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Student success spotlights

Student success spotlights

Student success spotlights

Meet Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership alum Jessica Lerner

August 11, 2020

Woman with brown hair wearing blue dress smiles on the beachJessica Lerner, a recent graduate of the Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership (EMSL), sees sustainability as starting on an individual level and expanding outward.

“Global issues...can feel overwhelming, but things will only change when we begin to open our eyes and decide to do something about it,” she says.

In the following Q&A, learn more about Lerner’s experience in the EMSL and how the program impacted her career.

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Preparing valley schools for heat readiness

August 6, 2020

Adora Shortridge is a Masters of Arts in the School of Sustainability conducting a research project on urban heat islands and how to prepare schools for it. The Urban Heat Island Effect has affected public health, safety, climate change, weather, and many other environmental issues. Adora seeks to solve these issues by understanding its effects on schools.

“As cities continuously morph and grow, it becomes more critical to design our communities to be resilient, diverse and inclusive, more livable, and natural. Educating all levels of the public and stakeholders is crucial to the effectiveness of strategies mentioned above, as well as to the future of our soon-to-be sweltering cities.”

Read more from Shortridge in her Q&A.

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Meet sustainability student and researcher Caitlyn Finnegan

July 27, 2020

Caitlyn Finnegan is a junior in the School of Sustainability who has spent her summer conducting research on fisheries with Assistant Professor Kailin Kroetz. Fisheries have always been a model for sustainable management, challenges, and discipline. They represent a relationship between humans and marine ecosystems.

“My interest in aquatic ecosystems and how anthropogenic activities interfere with their success drew me to assist Dr. Kailin Kroetz with her fisheries research. Fishery research is impactful because it represents a natural resource that continues to be negatively disrupted by human behavior globally.”

Read more from Finnegan in her Q&A. 

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Meet sustainability alum and secretary of the CLFSA Maria Coca

June 25, 2020

Maria Coca Ascencio felt destined to study sustainability.

“I grew up surrounded by mountains, volcanos, calderas, trees, rivers, and dark skies viewing millions of stars with the naked eye,” Coca said. “Nature was my first love.”

Following her heart, she applied to the School of Sustainability and was accepted into the Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership program, from which she graduated in 2019. She is currently the Academic Senate Manager and Secretary of the ASU Chicano/Latino Faculty & Staff Association (CLFSA). In the following Q&A, learn more about Maria, her passion for sustainability and her role on the CLFSA.

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Amplifying Black Lives Matter for a sustainable future

June 9, 2020

This article was written by William Walker VI, a junior in the School of Sustainability

As environmentalists and caretakers of the earth, it is our duty to ensure the prosperity of all environments as well as the built environment around us. But what if the environments we have built have a story of systemic racism, prejudice, redlining, exploitation, and marginalization of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) communities? Is it possible to include conservationists, economists, urban planners, sustainability professionals, and social activists in the reformation process? To this question, I say that we should recognize the systemic racism in our society as an environmental issue and that racial equity should be the focal point for sustainable development.

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Oui Nous Pouvons: subverting the single story of sustainable development

June 5, 2020

Led by her passion for empowering communities through sustainable development, Master of Sustainability Solutions student Abigail Johnson worked in the western African country of Togo on a documentary film about homegrown sustainability solutions. By amplifying marginalized voices and showing grassroots sustainability initiatives, Johnson counterbalanced the prevalent narrative that sustainability in Africa can only be done with non-African resources and people.

“Oui, Nous Pouvons” (translation: Yes, We Can) opens with Abby’s narrative, “I came to Togo as a Peace Corps volunteer, but just to be clear this is not my story. It’s a story about the people I met here and about the stories they tell themselves and each other.” And the story she tells focuses on a Togo community member named Aposto who has put his master’s degree in sociology to good use by creating homegrown solutions to local sustainability challenges.

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Using creative expression to convey sustainability solutions

June 2, 2020

Meet Doctor of Philosophy in Sustainability alumna Neda Mohaved. Her work is centered around international development as human development, and most recently “how we wear water.”

“Throughout the project, I worked with water metaphorically to equate the process of learning with embracing change. Paradigm shifts needed for sustainability require transformative learning where one is open to being shaped by new knowledge and experience," Movahed said. Read more in her Q&A.

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Meet sustainability student and SURE researcher Tahiry Langrand

June 2, 2020

The Student Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) is an opportunity for undergraduate students to find a research fellow and gain substantive research on a faculty-supervised project. This year, School of Sustainability student Tahiry Langrand participated in a project on lithium mining with Datu Agusdinata.

“I was driven to work with Dr. Agusdinata on his research on the community impacts of lithium mining in Salar de Atacama because I was especially interested in the ethical considerations of natural resource extraction,” Langrand said. Read more from Langrand in his Q&A.

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Two short films explore sustainable food and water harvesting

May 22, 2020

Two new short films Holding on to the Corn and Plant the Rain, produced by students in the School of Sustainability and Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in a class taught by Peter Byck, highlight the benefits of a local regenerative food system.

Holding on to the Corn

Holding on to the Corn explores how Hopi spiritual beliefs, ceremonies and agricultural practices centered on corn are being re-established by tribe members. The original intent of the film’s proponents was to create sustainable agriculture and promote healthy access to food, only to discover that their tribal traditions and experiences provided all the knowledge they needed to succeed.

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Now emerging from a sustainable business incubator: “Together We Brew”

May 22, 2020

From his experiences in the beverage business, Master of Sustainability Solutions student Nicholas Shivka was painfully aware of how hard it is for local businesses to compete with the global giants. He knew that local business start-ups lack the financial support cities provide to multinational corporations interested in establishing a local presence. Those companies promise the addition of new jobs in exchange for tax breaks and other “attraction” incentives offered by city officials enamored with Fortune 500 companies, while local businesses receive minimal support and suffer financial disadvantages in the local economy.

Shivka saw a need to encourage and support local entrepreneurs in their quest to build sustainable businesses by creating a sustainable business incubator program. Using the co-op ownership model, sustainability methods, and participatory practices, he partnered with MSUS students Hanna Layton and Huda Khalife, under the guidance of Professor Arnim Wiek from the Sustainable Food Economy Lab, to build an educational program for aspiring entrepreneurs interested in sustainable food production. To test the program, they began the incubation of “Together We Brew,” a sustainable beverage business, with a group of Phoenix entrepreneurs.

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