SFIS Newsletter - Issue 4

Jeremy Quist

ASU student studies role of social media in building transnational gay identity

In a world often divided by ideological and cultural differences, social media has the ability to bring people together regardless of geographic location.

“Social media knows few borders,” said Jeremy Quist, a May 2017 graduate of the School for the Future of Innovation in Society’s Global Technology and Development master’s degree program.

Quist, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science, tested out the borderless nature of social media firsthand while conducting his master’s capstone research in Central and Eastern Europe about the effects of social media on transnational gay identity.
Read more.


Pakistan group

Saurabh Biswas, Noor Mohammed Wazir, Sean McAllister, Clark Miller, Muhammad Ahsan Amjed, Haseeb Mohammed Khattak, Anam Azahra, Atoofa Zainab, Carlo Altamirano

Pakistan Higher Ed Collaboration

The second cohort of U.S.-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy (USPCAS-E) scholars from Pakistan arrived at ASU and Oregon State University (OSU) for the spring 2017 semester. Professional development workshops were an important aspect of their experience at ASU, including a policy workshop facilitated by SFIS Associate Director for Faculty Clark Miller. This was the second of a planned series of energy training workshops that ASU is collaborating on with schools in Pakistan over the next four years.

Women comprise 13 of the 34 scholars from Pakistan’s National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) and the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Peshawar. This is the largest number of female participants in the program so far — a success for the promotion of gender equality for engineers, which is a major goal of the program. The spring cohort returns to Pakistan in May.


Elizabeth Garbee

Elizabeth Garbee

The Faculty Women’s Association awarded PhD candidate Elizabeth Garbee in the Human and Social Dimension of Science and Technology program with its Distinguished Graduate Student Achievement Award, acknowledging exceptional scholarship, research, creativity, and performance in leadership and service. Garbee said she is “incredibly proud of the award” and gratified that her committee members and chair Erik Fisher thought highly enough of her to nominate her.

Read more here.

Kiki JenkinsKiki Jenkins

SFIS professor Kiki Jenkins and collaborators won first prize in the International Sea Turtle Society’s “Dance Your Research” Competition. Jenkins is a noted scholar in marine conservancy and pioneer of a new field of study into the invention and adoption of marine conservation technology. "Science dance is a kind of new frontier and we’re right on the vanguard of it,” said Jenkins, urging anyone interested in participating in future workshops and competitions to reach out. Watch the video of the winning performance here.


Eric KennedyEric Kennedy

PhD student Eric Kennedy was awarded a Graduate College Completion Fellowship, which serves to support advanced graduate students through their final year of dissertation research and writing. “Receiving this support from the Graduate College is incredibly valuable for completing an ambitious and applied dissertation,” said Kennedy. “The award will allow me to invest the time necessary for the fieldwork, data analysis, and research required to complete a dissertation on a contemporary and fast-moving topic.”



Out and About

SolarsSpell build

Laura Hosman

On Saturday April 8, a dedicated and motivated group of 30+ volunteers came together at ASU’s Polytechnic campus and built 100 SolarSPELL digital libraries, project lead and library designer Laura Hosman, reported on the project’s blog. This is the largest build in the history of the project. In the next few months, the libraries will go out with Peace Corps volunteers across the Pacific Islands of Vanuatu, Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia. Hosman also spoke about the project as a guest on the SparkDialog podcast.



Cynthia Selin

Cynthia Selin

Cynthia Selin, director of the Center for the Study of the Future, described Emerge, as “a festival uniting arts, science, and technology in order to explore alternative futures.” The 2017 Frankenstein theme (held in February) “Invites us to question invention and responsibility.” She is featured in a synopsis video reflecting on Emerge 2017 available here.

In the Media

Heather Ross

SFIS professor Heather Ross, a graduate of the HSD PhD program and, prior to that, of ASU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program, was selected as a 2017 Fellow by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Ross was recently profiled in ASU State Press newspaper. The article highlights how diverse her interests are and how they shaped her unconventional route to a dual doctorates, a thriving family, and a private medical practice.

Dave Guston

Times Higher Education, a data provider that aims to improve university improvement with constructive analysis, published a short appreciation of the new special edition of Frankenstein edited by SFIS director and CSPO co-director Dave Guston. The article quotes Guston: “Part of the intention of this edition is to bring this author and this character, people who were still very much learning things but had provocative and powerful ideas, to contemporary colleagues.”

Brian David Johnson

SFIS Futurist in Residence Brian David Johnson was interviewed by Marketwatch for a story on The Circle, a new movie based on a dystopian Sci-Fi novel by Dave Eggers about a massive, Silicon Valley-inspired corporation using the personal data of its customers for nefarious ends. “To be clear, we are headed down that path,” said Johnson. “We’re not there yet, but we see hints at it every day. The progressive impact of technology in our lives is not going to slow down.”

Johnson was also quoted in a Scientific American piece which asks real world AI researchers if any hollywood depictions get artificial intelligence “right.” “The narrative is typically that once you create something that’s sentient, it rises up and kills you,” said Johnson. “I look at what movies are giving us a different narrative.”

Clark Miller

SFIS’ Associate Director for Faculty, Clark Miller, was quoted by the Christian Science Monitor in an article detailing the regulatory, logistical, and other types of complexity standing in the way of society-wide conversion to solar electricity. “Electricity is sold as a regulated monopoly,” said Miller, emphasizing the regulatory barriers. He added that the electrical grid isn’t a simple “plug-and-play” system that is easily converted from one power source to another.

Ed Finn

Stephen Donoghue of Open Letters Monthly reviewed Center for Science and the Imagination Director Ed Finn’s book What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing. Effusive with his praise, Donoghue writes that the pages of the “brilliant new book” will “fly by” and calling Finn himself a “deeply intelligent writer.” He warns readers not to expect any fluff, though, calling Finn’s breakdown of the ubiquitous and often unpredictable use of algorithms is “the most invasive, unnerving, cold sweat-inducing horror story you’re likely to read.” Finn also had a chance to talk about the book in his interview with MIT Press’ Chris Gondek.

Darlene Cavalier

Scistarter, the citizen science network founded and directed by SFIS’ Darlene Cavalier, received a nod in a Science article on ways technology can improve public institutions. Scistarter connects individuals who voluntarily contributes his or her time, effort, and resources toward scientific research in collaboration with professional scientists or alone.

Barbara Whye

Black Enterprise reported on PhD student Barbara Whye’s appointment as Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Intel. Whye started with Intel as an engineer in 1995. She will work to further Intel’s stated goals of achieving pay equity and conducting annual compensation audits for US employees.

Dan Sarewitz

Dan Sarewitz, co-director of CSPO, was quoted in a Greenwire article describing two surprising bastions for environmental research in the federal government. The article explains that, though Trump is moving ahead with proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) tackle militarily important environmental issues that are not being investigated by civilian bodies. The programs have “built a constituency at DOD. People find it valuable," Sarewitz said. "As long as the program is explained in the right way, it can totally withstand partisan winds."

Jack Stilgoe

Jack Stilgoe of the University College London, a recent VIRI guest speaker, wrote an article for the Guardian in reaction to an accident involving an Uber-owned “automated” vehicle in Tempe in March. Stilgoe questions the veracity of “autonomy,” citing SFIS’ Jameson Wetmore and other researchers, and argues, “For self-driving cars to really work, they need to become interdependent” not just with other vehicles but with city ordinances and standard practices in the event of accidents.

Braden Allenby

Braden Allenby is the author of The Rightful Place of Science: Future Conflict and Emerging Technologies, published in 2016 by the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes. An ASU Now article introduces the Weaponized Narrative Initiative, a new research group co-directed by Allenby and Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law’s Joel Garreau. "By creating the stories and controlling the narratives over time, it’s being shown that you can significantly turn public opinions and attitudes in different directions,” Allenby said. The initiative operates under the Center on the Future of War in collaboration with the New America Foundation.

Martin Pasqualetti and EPIC

Martin Pasqualetti, co-director of ASU’s Energy Policy Innovation Council (EPIC), a group housed under SFIS, was tapped for comment by 91.5 KJZZ on the coal industry’s attempts to extend the life of the Navajo Generating Station, the largest coal power plant in the western US. "It seems like they are grasping at straws,” Pasqualetti said of the coal industry’s arguments.

graduation mortar board


SFIS is celebrating student achievements at our spring convocation ceremony on May 8 at 4:30 in the Lyceum Theater. Guest speaker for the ceremony is Reena Patel, an alumna of the Global Technology and Development master’s program who also holds a PhD in Geography from The University of Texas at Austin and is currently a foreign service officer. Representing the graduates at the speaking podium will be Michelle Arnold of the master’s program Applied Ethics and the Professions - Biomedical and Health Ethics.

More information can be found here, and look for photos from the event in our gallery and on our Facebook page.



autonomous car

Elizabeth Garbee, Andrew Maynard 

Andrew Maynard and PhD student Elizabeth Garbee collaborated on “In Praise of Self-Driving Cars and Fender-Benders,” an article for Future Tense. Reflecting on a recent accident involving a self-driving Uber vehicle in Tempe, AZ, Maynard and Garbee recognize the utility of such incidents to prompt pragmatic thinking rather than philosophizing about real life dilemmas automated vehicles will inevitably bring.

Maynard also authored a piece for Medium as a follow-up to the Science Marches held across the country and abroad on Earth Day. Maynard offers five steps researchers can take to continue their advocacy now that the marches have passed, all of them aimed at improving scientists’ public and cross-disciplinary communication skills. “if you want to make a difference as a scientist,” he wrote, “the ability to communicate effectively to people outside your areas of expertise is important.”

bitcoin sign

Ed Finn

Center for Science and the Imagination director Ed Finn published an article in the Guardian. In “Do digital currencies spell the end of capitalism?” Finn explains generally how bitcoin and blockchain work and describes a digital heist involving one of the largest companies involved in the exchange of digital currencies. “This matters because the more we value things according to processor cycles instead of exchange value,” he wrote, “the more we are committing to a future dictated by the logic of machines.”

Finn also contributed a piece to CNN’s Opinion page. In “Can Coding the Brain save or destroy us,” Finn unpacks the possibilities and profound dangers associated with technology like what Elon Musk’s new Neuralink initiative aspires to create: the first crude computational input-output system for the mind. “Each of us would possess god-like powers to summon information, to communicate, to share experiences,” wrote Finn, “But ironically we would also be introducing a new anxiety … who's really thinking this thought, you or the machine?”

Jason Lloyd

CSPO’s Jason Lloyd, coordinator of the Climate Pragmatism Project, authored “A march won’t make the public respect science. Here’s what will” for Slate. Lloyd explains how the Climate Marches on April 22 on six continents, would likely undermine the cause they support by exacerbating partisan tensions. Instead of marching, wrote Lloyd, “scientists need to improve their connection to the public and articulate their importance to society in a way that resonates with all Americans.”

Clark Miller

Clark Miller, SFIS’ associate director for faculty, was a guest on KCRW’s To The Point radio talk show hosted by award-winning journalist Warren Olney. The episode’s topic of discussion was “Will the March for Science Politicize Objective Research?” Miller expressed a worry that the matter at hand might get oversimplified, pointing out that the attack on science is part of an attack on the size and capabilities of federal agencies. Click here to listen. Miller speaks at 29:00.

Jennifer Richter

SFIS professor Jennifer Richter co-authored a new book. Environmental Realism: Challenging Solutions is an “interdisciplinary book challenges current approaches to ‘environmental problems’ that perpetuate flawed but deeply embedded cultural beliefs about the role of science and technology in society.” The book is published by Palgrave Macmillan and available for purchase now.

Brian David Johnson

SFIS professor and resident futurist Brian David Johnson published an article for Entrepreneur to shed a more positive light on a future in which half of all jobs are automated. In “Will a Robot Take My Job?” Johnson said, “When we allow machines to handle the more mundane tasks, we get the freedom to innovate. Embrace the progression of technology so your own creativity can become your greatest asset.”

Richard Harris

A new book written by Richard Harris, a former CSPO visiting scholar, was reviewed and excerpted on NPR’s Shots health news blog. In Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions, Harris investigates the unfortunate results of a scientific field characterized by tight budgets and fast-paced competition. “The competitive world of biomedicine is shaping this problem of evidence that can't be replicated a lot,” said Harris.