a diverse community coalition for childhood injury prevention. Her duties included planning and executing community safety events aimed at children’s and women’s health, as well as developing grant application, fundraising and marketing materials for the Safe Kids coalition.

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ASU partners to bring algae technology into next generation

February 4, 2014

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Photo by: John McGowen

A newly announced partnership between Arizona State University, Heliae and SCHOTT North America is a big step forward on the path to accelerate algae technology.

The collaboration will bring Heliae’s algae production technology to ASU’s algae testbed facility. Through the partnership, SCHOTT financed a Helix photobioreactor built by Heliae and installed at ASU’s Department of Energy-funded algae testbed facility on the Polytechnic campus. Over the next several years, algae researchers at ASU will leverage the Helix photobioreactor to propel the understanding of algae production technology, including an investigation into the effect of glass tubing innovations on the yields and economics of algae production. The reactor will also deliver the production of high-quality algae cultures, which will support broader ASU algae operations.

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Presence of humans, urban landscapes increase illness in songbirds

February 4, 2014

housefinchesonfeeder_2Humans living in densely populated urban areas have a profound impact not only on their physical environment, but also on the health and fitness of native wildlife. For the first time, scientists have found a direct link between the degree of urbanization and the prevalence and severity of two distinct parasites in wild house finches.

The findings are published in the Feb. 4 issue of the journal PLOS ONE.

A team of researchers from Arizona State University made the discovery while investigating intestinal parasites (Isospora sp.) and the canarypox virus (Avipoxvirus) found in house finches. The group also studied the effects of urbanization on the stress response system of the finches.

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Krauss elected to International Academy of Humanists

January 31, 2014

Origins:The Great Debate-Climate ChangeLawrence Krauss, an Arizona State University Foundation Professor in the School of Space and Earth Exploration and the Department of Physics, has been elected to the International Academy of Humanists.

The academy, which includes Nobel laureates James Watson and Steven Weinberg, sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson and author Salman Rushdie as members, is limited to 80 persons. It was established in 1983 to recognize distinguished humanists and to disseminate humanistic ideals and beliefs. Once elected, laureates are members for life.

Members of the academy are committed to free inquiry in all fields of human endeavor, a scientific outlook and the use of the scientific method in acquiring knowledge and promotion of humanist ethical values and principles.

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ASU research helps guide transportation policy

January 29, 2014

Photo by: Shutterstock.com

Photo by: Shutterstock.com

Arizona State University’s robust and expanding range of transportation research and studies was reflected recently in the contributions of faculty members and students to one of the major international gatherings of transportation experts.

An ASU contingent of more than 30 faculty members and students presented their research in more than 40 workshops and sessions at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 93rd Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Jan. 12-16. The event attracted about 12,000 professionals from academia, research institutions, industry and public and private policy groups from around the world.

The TRB is a major division of the private, nonprofit National Research Council, administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. The council seeks to serve the public interest by providing expertise to government, the public and the scientific and engineering communities.

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Why higher ed, advanced energy systems will rescue global climate policy

January 29, 2014

higher-ed

Photo by: stock.xchng

With the European Union split on a new energy and climate strategy to 2030, and developing countries such as India and China unwilling to take the lead on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, global climate policy has reached an impasse.

So, the question remains: How can policymakers, institutions of higher education and citizens from all over the world foster a conversation on global climate policy that sparks action? By demanding superior systems of energy use is one proposal, which will be discussed at an upcoming panel organized by ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

The public panel discussion, “Rescuing Climate Policy,” is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m., Feb. 5, inside Wrigley Hall, room 481, on ASU’s Tempe campus. The talk will blend American, European and Chinese perspectives on the development and adoption of advanced systems of energy use.

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Arizona, German students take Sustainable Cites course simultaneously

January 28, 2014

Photo by: Andy DeLisle

Photo by: Andy DeLisle

Classroom walls have come down throughout Arizona State University, as biology students discuss sustainability with classmates in Germany, art students share artworks with peers in Taiwan and a genetics class gets front-row seats in a laboratory across campus.

ASU has made a significant investment in classroom technology, adding computer technology and internet connectivity to all of the 483 classrooms on its four campuses. Most classrooms have screens or large video displays that allow guest speakers and other participants to appear live.

According to the EDUCAUSE campus computing survey in 2013, ASU is one of only 12 public universities of the 543 universities surveyed to have 100 percent classroom mediation.

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Students create innovative data stories with MapStory tool

January 27, 2014

Photo by: Julie Newberg

Photo by: Julie Newberg

MapStory is an innovative technological tool that allows people like Arizona State University student Jonathan Davis to create visual and spatial data stories. One of Davis’ recent projects, “American Indian Reservations 18th Century to the Present,” consists of recreating the establishment of American Indian reservations through the platform.

“MapStory creates maps that are played in succession through time,” said Davis, a geographic information systems graduate student who was raised in Chandler, Ariz. “I focus on historical MapStories where you can read about history and get a solid geographical framework where the event took place. You can actually see the topography and the geography, so it’s easy to read about it while seeing it. It kind of makes history come to life.”

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Student innovator gets help from ASU, CGI U on clean water venture

January 27, 2014

Photo by: Nisarg Patel

Photo by: Nisarg Patel

Innovation Challenge, Edson and CGI U stepping stones for student startup

When Arizona State University senior Nisarg Patel’s friend returned from a research expedition in Guatemala and expressed concern regarding children drinking contaminated water that could cause diarrhea and other waterborne illnesses, it got Patel thinking about a solution. He and his friends soon came up with the idea of soluble protein biosensors to indicate the presence of bacteria in drinking water.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 1.5 million children under the age of five in developing countries die each year due to diarrhea.

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America burning: the Yarnell Hill fire tragedy and the nation’s wildfire crisis

January 23, 2014

Photo by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Photo by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Six months after 19 firefighters lost their lives battling the Yarnell Hill wildfire near Prescott, Ariz., The Weather Channel investigated the larger problem of U.S. wildfires. In an article and original documentary titled “America Burning: The Yarnell Hill Tradegy and the Nation’s Wildfire Crisis,” journalist Neil Katz, along with executive producer Greg Gilderman and producer Shawn Efran of Efran Films, interview surviving family members and the sole surviving firefighter.

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ASU professor wins ‘Digging Into Data’ challenge

January 23, 2014

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ASU professor C. Michael Barton has been named a “Digging Into Data” challenge winner. He is among a cohort of research teams representing Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States that were named by 10 international research agencies, including the National Science Foundation in the United States.

The Digging into Data program encourages research teams to develop new insights, tools and skills in innovative social science and humanities research using large-scale data analysis. Fourteen teams will receive grants to investigate how computational techniques can be applied to “big data” in social sciences and the humanities. Each team represents collaborations among scholars, scientists and information professionals from leading universities and libraries in Europe and North America.

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Climate Adaptation: Lessons from Family Farming

Thought Leader Series

January 21, 2014

A Thought Leader Series Piece

Hallie-Eakin-0081By Hallie Eakin

Note: 2014 is the United Nations’ International Year of Family Farming. The goal of the observance is to call attention to the role of family farming in achieving sustainable development. Senior Sustainability Scientist Hallie Eakin is an expert in agrarian change, vulnerability, and adaptation. Her work was recently featured on Arizona PBS’s Horizon program.

The International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) focuses on the role of the family farm in meeting our most pressing sustainability challenges: food security, poverty alleviation, and environmental integrity. That family farms are now seen as significant in solving these challenges, rather than causing them, marks a revolution in international thinking.

Many people envision small-scale farms as unfortunate features of the developing world: impoverished, lacking basic services, and suffering from economic insecurity and, ironically, hunger. Associating poverty and hunger with smallholder communities is not unfounded, but does family farming cause poverty or food insecurity? My work in Latin America, and that of many other scientists elsewhere, clearly answers, “No.”

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Scientists look to ancient cities for clues to equal urban access

January 21, 2014

How far away is your school? Are there more fast food joints than farmers markets in your neighborhood? Is your doctor close enough to help you in an emergency?

Today, more than half of the world’s population – that’s more than 3.5 billion people – lives in cities, and cities contain the majority of services like schools, markets, and hospitals. Experts predict that by 2030, urban area will double worldwide, shifting more people into cities. However, to some, access to urban services is not readily available.

Unequal access is already a concern in Arizona: Food deserts spread through inner city Phoenix and the Valley’s urban sprawl hikes up water prices for those on the urban fringe. So while some can eat healthy, others are left with fast food restaurants and convenience stores, and while some have affordable water prices, others sacrifice.

At Arizona State University, a team of scientists and students hope that maps and archeological finds will unearth historical patterns of city access that can guide equal access for modern cities. Now in its second stage, the National Science Foundation-funded project Service Access in Pre-Modern Cities aims to give context and clarity to a complicated question: Why do some people have access to urban services and others do not?

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ASU School of Life Sciences, Phoenix Zoo team up for conservation research

January 17, 2014

Photo by: Sandra Leander

Photo by: Sandra Leander

Modern, professionally managed zoos frequently serve as global conservation agents – working to save species, educate the public about species loss and recovery, practice conservation breeding and reintroduce animals into the wild. These important efforts depend on understanding the scientific complexities of the animals and their habitats, as well as the history, ethics and policies that often deeply impact animal survival.

Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences and the Phoenix Zoo are launching a new program to strengthen animal conservation efforts by collaborating on new research and improving conservation communications and outreach to the public.

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Kao is first to graduate with Master’s in Sustainability Solutions

January 17, 2014

Photo by: Tim Trumble

After a very busy year and a half being a graduate student in Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, Karen Kao celebrated her achievements as the graduate speaker at the school’s fall convocation this past December. With a background in psychology, Kao is very interested in the behavioral change behind sustainability, which led her to the school’s master’s degree in sustainable solutions.

“The program is an applied degree, so anything that I learned in the academic field of psychology, I could learn how to translate into practice,” Kao says. “Graduating as the first student from the program, I feel well-equipped with the strategies and thought-processes that help build solution options, and I take with me a practical skillset that’s transferrable to almost any subject in sustainability.”

As a student, Kao served as a research assistant on projects implementing practical solutions to sustainability issues, ranging from economics to urban planning. As part of her capstone project, mandatory for the master’s degree in sustainable solutions, Kao conducted community engagement workshops in Phoenix to collect public opinions for Reinvent PHX. The project, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Grant Program, aims to develop a new model of sustainable urban development, where public transit, housing, jobs and services improve the quality of life for all residents.

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Municipal sludge holds hints to human health risks

January 16, 2014

Thousands of chemicals serving a variety of human needs flood into sewage treatment plants once their use life has ended. Many belong to a class of chemicals known as CECs (chemicals of emerging concern), which may pose risks to both human and environmental health.

Arjun Venkatesan, a recent doctorate, and Rolf Halden, professor and director of the Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, have carried out meticulous tracking of many of these chemicals.

In a study appearing today in the Nature Publishing Group journal Scientific Reports, both authors outline a new approach to the identification of potentially harmful, mass-produced chemicals, describing the accumulation in sludge of 123 distinct CECs.

Ten of the 11 chemicals found in greatest abundance in treated municipal sludge or biosolids were high-production volume chemicals, including flame-retardants, antimicrobials and surfactants.

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Professor publishes commentary in Sustainability: Journal of Record

January 14, 2014

sus.2013.6.issue-6.coverIn the December 2013 issue of Sustainability: Journal of Record, Scott G. McNall and George Basile discuss the current discourse surrounding sustainability and how a new narrative on the corresponding issues can change the shape of our future.

In their article, “How to Create a New Narrative for Sustainability That Will Work: And Why It Matters,” McNall and Basile, a professor in the Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership program and a sustainability scientist in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, write that while climate change continues to affect our planet, “humans are hardwired to respond to the danger in front of them, not the danger on the horizon.”

Fortunately, we humans are “storytelling creatures” and can craft this new sustainability narrative with real-life metaphors, humor, emotion and applicable values, so suggest the authors.

“In crafting stories about the human condition and our future, we must remember that humans have proven themselves to be resilient, creative and adaptable over millennia,” write NcNall and Basile. In part 2 of their series, the authors will share specific guidelines for crafting a new narrative for action.

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Selinsky returns to ASU Biodesign Institute as chief operating officer

January 9, 2014

selinsky_portrait_forweb4x5[1]The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University has appointed Cheryl Selinsky as senior director and chief operating officer. In this role, Selinsky will direct all operational and financial aspects for the research institute.

Biodesign combines the talents of more than 500 scientists and staff to advance research that will improve human health and the health of our planet and make the world a safer place.

“The atmosphere within the Biodesign Institute is one of true collaboration and teamwork, an environment conducive to big science,” says Selinsky. “I count my time there as one of the best opportunities I have had to develop technical skills, mentor junior scientists and drive scientific programs forward.”

Selinsky has 20 years of experience in translational research and product and technology development. Her most recent position was as the senior director for translational research development at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix.

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City of Phoenix, ASU establish public/private sustainability incubator

January 9, 2014

srpwastesort1.jpgThe City of Phoenix city council approved a four-year partnership with Arizona State University to create the Center for Resource Intelligence. The center will provide a wide array of research, development, education, and solutions services to more effectively manage the city’s resources and create economic value.

Industries such as energy, water, resource extraction, product development, manufacturing, and recycling will collaborate to convert trash once destined for the landfill into business opportunities and jobs. The center is part of the City’s effort to create value, economic opportunity, and jobs.

The center will be managed by the Sustainability Solutions Services program, part of the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

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Want to save the whales? Put a price on them says ASU professor

January 6, 2014

Photo by: Leah Gerber

Photo by: Leah Gerber

Overharvest by commercial whaling has been a well-recognized world threat to stable whale populations since the International Whaling Commission (IWC) issued a moratorium against commercial whaling in 1986. However, because of loopholes, whaling countries at odds with the ban continue to hunt under the guise of scientific whaling or in outright objection to the IWC, while the IWC and its members, as well as whale conservationists, can offer few methods to enforce the ban or effectively curb whale harvests.

This lack of cooperation and constructive communication among whalers, the IWC and conservationists has posed a decade’s old roadblock to solution building and balancing whaling practices with stabilization of whale populations.

One recently proposed solution is the creation of “whale shares,” an approach developed by Leah Gerber, a professor in Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences, and colleagues from the University of California, Santa Barbara, is published as a forum in the January issue of Ecological Applications.

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