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Global Futures Research Accelerator launches with 28 participants

September 7, 2020

The Global Futures Research Accelerator launched on September 4, 2020. The inaugural cohort includes 28 faculty participants representing 13 college-level units across all four metropolitan ASU campuses. The faculty have diverse expertise across the sciences, engineering, humanities, and social sciences.

Dr. Neal Woodbury, Interim Executive Vice President and Chief Science and Technology Officer for ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise, welcomed the participants and provided an overview of university research strategy. Dr. Woodbury stressed the importance of developing an enterprise research strategy, seeking out mentors, and highlighted the learning model developed specifically for the Research Accelerator. The participants also heard from Ann McKenna Vice Dean of Strategic Advancement for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, who highlighted the importance of linking individual scholarship to college and university research infrastructure. Future speakers and discussions will explore topics ranging from promoting justice, equity, diversity and inclusion to developing corporate partnerships and influencing policy.

The sustainability challenges facing society require novel approaches to use-inspired science with local-to-global impact. The Global Futures Research Accelerator empowers ASU Sustainability Scientists and Scholars to develop an enterprise research strategy to increase competitiveness, funding success, partnerships, and societal impact.

Submissions due Oct. 1: Reimagining Energy for the DoD

September 5, 2020

The U.S. Air Force's innovation arm, AFWERX, has released a new challenge, Reimagining Energy for the DoD. There are six challenge categories, outlined on the AFWERX website, as well as expected and aspirational outcomes.

The Department of Defense is one of the largest single consumers of energy globally, and the Air Force is the largest user of fuel energy in the US Government. The way they generate, transmit, store, and use this enormous amount of energy today is both a paramount combat enabler and a potentially crippling vulnerability. The time has come for the DoD to reimagine its usage, generation, transportation, and storage of energy.

Submit your ideas: big, small, ambitious, conservative, terrestrial and space-based – all are welcomed and encouraged. Registration is required to submit.

Cool pavement pilot study

September 4, 2020

Woman on ASU Tempe campus operating weather robotThe City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department recently initiated the Cool Pavement Pilot Program. With this project, the city plans to apply the product CoolSeal by GuardTop®, which is a water-based asphalt emulsion seal coat designed to achieve lower pavement surface temperatures through its lighter color and reflectivity.

A joint study between Arizona State University researchers — led by Ariane Middel and Jenni Vanos — and the City of Phoenix, and sponsored by the Healthy Urban Environments Initiative, will quantify and evaluate the effectiveness of the CoolSeal product in mitigating urban heat considering various heat metrics (air temperature, surface temperature and radiant temperature). This one-year project will also assess the product performance and life cycle.

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Find, track, and win COVID-19-related funding opportunities

September 3, 2020

The Office of Health Futures at ASU Knowledge Enterprise and Rachel Levinson (Executive Director, National Research Initiatives at ASU in DC) have developed a living document to help faculty and researchers across ASU:

  1. Find, track, and win COVID-19-related funding opportunities (including but not excluded to NIH funding)
  2. Rapidly form interdisciplinary teams around funding opportunities and targeted research areas
  3. Connect with clinical partners in real-time
  4. Track submissions and awards

Anyone at ASU can access and use the tool.

The Knowledge Enterprise understands that this will be the first of many iterations of this tool and welcomes your feedback on how it might be improved. Due to the time-sensitive nature of these opportunities, however, they wanted to get this tool into your hands as quickly as possible, and therefore, have added a sheet in the document for you to log your comments and questions, which they will review and respond to on a weekly basis. You may also email your thoughts and suggestions to Michelle Villegas-Gold directly

Pearson authors guide to tiger beetles of India

August 31, 2020

A new field guide co-authored by sustainability scientist David Pearson is the first definitive identification guide to all 241 species of tiger beetles known to occur in India. Its descriptions of habitats, behavior and ecology make available a group of spectacular insects for both amateur enthusiasts and professional biologists to observe and study. In addition to their value as a hobby, with this field guide tiger beetles can now better serve as a valuable tool for understanding general patterns of biodiversity, biogeography, and conservation within India.

Pearson is a research professor in the School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He has conducted research on tiger beetle ecology, biogeography, and their uses in mathematical modelling worldwide. For six years he ran field studies on these beetles throughout India in cooperation with professors and students from Chandigarh (Panjab University) and Bengalaru (University of Agricultural Sciences)

The book, ISBN 978-81-211-0933-8, is published by Abhimanyu Gahlot and available for order by mail using the information on this flyer, provided by Dr. Pearson.

Conference: Ethical engineering for sustainability, wicked problems and beyond

August 31, 2020

futuristic map of earth with technological lines coming up from continentsThe following opportunity may be of interest to School of Sustainability faculty and students:

Ethical engineering for sustainability, wicked problems and beyond

An online interdisciplinary undergraduate conference for tomorrow’s leaders

December 11—12, 2020

Current and impending social and environmental issues require bold and critical thinking to deliver mitigatory effects. Developing such measures could also serve humankind by charting ethical ways forward regarding how we live with and through technology. Advances in engineering can bolster such pursuits significantly. Attaining common ground for conversation can help advance these aims. This online conference will provide a way for soon-to-be leaders to gain feedback, network, and inspire each other to create a world worth wanting. Here is the challenge for instructors and their students:

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Study offers new insights for sun-gathering technologies

ASU Now | August 24, 2020

Inspired by the way plants and other photosynthetic organisms collect and use the sun’s radiant energy, they hope to develop technologies that harvest sunlight and store it as carbon-free or carbon-neutral fuels. The research appears in the current issue of the American Chemical Society journal Applied Energy Materials and graces its cover.

The new research from Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery and School of Molecular Sciences provides a framework for better understanding catalytic performance in solar fuel devices and points the way to further discoveries.

"This article describes a general yet useful strategy for better understanding the role of catalysts in emerging technologies for converting sunlight to fuels," corresponding author Gary Moore said. The goal is to maximize energy efficiency and where possible, make use of earth-abundant elements.

Anbar awarded medal from the Geological Society of America

August 24, 2020

Arizona State University President’s Professor Ariel Anbar has been awarded the Arthur L. Day Medal from the Geological Society of America, in recognition of his outstanding research contributions, mentoring generations of students, and vigorous promotion of science in the public sphere.

Anbar is a scientist and educator interested in Earth’s past and future as an inhabited world, and the prospects for life beyond. He is on the faculty of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Molecular Sciences, and a distinguished sustainability scholar in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation. Anbar also directs ASU’s Center for Education Through eXploration, which is reinventing digital learning around curiosity, exploration and discovery.

The Geological Society of America’s Arthur L. Day Medal is awarded annually to recognize outstanding distinction in the application of physics and chemistry to the solution of geologic problems. A formal ceremony for the award will take place during the Geological Society of America's annual meeting to be held Oct. 25–28.

Past recipients of the Arthur L. Day Medal include Crafoord Prize laureate Wallace Broecker, who had close ties to ASU, as well as Nobel Prize laureates Willard F. Libby and Harold C. Urey.

Asner, Martin teach Hawaiian youth about coral reef conservation

ASU Now | August 21, 2020

A multiday immersion, part of Lawai'a 'Ohana Camp in South Kona, offered children in the coastal fishing village of Miloli'i the opportunity to learn about Indigenous island culture, local traditions, and environmental research and stewardship. In addition to the students there in person, 30 more students living in other regions of Hawaii joined virtually via Zoom and Facebook Live, due to COVID-19 safety measures.

Sustainability scientist Greg Asner, director of ASU’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science (GDCS) and professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, and Robin Martin, associate professor in the same school, were volunteer teachers at the summer camp.

Asner and Martin’s participation in the camp is just one piece of an important partnership that places ASU in the center of important work to break down geographic barriers to education and expand opportunities to Native and non-Native Hawaiian communities.

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ASU joins global research cohort to launch new center focused on society’s relationship with oceans

ASU Now | August 21, 2020

men on a beach holding a large net near a boat, walking toward the ocean Arizona State University, through its partnership with Conservation International, joins the University of Washington and the Nippon Foundation to announce the Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center. The Ocean Nexus Center is an interdisciplinary research initiative that focuses on social equity, ocean sustainability and climate change. The Ocean Nexus Center will bring uncompromised, critical voices to policy and public conversations that will help enable research and policy engagement. The new center is supported by the Nippon Foundation’s investment of $32.5 million over 10 years.

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3 ASU professors named senior members of National Academy of Inventors

ASU Now | August 18, 2020

The National Academy of Inventors has named three Arizona State University faculty members to the August 2020 class of NAI senior members.

Senior member status within the international organization recognizes engineers, scientists and others whose work has produced significant innovations resulting in technologies with the potential to have widespread benefit to society.

Professor Wim Vermaas and associate professors James Abbas and Cody Friesen join fellow NAI colleagues in the senior membership ranks who, along with their research accomplishments, have been successful in earning patents, acquiring licensing and commercializing technology they have developed. Vermaas and Friesen are sustainability scientists in the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation.

Broadbent, Georgescu explore humans’ exposure to future extreme temperatures

ASU Now | August 17, 2020

Over the next century, climate change and population growth will subject more people to dangerous heat and cold. A new paper, The motley drivers of heat and cold exposure in 21st century U.S. cities, was published online Aug. 17 in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." It is the first study of its kind to consider population-weighted heat and cold exposure that directly and simultaneously account for greenhouse gas and urban development-induced warming.

Authors Ashley Broadbent and Matei Georgescu of ASU's School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning faculty used state-of-the-art modeling tools to analyze how three key variables would affect human exposure to extreme temperatures from the beginning of this century to its end. They concentrated on the following three key factors: climate change brought about by greenhouse gas emissions, urban development-induced impacts arising from the growth of cities, and population change in individual cities.

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Event Sept. 3: Killer Heat in COVID Times

August 14, 2020

paris-climate-agreement-asuLast month, Phoenix broke its record for the most days at 110-plus degrees, while being the world's hotspot for coronavirus. This case critical discussion brings together ASU, the City of Phoenix, as well as a local nonprofit and a national NGO, to discuss the compounding crises of extreme heat and COVID-19.

Sustainability scientist Ariane Middel advances the field of urban climate science in her work with ASU’s HUE initiative. Juan Declet-Barreto is a contributing author of Killer Heat in the US and a blog that analyzed the compounding crises of extreme heat and COVID-19. Mark Hartman, from the City of Phoenix, is working with ASU’s HUE project to understand and mitigate extreme heat in Phoenix. Masavi Parea represents CHISPA, a community-organizing program advocating for resilience and climate justice in Phoenix.

Co-hosted by ASU's HUE (Healthy Urban Environment) initiative.

Register via Zoom

Like marathon runners, locusts carbo-load before a long journey

ASU Now | August 14, 2020

A study published Aug. 2 in the Journal of Animal Ecology finds that migrating locusts carbo-load before flying up to 350 kilometers in a single night.

Marion Le Gall, an assistant research professor in the Global Locust Initiative in the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, conducted a locust field study in 2017 in Senegal.

Her findings showed that Mongolian locusts did better in overgrazed pastures than in a normal pasture. Co-author and sustainability scientist Arianne Cease tied this to the nutritional content of plants: Land that was overgrazed contained less nitrogen and plants were more sugar-based. That was good for the locusts.

The abstract follows.

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Restoring degraded tropical forests generates big carbon gains

ASU Now | August 14, 2020

More than half of the world's aboveground carbon is stored in tropical forests, the degradation of which poses a direct threat to global climate regulation. Deforestation removes aboveground carbon in the form of trees, reducing the size of global carbon stocks in the process. Once forests are degraded, they are often perceived to have little ecological value, despite evidence of their ability to continue to provide important ecosystem services and to store significant amounts of carbon.

This misconception has marked degraded forests as prime candidates for full conversion to agricultural plantations, but recent research challenges this idea and offers a promising alternative — forest restoration is a more sustainable solution capable of both replenishing carbon storage and preserving biodiversity. While this concept isn't new, the adoption of restoration practices has been impeded by uncertainties over its effectiveness.

Now, an international team of scientists from 13 institutions, including researchers from the Arizona State University Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, has provided the first long-term comparison of aboveground carbon recovery rates between naturally regenerating and actively restored forests in Southeast Asia. The researchers found that restoration practices improved carbon storage recovery by more than 50% compared to natural regeneration. The paper was published Aug. 14 in Science.

Hristovski on ammonium nitrate and the Beirut explosion

August 14, 2020

The blasts at a Beirut warehouse storing highly explosive ammonium nitrate on Aug. 4 killed at least 220 people, caused 7,000 injuries and left as many as 300,000 people homeless in Lebanon’s capital city.

While there has been wide speculation on the cause of the explosion, including fireworks, gunpowder and paint housed in close proximity, the ammonium nitrate stored for six years in a warehouse without even basic hazardous materials safeguards seems universally considered the explosive component in the incident.

Read the Q&A with sustainability scientist Kiril Hristovski, an associate professor in Arizona State University's Polytechnic School and the program chair for the Environmental and Resource Management Program with expertise in hazardous materials management.

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing act important for socially diverse neighborhoods

ASU Now | August 13, 2020

Last month, the Trump administration announced they rescinded the Obama administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) amendment of the Fair Housing Act. According to the White House’s fact sheet on the action, this repeal was done as an effort to end overregulation and to preserve local decision-making, with the proclamation that, “The suburb destruction will end with us.”

Read a Q&A with sustainability scientist Deirdre Pfeiffer, associate professor of urban planning in ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, who is an expert on neighborhoods and housing strategies in the United States. In the Q&A, she explains the history of the AFFH, what she views as its strengths, her concerns about its repeal, and how local municipalities can continue making progress toward creating inclusionary and equitable neighborhoods despite the repeal.

Wednesday: Teaching in the Wake of Racial Violence with Carol Anderson

August 11, 2020

All are invited to attend an August 12 conversation with acclaimed historian Carol Anderson, human and civil rights advocate, expert on African American history and 20th-century politics and the author of the critically-acclaimed "White Rage." The event is sponsored by ASU's Institute for Humanities Research.

Anderson will be interviewed by Ayanna Thompson, director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and professor in the ASU Department of English, and Mako Ward, faculty head and clinical assistant professor in the ASU School of Social Transformation.

This free event is an ASU Humanities, Social Sciences and Institute for Humanities Research collaboration. It is free and open to the public. Register for the Zoom webinar or watch live on YouTube.

Chester comments on climate change and our already-taxed infrastructure

August 11, 2020

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington PostSustainability scientist Mikhail Chester is interviewed in the August 8 Washington Post article, Why climate change is about to make your bad commute worse. According to the article, while most motorists are familiar with many reasons for bad traffic, such as construction, inadequate mass transit and crashes, a culprit that must increasingly be considered is climate change.

"We need to fundamentally reassess what our systems need to be able to deliver, and under what conditions," said Mikhail Chester, associate professor of civil, environmental and sustainable engineering at Arizona State University and co-leader of the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network. "And those conditions, it looks like, are going to be changing faster and faster in the future."

"Climate change is an additional stressor on already taxed infrastructure," Chester said. The situation’s silver lining, he added, is consensus: "Everyone is in agreement that we should do something about infrastructure."