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Sustainability News

Meet sustainability alumna Kayla Kutter

June 17, 2019

Kayla KutterKayla Kutter recently graduated from Arizona State University with two degrees: a Master of Sustainability Solutions from the School of Sustainability and a Master of Science and Technology Policy from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

Kutter said she realized she wanted to study sustainability while she was in the Peace Corps in Tanzania. While living in a small village for two years, she did not have access to running water or electricity, and she had to minimize her waste due to the lack of trash collection infrastructure.

“Learning to live off the grid and be acutely aware of how much I was using was a huge change in my mindset,” Kutter said. Read more about her experience studying sustainability in her Q&A.

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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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Sustainability alumnus to receive Construction Management Association of America scholarship

June 10, 2019

Curt TrumanCurt Truman, a 2016 alumnus of Arizona State University's Master of Sustainability Solutions, has been selected to receive the 2019 CMAA Graduate Student Scholarship Award from the Construction Management Association of America, Metro New York/New Jersey Chapter. He will be honored at the CMAA annual luncheon on June 14 at the Yale Club in New York City. Truman is completing his master of science degree in construction administration at another prestigious university and earned a 4.165 GPA.

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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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Meet sustainability alumna Samantha Zah

June 6, 2019

Samantha ZahWith a growing number of sustainability programs out there, how do you choose?

Samantha Zah, a spring 2019 graduate of the Master of Sustainability Solutions (MSUS) at Arizona State University, said she chose the program because of its applied approach. “I was concerned with getting wrapped up in academia and losing connection with the real world, so I appreciated the option to straddle both while advancing my career in the MSUS program,” she explained.

Even before graduating, Zah applied the skills she was learning in class to a project with the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, a business owned by the tribe. As part of the Navajo Nation’s strategic plan to advance economically by expanding tourism, Navajo Gaming is developing a travel center near Flagstaff — and Zah worked with the business to ensure sustainability was embedded in the project.

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Sustainability PhD student working to ensure international and minority graduate students’ voices are heard

May 29, 2019

Leah JonesSchool of Sustainability PhD student Leah Jones decided to run for 2019-2020 president of GPSA, Graduate and Professional Student Association at Arizona State University, because she wanted to make sure that all students’ voices would be heard and that minority students’ challenges would be addressed.

She won. Jones is now the first black president of GPSA, an accomplishment she called “bittersweet.”

“It’s encouraging to hold that title and to know that it is helping to increase the number of minority students in leadership positions, however at the same time I wish it hadn't taken nearly 15 years for a black president to be elected,” Jones said.

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ASU experts creating solutions and mitigation strategies for extreme heat dangers

View Source | May 24, 2019

Downtown Phoenix skyline with yellow skyIn recognition of Arizona Heat Awareness Week May 27 through May 31, ASU Now is highlighting a slew of projects and initiatives that are expanding our understanding and capabilities as they concern the inescapable environmental reality of scorching temperatures.

The article, "Summer in the City," highlights the work of several senior sustainability scientists and fellows: Mikhail Chester, Ariane Middel, David Hondula, Nancy Selover, Sharon Harlan and Matei Georgescu.

All of these faculty are affiliated with the Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research program, a unit of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

Meet sustainability alumna Nicole Kinsey

May 22, 2019

Nicole KinseyNicole Kinsey grew up in Tempe, Arizona, so going to Arizona State University was a natural choice. The only big change she faced was the size of school; in contrast with the small Catholic schools she was used to, ASU seemed huge.

“I went from knowing everyone in my senior class to having classes bigger than my entire high school,” Kinsey said. “Communities like the School of Sustainability make ASU feel smaller and tight knit.”

Kinsey wasn’t always a sustainability student — she added it as a second major a couple years into her ASU experience. This month, she graduated with bachelor’s degrees in both sustainability and global health. In her Q&A, read why Kinsey felt her education wouldn’t have been complete without sustainability.

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Meet sustainability alumna Kaylin Ayotte

May 21, 2019

Kayin AyotteKaylin Ayotte is an Arizona native and a two-time Arizona State University graduate. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the School of Sustainability and a minor in business, she went on to expand her education with the Master of Sustainability Solutions (MSUS), graduating in Spring 2019.

Along with fellow student Isabel Burdge, Ayotte developed a publication for sustainability professionals, Mindiac, that focuses on mindfulness. Read more about their culminating experience project, and Ayotte’s experience in the MSUS program, in her Q&A below.

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Meet sustainability senior Rachael Granger

May 20, 2019

Rachael GrangerRachael Granger is a soon-to-be senior at Arizona State University majoring in sustainability and pursuing a certificate in sustainable food systems. After switching majors a couple times, she landed in sustainability because she wanted to be a part of a field that is finding solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.

Read Granger’s Q&A for more about her experience as a School of Sustainability student.

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Study expands understanding of bacterial communities for global next-generation wastewater treatment and reuse systems

View Source | May 16, 2019

Digital image of BacteriaResearchers at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University and the University of Oklahoma led an interdisciplinary global study to explore wastewater microbial communities. The research expands the understanding of activated sludge microbiomes for next-generation wastewater treatment and reuse systems enhanced by microbiome engineering.

Developing a fundamental understanding of the biodiversity of the activated sludge microbiome in relationship to performance is critical to advancing and optimizing this key technology for maintaining environmental health.

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Sustainability PhD alumna working to make slums more connected

View Source | May 15, 2019

Top down Aerial view of slum neighborhoodSchool of Sustainability PhD alumna Christa Brelsford is part of a team working to improve the lives of slum residents by using topology — a method that allows the team to mathematically examine the slums’ spatial structures and networks.

“This method could determine, for example, the fewest streets that would need to be added to provide street access to everyone, and at minimal cost and with minimal disruption to the residents,” describes author Stephen Ornes, who wrote about Breslford’s work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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ASU awarded NASA grant for study on Colorado River water management

View Source | May 15, 2019

Aerial view of water canalAn interdisciplinary team of researchers at Arizona State University has received a $1 million grant from NASA’s Earth Science Division to provide long-range scenarios for water management for the Colorado River Basin.

“Water management is a pressing issue for Arizona,” said Senior Sustainability Scientist Enrique Vivoni, principal investigator of the project and professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. “This grant will assist in helping local, state and federal entities with their drought contingency planning.”

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Turning borderlands into an energy-water innovation zone

View Source | May 14, 2019

Graphic of the Castillo wallA bold proposal for the future of most of the nearly 2,000-mile stretch of land along the United States-Mexico border has been drawing attention.

The ambitious plan, called the Future Energy, Water, Industry and Education Park initiative, details concepts for developing the borderlands by bringing energy and water resources, education, farming, business opportunities and jobs to the region.

This innovation zone would consist of a series of industrial parks, focusing on the infrastructure development to support the testing, production and deployment of technologies and systems to meet growing needs for energy, water and food in both Mexico and the U.S. Along with private business enterprises and public facilities, the energy and water corridor would also include research and education centers.

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ASU ranks 2nd in US in Times Higher Education sustainability impact rankings

May 10, 2019

Old Main buildingArizona State University was ranked 2nd in the country and 35th in the world in the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings 2019. These inaugural rankings, which included 462 universities from 76 nations, are “the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals,” according to Times Higher Education.

The University Impact Rankings reviewed universities on 11 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and compared universities across three categories: research, outreach and stewardship. ASU’s top-ranked impacts were SDGs 12, 11, 5 and 17:

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School of Sustainability instructor using fellowship to develop booklet for sustainability practitioners

May 10, 2019

Nancy MancillaSchool of Sustainability instructor Nancy Mancilla is among nine American professionals selected by Eisenhower Fellowships (EF) to travel to China for one month as part of the 2019 Zhi-Xing China Eisenhower Fellowship Program. These dynamic fellows represent a diverse group of leaders across a broad range of fields, including emerging technologies in smart cities, diversity and inclusion, sustainable development and renewable energy.

“This year’s Zhi-Xing Fellows are forward-thinking innovators, addressing some of the most important issues of our times. We’re pleased to welcome them into the global network of Eisenhower Fellows,” said Robert Gates, chairman of Eisenhower Fellowships.

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Project Cities students continue to impress in end-of-semester spring showcase

May 8, 2019

Project Cities Student group photoAs the spring semester came to an end, Arizona State University students shared the work they had been doing with Project Cities in partnership with the City of Glendale and the City of Apache Junction. The Project Cities program works to connect local cities with ASU students, faculty directors and academic courses to research and propose solutions to sustainability challenges affecting the communities.

Students from four classes worked with the program this semester. Albert Brown, an instructor in The Polytechnic School's Environmental and Resource Management program, taught 39 students in ERM 401/501 Hazardous Waste Management to lead the development of a project outline and work plan for the City of Glendale involving above ground storage tank inventory and compliance.

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Meet graduating sustainability master’s student Anthony Contento

May 6, 2019

Anthony Contento stands near a sign for his business, Contento RecyclingLast summer, we did a Q&A with Anthony Contento, a Master of Sustainability Leadership student in the School of Sustainability. Now that he just graduated with a few more accomplishments under his belt, we thought it was time to do a follow-up interview to learn about his capstone project and hear reflections about his experience with the program.

Question: Can you tell us about your capstone project?

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