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School of Sustainability associate dean named National Academy of Public Administration fellow

ASU Now | September 16, 2019

The National Academy of Public Administration has inducted Nicole Darnall, associate dean and professor in Arizona State University's School of Sustainability, into its 2019 class of fellows. Darnall is one of eight NAPA fellows from ASU. An induction into NAPA is one of the highest honors of a public administration official.

Established by Congress in 1967, the nonpartisan NAPA conducts work for federal cabinet departments and agencies, aiming to “improve governance and advance the field of public administration,” by focusing on intergovernmental evaluation, financial management, strategic planning, organization assessment, performance management and human capital.

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New research by ASU professor furthers understanding of dryland litter cycles

September 11, 2019

Heather ThroopArizona State University professor Heather Throop penned a new research article that advances our understanding of dryland litter cycles. Drylands are arid ecosystems characterized by a lack of water. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, drylands  "have been shaped by a combination of low precipitation, droughts and heat waves."

Litter in this case refers to parts of plants that have detached and fallen to the ground. A litter cycle is then the journey of litter from its location on the ground, its movement by horizontal or vertical vectors (such as water), and its eventual decomposition in the same or a secondary location. The litter decomposition rates in drylands are often underpredicted, resulting in a key knowledge gap that is important to address because litter decomposition has a significant influence on ecosystem properties. 

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ASU, CI and Potsdam researchers explore the future of Alto Mayo, Peru

August 29, 2019

People sitting around table talking and brainstormingWhat is the future of coffee in a changing climate? How can we enhance the livelihoods of farmers while protecting the nature that surrounds them?

Conservation International and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research partnered with Arizona State University to help answer these questions.

“Farmers and government planners are making decisions today based on their past experience,” ASU-CI Professor of Practice and CI Peru's Director of Science and Development Percy Summers said. “This works in a [short-term, predictable] world, but increasingly change has become the new norm.”

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ASU solar project in Puerto Rico promotes energy independence

August 28, 2019

People working on Soalr panel installation in Puerto RicoArizona State University's first solar project in Puerto Rico promotes energy independence for the community of Barrio La Salud. Using flexible solar panels, a novel racking design and battery backup, community leaders can safely remove and replace panels before and after a major storm or hurricane. Doctoral students Jessica Otten and Tara Neitzold are part of a team of Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) students who worked with community leaders to design the system.

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ASU ecologist elected president of the Ecological Society of America

August 17, 2019

Osvaldo SalaOsvaldo Sala, a Regents and Foundation Professor at Arizona State University and a Distinguished Sustainability Scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, was elected on August 16 as president of the Ecological Society of America. Elected by ESA members during the society’s annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, Sala will be president for a one-year term that ends in 2020. He is the first Hispanic person to serve as president in the organization's century-long history.

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ASU professor predicts future shortages in state rivers

ASU Now | August 16, 2019

Heather BatemanExtreme weather changes and a boom in population growth will result in a declining of the rivers in Arizona, according to an Arizona State University professor. Heather Bateman, a field ecologist and an associate professor in ASU’s College of Integrative Arts and Sciences predicts that the steady rise of Phoenix’s population will increase the consumption of water which will in turn reduce the amount of water in streams. Bateman has conducted research that shows that in highly modified rivers, there is also a “lower diversity of lizards, amphibians and small mammals.”

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Members of UREx SRN receive ecology award

August 15, 2019

UREx and SRn members accepting Award from the Ecological Society of AmericaUrban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) were recipients of an award from the Ecological Society of America.

Winners of the award are recognized for their “outstanding contributions to ecology in new discoveries, teaching, sustainability, diversity, and lifelong commitment to the profession,” according to an ESA announcement.

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ASU professor named National Water Research Institute's 2019 Clark Prize Laureate

ASU Now | July 31, 2019

Headshot of Paul WesterhoffPaul Westerhoff, the Fulton Chair of Environmental Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, was recently named the 2019 Clarke Prize Laureate by the National Water Research Institute. According to their website, the NWRI presents the annual 50,000 dollar prize and a medal to recognize researchers that solve real-world water problems and have made outstanding achievements in water science and technology.

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ASU engineers working to use traffic cameras to warn residents about urban flooding

ASU Now | July 31, 2019

car driving through flooded roadA team of researchers led by faculty from Arizona State University are working on a project called “Flood Aware” to warn people about urban flooding. The researchers plan to use traffic cameras pointed at curbs and gutters to observe road intersections, use an image processing algorithm to estimate the depth of the water and then feed the obtained data into an existing model that will forecast areas where flooding has already occurred.

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Sustainability scholar hosts panel at Sun Valley Institute Annual Forum

July 31, 2019

Group of people standing and smiling indoorsThe Sun Valley Forum is an annual event that "accelerates the transformation to sustainable, equitable, and secure economies and communities," according to the forum's website. Founded by Aimée Christensen, the forum each year brings together hundreds of local, national and international leaders from different sectors to work together to build a healthier, more equitable and more resilient world.

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Confronting the challenge of water shortages

ASU Now | July 27, 2019

Indian woman pouring water into a large bowlAs the climate rapidly heats up, we can expect yet another collateral damage: water. This summer, Chennai, the sixth largest city in India extinguished their water supply. Next year, Day Zero — a concept originating in Cape Town where water taps run out of water — is predicted to occur in 21 Indian cities. However the problem is far from unique to India as water shortages are quickly becoming a problem many countries around the globe grapple with, including Iraq and Spain. Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Cape Town are also cities that have, or are predicted to face, water shortages in the coming years.

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ASU project has potential to revolutionize education around the globe

ASU Now | July 26, 2019

children using SolarSPELL technology for learningInitially developed as a student engineering project, the Solar Powered Educational Learning Library (SolarSPELL) has evolved into a global humanitarian mission that has the potential to revamp the way communities in disadvantaged societies learn and receive healthcare. It all began at Arizona State University when Laura Hosman, an associate professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, asked her students to construct a portable solar-powered library. In just five years, the initiative has distributed hundreds of digital libraries filled with educational resources in communities in nine countries that have limited or no internet connectivity.

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Keeping Olympic marathon spectators cool

ASU Now | July 9, 2019

crowd of people in JapanStanding for hours within crowds of people in hot, sunny and humid conditions is a recipe for heat-related illness — but that’s what spectators at the Tokyo Summer Olympics marathons may be dealing with on Aug. 2 and 9, 2020.

To help city officials and the Tokyo Olympic Committee prepare for extreme heat, Arizona State University senior sustainability scientists Jenni Vanos and Ariane Middel were part of a team that measured and mapped out microclimates along the marathon course to identify hot spots where spectators may face discomfort or illness.

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ASU collaborates on virtual field trip to Makalawena, Hawai'i

July 3, 2019

Makalawena beachThanks to a partnership between Arizona State University and Kamehameha Schools in Hawai’i, people around the world can visit two of Hawai’i's natural and cultural sites without having to leave their computer.

ASU’s School of Sustainability and Center for Education Through eXploration (ETX Center) have collaborated with Kamehameha Schools on two virtual field trips (VFTs), including the recently released interactive and educational excursion to Makalawena. Makalawena is a beautiful, remote beach with many environmental and cultural resources located in West Hawai‘i.

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Designing for community and sustainability

ASU Now | June 24, 2019

University Assistant Professors Paul Coseo and Chingwen Cheng asking for community input for the redesign Old Stadium Park in HawaiiIt’s a common story: Developers start transforming public spaces with little to no input from the community — and it doesn’t end happily. But, as Arizona State University Assistant Professors Paul Coseo and Chingwen Cheng (both in The Design School, part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts) have demonstrated, there are inclusive approaches to community design. For the 2018–2019 academic year, they led a group of four landscape architecture students and one design student in a project to collaboratively redesign Old Stadium Park in Hawaii.

The team was invited to collaborate on this project because of longstanding relationships between The Design School and Hawaii initially built through the University of Hawaii’s “Make the Ala Wai Awesome” competition in 2017. Another ASU team, led by senior sustainability scientists Coseo, Cheng and Darren Petrucci (also a professor in The Design School), won first prize out of 40 submissions to this international competition seeking design solutions to challenges facing the Ala Wai Watershed.

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ASU urban climatologist reveals hottest and coolest spots on Tempe campus

View Source | June 14, 2019

Ariane MiddelUrban climatologists Ariane Middel (senior sustainability scientist and assistant professor with two schools at Arizona State University) and Scott Krayenhoff did a three-year study of the Tempe campus, mapping out the three coolest (and hottest) spots on campus, taking readings even during excessive heat and record temperatures and discovering what works best to stay cool.

The study’s findings give a look at how to best combine and place design features — green spaces, trees, and shade structures — to cool pedestrian spaces and can inform future construction and landscaping at ASU and in the broader community.

When roundworms lose, carbon emissions rise

June 10, 2019

Sala PNAS Nematode Experiment full imageSoil food webs play a key role in supporting grassland ecosystems, which cover about one-quarter of the land on Earth. Climate change poses a threat to these environments, partly because of the uncertainty of extremes in rainfall, which is projected to increase.

To learn more about the effects of these extreme events, a team of soil and plant ecologists, supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, studied nematodes, which play a key role in carbon and nutrient cycling and decomposition in soil.

Principal Investigator Osvaldo Sala is founding director of the Global Drylands Center at Arizona State University. We asked him about the study, out June 10, 2019, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Pervasive polymers of the deep blue sea

View Source | June 7, 2019

Plastic bag slowly decomposing and floating underwaterResearchers at Arizona State University are finding a particularly pervasive problem with the microplastics that originate from human everyday use. Senior Sustainability Scientist Rolf Halden, director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering and professor at ASU’s School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, and his team worked with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to analyze oceanic samples collected from vast vertical depths of seawater by the MBARI team.

The results were published June 6 in a Scientific Reports journal article titled, "The vertical distribution and biological transport of marine microplastics across the epipelagic and mesopelagic water column."

Refugees in Uganda learn agribusiness through online initiative

View Source | June 7, 2019

Refugees in Uganda taking online Agribusiness 250 courseA group of 30 people who live in a refugee settlement in Uganda are the first to take the online Agribusiness 250 course through Education for Humanity, an initiative of Arizona State University that is offering higher education to refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Uganda and Rwanda. Education for Humanity is managed by EdPlus, the unit at ASU that creates technology and forges partnerships to develop new ways of teaching and learning.

More than 68 million people are displaced around the globe, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, and fewer than 1% have access to higher education. Education for Humanity is trying to address that need.

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