Skip to Content

Sustainability News

Karwat, Vanos talk air quality on KJZZ

May 13, 2020

Sustainability scientists Darshan Karwat of the School for the Future of Innovation in Sociaty and Jenni Vanos of the School of Sustainability were among several experts interviewed by local Phoenix National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ last month. The April 27 radio piece was titled Worse Air Quality In Phoenix Communities Of Color Could Mean Higher COVID-19 Risk.

Karwat’s research shows correlations between neighborhoods’ poverty levels, percentage of minority residents, and pollution levels. Vanos studies the influence of extreme heat, radiation, and air pollution on human health. With so many cars off the road as people stay home during the pandemic, Phoenix’s air has been much cleaner for the past few weeks, which the two see as an opportunity for shared research.

Continue Reading

Wutich recognized for outstanding mentorship

ASU Now | May 13, 2020

Every year Arizona State University Faculty Women’s Association recognizes exceptional mentors across the university with the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award. This year, social sciences faculty members Amber Wutich and Tracy Spinrad from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences were selected for the honor.

Sustainability Scientist Amber Wutich joined the School of Human Evolution and Social Change as an assistant professor in 2007 after initially coming to ASU as a postdoctoral student in 2006. Today she serves as the President’s Professor of anthropology, the director of ASU’s Center for Global Health and the associate director of ASU’s Institute for Social Science Research.

Continue Reading

Pijawka retires after more than three decades

ASU Now | May 8, 2020

After more than 35 years, David Pijawka, sustainable planning professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, is retiring as full-time faculty. Pijawka has been at the helm of interdisciplinary research at Arizona State University for more than three decades, bringing together policy, sustainability, geographical sciences and urban planning in novel and innovative ways and applying them to community work.

Arriving at ASU in 1982, Pijawka took on a range of critical roles and academic positions over the course of his career. He served as full-time faculty for the School of Public Affairs, the School of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture, and the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning — establishing a record of excellence in each.

In the mid-1990s, Pijawka served as interim director of the Center for Environmental Studies, predecessor to what is today the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. He took over after Duncan Patten's retirement in 1995 and was succeeded by Charles Redman in 1997. During Pijawka's tenure as interim director, the Center initiated several new interdisciplinary research and outreach programs, expanding relations with other ASU units.

Continue Reading

ASU expert proposes a biodiversity-focused solution to prevent zoonotic diseases

ASU Now | April 24, 2020

Barbary ApeCOVID-19 may have jumped from a wild animal market in Wuhan, China, to people. If so, it’s not the first deadly disease to spring from nature. Middle East respiratory syndrome is said to have a source at a camel market in Saudi Arabia. In the United States, the H1N1 swine flu originated in factory farms where animals are held in extreme confinement. And Ebola likely had its start in a chimpanzee habitat in West Africa.

A rising chorus is calling for wildlife markets to be shut down across the globe.

Continue Reading

New KEDtalk: Swimming in plastic

April 23, 2020

An unfathomable amount of plastic has made its way into our oceans, but Charlie Rolsky believes we can make small changes in our lives to turn the tide of plastic pollution for a cleaner world and healthier ecosystems. Rolsky is a PhD candidate in the Biodesign Institute's Center for Environmental Health Engineering.

Rolsky's talk is part of the ASU KEDtalks series. Short for Knowledge Enterprise Development talks, KEDtalks aim to spark ideas, indulge curiosity and inspire action by highlighting ASU scientists, humanists, social scientists and artists who are driven to find solutions to the universe’s grandest challenges. Tune in to to discover more.

Continue Reading

ASU ranked top in US, 5th in world pursuit of UN sustainability goals

ASU Now | April 22, 2020

Arizona State University ranks top in the U.S. and fifth in the world out of 766 institutions in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The global ranking is a jump from last year’s 35th place.

In the annual rankings published by Times Higher Education magazine, ASU scored 96.3 out of 100 points. It was the top American university in the rankings. Only three American universities placed in the top 100. ASU beat the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Penn State.

Continue Reading

Celebrate ASU Earth Month while social distancing

April 12, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic may have upended life as we know it, but there are a few things that haven’t changed, like the fact that it’s currently Earth Month at Arizona State University. To mark the occasion, Siobhan Lyon and Emmery Ledin, two members on the sustainability committee of the ASU staff council created the Earth Month Learning Series, a sequence of online discussions that are a part of ASU’s recognition of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Continue Reading

Silicon Kingdom Holdings funds ASU carbon-capture machines

April 8, 2020

A unique carbon-capture machine developed by Klaus Lackner, an Arizona State University professor and the founding director of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, has moved into the next stage of development.

In April 2019, ASU and Silicon Kingdom Holdings, a Dublin-based startup, entered into a partnership to deploy Lackner’s carbon-capture technology at scale. Recently, SKH gave ASU its first two months of payments and will continue to pay ASU $125,000 per month for three years to conduct research in the field of direct air capture.

Continue Reading

Welcome to vertical farming

ASU Now | April 8, 2020

Experts are in agreement that one of the most effective ways to combat climate change is through an overhaul of our food system. Arizona State University chemistry instructor Zhihao Chen is working to take us one step closer to that reality.

How? Chen has created an innovative way of growing food called “cleantech.” A system that can work anywhere, cleantech is contained in two standard shipping containers. The first container is used to break down food waste, relying on a process called anaerobic digestion where certain bacteria under specific conditions break down the carbon chain in food waste, transforming it into fertilizer and methane. This container can process the same amount of waste an average grocery store discards each day.

Continue Reading

Integrated pest management in Senegal

April 6, 2020

Braedon Kantola and Alana Burnham with Senagalese farmers
This article was written by William H. Walker VI, a sophomore in the Schoool of Sustainability

Imagine you are in Senegal, working on a farm. It's your livelihood, your culture, and a part of your well-being. You grow millet, rice, maize, sugarcane, maybe even some wheat. You do all you can to take care of your farm and your family. Yet, there is cause for concern: locusts. When they swarm, they eat all of your crops, sometimes up to a hectare’s worth of hard work. How could this have been prevented? What can be done to empower communities?  One way is by stopping locusts before they swarm. That’s what Master of Sustainability Solutions (MSUS) student Braedon Kantola is working on for his culminating experience and what he did on his recent trip to Senegal.

Continue Reading

ASU professor creates hydropanels to address water scarcity

ASU Now | March 30, 2020

According to the United Nations, the year 2050 could see more than 5 billion people suffer water shortages as a result of climate change, increased demand and polluted supplies. This forecast means that now more than ever, it’s important to create new ways of obtaining sustainable drinking water. One person working to make that a reality is Arizona State University professor Cody  Friesen.

Continue Reading

Gober retires from ASU, establishes student water prize

ASU Now | March 17, 2020

This month, Pat Gober will be retiring from ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning full-time faculty to focus on research and professional service projects. Gober, a population geographer and demographer, was the founding director of the Decision Center for a Desert City.

Over the course of her 45-year tenure at ASU, Gober held a range of appointments including a term as chair of the Department of Geography, where under her leadership it grew into a nationally-ranked geography doctoral program. She also held appointments as distinguished honors faculty fellow in Barrett, The Honors College; policy research associate, Morrison Institute for Public Policy; senior sustainability scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability; and interim director in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban planning.

Continue Reading

Discover resources for remote learning and teaching

March 16, 2020

Hands typing on laptop computer at deskAs ASU continues to monitor COVID-19, the university is temporarily transitioning classes wherever possible to remote teaching and learning, starting March 16, 2020. The university’s primary goal is the continuation of classes and the commitment to high-quality delivery of learning. ASU has collected all the resources available to you on one website so that you are prepared to teach, learn and work through digital remote options.

ASU professors contribute to federal food waste report

ASU Now | March 5, 2020

A new federal report by ASU professors highlights how nearly a third of the food produced in the United States never makes it to the grocery aisle, instead ending up in landfills. The research shows that the entire food chain is fraught with unpredictability, from how much it rains to how many farm workers show up for harvest, to which apple will be plucked from the bin. Literal tons of food are thrown away at nearly every step.

Sustainability Scientists Tim Richards and Ashok Mishra, both professors in the W. P. Carey School of Business, were on the nationwide team of researchers who produced the report.

Continue Reading

Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability celebrates 15 years

February 17, 2020

Wrigley HallIn 2004, Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow convened a meeting in Temozón, Mexico, of a small but distinguished group of intellectual leaders who were exploring a new idea: sustainability science. Could sustainability be a core value of a large public research university?

It would have to instruct and inspire new generations. It would have to solve pressing real-world problems. And it would have to walk its talk.

On the 15th anniversary of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, ASU has proven it can do all of that and more. Read more about the accomplishments and evolution of the ASU Wrigley Institute in these ASU Now stories:

ASU faculty generates innovative idea to change behavior

ASU Now | February 11, 2020

Man stands on ASU campus with crossed hands and smileOne of the many challenges we face in the journey to create a more sustainable planet is that although more people are now aware of the problem of climate change, that awareness does not necessarily lead to a change in behavior. At Arizona State University, student organizations discovered this roadblock when they noticed intensively publicizing information did not result in as much success as they hoped in regards to meeting the university’s sustainability goals. So to address this, Kendon Jung, the Coordinator for Educational Outreach and Student Services and the chair of the City of Tempe sustainability comission came up with an innovative idea: creating a new interdisciplinary class.

Continue Reading

ASU engineer works to increase solar panel efficiency

ASU Now | February 8, 2020

Zachary HolmanAs we continue to grapple with the adverse effects of climate change, there is a renewed urgency about the need to transition to renewable sources of energy. However, transitioning comes with its own set of challenges, some of which include the high costs of some alternate sources of energy and questions about their efficiency. One renewable source of energy that ticks both of the previous boxes is solar energy.

Solar energy, while quite expensive, still remains one of the most promising sources of alternate energy. It’s why researchers at the Holman Research Group in Arizona State University have been working on innovative ways to reduce its cost. Led by Zachary Holman, an associate professor of electrical engineering and a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, the research team has published new findings in the science journal Joule that show how a minute change to the industry-standard silicon wafers significantly enhances solar cell composition.

Continue Reading