SFIS Newsletter – May 2021

Return to the Newsletter Archive

Gabriel Garcia, MS GTD poses with Graduate Program Advisor Wendi Taylor and Clinical Associate Professor Mary Jane Parmentier at the College of Global Futures in-person event May 3, 2021.

Spring 2021 Commencement

Arizona State University’s spring 2021 graduates were congratulated for not only persevering through the difficulties of a pandemic, but also for helping to make the university a better place despite the challenges. Due to COVID-19, the university’s 2021 spring commencement was held virtually. The College of Global Futures convocation featured remarks from Dean Christopher Boone, selected student speakers, university and college leadership and President Michael Crow. Watch the virtual convocation ceremony

ASU student works to change the face of AI for the future

For many people, their twenties are a decade of self-exploration. But not for SFIS graduate student Shalin Jyotishi. He is exploring nothing less than a future that unleashes the promise — but not the peril — of artificial intelligence for the next generation. Recently, his passion and ambition were on full display at one of the largest and most prestigious economic summits in the world. Jyotishi was selected as one of just 50 young leaders from around the globe to attend this year’s World Economic Forum Davos Agenda. 

Earth Day encompasses a world of issues

Sustainability, a concept often thought of in simpler terms of the environment, is really a broader discipline that includes social justice and economic well-being. According to Clinical Associate Professor Nalini Chhetri, the discipline functions best when science can be connected to people.

ASU retains top US spot for efforts toward UN sustainability goals

Arizona State University remains a national leader in addressing sustainability when it comes to research, outreach and stewardship, according to Times Higher Education magazine. That ranking has been driven by the university’s efforts on such issues as poverty and hunger, gender equality, clean water and air, climate change and providing quality education.

Volunteers help SolarSPELL get back in action

Volunteers from the Phoenix Peace Corps Association and the ASU community came together to build dozens of portable, digital SolarSPELL libraries. The batch of devices assembled and tested at the Polytechnic campus — the first build day since the pandemic began — are destined for an Ethiopian.


ASU team receives grant to create artificial intelligence undergraduate program

Associate Professor Ed Finn and his team of ASU professors have received a prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities grant for $100,000 to create an undergraduate certificate program in artificial intelligence in digital culture in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering. 

Seeding knowledge for biodiversity

A new citizen science project invited the ASU community and the entire state of Arizona to document flowering plants and pollinators on ASU’s campuses. This year’s project was jointly developed by the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society with support from SciStarter, a popular online platform for citizen science projects founded by Darlene Cavalier, a professor of practice at the school. 

HSD student Nikki Stevens co-wrote and published the article “Seeing infrastructure: race, facial recognition and the politics of data” in Cultural Studies. The article focuses on the history of four facial recognition datasets and the politics of race in facial recognition. 

Associate Professor Jameson Wetmore recently had two grants renewed. Nanotechnology Collaborative Infrastructure Southwest, of which Wetmore is the deputy director, was renewed for five years. The National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure Coordinating Office, where he is the associate director for societal and ethical implications, has been renewed for four and a half years.

Assistant Professor Jennifer Richter has been awarded a 2021-2022 IHR Seed Grant for her project “A Third Act for Intergenerational Climate Activism: Using Narrative to Engage Climate Action.” 

Clinical Associate Professor Nalini Chhetri is the co-PI on two recently funded NSF Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teacher (ITEST) projects: “STEM and Social Capital: Advancing Families through Learning and Doing (SSCAFLD),” with co-PI Associate Research Professor Rae Ostman, and “Promoting Aspirations in STEM/ICT through Social Capital, Art, Relationships, and Doing (PASSCARD).” 


SFIS School Awards & Student Showcase

We celebrated the accomplishments of our SFIS and CGF community members with an awards ceremony and student showcase. The SFIS School Awards recognized staff, faculty and students for their contributions to advancing the school’s mission and strengthening our community. See the full list of award winners. The showcase, which highlighted student research, applied projects, internships, theses and dissertations, featured presentations from undergraduate and graduate students in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, the School of Sustainability and the School for Complex Adaptive Systems.

Building an inclusive and healthy future for students and global communities

While working as a science writer, a story assignment changed the trajectory of Maya Shrikant’s research. During an interview with an SFIS professor, she learned more about the school and how it could shape her research in health care technologies and policy. That led her to pursue a Bachelor of Science in innovation in society from the school. Shrikant was selected as the SFIS spring 2021 outstanding undergraduate student and the outstanding undergraduate for the College of Global Futures.

Broadening perspectives in space policy

When it comes to what we know about the universe, one of the biggest challenges is space policy. It’s a complex issue that’s become the subject of Jenna Robinson’s research. To learn more about that policy, she joined the Master of Science and Technology Policy (MSTP) program. Robinson was selected as the SFIS spring 2021 outstanding graduate student. She also recently accepted a summer policy internship with Astroscale, a sustainability-focused commercial space company. 

HSD student Noa Bruhis was named a 2021 Knowledge Mobilization Award winner. She earned the award for her doctoral research in progress, “Helium rising: A case study on envisioning futures for underground resource extraction.” The awards celebrate the innovation and ingenuity of Arizona State University’s graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. 

HSD student Martin Perez Comisso was awarded the GPSA Teaching Excellence Award based on the GTD 508 Technology & Development in Latin America class he taught during the spring. 

HSD student Nicole Mayberry and Professor Katina Michael were nominated for the ASU Faculty Women’s Association (FWA) 2021 FWA Awards Program recognizing distinguished graduate students and outstanding faculty mentors. 

The American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting featured a presentation from HSD student Rajiv Ghimire on “Challenges and prospects of locally-led adaptation: Case of Gandaki River Basin, Western Nepal.” 

HSD student Alycia de Mesa received the GPSA Innovation Fellowship Volunteer Award for her volunteer work with the arts and Indigenous causes, including her service as the chair of the City of Mesa Museum and Cultural Advisory Board. She was also the panel facilitator for a Project Humanities event discussing “Coded Bias,” a documentary about how algorithms, data, machine learning/AI have racial, ethnic, and socio-economic bias affecting everyday people. 

MSTP student Francesca Lascala presented the climate stories project to the Tempe City Council. The project is part of an ASU graduate class, led by Assistant Professors Lauren Keeler and Marta Berbés-Blázquez, and was designed in partnership with Tempe to get citizen feedback for a Tempe Climate Action Plan update.  

Associate Professor Lekelia Jenkins is featured in #IfThenSheCan – The Exhibit in Dallas. The exhibit features more than 120 3D printed statues of contemporary women STEM professionals and role models from a variety of industries, including entertainment, sports, business and academia.

Professor Katina Michael joined a University of New South Wales class to give a guest lecture on “Uberveillance and Artificial Intelligence.” She also was a keynote speaker at the International Conference On Energy Management For Green Environment

IGD student Eric Stribling gave the talk “Engineering and Development” at the first IGDx speaker series. The series comes from the Innovation in Global Development program. Students present their current research on topics centering on environmental and social change, inequalities both in and between countries, and the effects of technological change on global society. 

SFIS was well represented at the International Studies Association Annual Convention “Globalization, Regionalism, and Nationalism: Contending Forces in World Politics.” The convention featured presentations from IGD students Eric StriblingSalah HamdounKevin JohnsonDamita Kaloostian and Brittany McCall. Clinical Associate Professor Mary Jane Parmentier also presented two papers and spoke at two roundtables on innovative online teaching pedagogies.

Assistant Professor Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty spoke about space law, governance and ethics at a McGill Space Institute seminar and recently workshopped her book proposal to the Canadian Association of the Council of Rome. She also participated in several panels, including the Underrepresented Intellect Symposium, hosted by the Black Graduate Student Association and the Gender Studies Graduate Student Association, and “Space and Africa: Developments and Cooperation,” organized by the Space Policy Institute of George Washington University. 

Professor Katina Michael, Associate Professor Netra Chhetri, Clinical Associate Professor Mary Jane Parmentier and Clinical Assistant Professor Faheem Hussain were the keynote speakers at the RTAC Virtual Conference on Public Interest Technology for International Development.

Associate Research Professor Will Dabars discussed his book “The Fifth Wave,” coauthored with President Michael Crow, with the Higher Education Working Group at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 

Assistant Professor Alexandrina Agloro was a featured scholar for the keynote seminar “Ethical and Effective Public Scholarship” at the Building The Fugitive Academy conference.

SFIS Director Dave Guston gave the plenary presentation “The Future of Education and Global Futures at Arizona State University” to the Global Learning and Innovation Forum at Soon Chun Hyang University in Korea. 


May 6 – 8 IASC 2021 Conference: Conceptualizing the Urban Commons

May 17 – 19 IASC 2021 Conference: Polycentric Governance

May 18 CSI Skill Tree: In Other Waters (Online)


Alexandrina Agloro
The Digital Black Atlantic University of Minnesota Press
February, 2021

Faheem Hussain 
From persecution to “prosperity”? Struggles, aspirations, and innovations among Rohingya refugees in digital entrepreneurship
Digital Refugee Livelihoods and Decent Work
April 29, 2021  

Daniel Sarewitz
Policy Making in the Post-Truth World
The Breakthrough Institute
March 1, 2021

Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty 
Inspired by Africa: A New Approach to Global Space Governance
New Space: The Journal of Space Entrepreneurship and Innovation
March 19, 2021  

Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty 
African Youth Engagement with Global Space Governance: The Case of Arizona State University’s Interplanetary Initiative Space Governance Innovation Contest
New Space: The Journal of Space Entrepreneurship and Innovation
March 19, 2021  

Katina Michael
Just How Much of Higher Education Can Be Automated?
Slate: Future Tense
March 27, 2021  

Netra Chhetri
Pseudoscience in the Times of Crisis: How and Why Chlorine Dioxide Consumption Became Popular in Latin America During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Frontiers in Political Science 
April 12, 2021  

Daniel Sarewitz
Biden Has Elevated the Job of Science Adviser. Is That What Science Needs? 
The New York Times 
April 29, 2021  

Brian David Johnson 
How Light is Spent
Threatcasting Lab  

Brian David Johnson 
Digital Weapons of Mass Destabilization
Threatcasting Lab  

Brian David Johnson 
COVID-19: Future Implications and Lessons Learned from COVID-19
Threatcasting Lab

In the Media

Katina Michael
South Australian government admits redirecting web users through Liberal Party domain
ABC Australia
March 28, 2021  

Katina Michael
SA Liberal Party’s Use of Nation Builder Software: Harmless Web Site Redirect or Data Harvest Fest?
ABC Adelaide: Mornings
March 30, 2021  

Katina Michael
Political Parties and Data Harvesting
ABC Regional SA: Mornings
March 30, 2021  

Andrew Maynard
Angry Residents, Abrupt Stops: Waymo Vehicles Are Still Causing Problems in Arizona
Phoenix New Times
March 31, 2021  

Marta Berbes, Lauren Withycombe Keeler
Tempe’s Earth Month sustainability initiatives designed to engage youth
Wrangler News
April 2, 2021  

Heather Ross 
Maryvale getting left behind in Arizona’s vaccination race
April 13, 2021  

Ed Finn
The push to define workers’ rights in space
April 14, 2021  

Bob Cook-Deegan 
Biden proposes a funding surge—and new agencies to manage it
April 16, 2021  

Francesca Lascala, Lauren Keeler, Marta Berbés-Blázquez
Climate stories invite feedback to update the Tempe Climate Action Plan
The State Press
April 22, 2021  

Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty 
Murder in Space
Mission: Interplanetary podcast
April 27, 2021