SFIS Newsletter - Issue 3


Heather Ross

Heather Ross, dual-appointed faculty in SFIS and the College of Nursing, was selected as one of only three Arizona-based American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) fellows. For the 67 fellows selected nationwide, the purpose of the program is to impact national and global health by engaging recognized nurse practitioners to lead new initiatives. Ross’s expertise is in health policy, care, and biomedical technology, and she has been acknowledged for her leadership, mentoring, and ability to stimulate exciting new cross-disciplinary research. For more information, please read this feature in ASU Now.


Flux illustration

The Society for the Study of New and Emerging Technologies (S.NET) will be holding its ninth annual meeting to be held October 9-11 at ASU. S.NET is an international association that promotes intellectual exchange and critical inquiry about the advancement of new and emerging technologies in society. SFIS faculty will be well represented in the meeting’s leadership; Erik Fisher will serve as program chair while Clark MillerDiana Bowman, and Lauren Withycombe Keeler form the steering committee and Cynthia Selin will sit on the Scientific Committee. They will be joined by members and speakers drawn from an international field. For full details, click here.


Miles Brundage

Doctoral candidate Miles Brundage earned a fellowship position at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute and is now balancing the roles simultaneously. Brundage’s work uses Artificial Intelligence scenario planning and workshop formats to explore how people with different viewpoints deal with fast moving technological innovation. “Making AI socially beneficial is not something that any one group … can do on their own,” Brundage said in an ASU Now feature. “It's something distributed throughout our society and shaped by many actors."


Out and About


Darlene Cavalier

Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE) is the exclusive intellectual property management and technology transfer organization for Arizona State University. This year at its annual faculty recognition event, it added a new category of honorees for ASU researchers whom have been named on at least six US patents. Darlene Cavalier, SFIS professor and founder of SciStarter, was recognized under the new criteria.


Cover of Frankenstein

Dave Guston, SFIS director and co-director of CSPO, visited Oxford University in the UK to speak at the Oxford Literary Festival on a recent new edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that Guston co-edited. This new exploration of the 200-year old novel explores the social and ethical aspects of scientific creativity raised by the original story.


Robert Cook-Deegan

SFIS Professor Robert Cook-Deegan presented at the latest in CSPO’s New Tools for Science Policy breakfast seminar series, Understanding Biomedical Innovation. The headlines are once again fixated on healthcare in the United States. Who has access to it, how much it costs, and who pays for it are the subjects of bitter political and legislative battles. Cook-Deegan, an expert in genomics, intellectual property, history of genomics, and health policy, currently focuses his research on gene patenting and health research policy.


ThreatcastingLabThe Threatcasting Lab, directed by SFIS professor and futurist Brian David Johnson, has announced that its next workshop will be held in Tempe May 1-2. The Threatcasting Lab is a collaboration between Arizona State University’s Global Securities Initiative (GSI) and SFIS established to host and manage the Cyber Threatcasting Project, aimed at crafting a vision for the future of digital and physical security along with recommendations on how the Army Cyber Institute (ACI) and the U.S. Army can take actions to disrupt, mitigate, and recover from these threats.


Ed Finn

Ed Finn, SFIS professor and founding director of the Center for Science and the Imagination, was on hand to speak at the End of Insight — the launch event for the Spring 2017 Issues in Science and Technology. Finn’s topic was drawn from his recently published book, What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing, and his essay in the new edition of  Issues. The event was held at ASU’s Washington Center in Washington, D.C. Upcoming CSPO events will host SFIS’s Sasha Barab and Diana Bowman on April 19 and May 9, respectfully. Follow the links to RSVP.


Nalini Chhetri

Nalini Chhetri, representing SFIS and the School of Sustainability, visited Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana during Spring Break to speak with students and faculty about the ASU Mastercard Foundation Scholar’s Program, an accelerated master’s program with degrees granted from both institutions. Chhetri joined ASU faculty from the Ira S. Fulton School of Engineering and the W.P. Carey School of Business. She is pictured here with a 2nd year Mechanical Engineering class of over 100 students.



Recent HSD student Aubrey Wigner (Congratulations to the new Dr. Wigner!) was chosen by the University Innovation Fellows program as one of 24 student operations team members for the program’s Silicon Valley Meetup, which took place March 9-13. These 24 Fellows were selected to present their work out of 1,000 Fellows based on the impact they have had at their schools and for their contributions to the national movement. The event was attended by 350 student and faculty guests from 80 universities and colleges around the world. Later in the month, Wigner defended his PhD Dissertation, “The Maker Movement, the Promise of Higher Education, and the Future of Work.” Click here to watch Wigner’s Silicon Valley Meetup presentation.



Mario Pansera, from the University of Exeter in the U.K., visited ASU in March for a talk, “Discourse of innovation and development: Insights from ethnographic case studies,” sponsored by the Virtual Institute for Responsible Innovation (VIRI). Through case studies conducted in India, Pansera’s talk described how the umbrella term 'inclusive innovation' is being framed within the broader discourse of development. His results suggest inclusive innovation is interpretively flexible and contested.



Jamie Winterton, HSD student and Director of Strategic Initiatives for ASU’s Global Security Initiative, initiated proceedings for “Unlocking the Privacy-Security Debate,” a one-day event held at the Beus Center for Law and Society. Leaders from government, industry, and academia came together in an open forum to discuss current methods of combating terrorism and cybersecurity threats and the need to establish win-win, positive-sum methods. Several distinguished speakers were in attendance, including Michael Chertoff, former US Secretary of Homeland Security. Winterton was also recently featured in a new video series titled “Got a Minute?” produced by ASU Now focused on insights from faculty and other university leaders, each delivered in one minute.



Michael Bennett, representing SFIS as well as the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law, spoke at “The Futures of Afrofuturism” event in Knoxville. A series of speakers presented new perspectives on Afrofuturism, a contemporary transmedia arts movement combining elements of science fiction and speculative futurism, history, and fantasy with African and African diasporic cultures and political standpoints. Bennett was joined by speakers from universities and institutions across the nation, among them Nnedi Okorafor — award winning science fiction writer and both exemplar and critic of Afrofuturism. Bennett’s talk was a speculative examination of how possible regulatory futures could impact variously situated communities of color.


Stacia Dreyer, an Assistant Research Scientist in SFIS and a Research Associate in the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at the University of Washington, presented an Occasional Talk. Tidal energy technology is in the early stages of development and views towards this energy source are not well understood. Dreyer discussed current research on the human dimensions of tidal energy technology and development, with an in-depth look at acceptability, support, and perceptions of tidal energy in Washington state.


Roger S. Gottlieb, professor of philosophy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, visited ASU to deliver his talk, For the Love of Life: Environmental Crisis and Environmental Action. The talk, co-sponsored by SFIS, discussed how the great miracle of life on earth is under threat from human action and how religious environmentalism can contribute to positive change. Gottlieb is the author or editor of 20 books and over 100 articles on environmental ethics, political philosophy, religious studies, contemporary spirituality, and fiction and is world-renowned for his passionate and moving account of spirituality in an age of environmental crisis.


Thank you!

Alumna Jordan HibbsYou did it! Thank you to all of our alumni, friends, and students who participated in making Sun Devil Giving Day a huge success on March 17.  With your support we exceeded our goal and raised over $5,000 to support student access, excellence, and impact. The funds raised will be turned into five $1,000 awards for students, and will be announced at this year’s Spring Convocation on May 8th. 




Darshan Karwat

Border patrol agent looks at river

SFIS professor Darshan Karwat authored an article for Slate in which he criticizes the 600 companies that have submitted proposals for building the infamous Wall between the US and Mexico. Karwat’s stance — that engineers have an ethical responsibility to refuse to support divisive and exclusionary politics with their work — extends to engineering training programs across the US, which, he contends, offer only scant ethical focus. “Those of us who are engineers,” wrote Karwat, “have to take it upon ourselves to deeply engage with the ethical challenges and dilemmas we face.”

Kiki Jenkins

Kiki Jenkins, SFIS faculty, co-authored “Public Willingness to Pay and Policy Preferences for Tidal Energy Research and Development: A Study of Households in Washington State” in Ecological Economics. The article looks at the nascent tidal energy industry in the Pugent Sound. Jenkins also published a review of Dan Egan’s The Death and Life of the Great Lakes for the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS’s) journal, Science.

Gregg Zachary

SFIS’ Gregg Zachary offered advice for President Donald Trump in an article he wrote for IEEE Spectrum. In “President Trump Needs an Engineering Adviser,” Zachary acknowledged the President’s disdain for scientists and suggested engineers as an alternative: “Engineers make things work, and keep them working, which is exactly what you need to succeed.”

In the Media

Andrew Maynard

Self driving car crash

Uber’s self-driving cars were back on the road after a brief weekend hiatus following a crash that left one of the high-tech vehicles on its side. “This is a really early stage of development here,” said SFIS professor and Risk Innovation Lab director Andrew Maynard when he was interviewed by ABC 15. “We’ve got a lot more to learn before we know that we can actually trust these technologies.”

 Keri Szejda

Tuna being liftedKeri Szejda, Postdoctoral Researcher at SFIS and editor of the ingredient safety blog CRIS Bits — a collaboration between SFIS’s Risk Innovation Lab and Michigan State University’s Center for Research on Ingredient Safety — was interviewed by Ann Fisher of WOSU radio (Szejda’s discussion begins at minute 35). The episode aired on the station’s “Wellness Wednesday” and Szejda discussed safe seafood consumption related to mercury levels, the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, and the nutritional value of fish sticks. Szejda recently authored an article for the Conversation that touched on these same themes.

Robert Cook-Deegan

SFIS professor Robert Cook-Deegan was tapped for comment in a Nature article on the persistent debate surrounding distribution of a particular kind of mouse used for alzheimer’s research. The University of South Florida, who holds the patent for the mutated mice, is suing for a portion of profits earned by the company the National Institute of Health contracted to distribute them. “It feels greedy to me,” Cook-Deegan said, noting that if this becomes more common it will push up research costs. 

Also, Cook-Deegan interviewed three former directors of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) for a collection of oral history videos released by the Institute. Cook-Deegan and the directors discuss the origins of the Institute, the beginnings and ultimate completion of the Human Genome Project from 1990 to 2003, and the launch of the NHGRI-Smithsonian exhibit. For links to both parts of Cook-Deegan’s panel interview as well as the other oral history videos, please click here.

BuzzFeed quoted Cook-Deegan in an article titled “Everyone Might Be A Loser In The Gene Editing Patent Fight.” Worry surrounds ongoing legal turmoil with the powerful gene-editing software, CRISPR. Deegan said, “It could really cast a shadow over low-margin applications in public health and environmental applications.” In The Scientist, which also quoted Cook-Deegan on the subject, he said it would be critical that a licensing framework be enacted that “gets this technology into as many hands as possible as quickly as possible with as few legal uncertainties as possible hanging over the field.” And in the AAAS publication, Science: “This is going to be protracted and complicated.”

Cook-Deegan was also heavily quoted in an article, “What Budget Cuts Might Mean for US Science,” for The Scientist. The article focuses on the effects of the Trump administration’s proposed research budget cuts, which will likely hit early-career scientists hardest.

Erik Fisher

The Danube Transnational Programme featured SFIS professor and doctoral program chair Erik Fisher in a Q&A article. Fisher discussed the Socio-Technical Integration Research (STIR) method, a method for integrating broad societal considerations into scientific development to enable science and engineering research practices to be responsive to social and ethical concerns. He also shared his expectations for STIR in the Eastern European region, and interesting thoughts about past experiences from STIR implementation in developed countries.

Jamie Winterton

In the wake of a massive Yahoo break-in, one of the most disturbing things the investigation unearthed was that the Russian hackers didn’t have to work very hard to gain access to people’s email accounts. PhD student and Director of ASU’s Global Security Initiative Jamie Winterton was tapped for comment in this article for the Columbian describing simple ways people can be more secure. “There’s not one single thing out there that can keep you perfectly safe,” Winterton said. “But there are a lot of different things out there that can keep you almost perfectly safe.”

Gregg Zachary

Gregg Zachary, SFIS faculty, was quoted in “The power of writing to communicate knowledge,” an ASU Now article highlighting ASU courses and workshops that emphasize the importance of communicating complicated subjects to general audiences.

Mary Jane Parmentier

SFIS professor Mary Jane Parmentier was quoted in the State Press article, “Online classes highlight the importance of student-teacher interactions.”

HSD Program

SFIS's PhD program in Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology (HSD), and ASU in general, were singled out for praise in an article written for Foreign Policy about a remarkable program bridging the worlds of military and civilian universities. The Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy Program (ASP3), established in 2012, combines practical experience, senior-level military education, and university doctoral degree programs to develop field-grade officers adept at strategic thinking and protected from some of the dangerous assumptions that a fully contained military education could produce. Participants in the program fulfill a three year commitment to the armed services after completion of their degree. "If ever space to maneuver was opened up for creative interdisciplinary work on critical and timely topics," retired Air Force Col. Jeff Kubiak wrote about HSD, "this program has done it." Read more (registration).