Phoenix Arizona



January 28, 2008

Thousands of campuses help focus nation on global-warming solutions

TEMPE, Ariz. — On Jan. 30 and 31, 2008, Arizona State University (ASU) will participate in Focus The Nation, an unprecedented teach-in on global-warming solutions.

Focus The Nation has created a teach-in model centered on the three most essential pillars needed to embrace solutions to global warming — education, civic engagement and leadership.

“Today’s college students are truly the greatest generation,” said Lewis & Clark professor of economics Eban Goodstein, author and project director for Focus The Nation. “No other generation has ever had to face this kind of challenge. We as educators would be failing if we did not prepare them with the tools to meet this challenge.”

“Arizona State University is delighted to take part in Focus the Nation,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “All of these efforts represent education at its finest. Our students have enormous power to use their education and passion to create positive change in the world.”

Focus the Nation activities at ASU include a pre-recorded web cast of the “The Two Percent Solution,” produced by the National Wildlife Federation. The web cast (which will be held at 6 p.m., Jan. 30) includes a four-minute segment on ASU’s School of Sustainability, the first school of its kind in the nation. The four-minute video will showcase what ASU is doing on Focus the Nation day and tell the larger story about sustainability at ASU.

The segment will come after a focused discussion about the “The Two Percent Solution” (reducing carbon emissions two percent every year to reach an 80 percent reduction by 2050), led by actor Edward Norton, climate scientist Steve Schneider, author Hunter Lovins (CEO, Natural Capitalism) and environmental justice leader Van Jones (executive director, Ella Baker Center, Oakland, Calif.)

The next day, Jan. 31, will include a range of global warming curricula presented by faculty members and guest speakers, flashlight tours at the Nelson Fine Arts Center, followed by a festival on Hayden Lawn from 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Student groups will host interactive activities, continuous viewings of “The Two Percent Solution” and the ASU video, and hear the “recycled” of The Sustainabillies band.

As a key part of Focus the Nation, students, faculty and staff will participate in the Choose Your Future vote and select what they think are the top five solutions for global warming. Participants can vote online ( ) or at the event. Voting results will be presented nationally to congressional offices on Feb. 18. All students who vote on the Choose Your Future ballot will be eligible to win a $10,000 leadership scholarship for a project to be completed by end of August 2008.

For more information on ASU’s Focus The Nation events, visit

# # #

Focus The Nation is an educational initiative on global warming solutions for America occurring at more than 1,000 universities and colleges and in all 50 states on Jan. 31, 2008. As the largest teach-in in U.S. history, Focus The Nation is preparing millions of students to become leaders in the largest challenge any generation has faced. For more information, visit .

Lauren Kuby, ASU, (480) 730-8457
Garett Reiss Brennan, Focus the Nation, (503) 768-7990

Skip Derra
National Media Relations Officer/Science Writer
Arizona State University
Media Relations
(480) 965-4823
(480) 965-2159 (fax)


TEMPE, Ariz. — The unknown human health and environmental impacts of nanotechnology are a bigger worry for scientists than for the public, according to a new report published on line (November 25, 2007) in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
The report was based on a national telephone survey of American households and a sampling of 363 leading U.S. nanotechnology scientists and engineers. It reveals that those with the most insight into a technology with enormous potential — and that is already emerging in hundreds of products — are unsure what health and environmental problems might be posed by the technology.
Two Arizona State University researchers – Elizabeth Corley, an assistant professor in the School of Public Affairs, and David Guston, director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society and a professor of political science, are co-authors of the paper.
“It’s unusual for experts to see a greater risk in new technologies than for the public at large,” Guston said. “But these findings do not mean that scientists are saying that there is a problem.”
“Scientists are saying, ‘we don’t know,” explained the study’s lead author Dietram Scheufele, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of life sciences communication and journalism. “The research hasn’t been done.’”
The new findings are in stark contrast to controversies sparked by the advent of major technologies of the past, such as nuclear power and genetically modified foods, which scientists perceived as having lower risks than did the public.
Nanotechnology is based on science’s newfound ability to manipulate matter at the smallest scale, on the order of molecules and atoms. The field has enormous potential to develop applications ranging from new antimicrobial materials and tiny probes to sample individual cells in human patients, to vastly more powerful computers and lasers. Already, products with nanotechnology built in include such things as golf clubs, tennis rackets and antimicrobial food storage containers.
At the root of the information disconnect, said Elizabeth Corley, who conducted the survey with Scheufele, is that nanotechnology is only now starting to emerge on the nation’s policy agenda. Amplifying the problem is that the news media have not paid much attention to nanotechnology and its implications.  
“In the long run, this information disconnect could undermine public support for federal funding in certain areas of nanotechnology research, particularly in those areas that the public views as having lower levels of risk,” Corley said.            
While scientists were generally optimistic about the potential benefits of nanotechnology, they expressed significantly more concern about pollution and new health problems related to the technology. Potential health problems were in fact the highest rated concern among scientists, Guston said.
Twenty percent of the scientists responding to the survey indicated a concern that new forms of nanotechnology pollution may emerge, while only 15 percent of the public thought that might be a problem. More than 30 percent of scientists expressed concern that human health may be at risk from the technology, while just 20 percent of the public held such fears.
Of more concern to the American public, according to the report, are a potential loss of privacy from tiny new surveillance devices and the loss of more U.S jobs. Those fears were less of a concern for scientists.
While scientists wonder about the health and environmental implications of the new technology, their ability to spark public conversation seems to be limited, Corley and Guston said.
That’s because “scientists tend to treat communication as an afterthought,” Wisconsin’s Scheufele added. “They’re often not working with social scientists, industry or interest groups to build a channel to the public.”
The good news for scientist is that of all sources of nanotechnology information, they are the most trusted by the public.
“The public wants to know more about nanotechnology,” Guston added. “That’s why the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at ASU is conducting additional polls of the public and of scientists, and is organizing a National Citizens’ Technology Forum to elicit informed public perspectives on nanotechnology.”
“The climate for having that discourse is perfect,” Scheufele added. “There is definitely a huge opportunity for scientists to communicate with a public who trusts them.”
In addition to ASU’s Corley and Guston and Wisconsin’s Scheufele, other authors of the Nature Nanotechnology report include Sharon Dunwoody, Tsung-Jen Shih and Elliott Hillback of University of Wisconsin-Madison. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation as part of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University and the UW-Madison Graduate School.

ASU scientists invite the community to explore Earth and space Nov. 3 by quotes
October 31, 2007, 2:07 pm
Filed under: Arizona, Arizona State University, ASU, Science | Tags: , , , , , ,

TEMPE, Ariz. – Kids of all ages, and their parents and teachers too, are invited to learn more about Earth and space through hands-on activities, experimental demonstrations and public lectures by ASU scientists from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 3, in the Bateman Physical Science Building, F-Wing, at ASU’s Tempe campus.
The annual Earth and Space Exploration Day, hosted by ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, provides a variety of educational activities “for kids ages 5 to 95,” says professor Tom Sharp, a mineralogist and associate director of the NASA Arizona Space Grant Consortium.
“The purpose of this event is to provide an up-close opportunity for the public to see some of the great science we do at ASU, while we engage students of all ages in fun, hands-on scientific learning activities,” says Sharp. “There is plenty of depth for adults too.”
For example, ASU planetary scientist David Williams will present a lecture on solar system exploration at 10 a.m., and give an overview of results from NASA’s and the European Space Agency’s 2007 planetary missions. Other lectures on black holes, volcanology, the Mars rovers and whether there will be an energy crisis are scheduled on the hour throughout the event.
In conjunction with the day of exploration, ASU’s Space Photography Laboratory is hosting an open house and will show the latest NASA planetary images.
There also will be special shows in the planetarium, including one on “Stars over Arizona.” Other educational activities include learning about minerals while panning for gold, examining rocks and meteorite sections under a microscope, viewing the sun with a solar telescope, and learning about volcanoes and their explosive eruptions.
The public can “take a tour” of Mars with the aid of a GeoWall 3-D projector. Children, and adults can bring in rocks for “Dr. Rock” to identify or water samples for “Dr. Water” to analyze. Minerals, gems, fossils from around the world, the only active seismograph in central Arizona, a six-story Foucault pendulum, and Columbian mammoth bones from Chandler, Ariz., will be on display in the Dietz Museum of Geology.
Also scheduled is a geology field trip to “A” Mountain (Hayden Butte) to learn about sedimentary rocks, volcanic rocks and geological structures exposed in Tempe.
There will be handouts and outreach information for teachers from the School of Earth and Space Exploration and other academic and research units in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, including the Institute for Human Origins and the School of Geographical Sciences.
“We hope the event will encourage children to learn that science is fun as they learn about how the Earth works and how we study it,” Sharp says.
For more information, contact the School of Earth and Space Exploration at (480) 965-5081 or <> .

FAA sanctions air traffic controller program at ASU by quotes

FAA sanctions air traffic controller program at ASU

MESA, Ariz. – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave Arizona State University’s thumbs up on Oct. 16 to receive the Air Traffic Controller Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) designation for its new air traffic controller degree program. The designation as a CTI program is highly coveted and only select institutions are awarded such status.

The FAA works with schools and universities all over the country as part of the CTI, which designates an institution as an FAA partner. Such a designation gives preferential hiring to students who successfully complete the degree program.

ASU’s program is unique in that it was designed by current and former air traffic controllers and faculty members. Students graduating from the program will have a combination of academics, theory and practical application, said Michael Pearson, clinical associate professor in the Department of Aeronautical Management Technology and an air traffic controller at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

“The program has been specifically designed to greatly reduce the time required for ASU students to enter the workforce and obtain full performance level (FPL) status,” said Pearson. “The first graduating class of CTI students is expected  by spring 2009.”

The FAA estimates that over the next 10 years, more than 17,000 air traffic controllers (ATC) will be needed to replace retiring ATCs.

Mandatory retirement is part of the profession. And many of the ATCs hired by the Federal Aviation Administration in the early 1980s are coming up on retirement.

To help meet the expected demand, the Arizona Board of Regents approved the Air Traffic Management bachelor’s degree in June 2006. As a new program, the  aeronautical department in the College of Technology and Innovation continues to develop relationships with the aeronautical industry as well as professionals in the ATC field.

“The CTI program is evolving, and it is likely in the near future that it may be possible for graduates of these programs to move faster through the FAA training than they have in the past,” said Richard Charles, chair and professor of the Department of Aeronautical Management Technology. “Graduates would still be considered trainees but they will be able to go to actual employment sites quicker.”

The program is tailored for traditional age students and those wanting a career change. Applicants for ATC jobs must be hired prior to reaching their 31st birthday due to federal law.

Students like Matt Bell, a junior in the program, started out as a professional flight student and is almost finished with his pilot ratings, but decided to switch his major. As part of the program, he is gaining first-hand experience through a three-semester internship in the air traffic control tower at Sky Harbor International Airport. It’s the only program in the country that offers an extensive internship as part of the curriculum, he said.

“Seven students are currently working in the tower or in the radar area,” said Bell. “As a tower intern, I’m learning the operation at Sky Harbor to become a controller, as well as doing other support functions like creating training materials and working with the simulators. At any other institution, I would not have this opportunity.”

If this internship program is successful, the FAA may use it as a model and implement it at other CTI designated colleges and universities.

“The CTI designation is a tremendous opportunity for our program, and the ancillary opportunities beyond the training of air traffic controllers are only limited by our own performance,” said Pearson.

For information about the program at ASU, visit or call (480) 727-1021.

ASU’s Polytechnic campus, located in southeast Mesa, offers bachelor and graduate degree programs, unparalleled by other Arizona state universities, through the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness, the School of Applied Arts and Sciences, the College of Technology and Innovation, and the School of Educational Innovation and Teacher Preparation. Visit us online at

Mars by azhttp

Heat-sensing ASU camera finds possible cave skylights on Mars volcano

TEMPE, Ariz. – A heat-sensitive camera designed at Arizona State University and flying on NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter has led a team of Mars geologists to find seven small, deep holes on the flanks of Arsia Mons, a giant volcano on Mars. The holes may be openings, called skylights, in the ceilings of underground caves. The discovery is announced in a scientific paper published recently in Geophysical Research Letters.
The team of scientists includes Philip Christensen of ASU, plus Glen Cushing and Tim Titus of the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, and Judson Wynne of Northern Arizona University. Cushing is the lead author on the paper.
Christensen, a Regents Professor of geological science in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, designed the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), the instrument the team used to make the discovery. THEMIS has been photographing the Red Planet at five visual and 10 infrared wavelengths since February 2002.
Says Christensen, “THEMIS is the only heat-sensing imager currently orbiting Mars.” Temperature data was the key in spotting the potential cave skylights, he notes.
The features the team found are dark, nearly circular holes in the ground with diameters ranging from 100 to 250 meters (yards). The holes appear in images of Arsia Mons taken by Mars Odyssey and Mars Global Surveyor orbiters. Located in the volcanic region of Tharsis, Arsia is one of the larger volcanoes on Mars, and like the rest of Tharsis, it has a heavy coating of dust.
“We examined the flanks of the volcano in nighttime infrared images, looking for temperature anomalies – warm spots,” explains Christensen. “Then when we re-examined the locations in daytime images, we saw the small, deep holes in the ground.”
Dusty surfaces, he says, become hot during the day, both on Earth and Mars. But at night, dust and sand give up heat quickly, becoming very cold shortly before sunrise. The holes, however, changed temperature by only two-thirds as much as the surface.
Says Christensen, “We saw that we had dark holes that are warm at night, but cool by day. The best way to explain that is to have a deep hole with vertical walls, so you’re looking at a rocky surface free from sand and dust.”
The team suggests that the deep holes on Arsia Mons probably formed as faults created stresses that opened spaces underground. Some of the holes are in line with strings of bowl-shaped pits where the surface has collapsed.
The observations have been discussed at meetings with other Mars scientists earlier this year, and they have prompted researchers using Mars Odyssey and NASA’s newer Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to search for other openings to underground spaces.
Christensen adds, “The temperature data is what really separated these unique holes from millions of run-of-the-mill craters, volcanic vents, and collapse pits.”


TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona State University’s research expenditures grew to $218.5 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30. This represents a growth of $15 million or 7.4 percent over last year’s total of $203.5 million.

“We experienced decent growth in our research expenditures this year, considering that there was a change in leadership in Congress that resulted in some delays in finalizing the Federal budget,” said R.F. “Rick” Shangraw, ASU’s vice president for research and economic affairs. “Right now, our proposal activity is up so I am optimistic about continued growth in our research portfolio.”

Shangraw added that at these levels of research expenditures, ASU ranks in the top tier of universities without a medical school and without an agricultural school.

The $218.5 million total research dollars for FY07 comes from a variety of sources. ASU spent $173.3 million in funds received from the federal government and industry, $39.1 million in state funds (including Technology & Research Initiative Funds from state sales tax revenue), $4.3 million in funds received by the ASU Foundation specifically for research projects and $1.8 million from local governments.

There was a wide variety of projects that brought in major funds in FY07, said Stephen Goodnick, ASU associate vice president for research. Those projects included the Flexible Display Initiative Center, which was funded at more than $9 million by the U.S. Army; the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera project got $3.85 million from NASA; a Department of Education grant of $2.35 million went to a program at ASU’s Speech and Hearing Science Department to maximize learning opportunities for young children with disabilities, and $2.35 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) was provided to the Center for Research on Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology for a project on “opening routes to math and science success for all students.”

The National Institutes of Health awarded $1.44 million for a project to explore plant-made microbiocides and mucosal vaccines; ASU’s Decision Center for a Desert City received $1.4 million from the NSF; and ASU’s Nanotechnology in Society Center received $1.4 million from NSF.

Fiscal year 2006 was the first time research expenditures at ASU topped the $200 million level, and it marked a doubling of research expenditures in a period of six years. This is a remarkable growth rate for a relatively young major research university, Shangraw said.

He adds that ASU is poised to earn more in research as it continues to bring on line new world class research facilities and ramps up its science expertise. Shangraw sees a maturing of ASU research efforts, which should result in securing larger grants for the university in the future.

“We have reached a point where a number of investigators are interested in and able to compete for much larger research projects,” he explained. “Our ability to match up against the more mature and better funded research institutions is a sign that we are moving into an elite tier of U.S. research universities. This is an exciting time for ASU research.”

ASU Gammage by azhttp

Nov. 26

ASU Gammage, 1200 S. Forest Ave. (northeast corner of Apache Boulevard and

Mill Avenue)


“Triple Concerto (Mvts. 2 & 3)” by Ludwig Van Beethoven with Katherine

McLin, violin, Thomas Landschoot, cello, and Andrew Campbell, piano; “Suite

from the Opera, ‘Merry Mount’ ” by Howard Hanson; “Crown Imperial March” by

William Walton with Kimberly Marshall, organ; and “Mass in G Major” by Franz

Schubert with vocalists Carole FitzPatrick, soprano, Glenn Bennett, tenor,

Robert Barefield, baritone, and the Deseret Chorale (Michael Willson,

Conductor); Red Mountain Community College A Capella Choir; Sun Valley

Chorale (Glenn Bennett, Conductor).

Phoenix Housing Market by quotes

Greater Phoenix resale home market continues steady trend

MESA, Ariz. — The local resale housing market appears to be fairly stable, with 4,910 recorded sales in June 2007. The activity of June closely followed May 2007 at 5,220 sales and was not far below last year’s 5,460 transactions. The month of June brought the second quarter activity to a close with 14,990 sales, in contrast to 14,185 sales for the first quarter and last year’s second quarter sales of 18,310.

The current level of activity brings much needed sustainability; however, the 2007 year-to-date total of 29,175 homes is well below the 36,290 for 2006 year to date and 58,030 sales for 2005 year to date.

While the resale market is following a very traditional pattern, there are increasing risks that the market could move lower, driven by geopolitical risks and tighter mortgage underwriting guidelines,” said Jay Q. Butler, director of Realty Studies in ASU’s Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness at the Polytechnic campus. Both of these factors could make it increasingly difficult for people who desire another home to be able to finance it.

The new home market continues to be a competitive and attractive alternative to the resale home in many areas of the market as new home builders have been aggressively pursuing buyers through incentives such as specially priced up-grades, free pools and gift cards. Even with these concerns, the general expectation is that the 2007 resale housing market should be a good year, but nowhere near the records.

Much like the ever-increasing sales activity of the last few years, the rapid improvement in prices has disappeared. The median home price in June was $263,145 in comparison to $262,000 for May and last year’s $267,000.  For June 2007, 17 percent of all recorded sales were for homes priced from $125,000 to $199,999, 41 percent for $200,000 to $299,999 and 40 percent for homes priced over $300,000.  Last year, the distribution was 14 percent of all recorded sales were for homes priced from $125,000 to $199,999, 44 percent for $200,000 to $299,999 and 39 percent for homes priced over $300,000. Since the greater Phoenix area is so large, the median price can range significantly from $692,750 ($711,000 in May) in North Scottsdale to $148,500 ($158,500 in May) in the Sky Harbor area of the city of Phoenix.

Because mortgage interest rates decline slightly from last year’s 6.2 percent to 5.9 percent and home prices remained fairly stable, the monthly payment decreased slightly from last year’s $1,390 to $1,330. Even though mortgage interest rates have been declining over the last year, they have been in an upward trend for the last few months creating mounting concerns about the ability of some homeowners to acquire or maintain their homes. In response to issues raised in the subprime market, underwriting guidelines have been tightening, making it more difficult for potential buyers to qualify for a mortgage.

Townhouse/condominium units have retained some popularity with seasonal visitors, investors and people seeking affordable housing, so this housing sector showed an improvement from last year’s 1,035 sales to 1,125 sales for June 2007 (1,245 sales in May). Even with popularity, the median home price decreased slightly from $184,990 in May to $181,250.

The median square footage for a single-family home recorded sold in June 2007 was 1,725 square feet, which is larger than the 1,640 square feet for a year ago. The larger size further demonstrates the role of the move-up sector in the local housing market. In the townhouse/condominium sector, the median square footage was 1,105 square feet, which is larger than the 1,090 square feet reported a year ago.

  1. In contrast to June 2006, recorded sales in the city of Phoenix decreased from 1,725 sales to 1,320 sales, while the median sales price increased to $227,390 from $225,000 for a year ago. Since Phoenix is a geographically large city, the median price can range significantly such as $148,500 in the Sky Harbor area to $343,000 ($313,495 in May) in the Union Hills area. The townhouse/condominium sector increased from 300 to 370 sales, while the median price increased from $150,000 to $166,500.
  2. The Scottsdale resale home market declined from 465 to 415 recorded sales, along with the median sales price decreasing from last year’s $640,000 to $612,750. The median resale home price is $692,750 ($711,000 in May) in North Scottsdale and $316,000 ($320,000 in May) in South Scottsdale. The townhouse/condominium sector in Scottsdale stayed at 250 sales, while the median sales price decreased from $264,750 to $249,900.
  3. The Mesa resale housing market declined from 585 to 520 sales, while the median price fell from $247,600 to $235,000 ($238,000 in May). The townhouse/condominium sector also fell from 160 to 135 sales, while the median home price decreased from $156,250 to $154,465.

  5. Glendale decreased from 430 to 325 sales and the median sales price decreased from $253,000 a year ago to $243,480 ($243,000 in May). The townhouse/condominium sector decreased from 70 to 50 sales, while the median sales price remained at $145,000.


·       For the city of Peoria, the resale market declined from 250 to 230 sales, while the median price moved from $272,900 to $255,000 ($255,000 in May). The townhouse/condominium sector decreased from 35 to 20 sales and the median price increased from $163,500 to $182,000.

  1. In comparison to a year ago, the Sun City resale market improved from 75 to 115 sales, while the median sales price decreased to $185,000 from $215,000. Resale activity in Sun City West remained at 45 sales, the median sales price decreased from $258,950 to $217,500. The townhouse/condominium market in Sun City remained stable at 45 recorded sales, while the median home price decreased from $143,250 to $127,750. In Sun City West, activity fell from 15 to 10 sales and the median sales price decreased from $178,000 to $175,500.
  2. The resale market in Gilbert decreased from 330 to 315 sales and the median sales price decreased from $330,000 to $297,000 ($300,000 in May). The townhouse/condominium market improved from 10 to 15 sales as the median sales price decreased from $238,750 to $189,900.

  • For the city of Chandler, the resale market fell from 380 to 370 recorded sales, while the median sales price went from $295,000 to $288,000 ($297,750 in May). The townhouse/condominium market increased from 40 to 45 sales, and the median sales price declined from $176,450 to $175,000.

§       The resale market in Tempe decreased from 160 to 140 sales, with the median sales price decreasing from $298,500 to $289,000 ($270,780 in May). The townhouse/condominium sector moved up from 70 to 95 sales, with the median sales price decreased from $191,000 to $183,000.

  1. The highest median sales price was in Paradise Valley at $1,932,500 with a median square foot house of 3,965 square feet.

·       In the West Valley, the following communities represent 10 percent of the resale market.

o       Avondale fell from 120 to 90 sales with the median price moving from $259,050 to $239,000 ($223,000 in May).

o       El Mirage decreased from 80 to 60 sales, while the median home price went from $215,000 to $195,500 ($200,000 in May).

o       Goodyear went from 90 to 80 sales, while the median price increased from $290,000 to $299,000 ($250,000 in May).

o       Surprise increased from 175 sales to 255 sales, while the median price decreased from $254,900 for a year ago to $230,000 ($245,070 in May).


REalty studies

Realty Studies is associated with the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus. Realty Studies collects and analyzes data concerning real estate in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. Realty Studies is a comprehensive and objective source of real estate information for private, public and governmental agencies.  Its director, Dr. Jay Q. Butler, may be reached at (480) 727-1300 or e-mail him at To subscribe to RSS feed for Realty Studies news, visit

ASU’s Polytechnic campus, located in southeast Mesa, offers bachelor and graduate degree programs, unparalleled by other Arizona state universities, through the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness, the School of Applied Arts and Sciences, the School of Educational Innovation and Teacher Preparation, and the College of Technology and Innovation. Visit us online at

Biomedical Sciences at ASU by quotes

Bee researcher at Arizona State University is one of 20 new Pew Scholars in the biomedical sciences

TEMPE, Ariz.– It’s hard to imagine, for most of us, that the bees we see buzzing between strands of orange flowers of the desert mallow could potentially usher in a medical breakthrough. However, in the right hands, these insects best known for their banded coloration, social life and skills with pollination could some day be the key to advancements in biomedical neuroscience of aging – if Gro Amdam has her way, with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Amdam, an assistant professor in Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences who heads social insect studies in laboratories at both ASU and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences’ Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, is one of only 20 researchers chosen this year to enter the Trusts’ exclusive rolls as a Pew Scholar in the biomedical sciences. About 150 eligible colleges across the nation were invited to submit a candidate for the award this year. Remarkably, it was the first year that Arizona State University was invited to participate and Amdam was the sole candidate put forward by ASU President Michael M. Crow.
“The focus of this award – biomedical sciences – is an evolving area of emphasis for ASU,” says Crow. “The fact that the award is going to a researcher using the honeybee as a biomedical model exemplifies the spirit of ASU unconstrained by disciplinary boundaries.”
Robert Page, founding director of ASU’s School of Life Sciences and Amdam’s oft-time collaborator in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says he never had any doubt that the Pew Trusts would select Amdam, and that the award has special significance on several fronts: “This the first year that ASU was invited to nominate, so it marks our initiation as an institution into this select ’club.’ The fact that our faculty member was chosen also shows that ASU belongs in the club. Then, when you consider that this award is in the area of biomedical science and will support research using honeybees … it shows just how much the world of biology is changing and that comparative biology will be central even to the biomedical sciences.”
The Pew Charitable Trusts is composed of seven separate trusts established between 1948 and 1979 by the heirs of Joseph N. Pew, founder of the Sun Oil Company, and is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. It partners with a diverse range of donors, public and private organizations and concerned citizens who share its commitment to fact-based solutions and goal-driven investments to improve society.

“The Pew Scholars are among America’s finest biomedical research entrepreneurs. They seek out and mine unexpected leads in a quest for knowledge that may one day lead to new medical treatments and save lives,” says Rebecca W. Rimel, president and chief executive office of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

As a Pew Scholar, Amdam will receive a $240,000 award over four years to help support her research.

Among past Pew Scholars are Nobel Prize winners, such as Craig Mello from the University of Massachusetts, who shared the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Stanford’s Andrew Fire for their development of the RNA interference (RNAi) technique. Amdam’s research will make use of RNAi to study genes implicated in plasticity of honeybee neuronal aging.

Of the award, Amdam says, “In the scholarly system of Norway, where I come from, such recognitions are very rare, nearly unheard of. This is a great honor for me.” She also notes, “The award gives me a unique opportunity to take my research at ASU into the field of neuroscience, and neurogerontology in particular.”
According to Amdam, her Pew project will join two lines of study that have never been coupled: the emerging field of honeybee comparative neurogerontology – in which Amdam has published the first work on plasticity of neuronal oxidative damage – and honeybee behavioral physiology, where cumulative data show that age-related cell damage can be reversed. Amdam has authored or coauthored publications in Nature, Public Library of Science Biology, Advances in Cancer Research, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Experimental Gerontology and Behavioral Brain Research in the past year, laying the foundation for this work. Her group has documented that social reversal, which triggers old bees (that usually forage outside of the hive) to revert to tasks normally performed by younger bees (that nurse larvae within the hive), is associated with reversal of several physiological markers of senescence. Her findings, and supporting findings from other groups, Amdam says, indicate that “behavioral reversal triggers a systemic response, one which translates into a unique cascade of cell repair in bees.” Preliminary data collected in her laboratory suggest that this cascade can include the central nervous system.
“If social reversal causes arrest or partial clearance of neuronal oxidative damage, my project funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts will establish the first model for neuronal oxidative remission,” Amdam notes.
Oxidative brain damage is a fundamental pathology in normal human aging and in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and development of novel treatments has high priority in biomedical research, says Amdam. Although she describes this line of discovery as risky, “its prospective contribution is of considerable relevance for human health.” 



Jonathan Fink, instrumental in building up ASU’s research capacity, takes on a new role in expanding ASU’s sustainability initiatives

TEMPE, Ariz. — As Arizona State University positions itself to make a major move forward as the academic leader in sustainability, Jonathan Fink has been named Julie A. Wrigley director of the Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS), and chief sustainability officer, a newly created position within the Office of the President.
Both appointments are effective July 1.  
Fink, ASU’s vice president for research and economic affairs for the past 10 years, will split his faculty appointment between the School of Sustainability and the School of Earth and Space Exploration. Rick Shangraw, associate vice president for strategic research and director of ASU’s Decision Theater, will take on the role of vice president for research and economic affairs. Charles Redman, the first Wrigley director of GIOS, will continue as director of the new School of Sustainability.
“ASU has two major world class initiatives, one in biodesign, applying nature’s principles to the solution of problems of human well-being, and one in sustainability, the development of technologies and practices that promote and protect the health of our world,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “While the Biodesign Institute is off to an excellent start, the Global Institute of Sustainability has reached a new stage of its evolution. I am delighted that Jon Fink, who has done an outstanding job in building the university’s research enterprise for the last decade, has agreed to take on the duties of leading GIOS through its critical maturation process.”
“I have long been committed to research and policies that will help sustain environmental quality,” Fink said. “Working to achieve a more balanced approach to the growth of cities, one that simultaneously takes into account the needs of society, the economy and the surrounding ecosystem, is one of the most exciting challenges I can imagine pursuing.”
Fink will oversee and coordinate four components of ASU’s sustainability efforts — the research of GIOS, the educational programs of the School of Sustainability, the integration of the wider set of sustainability activities across all of ASU and making sure that “ASU practices what it preaches through sustainable business operations,” he said.
A major emphasis, he added, “will be to promote ASU’s sustainability interests with federal agencies in Washington, private foundations around the world and regional, national and global NGOs. I also hope to greatly expand partnerships between ASU and those multi-national corporations that are committed to building a new kind of economy that is less environmentally damaging in the long term. These corporate linkages are an outgrowth of the initiatives led by our Office of Economic Affairs, which has become highly successful at connecting ASU’s research enterprise with the business community.”
ASU has a 30-year history in advanced environmental studies, and during the last five years has become a leader in sustainability, first by establishing the Global Institute of Sustainability in 2004 and then the world’s first School of Sustainability in January. Creation of the institute and school were made possible by generous donations from philanthropist Julie A. Wrigley.
Fink commented, “Julie Wrigley’s far-sighted investments in ASU’s sustainability programs have allowed us to think more boldly about the scale of accomplishments we can aspire to achieve in this critical field.”
“In sustainability, we’ve gone through an incubation phase, and then a planning phase,” Crow said. “Now, we know what we have to do and are ready to take that next giant step.”
Fink will seek to increase the participation of academic departments that have had only limited engagement in sustainability so far. This expansion builds upon the groundwork of James Buizer, who as executive director of sustainability initiatives worked closely with President Crow and the ASU Foundation to promote ASU’s sustainability agenda. Buizer will be shifting most of his attention to other presidential priorities, but will continue to assist with selected aspects of ASU’s sustainability portfolio.
“We want to integrate these ideas with the ongoing research and teaching programs in GIOS and the School of Sustainability,” Fink said. “Under the leadership of President Crow and professor Charles Redman, ASU faculty members have created a research and education program in sustainability that is already a national showcase of interdisciplinary innovation. My goal is to expand upon this foundation through the addition of new faculty members, new funded research programs and greater participation in international and corporate networks, so that we are recognized not only for our creativity, but also for effective global leadership.”
Fink came to ASU in 1979 from Stanford as a post-doctoral researcher in geology, where he moved through the academic ranks to become department chair. His administrative experience includes a stint as director of the geochemistry program at the National Science Foundation prior to taking over ASU’s research office in 1997. Most of Fink’s research has focused on the study of volcanoes on Earth and other planets, but over the past several years he has begun to address questions of urban sustainability and resilience. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
As vice president of research and economic affairs, Fink oversees the research portfolio of all four of ASU’s campuses, including responsibility for research administration, strategic research initiatives, research publications, research space allocation and economic development activities. His office also coordinates an internal strategic investment fund of more than $25 million per year.
During Fink’s time as vice president, ASU faculty members have nearly tripled their expenditures for grants and contracts. This growth has been facilitated by an unprecedented expansion of ASU’s research infrastructure, with the addition of more than 1 million square feet of new space. A key ingredient in this research build-up has been the recruitment of top scholars from around the world to join ASU’s faculty and staff. Fink has helped attract 12 National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering members to ASU.
Fink has also played an integral role in shaping the State of Arizona’s burgeoning high tech economy, through helping to design and launch the Biodesign Institute at ASU, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), and the Flexible Display Center; by overseeing ASU’s technology transfer operations (including the establishment of Arizona Technology Enterprises); and by serving on Governor Napolitano’s Council on Innovation and Technology.