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ASU-CI partnership in action in the world’s epicenter of biodiversity

Biodiversity News

April 20, 2018

Gerber and Sabo scuba diving with groupAs part of their Fulbright Fellowships to Ecuador, Professors Leah Gerber and John Sabo are experiencing the interface between people and nature in the Amazon rainforest and on the Galapagos Islands.

Sabo’s work focuses on strategic development of hydropower in the Amazon basin and Gerber’s focus is on the social, ecological and economic dimensions of marine conservation in the Galapagos Islands.

During their time in the Galapagos Islands, the pair are also piloting the ASU-CI Professor-in-Residence program. The converse of our ASU-CI Professor of Practice program where CI scientists engage with ASU scholars. Professor in Residence work on the ground with conservation practitioners.

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ASU-CI professors of practice speed talks

Biodiversity News

April 17, 2018

ASU-CI professors of practice pose next to ASU statueIn partnership with Conservation International, the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes will be hosting a series of speed talks by the ASU-Cl professors of practice on their respective research areas. This will be a great opportunity for faculty to learn more about their work and find out ways to get involved.

Wednesday, April 25, 9:25-10:25 a.m., ASU Tempe campus, Wrigley Hall 481. Light refreshments will be served. RSVP »

Click here to learn more about the ASU-CI partnership.


Can nature save us? Stories from the natural world

Uncategorized Biodiversity News

April 17, 2018

Headshot of M. SanjayanIn partnership with Conservation International, the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes will be hosting a talk by CI CEO and ASU-CI Distinguished Professor of Practice M. Sanjayan titled, “Can nature save us? Stories from the natural world.”

The talk will take place on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. at ASU Tempe campus, Memorial Union, Mohave 236.

Sanjayan will be discussing the importance of nature to human wellbeing and the role we all play in conserving it.

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Endangered vaquitas: Film screening and discussion

Institute Press Releases Biodiversity News

March 21, 2018

Film poster illustration of three vaquitas swimming in coral reef with title of the film "Souls of the Vermilion Sea"Arizona State University’s Center for Biodiversity Outcomes is pleased to collaborate with local partners Plea for the Sea and Lightkeepers Foundation to offer a special screening of the short documentary Souls of the Vermilion Sea.

The free public event will occur on Sunday, March 25 from 3-5 p.m. at the university’s Memorial Union in Room 230 (Pima). The event will also be live streamed. More details are available at the following link:  

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Biodiversity research focal areas and initiatives

Biodiversity News

March 9, 2018

Close up of tropical white flower and thin branchThe ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes will be hosting three sessions this spring dedicated to highlight important biodiversity conservation research taking place at the university.

Each session will explore a different focal area: Stakeholder engagement; biodiversity evidence, metrics and monitoring; decision science.

Case statements will be presented, followed by an open Q&A session. Light refreshments will be served.

For additional information and to RSVP, please click here.

ASU Open Door: Learning about the natural world

Biodiversity News

March 8, 2018

Close up of kids hands playing with animal figurinesOn February 24, the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes joined other ASU centers and schools in engaging with children of all ages as part of the ASU Open Door 2018.

For its third year participating in the program, the center organized three activities designed to teach students about conservation. This included asking participants to put together a giant jigsaw puzzle of the Amazonian rainforest, matching animals and people to certain biospheres and letting children dig for (fake) insects in a tin of soil.

Prizes were handed out for completion, which included nature-themed bookmarks and stickers. For the first time, a TED-ED video was shown on loop at the table explaining biodiversity and its global importance.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to watch children, from babies to high-school students, learn about the natural world and have fun doing it,” Project Manager Amy Scoville-Weaver said. “I hope they all came away with a new interest in biodiversity and the role they can play in conserving it.”

Initial numbers estimate as many as 4,000 people participated in the event.

Bringing stable power to the most remote communities

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

February 22, 2018

As many as 1.3 billion people lack access to electrical power, according to Senior Sustainability Scientist Nathan Johnson. That's why the ASU engineer – who directs the Laboratory for Energy And Power Solutions – is advancing technologies for electrical-grid modernization and off-grid electrification.

One of these solutions is the microgrid, which provides independent power generation and storage. Johnson and the LEAPS team are developing microgrids that are more technically and economically viable – easier to design, scale and transport. On top of providing the world's poorest and most remote communities with stable power, this technology can improve scenarios like disaster relief and medical care.

Johnson’s approach to military microgrids won a TechConnect Defense Innovation Award at the Defense Innovation Technology Acceleration Challenges Summit.


Slum residents make themselves count

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 20, 2018

If cities in developing nations don’t address their burgeoning slums, poverty will increase, political instability will heighten and human misery will continue.

That's according to Senior Sustainability Scientist José Lobo, one of the authors of a 2018 report presented at the World Urban Forum. The report detailed the efforts of Know Your City, an initiative that organized slum residents in 103 cities to profile, enumerate and map their communities.

“The central premise of community data collection is that the data collected becomes an instrument to foster a dialogue among the many different parties (communities, public agencies, governments, NGOs, international funding agencies) about the design and implementation of effective solutions,” Lobo said.


Food Systems director calls for lifestyle-wide behavior change for a more sustainable future

ASU Sustainability News Food Systems News

February 20, 2018

Chris Wharton, director of the Food Systems Transformation Initiative, gives the latest KEDTalk hosted by ASU's Knowledge Enterprise Development. "We live in a world of wild, damaging, unsustainable excess," he says, and the solution requires a rapid, transformational response. By revealing what is hidden in plain sight, Wharton illuminates a path to health, wealth, happiness and sustainability through values-based behavior change.


Accelerating the transition to a low-carbon future

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News

February 6, 2018

ASU is part of a new coalition of 13 leading research universities committed to tackling climate change. The group – called the University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3 – includes distinguished universities from the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Each university has committed to mobilizing its resources and expertise to help businesses, cities and states achieve their climate goals. Specific UC3 goals include hosting cross-sector forums and producing a climate mitigation and adaptation report.

The formation of UC3 was announced at the Second Nature 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit.


Study abroad in Botswana

Biodiversity News

February 3, 2018

Aerial view of Okavango Delta BotswanaLearn from the top water resource academic experts in the world through this ASU Study Abroad initiative, while exploring the intersection of water, ecosystems and governance.

This program is a part of the PLuS Alliance, Connected River Basins with University of New South Wales, Sydney and Kings College London.

ASU students will be joining students and faculty from the two other universities as well as the University of Botswana to participate in an interdisciplinary course centered on water resource management.

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Sci-fi can offer a window to our food future

ASU Sustainability News Food Systems News

February 1, 2018

There are plenty of sci-fi stories set in post-apocalyptic scenarios where urban ruins crumble amid mass environmental destruction, and the remaining human communities struggle to find food, water and shelter. Charlie Jane Anders’ short sci-fi story “The Minnesota Diet” is different, and the Food Systems Transformation Initiative (FSTI) director Chris Wharton explains why in a special Future Tense article for Slate.

Anders’ story begins in fictional New Lincoln, a technologically advanced, future urban city seemingly well-insulated from agricultural vulnerabilities—until it isn’t.

Wharton says “The Minnesota Diet” offers opportunities for backcasting and reflection on our current behaviors when it comes to our food system. Anders’ story lends insight into more than just the technological efficiencies required for food production and delivery systems — it invites us to think critically about the choices we make right now with the resources we have today.


Retailers rise with the tide of responsible products

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 1, 2018

$200 billion worth of consumer products are now managed using tools created by The Sustainability Consortium – an organization run by ASU and the University of Arkansas – according to the consortium's 2017 impact report.

TSC helps companies define, develop and deliver more sustainable products by providing them with science-based tools. Its members – which exceed 100 and include brands like Walmart, Amazon and Walgreens – have access to research insights in almost 130 product categories. To date, 85 percent of consumer goods are covered.

“We are now seeing the tide changing in the number of companies committing to creating sustainable products for a more sustainable planet,” said TSC Chief Executive Euan Murray.


Conservation science in practice

Biodiversity News

January 31, 2018

ASU-CI Professors of Practice group photo by ASU statueThis spring, as part of the Knowledge Partnership between Arizona State University and Conservation International, six CI scientists began teaching a course for 38 undergraduate and graduate students at ASU.

The course, titled Biodiversity Conservation in Practice, is designed and taught by the CI-ASU Professors of Practice: Jorge Ahumada, David Hole, Miroslav Honzák, Jack KittingerRosimeiry Portela and Percy Summers.

The course brings CI’s science, experience and field conservation issues into the classroom, giving students an opportunity to learn from and question leading conservationists in their fields of research and practice.

The course syllabus builds on the first-hand experience of these scientists and covers a range of cutting-edge conservation science applications, including species population assessments, ecosystem services, landscape conservation planning, sustainable production, ocean conservation and nature’s role in global sustainability.

Survival strategies for the 21st century city

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 29, 2018

When Senior Sustainability Scientist Shade Shutters approached communities and economic developers in Arizona with tools to create green economies, they initially dismissed him. The mindset was, "put food on the table first, then you can think about the long term," and they wanted to prioritize jobs.

Shutters was eventually able to garner interest by rebranding 'green decision tools' as 'innovation and creative economy tools,' insight he shared at a Jan. 23 Future Tense event co-hosted by ASU and COMEXI – Mexico’s influential foreign affairs think tank.

Titled “Will our Cities Survive the 21st Century?," the event convened reporters, experts and resilience officers from around the world. Participants agreed that the successful future of cities relies on involving all communities when communicating threats, setting priorities and making decisions about mitigation and adaptation.


Professor says crisis should serve as 'wakeup call'

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News DCDC News

January 29, 2018

As Cape Town, South Africa nears “Day Zero” when authorities turn off the taps — expected in the first half of April 2018 — Senior Sustainability Scientist Dave White expresses the pressing need to adapt urban water systems to stresses like climate change.

White, who directs ASU's Decision Center for a Desert City, says that the causes of Cape Town's water crisis are familiar to water managers in water-scarce cities around the world – like Phoenix. These include limited supplies, dramatic population growth, aging and inefficient infrastructure, persistent drought, inadequate reservoir storage and climate change impacts.

Luckily, White provides a number of ways to improve water resilience. Among them are greater public engagement in water management planning and decision making, public and private investment in technology and infrastructure, rainwater harvesting, enhanced recycling and reuse of wastewater, cross-sector conservation and demand management, and development of new renewable supplies where feasible.


Pioneering planetary management

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 23, 2018

With the goal of harnessing the innovative capacity of academia and developing options for the sound management of our planet, ASU President Michael Crow announced the launch of the Global Futures Initiative in January 2018.

Global Futures will take the pieces ASU already has and fuse them together more tightly while breaking intellectual ground. It will build new and bigger collaborations; find untapped opportunities that lie between disciplines, schools and existing projects; and amplify ASU’s global impact.

That's according to Peter Schlosser, Vice President and Vice Provost of Global Futures, who was recruited from Columbia University to lead the effort.

“Global Futures is a platform from which to take a broad look at the trajectory of our planet and the role of global society in shaping it," said Schlosser, "to gather and synthesize knowledge from many frameworks and to fundamentally alter how we manage the planet in ways that achieve sustained habitability.”


Illuminating gender inequality in Mexican aquaculture

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 12, 2018

Amid cartel-related chaos, female shrimp traders in Sinaloa, Mexico shed literal blood, sweat and tears to carve their niche in the historically male-dominated industry. Ultimately, these women managed to achieve economic independence and secure hope for future generations.

That’s why Maria Cruz Torres, an anthropologist and senior sustainability scientist at ASU, has worked tirelessly for twenty years to make their efforts visible – even despite the threat of personal violence. She tells the stories of 52 women in her most recent book, “Voices Throughout Time: Testimonies of Women Shrimp Traders in Sinaloa, Mexico.”

Cruz Torres’ work illuminates the interrelations of gender, labor and resource management in aquaculture, as well as the industry’s effects on the political ecology and economy of the U.S.-Mexico transborder region. She was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2017.


Assessing the value of urban agriculture

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 10, 2018

The benefits of urban agriculture may seem local and limited, but – according to a team of researchers led by ASU and Google – the collective environmental impact is significant.

The team – which includes Senior Sustainability Scientist Matei Georgescu – analyzed global population, urban, meteorological, terrain and Food and Agricultural Organization data sets in Google Earth Engine to come to their global scale estimates. They then aggregated them by country.

“Our estimates of ecosystem services show potential for millions of tons of food production, thousands of tons of nitrogen sequestration, billions of kilowatt hours of energy savings and billions of cubic meters of avoided storm runoff from agriculture in urban areas,” Georgescu said.

The team reported its findings in Earth’s Future.


Biodegradable plastics made from bacteria

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

January 9, 2018

By employing cyanobacteria – a photosynthesis-happy bug – Senior Sustainability Scientist Taylor Weiss is making environmentally-friendly bioplastics that dissolve in a matter of months.

Weiss achieves this by creating a symbiotic partnership between two bacteria, each specializing in a specific task. He recently joined ASU’s Polytechnic campus, where he is scaling up the process at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation.

"Bringing all these elements together and in real-world conditions at large scales needs to be done," Weiss said. "Fortunately, we have a one-of-a-kind academic test bed facility here at AzCATI that is uniquely suited to answer the remaining production questions and push development of the technology."