ASU Wrigley Institute News

Sustainability scientist recognized with two academic distinctions

December 17, 2014

stuart-lindsay-national-academy-inventorsDuring a ceremony hosted by President Michael Crow, five Arizona State University faculty members were appointed University Professors. The appointees are regarded as top experts in their respective fields of research, both nationally and internationally. Among the recipients was Distinguished Sustainability Scientist Stuart Lindsay, who is the director of the Center for Single Molecule Biophysics in the Biodesign Institute.

Lindsay was also recently named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. This high professional distinction is accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.

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Competition invites students to imagine future urban food production

December 16, 2014

competition-future-food-productionThe Future City Competition, an initiative of DiscoverE, will hold its Arizona Regional Competition on Jan. 17. The competition, taking place at Arizona State University, invites middle school students from across Arizona  to imagine what urban food production will look like in the future – a meaningful exercise given projected threats to our food supply.

The winning team from the regional competition will receive the Walton Sustainable Community Award and prize, sponsored by ASU’s Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives. The recipients will be invited to present their future food idea at the 2015 Sustainability Solutions Festival, taking place across the Valley Feb. 16-21. The team will then travel to the Future City National Finals in Washington, D.C, where it will compete against more than 40,000 other students from across the United States.

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Secretary of Energy tours ASU, witnesses groundbreaking research

December 12, 2014

Secretary-Energy-Moniz-VisitU.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz visited ASU to meet with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students, and explore Department of Energy research projects at the university. During his visit, Moniz discussed the energy and technology programs that the department supports, as well as the importance of engaging youth and minorities in STEM education.

An extensive tour, guided by Senior Sustainability Scientist Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan and ASU Wrigley Institute Director Gary Dirks, allowed Moniz to witness groundbreaking university endeavors such as the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions and Zero Mass Labs. He was also introduced to the numerous solar initiatives on ASU campuses.

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Report shows developing countries lead in clean energy innovation

December 10, 2014

high-energy-innovation-reportA recent report titled “High Energy Innovation” shows that the most active efforts to develop next-generation, clean energy technologies are in rapidly industrializing countries. The report attributes this to a high demand for energy and abundant deployment opportunities. To take advantage of these opportunities, governments must strengthen international collaboration.

High-Energy Innovation is the second of three reports in the Climate Pragmatism project, a partnership between Arizona State University’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes and The Breakthrough Institute. Among the report’s 12 authors are ASU Wrigley Institute Director Gary Dirks and Senior Sustainability Scientist Daniel Sarewitz.

“It is [in non-OECD countries] that we should expect to see – and should work hardest to accelerate – energy innovation,” write the authors.

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Scientist presents carbon emissions project at UN climate conference

December 8, 2014

carbon-emissions-mapping-hestiaASU’s Hestia Project, led by Senior Sustainability Scientist Kevin Gurney, combines extensive public database “data-mining” with traffic simulation and building-by-building energy consumption modeling. The resulting high-resolution maps clearly identify carbon emission sources in a way that policymakers can use and the public can understand.

Gurney presented his research on Dec. 5 during the United Nations Climate Conference in Lima, Peru, where delegates from 190 countries are receiving urgent messages about global warming. His talk is part of a session on understanding the carbon emissions of cities, and will focus on applying urban carbon data to address the needs of local decision-makers and planners.

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Sustainability Solutions Festival has an activity for every audience

December 4, 2014

sustainability-solutions-festivalThis February, ASU’s Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives will host the second annual Sustainability Solutions Festival at venues throughout the Phoenix area. The week-long festival consists of a variety of events that cover every audience, from families to film buffs.

“Our charter states that ASU assumes fundamental responsibility for the economic, social and overall health of the community it serves. Hosting the Sustainability Solutions Festival to highlight innovative ideas and technologies is an example of our institutional commitment to our global community,” said ASU President Michael Crow.

Featured partners for the Festival are GreenBiz Group and The Sustainability Consortium, along with the city of Phoenix, Arizona Science Center and the Arizona SciTech Festival.

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Sustainability scientist contributes to Royal Society resilience report

December 1, 2014

resilience-reportNancy Grimm, senior sustainability scientist and director of CAP LTER, is a member of the Royal Society working group that informed a recent report on climate change resilience. The report advises that communities take steps to prepare for extreme weather events, which are expected to increase in frequency. Recommendations include financial system changes and ecological, ecosystem-based adaptations along with large infrastructure projects.

“We need to make sure that large-scale engineering isn’t making us too complacent,” Grimm said in an article released by the Ecological Society of America. “In the developed world we have been heavily reliant on some key large scale pieces of engineering, which have been pushed to their limits during recent events. By using a combination of engineering and more natural approaches we can make sure that we accept occasional small ‘failures’ while limiting the detrimental impact of a large, catastrophic event.”

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Integrating sustainability education into K-12 schools

November 30, 2014

sustainability-educationA recent article, published in The Journal of Environmental Education, details the findings of a study produced by the ASU Wrigley Institute’s Sustainability Science for Sustainable Schools program. The study, conducted by School of Sustainability doctoral graduate Benjamin Warner and senior sustainability scientist Monica Elser, includes a comparison of 59 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.

The article, titled “How Do Sustainable Schools Integrate Sustainability Education? An Assessment of Certified Sustainable K-12 Schools in the United States,” provides an analysis of the differences between schools that are certified as sustainable, as well as suggests strategies likely to promote whole-school sustainability.

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Six lessons to boost your climate vocabulary

November 26, 2014

climate-change-shutterstock-221252449-copyright-patpitchaya-small-not-for-distributionRight now, political-types from virtually every country in the world are gathering in Peru to talk about climate change. They’re working toward a major international agreement about how every nation will pitch in to address global climate change. It’s kind of a big deal.

If you’re not quite ready to sit at the international table, maybe you just need a little help understanding the jargon. Here are six vocabulary lessons to get you ready for the big negotiations.

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Klinsky: How policy can help mitigate climate change

November 26, 2014

mitigate-climate-change-shutterstock-107998913- copyright-grasko-small-not-for-distributionDuring the first two weeks of December, representatives from virtually every country in the world will gather at a United Nations convention to talk about climate change. They’re developing an international agreement, slated to be signed in 2015, that will determine how we will mitigate climate change as a global community.

Global climate policy expert Sonja Klinsky, an assistant professor in the School of Sustainability, answers questions about climate change mitigation.

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Regarding Inclusion – Do We Leave Anyone Behind?

Thought Leader Series

November 19, 2014

ray-jensen-2013A Thought Leader Series Piece

By Ray Jensen

Note: December marks eight years since the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted at the United Nations headquarters in New York. In this essay, Ray Jensen advocates for a new model to address disability issues, with the goal of improving global sustainability through inclusion.

The romantic biography of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything, was released this month. Its focus is on the relationship of this extraordinary man and Jane Wilde, who weds Hawking and for as long as she is able, embraces the challenges of his life with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). From the trailer, it seems that Hawking received, not a death sentence, but a prison sentence when he was a young man, and gradually was translated into a person with a disability. Sometimes it happens that way.

For other people with disabilities, the point of entry is birth, athletic injury, auto accidents or the violence of war. However it arrives, it is usually unexpected, always unwanted, and often the beginning of a journey that can tax the emotional, financial and relational health, not only of the individual with the disability, but of their family and loved ones.

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ASU-Nigeria partnership to generate waste-related solutions

November 19, 2014

resource-innovation-solutions-nigeriaIn an effort to improve sanitation infrastructure in Lagos – the second fastest-growing city in Africa – Nigerian leaders turned to ASU and the City of Phoenix’s Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN). The partnership has resulted in a hub at Sustainability School Lagos called RISN Nigeria, which harnesses the knowledge of academics, practitioners, consultants and students to inform waste management in Lagos.

RISN Nigeria is the first international hub of the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network, a partnership between ASU’s Global Sustainability Solutions Services – a program of the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives – and the City of Phoenix’s Reimagine Phoenix program. RISN convenes stakeholders from across the world to collaborate, propose real-world projects and grow a global network that solves resource management issues.

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Morrison Institute launches new center for water policy

November 14, 2014

water-policy-asuWith a mission of reaching consensus for wise water policy and lasting solutions in Arizona, the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy was officially launched Nov. 14. Made possible by a $1 million gift from the Morrison family and named after retired U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, the Kyl Center will convene a diverse group of stakeholders to collaboratively address many of the state’s water challenges.

According to Kyl, the center will not be a competitor of existing water centers or efforts, but rather a collaborator and partner in finding new ways to address challenges for our growing state. It will serve as a forum for public evaluation and education, as well as an alternative to litigation for more expeditious resolutions of outstanding issues. Sustainability scholar Grady Gammage, Jr., a senior research fellow at the Morrison Institute, is part of a team providing leadership until a full-time director is found.

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First ASU charter serves as model for higher education

November 12, 2014

ASU-CharterPresenting a paradigmatic shift in the way a university can act as a force for good, Arizona State announces its first official charter. The comprehensive document focuses the university’s mission on the inclusion and success of all its students, and on a fundamental social responsibility to the communities ASU serves.

ASU President and Distinguished Sustainability Scientist Michael Crow describes the document as an expression of “the reason for the existence of the institution,” and one that re-imagines the role of a major university in the 21st century.

“We can make our universities produce master learners more dedicated to the breadth of our society, more dedicated to the betterment of our society, more dedicated to the betterment of our democracy,” he says. “If we can do that, we will have had a major impact on the outcome of humanity.”

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Sustainability scientists aid national effort to improve water quality

November 12, 2014

sustainability-scientists-improve-water-qualityWith the goal of eliminating water contaminants that present challenges to communities worldwide, sustainability scientists and engineers Kiril Hristovski and Paul Westerhoff will work as part of a new national hub for research and innovation. The hub – funded through an EPA grant and known as the Design of Risk Reducing, Innovative Implementable Small System Knowledge (DeRISK) Center – will develop and test advanced, low-cost methods of reducing, controlling and eliminating common contaminants.

“The ultimate goal is to develop novel and sustainable technologies for photocatalytic water treatment that can move us closer toward using sunlight to convert nitrate and other contaminants to innocuous end-products without addition of any chemicals,” said Hristovski, who will lead the ASU team. “Nanomaterials will play a central role in this research endeavor.”

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Students build sustainable communities through fellowship program

November 12, 2014

stardust-sustainable-communitiesIn its new phase within the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, the Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family continues its tradition of advancing affordable, safe and sustainable housing. It does so by empowering students to build sustainable communities, both through two School of Sustainability courses and a new fellowship program.

When it opened in 2005 with a generous gift from philanthropist Jerry Bisgrove, the center acted in a consulting capacity. Since this time, it has partnered with an array of communities – urban and rural, small and large – throughout the state. Now, it utilizes those partners to provide students with an opportunity for the practical application of classroom concepts. In addition to supplying welcomed assistance to participating partners, Stardust fellows gain valuable networking opportunities, insights and inspiration.

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Walton Initiatives further Albania’s transition to sustainable education

November 10, 2014

albania-schools-energy-efficiencyWith a $100,000 grant from Open Society Foundation for Albania, ASU’s Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives are assisting Albania’s transition to sustainable education. Using ASU’s extensive resources, such as experts in green building and international development, the Walton Initiatives team will complete a cost-benefit analysis of energy efficiency in Albania’s public schools.

This analysis, conducted by the Walton Initiatives’ Global Sustainability Solutions Services in partnership with the East-West Management Institute, will be shared with international donor organizations, private investors and the Albanian government. Not only will the analysis direct retrofitting investments, it will support the Albanian Ministry of Education’s initiative to establish an Education Excellence Fund – a program to encourage and finance innovation in schools.

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New biodiversity center supports call for inclusion in conservation

November 7, 2014

biodiversity-forest-leavesOn Nov. 6, a letter signed by 240 of the world’s leading conservationists, including six from ASU’s new Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, was published in the journal Nature. The letter, titled “A call for inclusive conservation,” expresses discontent with a divisive debate in the conservation field over whether nature should be protected for its own sake or for the benefit of humankind.

To remedy this, the letter proposes an ethic of inclusiveness – one that recognizes the merits of each approach and encourages broader participation from the conservationist population. The letter’s six Center for Biodiversity Outcomes signatories agree that adoption of this ethic will help engage and align an expansive audience with conservation efforts.

Nature publishes the open letter as the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, a partnership between the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and School of Life Sciences, prepares to celebrate its launch on Nov. 13-14.

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ASU water experts cited in Wall Street Journal article on drought

October 31, 2014

colorado-riverA Wall Street Journal article on a recent Phoenix-Tucson water agreement highlights the growing trend among drought-ridden regions of sharing natural resources, and includes insights from sustainability scientists Dave White and David Sampson.

“This is ushering in an era of cooperation where, typically in the past, each player has watched out and protected its own rights,” said White, co-director of Decision Center for a Desert City, in the article.

Sampson shared that the Colorado River’s flow could eventually fall to as little as 40% of its long-term average.

The agreement the article cites permits Phoenix to send some of its surplus water to Tucson, where it is needed to lower pumping costs. In return, Tucson will give a portion of its Colorado River water to Phoenix when needed.

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Wrigley Lecture Series welcomes renowned thinker and food activist

October 31, 2014

vandana-shiva-wrigley-lectureContinuing its tradition of bringing internationally known thinkers and problem-solvers to engage with the community, the Wrigley Lecture Series welcomed physicist, food activist and author Vandana Shiva on Oct. 30.  Shiva – who works to protect the diversity and integrity of native organisms, especially seeds, by promoting practices like organic farming – delivered a lecture titled “Future of Food: Dictatorship or Democracy.”

“Her prescient insights, including the importance of organic farming in feeding the world, are similar to the findings of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development,” said Joni Adamson, a sustainability scholar and professor of English and Environmental Humanities. “They provide many good reasons to invite her to talk about the future of food.”

The lecture was presented by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and Institute for Humanities Research, with support from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

Watch the video »

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