ASU Wrigley Institute News

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.

ASU scientist to help guide sustainable fisheries management

January 26, 2015

Fishery-Ecosystem-Task-ForceSenior Sustainability Scientist Leah Gerber has joined the Fishery Ecosystem Task Force, a team charged with establishing fisheries management standards that focus on entire ecosystems rather than single species. The Lenfest Ocean Program created the task force – made up of natural and social scientists – to address the need for fisheries management to consider the interconnections between fishing, fished species, humans and the well-being of the larger marine environment.

“This task force will take the next step in making ecosystem-based fisheries management a reality,” says Tim Essington, chair of the Fishery Ecosystem Task Force. “We are working closely with managers and stakeholders to ensure our work will be useful and won’t just sit on a shelf.”

The task force will provide recommendations in 2016 after holding a series of meetings.

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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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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Future university symposium features presentations by ASU scientists

December 1, 2014

ecuador-future-university-conferenceA symposium titled “The Future of the University and the University of the Future: A Global Perspective” prominently featured ideas and methods for designing universities that are implemented at ASU. The conference, which took place at the Technical University of Ambato in Ecuador, echoed President Michael Crow’s emphasis on innovation as a driving force of developing universities that meet the needs of their communities.

The symposium featured presentations by a several sustainability scientists, including Lee HartwellNetra Chhetri and Mary Jane Parmentier.

“This was an international conference on the design of higher education, specifically the place of science, technology and innovation, and the role of public policy, in designing universities and programs to meet the needs of society – particularly the society in which each institution is embedded,” says Parmentier. “They wanted people from different countries to bring their perspective on the role of the university and best practices for university design.”

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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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