SFIS Newsletter – December 2020

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Graduate tossing onor gold braids in the air.

Fall Commencement

Due to COVID-19, Arizona State University’s 2020 Fall commencement was held virtually.

The SFIS virtual convocation was part of the first-ever College of Global Futures convocation and also included students within the School of Sustainability and the School for Complex Adaptive Systems. The ceremony featured remarks from Dean Christopher Boone, selected student speakers, university and college leadership and President Michael Crow. 

Developing public interest technology for the future

Public interest technology is an emerging field. It serves to address social needs and challenges in society. So how should we develop this field that will be critical to our future? That was the theme at the IEEE International Symposium on Science and Technology (ISTAS 20). The virtual conference was organized by several SFIS faculty, students and staff, including Professor Katina Michael and local chairs Associate Professor Netra Chhetri and Clinical Associate Professor Nalini Chhetri. Twenty-seven countries were represented at the conference, which featured more than 400 authors and 200 papers, and included presentations from ASU faculty and students.

Re-imagining global development by learning from 21st-century pioneers

When it comes to solving global development problems in communities, not all voices are heard. Women, Indigenous people and the young can offer critical insights into solving these problems, but to be more effective, community leaders need to listen. Students in the Innovation in Global Development doctoral program want leaders to see the value in these voices, so they are featuring them in the Development Re-imagined talk series. 

Pat Kerr

Venteran leaves a legacy to lift people up, provide more opportunities

The future is for everyone. That’s the message of the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. And that message is what caught the attention of Walter “Pat” Kerr. He wants to secure a future for everyone, not just the privileged few. Kerr saw that the school is doing just that, by creating an environment that lifts everyone up, with students and faculty who are working to make the world a better place. He wants to help continue that work and promote those values by donating his estate to the school after he passes

Leonardo Fellowship

ASU launches new virtual Leonardo Imagination Fellpwship Program

Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination and the ASU-Leonardo Initiative launched a new eight-week virtual fellowship program for fall 2020. Three fellows, representing different parts of the globe, were selected to carry out experimental projects that combine innovative art and science practices across multiple publishing and broadcast media platforms. 



Study shows COVID-19 often undetected in Maricopa County

COVID-19 cases in Maricopa County are three to four times higher than testing efforts indicate, according to a recent antibody study. As part of the study, volunteers collected blood samples from 169 households throughout Maricopa County. SFIS Clinical Assistant Professor Heather Ross volunteered as field faculty during the survey, overseeing nursing student volunteers as they went door-to-door and providing support where needed. 

Assistive technologies for greatly improved quality of life for people living with MND/ALS

HSD student Salah Hamdoun, Professor Katina Michael and SFIS Alumna Rebecca Monteleone published a peer-reviewed journal article about assistive technologies (AT) for individuals living with disabilities and how these technologies are integrated with the home or work environment. Their research focuses on how ATs have been used in addressing some of the physical limitations that are caused by Motor Neuron Disease (MND). 


SFIS Charter Awards and Research Jamboree

We celebrated the accomplishments of our SFIS students with a virtual awards ceremony and student research poster jamboree. The Charter Awards recognized students for their contributions to advancing the school’s mission and strengthening our community. The poster jamboree showcased both undergraduate and graduate research, including final projects, theses and dissertations. 

Degree AreaAccessExcellenceImpact
IGDFarah Najar ArevaloDamita KaloostianSalah Hamdoun
MSTPJonathan RollJenna RobinsonJacob Robertson
GTDLubna AlaskaAndi MastrosavasEleni Birhane
PITJason RobinsonToby ShulruffShalin Jyotishi 
FIS Maya ShrikantJason George; John Rudebec
 To represent All Three Charter Tenets:
HSDNicole MayberryGabby  LoutAnna Muldoon

Fueling curiosity by making information available to a more diverse audience

Scientific research doesn’t come in layman’s terms. It’s up to science communicators to take that research and break it down into something that everyone can understand. Maddie Arnold sees the importance of that role. That’s why she got involved in science communication. She wanted to make information more accessible to the public. Arnold is becoming more well-versed in telling stories about research by earning a Bachelor of Science in innovation in society from the School for the Future of Innovation in the College of Global Futures. Arnold was selected as the SFIS Fall 2020 outstanding undergraduate student.

Improving international development through higher education

Graduate school was always on the agenda for Michele Piercey. As a senior adviser for peace, stability and transition, she wanted to earn a degree that could help her with her work in international development and postconflict stabilization. When her company was working on a collaboration with ASU, she discovered a degree program relevant to her work, the Master of Science in global technology and development at the School for the Future of Innovation in the College of Global Futures. Piercey was selected as the SFIS Fall 2020 outstanding graduate student.

Knowledge Systems for Climate Action

Students in SFIS Professor Clark Miller’s class, FIS 335 – Designing Knowledge, are helping the city of Tempe design more effective strategies to include diverse communities in the city’s Climate Action Plan. SFIS students Zuzana Skvarkova, Christian Romero and Eric Castellano and School of Life Sciences student Colin McKenzie presented their research to Tempe’s Director of Sustainability. The students researched cities with effective strategies for engaging diverse communities and analyzed how those strategies generated, validated, communicated and applied knowledge. They also examined examples of climate justice initiatives in cities, explored how those initiatives mobilized community knowledge and identified what kinds of knowledge would be needed. 

HSD student Gabrielle Lout presented at the 4th meeting of the WECAFC/CRFM/IFREMER Working Group on Shrimp and Groundfish in the North Brazil- Guianas Shelf. Her presentation, “Advances in the study of working conditions in the shrimp and groundfish fisheries of the Guianas-Brazil Shelf,” included findings from her recent work for the FAO advancing decent work and social protection for fishers and fishworkers. Lout is also a co-author on a paper that was recently accepted for publication in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment titled, “Preparing Conservation Practitioners for the Anthropocene.”

GTD student Caleb Carroll, who is focused on justice system development work in the Philippines, spoke week at the International Justice Mission (IJM) conference “Global Resolve Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children: A Virtual Summit,” on the topic “Emerging Successful Practices in Philippine Online Sexual Exploitation of Children Intervention.”

SFIS Director Dave Guston was named a 2020 PIT-UN Network Challenge Grantee for the proposal “Toward the Comprehensive PIT Institution.” The proposal includes a project to study three institutions (ASU, Howard University and Estrella Mountain Community College) to identify what they do and could do across their missions and functions to implement public interest technology comprehensively and strategically.

Associate Dean Andrew Maynard has been named as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his contributions to the public’s understanding of science, risk and responsible innovation in the fields of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

Professor Katina Michael was awarded the prestigious ICTO Golden Medal for lifetime achievement for her work and research in information systems and emerging technologies.

Assistant Professor Emma Frow participated in the panel “Ethical Questions in Synthetic Biology’” at a conference on Synthetic Biology Approaches to Improve Human and Environmental Health, hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences.

Assistant Professor Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty participated in the Lunar Exploration Forum, which utilized the knowledge of academia and private industry to examine NASA’s lunar exploration plans to discover potential domestic opportunities. Aganaba-Jeanty took part in deliberations on the commercial business potential near the Moon and on the lunar surface, and what NASA and the U.S. government must do to foster this potential.

Clinical Assistant Professor Faheem Hussain is Co-PI of a joint research team that won the Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge award for their project “Redesigning Mobility Aid For Challenging Environments.” The team is working on 3D printed customizable “shoes” for crutches and canes for Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and the host community.

HSD student Cynthia Pickering co-hosted a facilitated discussion at the Association of American Colleges and Universities 2020 Virtual Conference “Transforming STEM Higher Education: THIS Changes Everything.” The discussion centered on building capacity and supporting Hispanic Enrolling Institutions to become Hispanic Serving Institutions.


Heather Ross
Where Is the Contact-Tracing Army We Were Supposed to Get?
November 2, 2020

Christy Spackman
Following Instructions Complicates Everything
November 3, 2020

Lee Gutkind
Making ‘Masked’ Friends During the Time of COVID
Psychology Today
November 3, 2020

Salah Hamdoun, Katina Michael, Rebecca Monteleone
Assistive Technologies for Greatly Improved Quality of Life for People Living with MND/ALS
IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine
November 3, 2020

Netra Chhetri
Small irrigation users’ perceptions of environmental change, impacts, and response in Nepal
Climate and Development
November 9, 2020

Jesse Senko
Un enfoque inclusivo en el manejo de la pesca artesanal puede salvar los océanos del mundo
Animal Político
November 15, 2020

In the Media

Lee Gutkind
A Life In Progress: Writing My Last Eight-Thousand Days
Brevity Magazine
October 21, 2020

Andrew Maynard 
“Future Rising” By Andrew Maynard
October 29, 2020

Brian David Johnson 
Innovate or perish – how companies must harness these six strategic technologies
November 5, 2020

Lee Gutkind
NYIH Conversations – Lee Gutkind
New York Institute for the Humanities podcast
November 6, 2020

Lauren Keeler, Marta Berbés-Blázquez
Tempe partners with ASU course to discuss equity, sustainability
The State Press
November 8, 2020

Daniel Sarewitz
Biden has a bold agenda, but a divided Congress could constrain him 
Science Magazine 
November 9, 2020

Lee Gutkind 
Living Life Eight Thousand Days at a Time
Live Long and Master Aging podcast
November 12, 2020

Lee Gutkind Write On! Radio
November 17, 2020

Andrew Maynard
A Journey From The Past To The Edge of Tomorrow with Dr. Andrew Maynard
November 19, 2020

Heather Ross
Q&A: Heather Ross, mayoral adviser, talks COVID-19 fatigue, science and disappearing ICU beds
Jewish News 
November 24, 2020

Andrew Maynard 
‘Future Rising’: How Technology Might Stop Humanity From Repeating Past Mistakes
November 24, 2020

Andrew Maynard
Andrew Maynard on futurism “Future Rising”
November 26, 2020

Heather Ross
Study shows COVID-19 may be 4 times worse than thought in Maricopa County
AZ Big Media
November 26, 2020

Katina Michael
COVIDSafe app overhaul: What you need to know about the upgrades
The New Daily
November 30, 2020

Andrew Maynard 
Imagining What Comes Next, In ‘Future Rising’
The Jefferson Exchange

Lee Gutkind 
‘My Last Eight Thousand Days’: Lee Gutkind Reflects On Living Life Meaningfully As An Older Man
Texas Public Radio