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Sustainability News

CAP LTER urban ecology work highlighted by Arizona PBS

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News CAP LTER News

October 15, 2018

2 people making measurements in desert with city skyline in the backgroundThe Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research program, a unit of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, was recently featured in an episode of “Catalyst” by Arizona PBS. The episode, “Desert animals in urban centers,” discussed current research about how natural environments (including plant and animal life) are affected by urban development.

Sharon Hall, a senior sustainability scientist who works with the CAP LTER, said that some plant and animal life continues to flourish within or nearby Phoenix.

"There's all these hidden spots around the city that nature is thriving,” said Hall. “If we can think about finding those areas and protecting them — or at least understanding them a bit better, maybe then we can try to make our landscape a little bit more friendly to the types of animals that . . . are living among us all the time."

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Global Drylands Center affiliate wins 2018 American Geophysical Union Ambassador Award

ASU Wrigley Institute News Global Drylands News

October 11, 2018

Esteban JobbágyEsteban Jobbágy, an Arizona State University Global Drylands Center affiliate, has been named a 2018 American Geophysical Union Ambassador Award recipient. Recipients are chosen and recognized for their achievements in space and Earth science and also their dedication to science that benefits humanity.

AGU President Eric Davidson stated in a press release that “this year’s awardees exemplify AGU’s ongoing commitment to recognizing and promoting the best scientific research, education, and communication in the Earth and space sciences.” Honorees will be recognized at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C. this December.

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Sustainability alumna recognized as Sustainability Champion by Arizona Forward

School of Sustainability News Alumni and Student Spotlights

October 10, 2018

Alexia BednarzAlexia Bednarz graduated from Arizona State University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree from the School of Sustainability and a minor in design studies from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Shortly after graduating, she landed a job with U-Haul, where she still works today as a community advocate for corporate sustainability. Bednarz was recognized on October 6 as a “Sustainability Champion” by Arizona Forward during a ceremony in which she received an Award of Distinction.

Bednarz answered a few questions for us about how she ended up as a sustainability major and how the degree has propelled her career.

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study sustainability?

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Sustainability alumna uses her degree at Yellowstone

School of Sustainability News Alumni and Student Spotlights

October 10, 2018

woman smiling in driver's seat of Yellowstone vanCaroline Cloud graduated from the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University in 2017, and now she is working at Yellowstone National Park as a Risk and Sustainability Specialist for the park's concessions management company, Xanterra.

Cloud recently spoke with ASU Student Life about her position. "Don’t be afraid to take a job away from home or out of your comfort zone," she said. "If you’re qualified, apply."

Read Caroline Cloud's full Q&A from ASU Student Life.

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The importance of African-Americans to the executive kitchen

ASU Sustainability News Food Systems News

October 8, 2018

Whitehouse KitchenAt an October 5 Food and Thought event sponsored by Arizona State University College of Health Solutions, Author Adrian Miller spoke about the importance of African-Americans to the executive kitchen. Miller, a James Beard Award winner, signed copies of his new book at the event, which also featured food tastings an an audience question-and-answer session.

Miller’s book, "The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of African-Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas," takes a look at some of the most pivotal characters in the White House’s kitchen history, some of which he spoke about at the event hosted by the ASU College of Health Solutions.

The reception also featured some of the recipes included in the book that were prepared for presidents and their families throughout history, including first lady Caroline Harrison’s deviled almonds and a baked macaroni and cheese that was served to Thomas Jefferson.

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The inconvenient consequences of a culture of convenience

ASU Wrigley Institute News Environmental Humanities

October 5, 2018

Huge expanse of plastic waste with sunsetSingle-use plastics — such as cups with straws, takeout containers and water bottles — are so common in our culture of convenience that we often don’t give them a second thought.

But their momentary utility is misleading: These items stick around a really long time.

Because of the way plastic is designed, “its afterlife is much longer than its useful lifespan,” said Rolf Halden, director of the Biodesign Institute's Center for Environmental Health Engineering at Arizona State University. Plastic that we use for just a moment “has the potential to pollute for decades, centuries or millennia.”

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Biodiversity conservation needs new partnerships

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

October 4, 2018

Large tiger with baby in snowIf conservation science is going to save the myriad species under threat in the world today, it’s going to have to go about it more efficiently, according to a paper published this week by an Arizona State University ecology professor.

If academia remains in an ivory tower and nongovernmental organizations working to save species lurch from problem to problem, headway won’t be made fast enough to stem the tide of biodiversity loss, said Leah Gerber, a professor in the School of Life Sciences. She is also founding director of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, where she leads a team of staff and scholars building capacity to solve the most pressing biodiversity environmental challenges.

Like many other fields, conservation science tends to rely on intuition — rather than evidence — about decision-making, resource allocation and spatial planning. Evidence would be the basis for an actionable principle, Gerber said.

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Female entrepreneurs strengthen sustainable businesses through WE Empower Challenge

ASU Wrigley Institute News

October 4, 2018

WE Empower UN SDG ChallengeAwardees of the inaugural WE Empower UN SDG Challenge — a global business competition for female entrepreneurs who are advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals — recently spent several days in New York City for the U.N. Global Goals Week.

The WE Empower Challenge was initiated by Amanda Ellis, executive director of Hawaii and Asia Pacific for the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Ellis attended Global Goals Week with the five awardees, who represent each of the U.N. regions, as did ASU student Ember Van Vranken from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, who helped screen the applicants and was randomly chosen to join the group in New York.

During their time in New York, the awardees were featured at a high-level session at the U.N. General Assembly with the U.N. secretary-general, the president of the World Bank, five female presidents and the U.N. high commissioner for human rights. They participated in leadership trainings including blockchain and a number of networking opportunities, and had their work highlighted by the U.N. Foundation. Among their activities was a meeting with Lauren Gula, the U.N.'s senior manager of gender equality, to sign the Women's Empowerment Principles.

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ASU researcher innovates solar energy technology in space

ASU Wrigley Institute News

October 3, 2018

gloved hand holding solar cellExperts predict that by 2050 we’re going to have global broadband internet satellite networks, in-orbit manufacturing, space tourism, asteroid mining and lunar and Mars bases.

More than a gigawatt of solar energy will be needed to power these activities, or the equivalent of 3.125 million photovoltaic panels. However, because it is currently the most expensive component on a satellite, scientists are looking for ways to make solar energy in space affordable — and to keep solar power systems from degrading so quickly in the extremely harsh environment of space.

Arizona State University postdoctoral researcher Stanislau “Stas” Herasimenka thinks he has the solution to provide cost-effective and efficient, next-generation solar power for space applications.

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Arizona university researchers collaborate to forecast, track flooded infrastructure

ASU Wrigley Institute News

October 3, 2018

lightning over mountains with purple skyThe National Science Foundation has awarded a $1.5 million Smart and Connected Communities grant to a team of researchers at Arizona’s three public universities to develop a network that integrates existing technologies and crowdsourced data to improve real-time knowledge of flooding and enhance communication during flood events.

The Integrated Flood Stage Observation Network (IFSON) will capitalize on a number of communication technologies to bring together citizens and mobilize city planners, first responders and other local stakeholders to assess flood risks and effectively communicate within a shared, collaboratively constructive information space for flood emergencies.

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ASU sustainability scientist developing energy-saving solution for frozen-food storage

ASU Wrigley Institute News Food Systems News

October 2, 2018

Four people in winter clothes hold ice cream inside large refrigerated buildingSometimes something sweet requires serious smarts.

Arizona State University sustainability scientist Kristen Parrish’s work focuses on integrating energy-efficiency methods into the design, construction and operational processes of buildings.

Robert Wang’s expertise in thermal science includes the applications of thermoelectricity, thermal-energy storage and phase-change materials and processes.

Together they are a formidable force in the quest for … well-preserved, quality ice cream.

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ASU sustainability scientist creates climate data visualization tool that reveals real-time changes in atmosphere

ASU Wrigley Institute News

October 1, 2018

Woman with black hair and red shirt standing on stairsPolarGlobe is a large-scale, web-based four-dimensional visualization tool allowing climate data access to anyone with an internet connection. It’s capable of illustrating changes in the atmosphere vividly in real time. This tool was developed by Wenwen Li, a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University.

Designed specifically for polar scientists seeking to understand the ice caps, the tool is also useful for high school science teachers and weather fanatics.

“It’s not just for research. Every day, weather watchers can see what’s going on,” said Li, who is also an associate professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. “We would love to inspire the next generation into science.”

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Meeting the UN's Global Goals village by village

ASU Wrigley Institute News

September 28, 2018

village in Nepal with flowers in foregroundIn 2015, world leaders agreed to establish 17 goals to achieve a better world by 2030. An end to poverty and hunger. Clean water and energy. Gender equality and decent work. Together, they are called the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

And when they’re met, it's remarkable.

Arizona State University faculty members working on projects that fulfill the goals have seen it in places stretching from Pakistan to Pacific islands.

ASU Now profiled three projects advancing these UN Sustainable Development Goals that are led by sustainability scientists from the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability: Netra Chhetri, Clark Miller and Laura Hosman. Read the full story.

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ASU scientists explore carbon’s next frontier with Keck Foundation funding

ASU Wrigley Institute News

September 27, 2018

beaker with liquidArizona State University sustainability scientist Peter Buseck is part of a team that recently received a $1 million award from the Keck Foundation with additional ASU matching funds to lead an ASU effort to further explore carbon’s potential.

Chemists have more recently dreamed of harnessing the potential of carbon’s next frontier — an exotic yet elusive pure form called carbyne. Carbyne is a chainlike material proposed to be stronger than diamond, more conductive than copper, and even reportedly found in stardust and meteorites.

But for the past few decades, many scientists have staked various claims of making carbyne in the lab — only to be proven wrong in the waking light of day by the rigorous work of the scientific community, including contributions from Buseck, who has a joint appointment in the School of Molecular Sciences and the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

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Sustainability students plant seeds for new semester

School of Sustainability News

September 26, 2018

Woman holding a large green plant with white flowersSustainability students are growing into the new semester — along with a new crop of vegetables in their revamped community garden.

Students of all grade levels gathered in the S-cluster community area of the Adelphi II dorms in Tempe on Friday to reclaim their community garden after being away while the Adelphi Complex was shut down for renovation.

The garden is about so much more than growing plants, according to Yaritza Hernandez, a sophomore double-majoring in sustainability and innovation in society.

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Meet sustainability student Justice LeVecke

School of Sustainability News Alumni and Student Spotlights

September 25, 2018

Woman standing on road wearing ASU shirtSophomore Justice LeVecke originally wanted to be a nursing student — and only a nursing student. Now, she’s double majoring in sustainability and nursing at Arizona State University, all because of a high school program that made her realize she “could do more in [her] career and during [her] life with a background in sustainability.”

During her time at Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, LeVecke took an Advanced Placement Environmental Science course that was eligible for School of Sustainability college credit through a partnership with ASU. Read more in her Q&A about how she got inspired to continue with sustainability:

Question: What did you like about the ASU Sustainability School @ Mountain Pointe program?

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ASU forms partnership to develop remote medical clinics

ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

September 25, 2018

man in collared shirt posing in front of solar panelsArizona State University has joined forces with Medavate and Baya Build, companies that innovate in healthcare and construction industries, respectively, for a unique partnership to deliver groundbreaking healthcare through remote medical and telehealth clinics. The trio partnered based on common missions to address inefficiencies in healthcare, building and energy.

The partnership's energy solutions are designed and integrated by an interdisciplinary team of collaborators led by Nathan Johnson, an expert in sustainable and resilient energy systems at Arizona State University. Johnson is an assistant professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, director of the Laboratory for Energy and Power Solutions, and senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Johnson’s team of researchers and developers collaborate with developing countries seeking to address energy needs for emerging market economies and the rural poor. Their work incorporates both on-grid modernization and off-grid solutions for application to industrialized countries and emerging economies.

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ASU discusses sustainability goals in annual State of Sustainability Summit

ASU Wrigley Institute News

September 25, 2018

Michael Crow in suit speaking at podiumAt the fourth annual State of Sustainability Summit, Arizona State University remains committed to leading — and teaching — sustainability. Home to the world’s first school of sustainability and the first university to offer a degree in the practice, ASU strives to act as a living laboratory and example of sustainability for society.

“We are educating the next generation of leaders who will go out with this knowledge, and every decision they make will be informed by this knowledge,” university Chief Financial Officer Morgan Olsen said. “I can’t think of anything more important in the area of sustainability we can do than that single function. … We’re a model of what we’d like to see in this world.”

Set against a global backdrop, the university’s efforts aren’t even a drop in the bucket. All the efforts of all American universities who signed a pledge to reduce carbon emissions amount to about 3 percent of U.S. emissions.

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Sustainability master's student wins water research award from Central Arizona Project

School of Sustainability News DCDC News Alumni and Student Spotlights

September 21, 2018

Woman with curled red hair smilingVeronica Horvath, an Arizona State University Master of Science in sustainability student and Decision Center for a Desert City research assistant, is a first place awardee of the 2018 Central Arizona Project Award for outstanding water research. This is the first time a DCDC research assistant has won this award. Horvath presented her work at the Arizona Hydrological Society's annual symposium on September 21 alongside several ASU sustainability scientists who research water.

“As an aspiring water scholar, I feel extremely grateful to receive this award for water research, especially because the Central Arizona Project and Arizona Hydrological Society are significant players involved with addressing Arizona's water future beyond academia,” Horvath said. “It is an honor to share this work with Arizona's dedicated practitioners, policy makers and water managers, and is a true representation of how ASU, DCDC, and the School of Sustainability foster use-inspired research.”

Horvath answered a few questions for us about her research and experience at ASU.

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ASU researchers win grant to explore how snowpack changes impact water rights, policy

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News Food Systems News

September 21, 2018

Snowy mountain with forestMountain snowpack is melting earlier, leaving water regulators searching for new approaches and farmers concerned about the risk to their crops. To help stakeholders find solutions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday awarded $4.9 million to an interdisciplinary team of researchers from five institutions in three states, including Arizona State University.

Mountain snowpack and rainfall are the primary sources of water for the arid western United States, and water allocation rules determine how that water gets distributed among competing uses. But earlier melting of mountain snowpack is altering the timing of runoff, putting additional pressure on reservoirs to meet the needs of agricultural water rights holders.

Over the next five years, scientists from ASU will join researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno; Desert Research Institute; Colorado State University and Northern Arizona University to use a new $4.97 million grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to explore different aspects of this issue:

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