SFIS Newsletter - Issue 11

A triple win: reducing pollution, saving wildlife and helping fisheries

Jesse Senko

Jesse Senko, a postdoctoral scholar with SFIS, is leading development on his idea for solar-powered lights that use clean, renewable energy, cut down on plastics pollution in the oceans, and save marine life such as sea turtles from drowning in fishing nets. Senko is partnering with ASU’s Solar Power Laboratory and NOAA Fisheries to develop the technology, which he hopes will solve a number of issues with modern fishing, as well as increase opportunities for fisherman. He recently received a Disney Conservation Fund grant of $50,000 to begin work on the project, and $45,000 from the World Wildlife Fund. He is working on larger-scale proposals for the National Science Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Federation. Read more about Senko’s work here.


Weighing in on gene modification controversy

DNA strand with portrait of Emma Frow

Is it rogue science or the wave of the future? Professor Emma Frow addressed a recent controversy within the scientific community regarding gene modification that erupted when a self-proclaimed “biohacker” became the first person known to have edited his own DNA. The hacker injected muscle cells into his forearm using a kit available online with technology based on CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), which are the hallmark of a bacterial defense system that forms the basis for CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. ASU Now interviewed Frow, an assistant professor with a joint appointment in SFIS and the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering. Her research focuses on standards and governance in contemporary life sciences, with a particular focus on synthetic biology. Frow said individuals who choose to experiment on themselves are potentially putting their health and safety at risk, and she points to the need for a broader public debate about gene modification. Read the full interview on ASU Now.


PhD student admitted to SESYNC Graduate Student Workshop

Andi Hess

Andi Hess, a doctoral student in the Human and Social Dimension of Science and Technology program, was admitted to The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center’s (SESYNC) fifth Graduate Student Workshop on Socio-Environmental Synthesis, which is considered to be early integration into SESYNC’s prestigious Graduate Pursuit Program. The workshop, for graduate students working at the forefront of team-based, socio-environmental synthesis research is designed to enhance a variety of synthesis and team science skills as well as facilitate dynamic interactions and community building.  


Out and About


State of Our State conference speakers

Portraits of Brain David Johnson, Diana Bowman, Luke Tate

Three SFIS professors, Brian David Johnson, Diana Bowman and Luke Tate, were tapped as speakers and panelists for the State of Our State Conference in November with Johnson featured as the keynote speaker. The conference is the annual signature event of ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy. Using ethno-graphic field studies, technology research, cultural history, trend data global interviews and science fiction, Johnson and the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination work with organizations to develop a pragmatic road map to the future and an actionable 10- to 15-year vision. This year’s focus for the conference was on the innovations and disruptions poised to transform Arizona’s workforce and transportation sectors. Learn more about the conference here.


Diversity in food supply

variety of beans and seeds

Panelists including SFIS’ Netra Chhetri addressed questions on how to ensure diversity in our food and access to it in the future during “Defend Our Food” panel at ASU. Chhetri and his colleague Christopher Warton represented ASU’s Food Systems Transformation Initiative which seeks to optimize the resilience of food systems and personal health outcomes through innovative technological, cultural, and behavioral efficiencies from food production through consumption. Read more about the seed library and the panel here.

Science of Science Communication

Dave Guston on a panel at The Science of Science Communication III Colloquium

Director Dave Guston served as a panelist at The Science of Science Communication III Colloquium, which focused on “consensus study as a framework for advancing both research and practice in science communication.” The panel, titled “Creating a Collaborative Community for the Sciences of Science Communication,” addressed opportunities for effective collaboration and institutional frameworks that support partnerships. Discussants reflected on their experiences with large-scale collaborative projects, highlighting connections to the world of science communication.


Andrew Maynard attends World Economic Forum

Andrew Maynard speaking at WEF

Andrew Maynard, Director of the Risk Innovation Lab attended the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils in November. In addition to session participation in Agile Governance in 2030 and Accelerating Agile Governance in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Maynard contributed an observation about communication and art in the session “Towards a Narrative About the Future.” The annual meeting was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Lauren Withycombe Keeler Serves as Panelist at Phoenix Climate Policy in the EU Event

Lauren Withycombe Keeler

Lauren Withycombe Keeler, a visiting assistant professor with SFIS, was a panelist in the “PHX Climate Policy in the EU with Dr. Jürgen Salay” event hosted by Global Chamber Phoenix at ASU’s SkySong. Panel discussions included how climate change impacts planning for building and infrastructure in cities within Arizona and the Southwestern USA, and how renewable energy and clean energy technologies affect business and the outlook on global cooperation. Read more about the event here.


One-of-a-kind biodesign event

student at Biodesign event

Nearly 60 middle and high school students spent a day meeting with scientific mentors and touring the state-of-the-art research laboratories up close at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University on November 28. Andrew Maynard, SFIS professor and director of the Risk Innovation Lab, helped design the day’s curriculum in collaboration with Biodesign staff and led a science communication workshop for the students. Read the full article about the event here.


Science dance at Future of X

dancer performing

November’s Future of X event, part of First Fridays in Phoenix, featured a unique dance performance and hands on exercises and demonstrations to help visitors learn about conservation issues related to sea turtles and fisheries. A troupe of local dancers joined SFIS faculty member Kiki Jenkins to perform her award-winning science-themed choreography depicting issues faced by sea turtles as well as humans trying to mitigate threats to marine species. The troupe was joined by Jesse Senko, a postdoctoral researcher with SFIS, who led interactive presentations and demonstrations of technologies designed to improve fishing practices by protecting sea turtles while reducing pollution and energy costs for fishermen.

Tambat Ali: A Story of Copper Craft

Prasad Boradkar

SFIS’ enLIGHTeNING Lunch talk in November featured Prasad Boradkar, Director of Innovation Space at ASU. He examined changes happening within a community built around the traditional craft of hand-beaten copper as they face changes to the supply of source material, social mores, trade and entrepreneurship, and innovation in related technologies. Watch the video of the talk on YouTube.





In the media

Diana Bowman, Luke Tate
Here are the Phoenix-area jobs most likely to be taken by a robot
Nov. 8, 2017


Michael Bennett
‘Black Panther’ isn’t just another Marvel movie — it’s a vision of a future led by blackness
Nov. 12, 2017


Andrew Maynard
Dubai 2017 - Towards a Shared Narrative about the Future video
Nov. 12, 20107


Heather Ross
ASU women's basketball hosts third annual Heart Health Awareness game
Nov 15, 2017


Clark Miller, Thaddeus R. Miller (Tischa Muñoz-Erickson)
Can Innovative Knowledge Systems Help Cities Prepare For Natural Disasters?
Pacific Standard
Nov. 16, 2017


Bob Cook Deegan
Could the Whole CRISPR Patent Kerfuffle Have Been Completely Avoided?
Nov. 17, 2017


Joey Eschrich
Center for Science and the Imagination event: History of the Future
The History of the Future: A Future Tense Event Recap
Nov. 17, 2017


Omar Al Ansari, Innovation in Society student
Innovation is a life-style approach to creative development (text translated)
Nov. 18, 2017
(Also of note: a photo of Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, reading the edition of the newspaper with Omar’s photo on it.)


Netra Chhetri
Should the social cost of carbon be a lot higher?
Nov. 22, 2017
And: Should the Social Cost of Carbon Be Higher​?
Scientific American
Nov. 22, 2017


Andrew Maynard
Podcast: Balancing the Risks of Future Technologies with Andrew Maynard and Jack Stilgoe
Future of Life Institute
Nov. 29, 2017



Joseph Herkert
Self-Driving Cars and Engineering Ethics: The Need for a System Level Analysis
Nov. 6, 2017
Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017


Clark Miller, Thad Miller, (Tischa Muñoz-Erickson)
Can cities get smarter about extreme weather?
Nov. 13, 2017
Also published on the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s Prevention website: http://www.preventionweb.net/news/view/55908

Gregg Zachary
Can Tech Moguls Cure What Ails Medicine?
IEEE Spectrum
Nov. 22, 2017