ASU Wrigley Institute News

AAAS meeting features research by sustainability scientists

February 24, 2015

AAAS-sustainability-scientistsThis year’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science – the world’s largest science and technology society – featured research from ASU sustainability scientists. Topics ranged from the sustainable intensification of food production, as discussed by geographer B. L. Turner II in a panel symposium, to the sequestering of atmospheric carbon dioxide through ranching techniques, an idea  being explored by Peter Byck and his SoilCarbon Nation team.

Additionally, Nadya Bliss – an assistant vice president for research strategy in the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development – is working with science historian Manfred Laubichler to develop a set of mathematical techniques to detect patterns in networks that point to the emergence of innovation in research.

The annual meeting draws thousands of scientists, engineers, educators, policymakers and journalists from around the world.

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Biomimicry: Mining Nature for Ideas

Thought Leader Series

February 23, 2015

A Thought Leader Series Piece

By Prasad Boradkar

asu-biomimicry-prasad-boradkarNote: March 3 marks the launch of ASU’s new Biomimicry Center, established in partnership with Montana-based Biomimicry 3.8, and co-directed by Prasad Boradkar. In this essay, Boradkar describes how biomimicry can help us create solutions to address our problems in sustainable ways.

A short five-minute walk takes me from my suburban home in south Phoenix to the Sonoran Desert, from the highly standardized and manufactured human-made world into the somewhat wild and undomesticated natural world.

Satellite views show stark differences between the two landscapes: rectilinear, hard lines divide the land inhabited by people, while meandering, unrestrained territories mark the land inhabited by all other creatures. We have, by design, created in contrast to the natural world, an artificial world of products, buildings and cities.

Philosopher Richard Buchanan describes design as “conception and planning of the artificial.” Using these processes of planning, we have created everything from tiny paperclips to enormous jet aircraft, from the smallest dwellings to the largest metropolises. And though these things are made of such materials of human creation as chrome-plated steel, aluminum and reinforced concrete, they are all ultimately extracted from the natural world. From the natural emerges the artificial.

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Sustainability Solutions Festival concludes with community celebration

February 18, 2015

Sustival-Sustainability-SolutionsMarking the culmination of the Sustainability Solutions Festival, the Sustival will ask attendees to reimagine how one person, one community or one organization can positively impact our future. The celebration takes places at the Civic Space Park in downtown Phoenix, and will feature art, educational opportunities and entertainment. It will kick off with a bike parade through the Roosevelt Row arts district.

“We organized the Sustival not only to shed light on sustainability challenges, but to also celebrate and acknowledge those who are tackling them head-on,” said Kelly Saunders, program manager for the Sustainability Solutions Festival. “The Sustival brings together the community to learn how to have less impact on the environment, support an equitable economy and promote a prosperous society.”

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New center uses novel approach to negative carbon emissions

February 17, 2015

center-negative-carbon-emissions-sustainabilityASU’s new  Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, led by faculty in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, aims to show that capturing excess carbon dioxide is a viable way to stabilize and reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. With novel technology that uses plastic resin to capture carbon dioxide when dry and release it when moist, the center transcends  the limitations of traditional carbon reduction approaches.

The center also intends to show the economic viability of carbon capture by demonstrating its many uses. Recycled carbon could power the production of synthetic fuels, as well as provide an essential food source for plants in greenhouses. In fact, carbon dioxide collected by air capture units could enhance the yield of algae-based biofuels.

In light of its groundbreaking work, the center expects to find a place within ASU’s sustainable solutions framework alongside LightWorks, PlanetWorks and the ASU Wrigley Institute.

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Second annual shadow conference brings sustainability leaders to ASU

Institute Press Releases

February 17, 2015

greenbiz-forum-sustainability-ASUTEMPE, Ariz – The power of global business leaders discussing the latest trends, challenges and opportunities in sustainable business is returning to Arizona State University for GreenBiz U, a shadow conference of the 2015 GreenBiz Forum taking place in Paradise Valley, AZ, Feb. 17-19.

A part of the second annual Sustainability Solutions Festival, a program of the ASU Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, GreenBiz U will bring GreenBiz Forum keynote speakers to the ASU Tempe campus for three days of insights and discussions with sustainability business, education and thought leaders such as Carter Roberts (President and CEO, World Wildlife Fund), Aaron Hurst (Author of “The Purpose Economy”), Jackie Prince Roberts (Chief Sustainability Officer for the Carlyle Group), and Sheila Bonini (CEO of The Sustainability Consortium).

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Feeding the world sustainably: Can science sustain us?

Institute Press Releases

February 13, 2015

turner-AAAS-sustainabilityHow will we feed a world population that is predicted to grow to 9.6 billion people by 2050, using only the resources that are available to us today?

The answer may be what scientists call sustainable intensification. Arizona State University geographer B. L. Turner II was a discussant at a panel symposium on that topic at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), held in San Jose, Calif.

Sustainable intensification refers to increasing food production without reducing environmental quality, and takes into account a broad range of factors including a changing climate, changing patterns of consumption, and the need to sustain both natural resources and human livelihoods.

Turner, a distinguished sustainability scientist in ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, is an expert in human-environment relationships, both modern-day and historical. Part of his extensive body of work includes examining how climate change affects a civilization’s ability to feed its people, and conversely, how changing patterns of farmland cultivation affect climate through things like deforestation and desertification.

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Students awarded for innovative sustainable community design

February 4, 2015

asu_walton_sustainable_community_awardThe Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives honored five teams of middle school students at the 2015 Arizona Regional Future City Competition, an initiative of DiscoverE that promotes engineering careers to young learners. This year’s theme, “Feeding Future Cities,” asked participants to design cities that provided one protein and one vegetable source for inhabitants.

The teams spent four months designing their future cities using SimCity software and fashioning prototypes using recycled materials. The recipients of Walton Sustainable Community Awards were recognized for their particularly innovative application of community health and civic design. All participants learned valuable lessons in engineering, sustainability and science, as well as important skills such as public speaking and presentation.

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Sustainability stand-outs to be honored at annual awards dinner

February 3, 2015

melani_rob_walton_sustainability_philanthropistsThis year, the annual Founder’s Day Awards Dinner – taking place at the Arizona Biltmore on March 5 – will recognize alumni, faculty and supporters who have made game-changing contributions to the field of sustainability. Among the awardees are School of Sustainability graduate Ryan Delaney; School of Sustainability faculty Christopher Wharton and Hallie Eakin; sustainability scientists Jim Elser and  Chad Johnson; and Norton and Ramsey Sustainability Scholarship benefactor Rev. Jenny Norton.

The Philanthropists of the Year Award will be presented to Rob and Melani Walton in recognition of their dedication to creativity, innovation and engaged practice in creating a more sustainable world. They have demonstrated this through corporate leadership and philanthropy, such as their investment in ASU’s Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives. The seven programs of the Walton Initiatives are designed to develop scalable solutions to global economic, social and environmental challenges.

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In memory of sustainability board member Susan Clark-Johnson

January 28, 2015

sue-clark-johnson-sustainability-boardSusan Clark-Johnson, executive director of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy and a member of the Board of Directors for Sustainability at ASU, has died at age 67. Through her role as a board member, Clark-Johnson advised and assisted the ASU Wrigley Institute in accomplishing its mission to promote “human prosperity and well-being for all, while protecting and enhancing the earth’s life support systems.”

Among her many accomplishments was the creation of the Morrison Institute’s State of Our State Conference, which has become an annual signature event featuring panel discussions, reports and interactive discussion regarding Arizona’s key challenges and opportunities. She also played an integral role in the early stages of the Kyl Center for Water Policy‘s formation.

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Super Bowl showcases ASU’s commitment to sustainability

January 28, 2015

sustainability-students-recycle-after-super-bowlTo demonstrate ASU’s dedication to sustainability and embeddedness in the community, students from the School of Sustainability will lead the clean-up of University of Phoenix Stadium after Super Bowl XLIX concludes. More than 20 students have volunteered to sort recyclable items from non-recyclables, thereby diverting them from landfills.

Sustainability is a primary reason for ASU’s involvement in Super Bowl-related events. The university even has a booth at Super Bowl Central in downtown Phoenix to showcase its advancements in the field. The booth is covered with solar panels, and visitors may play hands-on football games powered by solar energy.

The Super Bowl is also working to strengthen its sustainability efforts, and is now lauded “the greenest professional sports championship in the United States.” Jack Groh, Environmental Program Director of the National Football League, discussed these efforts during a Sustainability Series lecture titled “Greening the Super Bowl” hosted by the ASU Wrigley Institute.

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Spring ceremony marks launch of ASU Biomimicry Center

January 27, 2015

dew-agave-biomimicryArizona State University is pleased to announce the launch of its new Biomimicry Center, established in partnership with Montana-based Biomimicry 3.8. We invite you to the March 3 launch ceremony, held at 5:30 p.m. in the Carson Ballroom of Old Main on ASU’s Tempe campus.

The Center is dedicated to advancing nature-inspired, sustainable solutions to the most complex challenges humanity faces. Join us for an important conversation between ASU President Michael Crow and Janine Benyus, co-founder of Biomimicry 3.8 and renowned author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. A reception will follow at 7:00 p.m.

Please save the date.



Extreme weather conference convenes climate experts, local leaders

January 23, 2015

sustainable-cities-network-american-meteorological-societyTo examine extreme weather’s impacts on urban environments, the ASU Wrigley Institute’s Sustainable Cities Network convened municipal and nonprofit leaders for a conference on the subject. It featured a diverse panel of experts from multiple organizations – including the National Center for Atmospheric Research – who described the effects of extreme weather on human health, economies and urban infrastructure.

The event was part of the American Meteorological Society’s annual conference, and was an opportunity exclusive to SCN members. Attendees included representatives from planning, public works, community development and other city departments, as well as local policymakers. The conference provided them with a holistic understanding of some of the issues Arizona’s communities are facing, or will face – information that may aid in future decision-making.

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Partnership to build tools that improve natural and social systems

January 22, 2015

biodiversity-forest-leavesArizona State University’s Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, a unit of the ASU Wrigley Institute, recently formalized a partnership with nonprofit The Earth Genome. The partnership is envisioned as an opportunity to promote the organizations’ shared goals of developing the solutions needed to conserve and sustainably manage life on earth.

The center will connect its affiliated faculty with The Earth Genome to build information systems and tools that will enable the world’s governments, multi-laterals, non-governmental organizations, corporations and investors to incorporate the environment into their decision-making and long-term cost calculations.  In doing so, improved outcomes for both society and natural systems are expected.



Student Spotlight: Megan Barry

January 16, 2015

sustainability-student-megan-barryThis past December, representatives from around the world gathered in Lima, Peru to discuss our collective course on climate change. Megan Barry, a Fall 2014 graduate of the School of Sustainability’s Master’s in Sustainable Solutions program, attended the historic conference. She shares her experience in this month’s Student Spotlight.

How did you snag a seat at the Lima Climate Change Conference?

I was serving as a research assistant to climate scientist Sonja Klinsky at the time. One aspect of my work was to analyze the various meanings of the term “transformation” with regard to climate change and climate finance. The conference was a perfect venue for this research because “transformation” is frequently used in this context.

What was it like?

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ASU enhanced campuses through sustainable development in 2014

January 13, 2015

campus-sustainable-developmentASU Facilities Development and Management strengthened the university’s commitment to a sustainable approach to design while adding close to 300,000 square feet of academic, office and retail space during 2014.

Recently completed projects include College Avenue Commons, a mixed-use building in the heart of Tempe, as well as the renovation of areas at the Downtown Phoenix and Polytechnic campuses.  Sustainable features of the development include a second card-access bicycle parking facility, an additional bike valet station and energy-efficiency technology.

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ASU engineers partner with industry to advance solar technology

January 13, 2015

bertoni_bowden_solar_energyTwo Arizona State University engineers – Mariana Bertoni and Stuart Bowden – will aid photovoltaic manufacturing and supply-chain companies in advancing their technologies as part of a U.S. Department of Energy initiative. Both are faculty members in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, as well as senior sustainability scientists at the ASU Wrigley Institute.

Bertoni will work to develop technology for a novel silicon ingot growth, while Bowden will work to replace the silver in solar energy cells with copper – a more abundant and less costly material. These projects are among the research and development endeavors the Department of Energy is supporting through SunShot Solar Manufacturing 2, a program that is providing more than $24 million to 10 solar energy technology manufacturers based in the United States. The program supports the development of innovative technology for manufacturing equipment and processes that will reduce costs while increasing efficiency.

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ASU water researcher receives prestigious leadership fellowship

January 13, 2015

vivoni_enrique_water_sustainabilityEnrique Vivoni – a hydrologist, senior sustainability scientist and associate professor at Arizona State University – is one of 20 recipients awarded a 2015 Leopold Leadership Fellowship. Vivoni’s scholarship in the area of shared resources led to his selection for this prestigious fellowship program, which endeavors to communicate scientific research to a wide audience.

Water in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico is a contentious issue that traverses disciplinary boundaries. Vivoni’s research activities focus on the intersection of hydrology and its allied disciplines – ecology, meteorology and geomorphology – in order to improve our understanding of water resources in this region. The collaborative studies on shared water between the United States and Mexico that Vivoni facilitated are a hallmark of his research achievements.

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Collaboration launches Center for Biosocial Complex Systems

January 12, 2015

ASU-Biosocial-Complex-SystemsIn order to advance understanding of problems that span biological and social systems, Arizona State University and the Santa Fe Institute will launch a research and education collaboration called the Center for Biosocial Complex Systems. Two areas of particular interest to the center are the dynamics of innovation, and the urbanization and scaling of cities.

As cities grow and strive to be more sustainable, they face new challenges. The Center for Biosocial Complex Systems will help scientists and policymakers alike gain a better understanding of the intricacies behind these challenges. It will also offer solutions to scenarios, such as in health care and human behavior, that a rapidly urbanizing world might face. These solutions will have local and global application.

Sander van der Leeuw, a School of Sustainability Foundation Professor, will serve as director of the center with fellow Distinguished Sustainability Scientist Manfred Laubichler.

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ASU recognized for community engagement by Carnegie Foundation

January 7, 2015

carnegie_socially_embedded_communityArizona State University has been selected to receive the 2015 Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. According to John Saltmarsh, director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education that oversees the application process, the classification is bestowed upon institutions that have demonstrated deep engagement with local, regional, national and global communities.

Institutions participate voluntarily by submitting materials describing the nature and extent of their engagement in the community. ASU is one of three institutions of higher learning to receive the designation in Arizona, and one of 157 campuses to achieve re-classification nationally.

Jacqueline Smith – executive director of University Initiatives and adviser to the president for social embeddedness – says, “The Carnegie designation serves as a testament to ASU’s university-wide commitment to the economic, social and cultural vitality of our communities.”

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Student Spotlight: Angela Cazel-Jahn

December 22, 2014

student helps to paint sustainability muralAs a student in the Master’s in Sustainable Solutions program offered by ASU’s School of Sustainability, Angela Cazel-Jahn specialized in communication. Her focus centered on removing barriers to sustainable solutions by improving the public’s understanding of sustainability itself.

Cazel-Jahn set out to simplify sustainability concepts and stimulate conversation about them through her applied project – a participatory mural titled Adapt & Sustain. Through a series of workshops that she organized, students and other locals translated core sustainability terms into scenarios that could be both depicted in the mural and easily understood by the public.

Participants from surrounding neighborhoods, schools and organizations then painted these scenarios on a 330-foot stretch of wall located along the Grand Canal trail. The area’s residents will soon walk, run, bike and rollerblade past the final product, enjoying its vibrancy while considering its underlying sustainability theme.

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