SFIS Newsletter - Issue 12


Congratulations new graduates

Arizona Baskin and Lenora Ott

SFIS was delighted to recognize all of our graduates on Dec.11 at our convocation ceremony. Watch a highlights video or the full length ceremony featuring powerful messages by our guest speaker, Simon Adams, and student speaker, Ana Lopez. Congratulations to all our brand new alumni and best wishes in making your impact on the future.

Two SFIS graduating students were featured in ASU Now’s end-of-semester collection of commencement profiles on exceptional students: Arizona Baskin, Innovation in Society (undergrad) and Lenora Ott, Global Technology and Development (master’s). Read about why they chose programs in SFIS and how each has charted a course based on unique interests and goals.


SFIS Innovation Studio workshop looks at the future of self-driving cars in Tempe

 students presenting to city staff

The SFIS Innovation Studio, a class led by Thad Miller, partnered with City of Tempe Sustainability Manager, Braden Kay, and other city officials to explore the potential impacts of autonomous vehicles (AVs), or self-driving cars, on Tempe. Tempe is a hub of activity for AVs with multiple companies testing cars and fleets in the community. Yet, how AVs will impact infrastructure, mobility, and Tempe's policy goals and public values remains unclear. Students developed several scenarios that posit potential futures for how AVs may develop in order to generate a set of key strategic questions for Tempe to consider. This was the first Innovation Studio for the Innovation in Society undergraduate major. The Innovation Studio is a workshop course where students work with a partner or client to deliver a product to have an impact on technology and society.


Engaging citizens to inform governance of controversial research


Should scientists conduct research on ways to directly intervene in the global climate to avoid the worst impacts of climate change? This is the focus of a groundbreaking new project being conducted by IFIS’ Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes (CSPO) and its partners, with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The project will examine the governance of solar geoengineering research using innovative methods of engaging the public and stakeholders. Read more here.


Heather Ross weighs in on “net neutrality” repeal

Heather Ross

A variety of news outlets turned to SFIS Professor Heather Ross for commentary on the FCC’s recent decision to move forward in repealing “net neutrality.” Ross was featured in a full-length interview regarding the recent news on “net neutrality” for ASU Now in which she discusses potential negative consequences for consumers, students, political campaigns, and healthcare. In an interview with Phoenix 3 TV/CBS 5, Ross, who teaches online classes, said: “I'm afraid that those internet resources, those websites might not make it into a fast lane an internet service provider could set up and it really could impact the way our students educate themselves online.” She was featured again in a KJZZ interview and a television interview with Arizona PBS.


ASU Ethics Bowl team qualifies for national championship

ethics theme wordle

The SFIS-sponsored Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team won the California Regional Ethics Bowl competition held at San Diego State University on December 2nd. Their win qualified them for Nationals, which will take place in Chicago on March 3 and 4. The Ethics Bowl team addresses questions such as: Should all drugs be legalized? Should doctors aid terminally ill patients who no longer wish to live? Should companies breach users’ privacy if it could possibly help others? These topics are tackled in a debate-style format, however, the winners are chosen based on understanding and articulation of the topic, not on who had the “better” argument. This makes for an open and productive dialogue between the two teams, where neither is striving to undermine the other’s argument. The team was created in summer 2014, and has already accomplished nationally-recognized prestige with help from coach Jenny Dyck Brian. More information about Ethics Bowl can be found here.


New book from CSI

book cover

A new book “Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities,” edited by Ed Finn and Joey Eschrich of IFIS’ Center for Science and the Imagination (CSI) was released. It features short fiction by top science fiction authors and essays by experts in history, economics, and space science and technology including SFIS faculty members Andrew D. Maynard, Clark A. Miller and Gregg Zachary. The collection was supported by a grant from NASA and is reviewed in The Space Review.

Out and About


Dave Guston presents at biosecurity conference

SFIS Director Dave Guston was among experts in the biosecurity field to deliver keynote presentations at the Arizona Biosecurity Workshop held at ASU in December. This was the first time a biosecurity conference of this scope had taken place in Arizona and one of the largest ever held in the U.S. Leaders in the field shared multidisciplinary approaches and perspectives on biosecurity and, as ASU Now noted, “this gathering was designed to be inclusive and to challenge presenters and attendees to work together so that no one was excluded from the conversation.” Read more about the conference here.


Think, Write, Publish event at Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco

Think, Write, Publish, an organization affiliated with SFIS and CSPO that is engaged in a project to bridge the gap between science and religion, held an event on Dec. 9 at the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco. The installation was multi-sensory and interactive, and allowed children and their parents and guardians to explore connections between neuroscience and mindfulness. The event was inspired by the narrative, Sounding the Sacred in New York City by TWP Fellow Catherine Fletcher.


In the Media


Brian David Johnson
Selling To The Algorithm: The Rise Of Robot Consumers
Dec. 6, 2017


Faith Kearns (CSPO Affiliate)
California's Climate Emergency
Rolling Stone
Dec. 8, 2017


Andrew Maynard
Guns Produced By 3-D Printers Are Increasing
Dec. 11, 2017


Andrew Maynard
Virtual reality? Facial recognition? Stadiums, fan experiences evolving
Cronkite News
Dec. 15, 2017


Jamie Winterton, PhD student
How to be smart with smart home devices
Dec. 19, 2017


David Guston
Out of Control
New York Time Review of Books
Dec. 21, 2017




Dan Sarewitz
Science and the Cultivation of Public Judgment
Kettering Foundation’s “Connections”
Dec. 2017

Michael Bennett
Artificial Intelligence Is Around the Corner. Educators Should Take Note
Education Week
Dec. 11, 2017

Gregg Zachary
How (Not) to Buy Property in Nigeria
Dec. 12, 2017