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Research

Research

Research

Use-inspired research with purpose and impact

The Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability research is transdisciplinary, bringing together multiple disciplines and leaders to create and share knowledge.

Projects listed on this page represent a sampling of the work conducted by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, School of Sustainability, and our many sustainability scientists and scholars across ASU.

ASU conducts use-inspired research, developing practical solutions to pressing environmental, economic, and social challenges of sustainability, especially as they relate to urban areas. Over the last 10 years, ASU has emerged as the country’s fastest-growing research university among those with $100 million+ in annual research expenditures—ahead of Harvard, Yale, Duke and others. source:

research expenditure growth chart
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Actionable Science, Boundary Organizing and Co-production of Biodiversity Outcomes

Our goal through this project is to gain a better understanding of the determinants of actionable science in conservation. While there has been exponential growth in conservation research, much of this science fails to be translated into practice and policy. Numerous solutions have been proposed to bridge this knowledge-action gap, yet it persists.

Derrick Anderson Leah Gerber Clark Miller

Alternative Futures for the American Residential Macrosystem

This project investigates urbanization's impact on the ecological homogenization of the American Residential Macrosystem (ARM) in terms of plant biodiversity, soil carbon and nitrogen cycle pools and processes, microclimate, hydrography, and land cover.

Sharon Hall Kelli Larson

ASU Nanofab

ASU NanoFab is a flexible nano-processing facility at Arizona State University that offers state-of-the-art device processing and characterization tools for university research and for external company prototype development. Established companies and innovative start-ups especially can benefit from using this advanced facility to accelerate their prototype development. We provide the facility, equipment and resources for a full range of operations—from the wet world of biosystems and chemistry to the dry world of inorganic materials, as well as the hybrid structures in between.

Yong Hang Zhang

Bob Ramsey Executive Education Program

The Bob Ramsey Executive Education Program provides innovative professional development programs and customized services that build the capacity of people and organizations that serve the public. The Certificate in Public Administration for International Leaders includes topics such as leadership, collaboration, public-private partnerships, community conflict resolutions, pollution, urban challenges and opportunities, information technology, and electronic government practices.

Nicole Darnall Sander van der Leeuw

CAREER: Integrated Research and Education to Improve Pavement Sustainability Using Bio-Binder

This project is to engineer sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based adhesives for use in construction and pavement. The research objective of the project is to test the hypothesis that introducing bio-binder to asphalt binder can change the phase structure within asphalt binder to produce bio-modified binder (BMB) with desired rheological and surface characteristics.

Elham Fini

Center for Science, Technology & Environmental Policy Studies

The Center for Science, Technology, and Environment Policy Studies (CSTEPS) serves as an international focal point for interaction among faculty, researchers, students, and practitioners on ideas, problems and promises at the nexus of science, technology, and the environment.

Eric Welch Elizabeth Corley Nicole Darnall Christopher Hayter Lily Hsueh Karen Mossberger

Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research

Through interdisciplinary projects integrating natural sciences, social science, and engineering, the Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research project examines the effects of urbanization on a desert ecosystem and vice versa.

Dan Childers Becky Ball Heather Bateman Christopher Boone Stevan Earl Nancy Grimm Sharon Harlan Charles Redman Philip Tarrant Billie Turner II Sally Wittlinger

Climate-Engineering Governance Initiative

The Climate Engineering Governance Initiative (CEGI) serves as a platform for collaboration and coordination among people at ASU and beyond who are engaged in policy, law, markets and other aspects of climate engineering and carbon dioxide removal strategies. Governance refers to the way human action evolves and takes shape, with what kinds of rules, cultures, and norms. CEGI’s mission is to foster critical research into the nuts and bolts of governance in this rapidly changing field and, through collaborations with partners nationally and globally, bring more clarity to these issues and meaningfully engage scientists, scholars, decision-makers and citizens.

Elisabeth Graffy Timiebi Aganaba Ariel Anbar Daniel Bodansky Kevin Dooley Michael Hanemann

CNH-L: The Dynamics of Adaptation to Climate-Driven Variability in California Current Fisheries And Fishing Communities

In this project, ecologists, economists and social scientists will collaborate and integrate primary survey research, modeling, and outreach to: 1) understand how environmental variability affects, and is affected by, linked social and ecological processes; 2) investigate how more integrated fisheries management can enhance social and ecological resilience; and 3) engage state and federal fisheries managers and fishing communities in the development and application of modeling approaches to better achieve ecological and social goals.

Joshua Abbott

Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative

Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative leverages trans-disciplinary relationships to address complex global challenges in health, sustainability, security and education by creating entirely new technologies and novel solutions. This requires integration of diverse research disciplines across the University and building an extended network of global collaborations.

Anna Barker George Poste Michael Schoon Sander van der Leeuw

Connection One

Connection One is a National Science Foundation Industry-University Cooperative Research Center working closely with private industry and the federal government on various projects in RF and wireless communication systems, networks, remote sensing, and homeland security. The Center's mission is to develop the technology to enable end-to-end communication systems for a variety of applications, ranging from cellular to environmental and defense applications. One aspect of the research is the development of integrated RF and wireless circuits-on-a-chip to simplify and enable a small, portable, all-in-one communication device. An additional research focus is the development of efficient architectures and routing techniques for networked applications.

Sayfe Kiaei Hongbin Yu

Cyber-Knowledge Infrastructure for Geospatial Data

This CAREER award will support a promising early-career investigator's efforts to build key theories and techniques of a cyber-knowledge infrastructure that enhances access, search, and reasoning capabilities for using geospatial data across the ever-expanding Web.

Wenwen Li

Decision Center for a Desert City

The Decision Center for a Desert City conducts climate, water, and decision research and develops innovative tools to bridge the boundary between scientists and decision makers and put their work into the hands of those whose concern is for the sustainable future of Greater Phoenix.

Dave White Liz Marquez

Decision Theater

The Decision Theater Network actively engages researchers and leaders to visualize solutions to complex problems. The Network provides the latest expertise in collaborative, computing and display technologies for data visualization, modeling, and simulation. The Network addresses cross-disciplinary local, national and international issues by drawing on Arizona State University’s diverse academic and research capabilities.

Ben Freakley

Defining Stream Biomes to Better Understand and Forecast Stream Ecosystem Change

This research will develop a biome classification system for streams to better understand how streams function and provide an ability to predict how streams will change from human and environmental factors.

Nancy Grimm

EASM-3: Collaborative Research: Physics-based Predictive Modeling for Integrated Agricultural and Urban Applications

A collaborative and interdisciplinary team from Arizona State University and the National Center for Atmospheric Research jointly develops integrated agricultural and urban models necessary to examine hydroclimatic impacts and economic and social benefits/tradeoffs associated with agricultural and urban land use/cover changes accompanying localization of food production within cities.

Alex Mahalov

Ecosystem Response to N and Organic C Deposition from the Urban Atmosphere

The "Urban Air" project studies the exchange of chemical elements between land and atmosphere in urban systems.

Sharon Hall Stevan Earl Nancy Grimm Quincy Stewart

Empowerment for Peace through Leadership in Agribusiness and Sustainability; Eradicating Poverty in Rural Communities

Arizona State University (USA), Gandhi Research Foundation (India), and Jain Irrigation Systems, Ltd. (multinational company headquartered in India) have partnered to create EmPeace LABS (Empowerment for Peace through Leadership in Agribusiness and Sustainability), a training and leadership program committed to building a strong foundation for global peace by preparing young professionals for leadership in agri-business and sustainability. This unique project will create a global network that supports the realization of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by connecting agricultural and capacity-building organizations with community leaders from participating countries.

Rimjhim Aggarwal

Energy, Science, and Policy Initiative

ESPI's objective is to to establish a strong program of research and policy engagement to understand and analyze the social dynamics of past, present, and future energy systems.

Arthur Mason Clark Miller

Flexible Model Compositions and Visual Representations for Planning and Policy Decisions at the Sub-regional Level of the Food-Energy-Water Nexus

In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on the processes and interactions among food, energy, and water systems, or the so-called food-energy-water (FEW) nexus, and the resulting implications for sustainability, resilience, and security. Food represents agricultural trade and consumption and is a critical component of a region's economy. Energy is required to supply and treat water for agriculture, municipal, and industrial uses, as well as to mechanize agricultural activities. Water is used for human and industrial consumption, crop irrigation, and energy production. While the multifaceted interactions between food, energy and water are often framed as threats or stresses of one system upon the others, basic understanding of the feedback dynamics is necessary for identifying synergies and potential efficiencies. The overarching goal of this research is to develop basic interdisciplinary scientific understanding of food, energy, and water system dynamics to inform an integrated modeling, visualization, and decision support infrastructure for comprehensive FEW systems.

Rimjhim Aggarwal Ross Maciejewski Giuseppe Mascaro Hessam Sarjoughian Dave White

Food-Security and Agribusiness Support

This project will complete a Life-Cycle Analysis (a technique used to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life) on the products coming from Upper Egyptian farmers. The analysis will help researchers to identify inefficiencies, inequities and opportunities for improvements throughout the life of the product.

Rajesh Buch

Foundations of Social and Ethical Responsibility among Undergraduate Engineering Students: Comparing across Time, Institutions, and Interventions

This study responds to gaps in existing knowledge of social and ethical responsibility by asking the following research questions: 1) What do engineering students perceive as responsible (and irresponsible) professional conduct, and what do they perceive as socially just (and unjust) technical practices?, and 2) how do foundational measures and understandings of social and ethical responsibility change during a four-year engineering degree program, both in general and in relation to specific kinds of learning experiences?

Thomas Seager Shawn Jordan Jameson Wetmore

GIS-P: A Tool for Sustainable Phosphorus Management

Nutrient management is a major sustainability issue. A substantial fraction of our water resources are polluted with too much nitrogen and, more importantly for freshwater, phosphorus. This results in major biodiversity loss, tainted drinking water supplies, economic damage to water-dependent industries, reduced recreational activities, and decreased property values. Our phosphorus resources require better management. They need to be used more efficiently and recycled more effectively. The Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance has developed GIS-P as a tool to facilitate enlightened phosphorus management.

Rebecca Muenich Matthew Scholz

Global Biosocial Complexity Initiative

The Global Biosocial Complexity Initiative (formerly the Consortium for Biosocial Complex Systems) generates fresh insight into global challenges and transforms their findings into real-life applications that improve the human condition. The mission is to develop and promote a new science of biosocial system dynamics that uses a complex systems paradigm, computational thinking and quantitative methods to forge a new and holistic understanding of life and society. Through dynamical discussions, visiting scholars, lecture series, major research projects and novel courses and degree programs, we are rapidly solidifying the science that holds the key to solving our most complex challenges. We are committed to fostering diversity in STEM education, and actively recruit students from diverse backgrounds who are strong on potential, but may be lacking opportunities and mentors.

Marco Janssen Rimjhim Aggarwal Athena Aktipis Marty Anderies Michael Barton Christopher Boone Prasad Boradkar Shauna BurnSilver Carlos Castillo-Chavez Edward Finn Leah Gerber Erik Johnston Douglas Kenrick Ann Kinzig Manfred Laubichler Stuart Lindsay José Lobo Steven Neuberg Robert Page Jr Theodore Pavlic Michael Schoon Michael Simeone Deborah Strumsky Billie Turner II Sander van der Leeuw Arnim Wiek

Global Ethnohydrology Study

The Global Ethnohydrology Study is a multi-year transdisciplinary project using data collected with local communities from around the globe. The goal is to better theorize how people understand and adapt to the everyday challenges of getting enough safe water, and to explicate the health and psychological impacts of that struggle.

Alexandra Brewis Slade Amber Wutich

GlobalResolve

GlobalResolve was established at ASU in 2006 as a social entrepreneurship program designed to enhance the educational experience for interested and qualified ASU students by involving them in semester-long projects that directly improve the lives of underprivileged people, and/or those in underdeveloped nations throughout the world.

Mark Henderson John Takamura Jr.

HBCU DCL: EAGER: Engineering A Sustainable Bio-based Nano Composite from Biomass Using A Bottom-up Synthesis and Characterization Approach

This is a green engineering project that targets the enablement of the production of a bio-nanocomposite. The bio-nanocomposite is to be composed of montmorillonite clay and a bio-modifier made from swine manure. Use of such bio-based modifier can help reduce worldwide reliance on shrinking petroleum reserves while reducing CO2 emissions associated with the manufacture of petroleum-based products and the uncontrolled bio-waste decay in landfills and open lagoons.

Elham Fini

Healthy Urban Environments Initiative

This research will work on reducing heat and improving air quality in urban environments.

Matthew Fraser Charles Redman Christopher Sanchez

Humanities for the Environment - Dinner 2040

This pilot project seeks to establish a model for other communities to employ as they consider the future of food in their regions.

Joan McGregor Joni Adamson Nalini Chhetri Netra Chhetri Maria Cruz-Torres Hallie Eakin Paul Hirt Joshua MacFadyen

Humanities for the Environment - Life Overlooked

Contributors, including senior academics, community members, and students, raise questions about the consequences of ecological transformation and control for wildlife, plants, and the human-nature relationship. They examine both traditional notions of stewardship (e.g., the idea of overlooking) and also cultural blindspots in traditional modes of interacting with nature.

Joni Adamson Ronald Broglio

Humanities for the Environment / An Archive of Hope and Caution

Contributors to the archive of Hope and Cautionary Tales have undertaken to create a digital archive of stories about how scholars and community members are collaborating on projects that work towards increased environmental sustainability and social justice

Intellectual Migration Dynamics Between China and the U.S.

This project seeks to understand the migration dynamics of highly educated migrants. Using the "intellectual migration" framework and empirically connecting China and the United States, the research aims to understand the who, why, and where, of intellectual migration and examine how country-specific policies impact intellectual migration. This project will contribute to ideas about the movement of people between countries and what motivates them, and adds a geographical dimension to the understanding of the migration of the highly educated.

Wei Li

Interdisciplinary Student Research on Urban Resilience in Latin America

People living in cities in all regions of the world are experiencing increases in extreme events like floods and heat waves. Urban decision makers need help to develop ways to meet this challenge that are based in scientific understanding. This International Research Experience for Students (IRES) grant is linked to the Urban Resilience to Extremes (UREx) Sustainability Research Network (SRN). The grant will support three graduate students and one undergraduate student each year for ten weeks work in Valdivia, Chile (2017); Hermosillo, Mexico (2018); and in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (2019).

Nancy Grimm Tischa Munoz-Erickson Charles Redman Enrique Vivoni

International Union for Conservation of Nature Partnership

The Center for Biodiversity Outcomes is involved with a variety of activities and opportunities designed to advance the mutual biodiversity goals of the center and of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Beth Polidoro Penny Langhammer

LightWorks®

ASU LightWorks® is a multidisciplinary effort to leverage ASU's unique strengths, particularly in renewable energy fields including artificial photosynthesis, biofuels, and next-generation photovoltaics.

Gary Dirks Stephen Goodnick Kristin Mayes Clark Miller Ellen Stechel

LTREB: Long-term Climate Variability and Ecosystem Response in a Desert Stream

The primary objective of this project is to understand how long-term climate variability influences the structure and function of desert streams.

Nancy Grimm Cathy Kochert John Sabo

Marine Biodiversity and Petrochemical Vulnerability in the Gulf of Mexico

GoMex Explorer is a spatial decision-support tool for marine biodiversity and petrochemical vulnerability in the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem, or LME. A fundamental understanding of how multiple stressors impact marine organisms in the Gulf of Mexico is critical to the development of effective management, restoration, recovery and mitigation initiatives for living marine resources. GoMex Explorer is a spatial decision-support tool for marine biodiversity and petrochemical vulnerability in the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem, or LME. A fundamental understanding of how multiple stressors impact marine organisms in the Gulf of Mexico is critical to the development of effective management, restoration, recovery and mitigation initiatives for living marine resources.

Beth Polidoro Steven Saul

Multiscale Effects of Climate Variability and Change on Hydrologic Regimes, Ecosystem Function, and Community Structure in a Desert Stream and Its Catchment

This project focuses on using new statistical techniques that describe hydrological regimes, coupled with long-term measurements of stream structure and processes, to understand how shifts in climate and river discharge regimes on many time scales will influence the ecosystem.

Nancy Grimm John Sabo

Nanotechnology Collaborative Infrastructure Southwest (NCI-SW)

The goals of the Nanotechnology Collaborative Infrastructure Southwest are to build a Southwest regional infrastructure for nanotechnology discovery and innovation, to address societal needs through education and entrepreneurship, and to serve as a model site of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI)..

Stuart Bowden Jenefer Husman Trevor Thornton Jameson Wetmore

North American Observatory:
Building Resilience in the Anthropocene

Humanities for the Environment is an international system of Observatories. ASU serves as the headquarters of the North American Observatory. The aim of the Humanities for the Environment (HfE) Observatories, funded in its first phase by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is to identify, explore, and demonstrate the contributions that humanistic and artistic disciplines can make to understanding and engaging with global environmental challenges.

Joni Adamson Julie Anand Ronald Broglio Nalini Chhetri Netra Chhetri Maria Cruz-Torres Paul Hirt Joan McGregor Michael Simeone Hava Tirosh-Samuelson

Phoenix Area Social Survey

This survey studies the relationships between people and the natural environment in the Phoenix metro area.

Sharon Harlan Nancy Grimm Christopher Boone Amber Wutich Darren Ruddell Rimjhim Aggarwal Dan Childers Stevan Earl Kelli Larson Kerry Smith Paige Warren

Potential and emerging impacts of the changing institutional landscape on the global exchange of genetic resources for food and agriculture (GRFA)

This project, funded by the USAID Bureau of Food Security, aims to identify the potential and emerging impact of the Nagoya Protocol and other international policies on the global exchange and use of genetic resources for food, agriculture, and development. It is motivated by the simultaneous increase in demand for global research collaboration and the rise of institutional constraints over biological materials.

Eric Welch

QESST: NSF Engineering Research Center for Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies

A major societal challenge is to generate terawatts (TWs) of electricity with minimal environmental impact. The Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies (QESST) Engineering Research Center will transform the existing electricity generation system towards a sustainable and ubiquitous one by developing photovoltaic (PV) technologies with higher efficiency and novel functionality.

Christiana Honsberg Braden Allenby Matthew Fraser Stephen Goodnick Harry Atwater Tonio Buonassisi Robert Opila

REU Site: Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute (MTBI)

The Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute (MTBI) summer program trains undergraduates through cutting-edge research and intensive mentoring experiences in the applied mathematical sciences. This eight-week summer research program is open to college juniors and seniors who are interested in learning quantitative methods and carrying out research on intriguing applications of math to their day-to-day lives.

Carlos Castillo-Chavez

Small World/Big Bodies

Small World/Big Bodies is a multi-year and multi-sited project tackling the complex question of how and why stigmatizing attitudes toward overweight and obese bodies are becoming more negative and spreading even as obesity becomes more common.

Alexandra Brewis Slade Amber Wutich

Solar Power Lab

Arizona State University's Solar Power Lab serves a staging ground for the new technologies and ideas that will move us forward in our quest for a more sustainable society.

Christiana Honsberg Stuart Bowden

Spirituality and Sustainability Initiative

Founded in 2015, the Spirituality and Sustainability Initiative (SSI) integrates perspectives on sustainability and innovation with an awareness of the sources, dynamics, significance, and meaning of values and ethical convictions for driving aspiration and action, and as factors in personal and collective resilience. In other words, the kinds of questions and commitments associated with spirituality not only fit with but are intrinsic to a comprehensive and holistic approach to sustainability. SSI is a secular, non-sectarian effort, defining spirituality broadly to include humanistic values and informal modes of spirituality as well as established religious traditions.

Elisabeth Graffy

Sustainable Energy, Education and Knowledge-Sharing (SEEK) Project

The Sustainability Energy, Education and Knowledge-sharing (SEEK) Project catalyzes the values-driven leadership of cohesive social networks, such as congregations and non-profits, to accelerate societal energy transitions through education, technical assistance, and social innovation. An action research project of the Spirituality and Sustainability Initiative, SEEK relies on a novel model for leveraging existing assets and in-kind resources from multi-sectoral partners (including universities, congregations, commercial energy professionals, federal programs, and local leaders) to provide tailored mentoring and technical assistance in face-to-face and virtual formats that facilitate progressive knowledge development, knowledge sharing, and mutual problem-solving.

Elisabeth Graffy

Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance

The Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance is a nonprofit organization driven to innovate and implement solutions to the phosphorus challenge. Our mission is to be North America’s central forum and advocate for the sustainable use, recovery, and recycling of phosphorus in the food system.

James Elser Matthew Scholz

The Household Independent Power Project

The Household Independent Power Project (HIPP) conducts investigations and engagement around personal and household-scale decisions, innovation, and behavior related to broader questions of sustainable energy system transition.

Elisabeth Graffy

The Measurement of Scale and Process Heterogeneity Through Local Multivariate Models

This project will address several fundamental issues in the statistical analysis of local processes through three types of multi-scale models that recently have been developed. Such research is important because all data collected in both biophysical and social environments results from a variety of processes, and a fundamental characteristic of many processes is the geographic scale at which they occur.

Stewart Fotheringham

The SDG Experience - Student Immersion in SDG Solutions Through Virtual Field Trips

The project will use a digital learning platform and teaching network to teach young people how to create 360-degree spherical imagery of field sites that function as virtual field trips to share their experiences about specific UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and better engage and teach others.

Rimjhim Aggarwal

The Sustainability Consortium

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products.

Kevin Dooley Jon Johnson

Urban Resilience to Extreme Weather Related Events

Urban areas are vulnerable to extreme weather related events given their location, high concentration of people, and increasingly complex and interdependent infrastructure. Impacts of Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and other disasters demonstrate not just failures in built infrastructure, they highlight the inadequacy of institutions, resources, and information systems to prepare for and respond to events of this magnitude. The Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) will develop a novel theoretical framework for integrating social, ecological, and technological system (SETS) dimensions for conceptualizing, analyzing, and supporting urban infrastructure decisions in the face of climatic uncertainty in a more holistic way.

Charles Redman Mikhail Chester Nancy Grimm Peter Groffman David Iwaniec Timon McPhearson Thad Miller Tischa Munoz-Erickson María Peñuñuri Soto

Urban Water Innovation Network (U-WIN): Transitioning Toward Sustainable Urban Water Systems

The network, a consortium of academic institutions and key partners across the U.S., include research, engagement and educational programs that address challenges that threaten urban water systems. The mission of UWIN is to create technological, institutional, and management solutions to help communities increase the resilience of their water systems and enhance preparedness for responding to water crises.

Mazdak Arabi Alan Berkowitz Kenneth Broad Olaf David Matei Georgescu Neil Grigg Nancy Grimm Roy Haggerty Sharon Harlan Adam Henry David Hondula Arpad Horvath Darrel Jenerette David Letson Forrest Meggers Robert Meyer Jennifer Vanos Zhihua Wang

Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities - A Senior LSAMP Alliance

This project is a comprehensive, concerted, sequenced effort that uses NSF funding for historically underrepresented minority (URM) undergraduate student activities, including the transition of college sophomores, juniors, and seniors toward graduate school and the development of high technology products with application or dissemination both regionally and nationally.

Jean Andino

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