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Sustainability News

Students provide sustainability solutions for NCAA triathlon

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News Sustainability In Action ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 16, 2019

At Arizona State University, successful results often come from collaborative action, especially when making events more eco-friendly. Thanks to ASU students and the work of two ASU sustainability leaders, Colin Tetreault and Lesley Michalegko, the NCAA Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships that took place at Tempe Town Lake on November 4, 2018, was a more sustainable endeavor.

Tetreault is an instructor in the School of Sustainability and Michalegko is a program manager for University Sustainability Practices. Through mutual effort and the support of students, they made the NCAA triathlon a place where functionality met sustainability. They found ways to reduce waste, save money, and increase the fan and competitor experience while simultaneously driving revenue.

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How one School of Sustainability PhD student became a Ford Fellow

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 16, 2019

Female PhD student speaks into microphone during a presentationSarra Tekola, a PhD student in the School of Sustainability who is a first-generation college student, is a recent awardee of the distinguished Ford Foundation Fellowship. The Ford Foundation awards research-funding fellowships to both predoctoral and postdoctoral researchers.

Tekola took advantage of ASU’s support of Ford Fellowship applicants via the Graduate College's Distinguished Graduate Fellowships Initiative, developed in partnership with the Office of National Scholarship Advisement at Barrett. She attended information sessions and writing workshops, in addition to other rigorous pursuits in the process of strategically writing, reviewing and revising — and then redoing the whole process over again and again, until her Ford application was perfect.

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Philosophy of sustainability science research project receives funding

ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 15, 2019

Tree that looks like a brain inside profile of headC. Tyler DesRoches, an Assistant Professor in the School of Sustainability, is part of a research team that recently won a €10,000 (approximately $11,400 grant) from the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science to develop a new research project entitled “Philosophy of Sustainability Science.” The primary purpose of this project will be to develop a systematic and philosophically sophisticated understanding of sustainability science, legitimize it as a field of science and propose effective strategies for its development.

DesRoches explained that a philosophy of sustainability science will answer many questions, including: “What, if anything, is distinctive about sustainability science? What makes sustainability science different from other scientific practices? What is the role of values, particularly ethical values, in sustainability science? Is ethics essential to sustainability science? Finally, sustainability scientists are keen to promote interdisciplinarity, but is scientific integration always a good thing? What conditions must be satisfied for successful interdisciplinary exchange?”

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Creating a carbon economy

ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 11, 2019

carbon capturing machineOn Thursday night at the Barrett & O'Connor Center in Washington, D.C., Arizona State University hosted a panel that discussed how society can transition to a carbon economy — as in, pulling carbon from the air and making money from it in an effort to fight climate change.

A financier, a businessman, a policy expert and the inventor of a carbon-capture machine discussed the opportunities and obstacles involved in turning waste into capital at “Hacking for Carbon: Building an Innovation Pipeline for the New Carbon Economy.”

Panelist Klaus Lackner, a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Anne Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, has been thinking about how to manage carbon since the 1990s.

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Sustainability PhD candidate wins grant for applied research

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Alumni and Student Spotlights

January 11, 2019

Man stands on road surrounded by treesSaurabh Biswas, an Arizona State University School of Sustainability PhD candidate, knows that energy, poverty and sustainability are intricately intertwined. He has been investigating these dynamics for years and developing strategies to help marginalized communities undergo sustainable transformations using decentralized energy technology and cooperative structures.

Biswas is part of a team at the Center for Energy and Society’s Grassroots Energy Innovation Lab that recently won a seed grant from the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes. The team, led by senior sustainability scientist Clark Miller, will use the funding for their project “Off-Grid Renewable Energy to Create Social Value and Community Development.”

Learn more about Biswas and this important project in the Q&A below.

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Oxford eco-critic Jonathan Bate takes up residence at ASU

ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 7, 2019

Sir Jonathan BateA prominent British biographer, broadcaster, eco-critic and Shakespearean is visiting Arizona State University this spring to further elevate the university’s already top-ranked humanities research.

From January to February 2019, Sir Jonathan Bate, professor and provost of Worcester College, Oxford University, is distinguished visiting professor in ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. He is consulting on an emerging medical humanities project, delivering several lectures on themes of sustainability and wellness — both on and off the ASU campus — and co-teaching an eco-literature course with ASU English Professor Mark Lussier.

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The ethics of conservation: Should we bring back extinct species?

ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 7, 2019

Tasmanian TigerThe losses of animal species have spurred some conservationists to do just about anything to save endangered animals and have inspired researchers to develop technology that might bring back once-extinct species. But even if we could bring back extinct species, should we?

In his new book, “The Fall of the Wild: Extinction, De-Extinction, and the Ethics of Conservation,” Arizona State University sustainability scholar Ben Minteer looks into the ethical dilemmas of the loss and recovery of animal species.

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New funding allows ASU to solidify sustainability solutions service

ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 7, 2019

Rob and Melani WaltonArizona State University is pleased to announce the permanent establishment of the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service, furthering the institution’s efforts to become a global leader in sustainability education and applied research.

The solutions service will serve as the umbrella entity for all the programs previously seed-funded in earlier investments by Rob and Melani Walton through their charitable foundation.

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Inspiring sustainability action through virtual field trips

ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 4, 2019

Man explores the Grand Canyon on a desktop computer through a virtual field tripArizona State University sustainability scientists Rimjhim Aggarwal and Ariel Anbar were recently awarded a Grand Challenges Explorations grant, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This grant enables the professors to pilot a project that will train students to create virtual field trips as a way to narrate their own place-based stories regarding the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and share with peers globally to motivate youth action.

Virtual Field Trips (VFTs) are online, immersive experiences that allow users to explore various aspects of a topic or place using 360-degree imagery, videos, photos, sounds and other media. Typically, VFTs are produced so people can visit places that are difficult, dangerous or expensive to access, or are too fragile or sacred to handle many visitors. Because VFTs offer many different elements to investigate, users can choose what to learn more about and this “learning by exploration” experience is different for each person.

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ASU engineers break solar cell record

ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 3, 2019

Man in lab holds up solar cellThanks to Arizona State University researchers, solar cells are becoming more and more efficient. Improving solar cell efficiency brings down the cost of solar electricity, which allows this source of renewable energy to become a viable option for more people.

Recently, Senior Sustainability Scientist Zachary Holman and Assistant Research Professor Zhengshan “Jason” Yu in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering broke their own world-record efficiency percentage by creating a tandem solar cell stacked with perovskite and silicon that is 25.4 percent efficient. This was accomplished in conjunction with researchers at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The team estimates they’ll be nearing 30 percent tandem efficiency within two years.

Silicon solar cells make up 95 percent of the solar panels made today. The perovskite/silicon tandem has the potential to transform mainstream silicon technology and support the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative to cut the cost of solar-generated electricity by half between 2020 and 2030. At the cost target of $0.03 per kilowatt hour, solar electricity would be among the least expensive options for new power generation.

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ASU hosts international visitors to talk sustainable development in Guyana

ASU Wrigley Institute News

December 27, 2018

Michael Crow stands with visitors from GuyanaFrom Nov 27 to 29, Arizona State University welcomed representatives from the University of Guyana, Conservation International and the International Institute for Environment and Development. Over three packed days, the 18 guests toured ASU and surrounding cities to learn about ASU and the variety of sustainable projects within Phoenix and Tempe. The visit was in support of Guyana: Resilient and One initiative, a program to advance Guyana’s sustainable economy through investments in education, research, sustainable management and conservation of the country’s vast ecosystems.

“Arizona State University is pleased to collaborate on building capacity within Guyana for a more desirable, sustainable future, through this partnership with UG and CI,” said Gary Dirks, director of ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

The agenda focused on introducing the visitors to ASU’s capabilities in global capacity building and resilient infrastructure, with presentations given across a number of ASU departments and faculty specializing in these areas. ASU attendees also learned about UG and CI’s work in Guyana, with presentations given by UG Vice Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith and CI Senior Vice President Daniela Raik.

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Learning sustainability on the ground in Nepal and China

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

December 18, 2018

Students sit in a circle with monks under colorful flagsAs Arizona State University senior sustainability scientists Nalini Chhetri and Netra Chhetri know, some educational experiences are more effective outside the classroom. That’s why the wife-and-husband pair — who are both professors at ASU — have directed a study abroad program in Nepal for four, going on five, years.

Though directing the program isn’t easy, Nalini Chhetri — who is also the assistant director of the School for the Future of Innovation in Society — said she keeps doing it because she wants to “provide students with immersive and hands-on experience that has authenticity and credibility. Doing so allows students to have a deeper awareness and respect for local knowledge that supplements their classroom learning and that is invaluable in preparing them to make a positive difference in this complex world.”

While past programs have taken place only in Nepal, this June’s three-week program, called “Innovation in Green Growth in China and Nepal,” will also take students to China. Students will spend time in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital; the farming community of Pokhara, Nepal; and Guangzhou and Shishou, cities in China.

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Project Cities celebrates successful fall semester at student showcase

ASU Wrigley Institute News Project Cities SCN News

December 17, 2018

Student standing and smiling near poster presentation during discussion with Glendale city officialArizona State University Project Cities held its end-of-semester fall student showcase with the City of Glendale at ASU Wrigley Hall on November 28, 2018.

Project Cities is a young program at ASU that celebrates the power of project-based learning and the value of a client-centered educational experience for students. Project Cities aims to create value for students, faculty and local communities by drawing connections between university resources and real-world municipal sustainability challenges. Over the course of the 2018 fall semester, ASU students, faculty and City of Glendale staff worked collaboratively to address several environmental, social and economic sustainability challenges.

At the showcase, students from multiple ASU campuses and five different classes presented their research findings through engaging presentations and posters. One project generated best practices and drafted policies to support the city’s plan to hire their first full-time social media manager. Other projects proposed the creation of a youth civic engagement committee, provided recommendations for a new sustainable facilities master plan and more.

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Sustainability scientist Arianne Cease wins New Innovator Award

ASU Wrigley Institute News Global Locust Initiative

December 17, 2018

Arianne Cease headshotThe Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced today that Arianne Cease, director of the Global Locust Initiative in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, is one of nine recipients of its 2018 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award.

The purpose of the award is to invest in budding scientists in the food and agriculture field. According to FFAR, “The award recipients were selected on a number of criteria including scientific merit, innovation and a demonstrated commitment to mentoring other young scientists.”

The nine scientists win a total of $2.3 million over three years, and Arizona State University will match the funds given to Cease as a stipulation of the grant. Cease’s work explores the connections between land-use practices and locust outbreaks, and identifies and addresses barriers to sustainable locust management. The Global Locust Initiative also recently won a major grant from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

“Locust plagues are a global challenge that requires a team effort to address, and I’m excited to see FFAR support our cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary and transboundary approach,” Cease said. Cease is the only scientist from Arizona to win a New Innovator Award this year.

Newly funded grant will address aridity effects on nutrient cycles

ASU Wrigley Institute News Global Drylands News

December 14, 2018

Osvaldo-Sala-Blue-ShirtGlobal Drylands Center director Osvaldo Sala is part of a research team that recently garnered funding from the Australian Research Council. The project, entitled “Biogeochemical mismatches: Decoupling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles during drought,” is led by researcher Uffe Nielsen, a colleague of Sala Lab based at Western Sydney University.

Drought modifies carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles with implications for plant growth and productivity. Biogeochemical decoupling occurs during drought due to differential impacts of water availability on these nutrients, resulting in an imbalanced nutrient supply for plants. The aim of this project is to identify the tipping points where drought causes biogeochemical decoupling and determine the underlying biological mechanisms. To date, no systematic approach to generalizing shifts in C, N and P due to drought impacts across aridity gradients exists.

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Fischer appointed to board of sustainable consumption organization

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

December 11, 2018

Daniel FischerAssistant Professor Daniel Fischer from Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability has been appointed as a board member to SCORAI, the Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative. Fischer is a trained primary and secondary school teacher with a master’s degree in educational management and school development and a doctoral degree in sustainability science. In his research and teaching, he casts an educational perspective on the question of how sustainable consumption can be promoted through communication and learning.

SCORAI is a key player and community of researchers and practitioners in the field of sustainable consumption, with more than 1.000 affiliates worldwide. SCORAI provides a forum for scholars and practitioners striving to understand the drivers of the consumerist economy in affluent technological societies; to formulate and analyze options for post-consumerist lifestyles, social institutions, and economic systems; and to provide the knowledge for emergent grassroots innovations, social movements, and public policies.

Building resilience in Maricopa County communities

ASU Wrigley Institute News

December 9, 2018

Two women sitting on mountainside at sunsetAll communities experience stresses. They can be sudden shocks (floods, earthquakes) or they can be long-term, constant stresses. In each instance, how well the community survives the stress or shock — through proactive planning, nimble actions and openness to evolution — and how quickly it can bounce back is a measure of its resilience.

Now, with a grant from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, Arizona State University scientists have begun a new initiative that aims to make the people and the communities of Maricopa County more resilient so that when a shock hits, they can survive and get back to their normal lives as quickly as possible.

Piper Trust awarded $15 million to launch the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience (KER) initiative. KER will work to build community resilience by partnering with and studying the community up close and finding the gaps that exist in services. By embedding in the communities of Maricopa County and tapping the expertise of research scientists, citizen scientists, community members and partner organizations, KER is designed to become a community resource destined to collectively address pressing issues and needs, fostering positive change and building resilience.

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Are co-ops the business model of the future in Arizona?

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

December 6, 2018

Workshop event on co-ops aims to take a step toward an inclusive, sustainable statewide economy.

Nigel ForrestIf the word “co-op” makes you think of a group of hippies sitting around unable to agree on anything, then Nigel Forrest suggests you think again. Cooperatives, according to Forrest, are viable, dynamic and thriving businesses that look after the interests of people, communities and the environment, while building strong, inclusive and sustainable local economies.

“Cooperative businesses offer a chance for good stable jobs, meaningful work, community empowerment and strong local economies, particularly in areas where this is needed most: in rural areas and in poor urban areas,” says Forrest, a postdoctoral research associate at Arizona State University.

Forrest manages the Sustainable Local Food Economies and Enterprises Lab with Arnim Wiek, an associate professor in ASU’s School of Sustainability. Wiek has teaches a graduate level class that covers cooperatives, employee-owned businesses and benefit corporations.

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Using stormwater as a resource

ASU Wrigley Institute News DCDC News

December 5, 2018

DCDC panel presents about stormwater managementOn December 5, Arizona State University’s Decision Center for a Desert City, a unit of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, hosted a panel discussion called "Innovative Stormwater Management: Resilience for Extreme Weather."

Directing more stormwater toward permeable surfaces so it trickles down into the aquifers beneath the city and catching more in rain barrels at homes were some of the ideas discussed. Multipurpose installations that collect water and can also be used as an amenity, like a park, or that protect from flooding while directing water towards aquifers are high on planners’ radars.

The discussion was part of the center’s Water/Climate Briefings, held on a regular basis. These briefings are a regular forum for the water-policy community, DCDC researchers and students to exchange knowledge and ideas.

Read the full story on ASU Now.

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Sustainability scientist leads Geography 2050 symposium connecting geography and energy

ASU Wrigley Institute News

November 29, 2018

ASU Professor Mike Pasqualetti speaking at podiumThis year’s Geography 2050 symposium, hosted by the American Geographical Society, went off without a hitch. According to the AGS Chief Executive Officer John Konarski, that’s because of the hard work of Martin “Mike” Pasqualetti — a professor in Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. As the symposium chair, Pasqualetti put together the entire event, which took place at Columbia University on November 15 and 16.

“The star of the show was Mike,” Konarski said. “He made sure that everything was cohesive, that the speakers made sense, that they were people who were clearly on the cusp of innovation and creativity who understood this issue of energy from many different facets. We could not have done this without Mike.”

Since the theme of the symposium was “powering our future planet,” all of the dialogues and presentations revolved around geography and energy production or consumption. To non-scientists, those fields might seem unrelated, but Konarski said that our energy system is dependent on geography; for example, a discussion about solar energy will include where solar panels can be placed and where there’s enough sunlight to feed them.

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