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Presence of humans, urban landscapes increase illness in songbirds

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 4, 2014

housefinchesonfeeder_2Humans living in densely populated urban areas have a profound impact not only on their physical environment, but also on the health and fitness of native wildlife. For the first time, scientists have found a direct link between the degree of urbanization and the prevalence and severity of two distinct parasites in wild house finches.

The findings are published in the Feb. 4 issue of the journal PLOS ONE.

A team of researchers from Arizona State University made the discovery while investigating intestinal parasites (Isospora sp.) and the canarypox virus (Avipoxvirus) found in house finches. The group also studied the effects of urbanization on the stress response system of the finches.

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ASU research helps guide transportation policy

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 29, 2014

Photo by: Shutterstock.com
Photo by: Shutterstock.com

Arizona State University’s robust and expanding range of transportation research and studies was reflected recently in the contributions of faculty members and students to one of the major international gatherings of transportation experts.

An ASU contingent of more than 30 faculty members and students presented their research in more than 40 workshops and sessions at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 93rd Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Jan. 12-16. The event attracted about 12,000 professionals from academia, research institutions, industry and public and private policy groups from around the world.

The TRB is a major division of the private, nonprofit National Research Council, administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. The council seeks to serve the public interest by providing expertise to government, the public and the scientific and engineering communities.

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Why higher ed, advanced energy systems will rescue global climate policy

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 29, 2014

higher-ed
Photo by: stock.xchng

With the European Union split on a new energy and climate strategy to 2030, and developing countries such as India and China unwilling to take the lead on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, global climate policy has reached an impasse.

So, the question remains: How can policymakers, institutions of higher education and citizens from all over the world foster a conversation on global climate policy that sparks action? By demanding superior systems of energy use is one proposal, which will be discussed at an upcoming panel organized by ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability.

The public panel discussion, "Rescuing Climate Policy," is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m., Feb. 5, inside Wrigley Hall, room 481, on ASU's Tempe campus. The talk will blend American, European and Chinese perspectives on the development and adoption of advanced systems of energy use.

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Arizona, German students take Sustainable Cites course simultaneously

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 28, 2014

Photo by: Andy DeLisle
Photo by: Andy DeLisle

Classroom walls have come down throughout Arizona State University, as biology students discuss sustainability with classmates in Germany, art students share artworks with peers in Taiwan and a genetics class gets front-row seats in a laboratory across campus.

ASU has made a significant investment in classroom technology, adding computer technology and internet connectivity to all of the 483 classrooms on its four campuses. Most classrooms have screens or large video displays that allow guest speakers and other participants to appear live.

According to the EDUCAUSE campus computing survey in 2013, ASU is one of only 12 public universities of the 543 universities surveyed to have 100 percent classroom mediation.

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Students create innovative data stories with MapStory tool

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 27, 2014

Photo by: Julie Newberg
Photo by: Julie Newberg

MapStory is an innovative technological tool that allows people like Arizona State University student Jonathan Davis to create visual and spatial data stories. One of Davis’ recent projects, “American Indian Reservations 18th Century to the Present,” consists of recreating the establishment of American Indian reservations through the platform.

“MapStory creates maps that are played in succession through time,” said Davis, a geographic information systems graduate student who was raised in Chandler, Ariz. “I focus on historical MapStories where you can read about history and get a solid geographical framework where the event took place. You can actually see the topography and the geography, so it’s easy to read about it while seeing it. It kind of makes history come to life.”

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Student innovator gets help from ASU, CGI U on clean water venture

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 27, 2014

Photo by: Nisarg Patel
Photo by: Nisarg Patel

Innovation Challenge, Edson and CGI U stepping stones for student startup

When Arizona State University senior Nisarg Patel's friend returned from a research expedition in Guatemala and expressed concern regarding children drinking contaminated water that could cause diarrhea and other waterborne illnesses, it got Patel thinking about a solution. He and his friends soon came up with the idea of soluble protein biosensors to indicate the presence of bacteria in drinking water.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 1.5 million children under the age of five in developing countries die each year due to diarrhea.

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America burning: the Yarnell Hill fire tragedy and the nation's wildfire crisis

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 23, 2014

Photo by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Photo by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Six months after 19 firefighters lost their lives battling the Yarnell Hill wildfire near Prescott, Ariz., The Weather Channel investigated the larger problem of U.S. wildfires. In an article and original documentary titled "America Burning: The Yarnell Hill Tradegy and the Nation's Wildfire Crisis," journalist Neil Katz, along with executive producer Greg Gilderman and producer Shawn Efran of Efran Films, interview surviving family members and the sole surviving firefighter.

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ASU professor wins 'Digging Into Data' challenge

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 23, 2014

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ASU professor C. Michael Barton has been named a “Digging Into Data” challenge winner. He is among a cohort of research teams representing Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States that were named by 10 international research agencies, including the National Science Foundation in the United States.

The Digging into Data program encourages research teams to develop new insights, tools and skills in innovative social science and humanities research using large-scale data analysis. Fourteen teams will receive grants to investigate how computational techniques can be applied to “big data” in social sciences and the humanities. Each team represents collaborations among scholars, scientists and information professionals from leading universities and libraries in Europe and North America.

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ASU School of Life Sciences, Phoenix Zoo team up for conservation research

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 17, 2014

Photo by: Sandra Leander
Photo by: Sandra Leander

Modern, professionally managed zoos frequently serve as global conservation agents – working to save species, educate the public about species loss and recovery, practice conservation breeding and reintroduce animals into the wild. These important efforts depend on understanding the scientific complexities of the animals and their habitats, as well as the history, ethics and policies that often deeply impact animal survival.

Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences and the Phoenix Zoo are launching a new program to strengthen animal conservation efforts by collaborating on new research and improving conservation communications and outreach to the public.

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Kao is first to graduate with Master's in Sustainability Solutions

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

January 17, 2014

Photo by: Tim Trumble

After a very busy year and a half being a graduate student in Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, Karen Kao celebrated her achievements as the graduate speaker at the school’s fall convocation this past December. With a background in psychology, Kao is very interested in the behavioral change behind sustainability, which led her to the school’s master’s degree in sustainable solutions.

“The program is an applied degree, so anything that I learned in the academic field of psychology, I could learn how to translate into practice,” Kao says. “Graduating as the first student from the program, I feel well-equipped with the strategies and thought-processes that help build solution options, and I take with me a practical skillset that’s transferrable to almost any subject in sustainability.”

As a student, Kao served as a research assistant on projects implementing practical solutions to sustainability issues, ranging from economics to urban planning. As part of her capstone project, mandatory for the master’s degree in sustainable solutions, Kao conducted community engagement workshops in Phoenix to collect public opinions for Reinvent PHX. The project, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Grant Program, aims to develop a new model of sustainable urban development, where public transit, housing, jobs and services improve the quality of life for all residents.

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Municipal sludge holds hints to human health risks

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 16, 2014

Thousands of chemicals serving a variety of human needs flood into sewage treatment plants once their use life has ended. Many belong to a class of chemicals known as CECs (chemicals of emerging concern), which may pose risks to both human and environmental health.

Arjun Venkatesan, a recent doctorate, and Rolf Halden, professor and director of the Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, have carried out meticulous tracking of many of these chemicals.

In a study appearing today in the Nature Publishing Group journal Scientific Reports, both authors outline a new approach to the identification of potentially harmful, mass-produced chemicals, describing the accumulation in sludge of 123 distinct CECs.

Ten of the 11 chemicals found in greatest abundance in treated municipal sludge or biosolids were high-production volume chemicals, including flame-retardants, antimicrobials and surfactants.

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Professor publishes commentary in Sustainability: Journal of Record

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 14, 2014

sus.2013.6.issue-6.coverIn the December 2013 issue of Sustainability: Journal of Record, Scott G. McNall and George Basile discuss the current discourse surrounding sustainability and how a new narrative on the corresponding issues can change the shape of our future.

In their article, “How to Create a New Narrative for Sustainability That Will Work: And Why It Matters,” McNall and Basile, a professor in the Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership program and a sustainability scientist in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, write that while climate change continues to affect our planet, “humans are hardwired to respond to the danger in front of them, not the danger on the horizon.”

Fortunately, we humans are “storytelling creatures” and can craft this new sustainability narrative with real-life metaphors, humor, emotion and applicable values, so suggest the authors.

“In crafting stories about the human condition and our future, we must remember that humans have proven themselves to be resilient, creative and adaptable over millennia,” write NcNall and Basile. In part 2 of their series, the authors will share specific guidelines for crafting a new narrative for action.

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City of Phoenix, ASU establish public/private sustainability incubator

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 9, 2014

srpwastesort1.jpgThe City of Phoenix city council approved a four-year partnership with Arizona State University to create the Center for Resource Intelligence. The center will provide a wide array of research, development, education, and solutions services to more effectively manage the city's resources and create economic value.

Industries such as energy, water, resource extraction, product development, manufacturing, and recycling will collaborate to convert trash once destined for the landfill into business opportunities and jobs. The center is part of the City's effort to create value, economic opportunity, and jobs.

The center will be managed by the Sustainability Solutions Services program, part of the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability.

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Want to save the whales? Put a price on them says ASU professor

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 6, 2014

Photo by: Leah Gerber
Photo by: Leah Gerber

Overharvest by commercial whaling has been a well-recognized world threat to stable whale populations since the International Whaling Commission (IWC) issued a moratorium against commercial whaling in 1986. However, because of loopholes, whaling countries at odds with the ban continue to hunt under the guise of scientific whaling or in outright objection to the IWC, while the IWC and its members, as well as whale conservationists, can offer few methods to enforce the ban or effectively curb whale harvests.

This lack of cooperation and constructive communication among whalers, the IWC and conservationists has posed a decade’s old roadblock to solution building and balancing whaling practices with stabilization of whale populations.

One recently proposed solution is the creation of “whale shares,” an approach developed by Leah Gerber, a professor in Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences, and colleagues from the University of California, Santa Barbara, is published as a forum in the January issue of Ecological Applications.

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Scientists propose 'dirty but necessary' way to feed 9 billion people

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 2, 2014

cornfieldThe modern agriculture system that feeds most of the world’s population relies in large part on phosphorus, a chemical element that is mined from a small number of ancient seabed locations around the world. Phosphorus (in the form of the compound phosphate) is an essential ingredient in fertilizer and is critical for food systems worldwide, but about 75 percent of it is mined and exported from just one country – Morocco.

The United States will become entirely reliant on imports of phosphorous within roughly three or four decades – and as phosphate deposits become more scarce, the price of fertilizer could spike and massively disrupt our food supply.

In a Future Tense article for Slate magazine, ASU’s James Elser, Regents’ Professor in the School of Life Sciences, and Bruce Rittmann, Regents’ Professor of Environmental Engineering and director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, propose a three-part solution to this looming crisis.

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Inaugural Sustainability Solutions Festival set to take place Feb. 17-22

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

December 18, 2013

In partnership with the GreenBiz Group and The Sustainability Consortium, Arizona State University's Sustainability Solutions Festival will bring the nation's leaders in sustainable business, renewable energy, research, humanities, and innovation during one week of local events. The Festival is a project under the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, a program part of ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability.

"The Sustainability Solutions Festival exemplifies ASU’s endeavor to address the world’s environmental, economic, and social challenges of the twenty-first century through collaborative, transdisciplinary, and solutions-oriented thinking and training," says Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University.

The Festival will take place at various locations across Tempe and Phoenix, beginning Feb. 17 and ending on Feb. 22. Additional partners include Arizona Solar SummitArizona Science CenterArizona SciTech FestivalSedona Film Festival, and the City of Tempe.

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Recycle your cap and gown

School of Sustainability News

December 11, 2013

School of Sustainability convocation is just around the corner, but what will you do with your cap and gown after the ceremony? You could turn them into a Halloween costume or store them in your closet for years on end. Or you can put them to good use and donate to future classmates.

Drop off your cap and gown between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday-Friday at Wrigley Hall's first floor office. You can specify whether you'd like to give your cap and gown to future classes or to Herff Jones, Arizona State University's cap and gown provider. If you decide to donate to Herff Jones, make sure to only give your gown—caps and tassels are not recycled through its Renew Recycling Program.

Congratulations to all our winter 2013 sustainability graduates!

Decision Center for a Desert City releases decadal synthesis on climate, urbanization, and water in metropolitan Phoenix

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

December 3, 2013

Looking over green treetops toward downtown PhoenixArizona State University’s Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) released a 10-year report, “Advancing Science in Support of Water Policy and Urban Climate Change Adaptation at Arizona State University’s Decision Center for a Desert City: A Synthesis of Interdisciplinary Research on Climate, Water, and Decision-Making Under Uncertainty.” The report summarizes the center’s milestones since its founding in 2004.

Under ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability, DCDC has published over 340 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and supported 69 graduate students who have authored 18 doctoral dissertations and 17 master’s theses. DCDC focuses mostly on water risks and decision-making trade-offs amidst climate change.

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ASU zero waste initiative begins at Territorial Cup game

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

November 25, 2013

ZWMain2To help achieve Arizona State University's Zero Waste by 2015 goal, Sun Devil Athletics will host its first-ever zero waste football game this Saturday, Nov. 30 against the University of Arizona Wildcats at Sun Devil Stadium. From then on, all athletic games and stadiums will be zero waste.

Limited trash cans will be available, making game-goers choose between green compost bins and blue recycling bins. Fans can throw away food, liquids, and serviceware (plates, napkins, utensils) in green composting bins while bottles, cans, and paper programs go in blue recycling bins. Representatives from University Sustainability Practices will be on hand to answer questions and educate the public.

This season, each home football game this year has averaged over 60,000 attendees, which creates 25,000 to 30,000 pounds of waste.

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Student Spotlight: Samson Szeto

School of Sustainability News Alumni and Student Spotlights

November 22, 2013

Sustainability Student Samson SzetoSamson Szeto is a senior in the School of Sustainability. A product of Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix, Ariz., Szeto will graduate in December 2013 with concurrent bachelor’s degrees in justice studies and sustainability, along with three minors in geography, Asian studies, and socio-legal studies.

Szeto’s School of Sustainability challenge area is Society and Sustainability.

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