SFIS Newsletter - Issue 7

ASU students learn the ways of science policymaking through immersive summer session

 SOtL group 2017

Science Outside the Lab (SOtL), administered five sessions in Washington, D.C. during the summer, which were attended by more than 60 students from 15 universities. Headquartered at ASU’s Washington Center, SOtL is an experiential education program designed to teach participants about the relationships between science, policy and societal outcomes in the place where decisions about these important issues are often made. Read more.


Awards and accolades

 Michael Zirulnik

SFIS Program Manager Michael Zirulnik won the Top Paper Award from the African American Communication & Culture Division of the National Communication Association. Zirulnik led the research study and co-authored the paper, which applied co-cultural theory to inform crew resource management, with Mark P. Orbe of Western Michigan University. Both the award and the paper will be presented at the Annual Convention of the National Communication Association in November.


Out and about

 Erik Fisher at D-STIR presentation

D-STIR in Hungary

Erik Fisher (standing/left in photo), program chair of SFIS’ PhD Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology (HSD) program, held a three-day training workshop for the Danube Framework for Responsible Research and Innovation using Socio-Technical Integration (D-STIR) event in Budapest, Hungary. Fisher developed the STIR method, which encourages experts to evaluate their research according to its societal dimensions. D-STIR produced this brief video after the event.


 Risk Factor banner

New risk app

Members of SFIS’ Risk Innovation Lab, including Director Andrew Maynard and Master of Science and Technology Policy (MSTP) student Jackie Tonucci, helped develop an app that helps you make informed decisions about all the risks in your life and to evaluate whether some risks are trivial or serious. Maynard and Tonucci contributed data to the Risk Navigator app and the associated Risk 101 modules. Maynard was one of two senior consultants on the development team.


 Jameson Wetmore

 Jameson Wetmore

Jameson Wetmore, chair of the Future of Innovation in Society (FIS) undergraduate degree program, was invited to speak at the United Kingdom’s Department for Transport (DfT) History and Policy seminar series. The series allows historians to expose policymakers to valuable historical lessons that could inform future policy decisions. Wetmore’s presentation explored the variety of approaches engineers and corporations in the United States have taken to create automated vehicles over the last 80 years.


Wendi Taylor

Introducing new student advisor Wendi Taylor

Hi everyone! I’m the new part-time Graduate Advisor for the Master of Science in Global Technology and Development (GTD) program. I joined SFIS over the summer, and am thrilled to be back at ASU after a 10-year hiatus. I have an extensive background in academic advising and love working with students to achieve their educational and personal goals. My hours are 9:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. M/T/Th/F (off on Wednesdays), and I’m located in the Interdisciplinary B building, cubicle 256BF. Please feel free to swing by — I’d love to meet you!



 July 2017


Nuclear Weapons article illustration

Professor Gregg Zachary wrote “The Nuclear Weapons Complexities,” an article for IEEE Spectrum referencing a multi-year project government has launched to modernize the nuclear arsenal at enormous cost. “Uncertainty clouds the nuclear-weapons complex,” Zachary wrote, “and human performance represents perhaps the biggest unknown.”

 Communications Training cover

SFIS Program Manager Michael Zirulnik authored a chapter in “Communication Training and Development: Exploring the cutting edge.” The book provides novices with interest in training and development, seasoned professional trainers, or employer organizations with robust training programs on a range of topics to design, implement, and evaluate effective training. It is available for purchase now.

 Nature article screenshot

CSPO co-director Dan Sarewitz’s new article for Nature, “Kill the myth of the miracle machine," upturns unchallenged assumptions about how science works. In it, he lauds use-inspired research. "Exceptional science is produced not by a miracle machine," Sarewitz wrote, "but by institutions that tie scientific curiosity to problem-solving."


Participants in this summer’s Science Outside the Lab (SOtL) session, MSTP students Ana Lopez and Walter Johnson among them, have started their own blog: Muddling Through Science, Policy, and Politics. In the latest entry, they sound off in a Q and A format with fellow participants, reflecting on their SOtL experience and the major takeaways.



In the media

Creative Nonfiction Conference banner


Lee Gutkind, Distinguished Writer in Residence at ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes (CSPO), was a headline speaker at the 2017 Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference in Pittsburgh. Gutkind has been hailed as the "Godfather of Creative Nonfiction," is the founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction magazine, and is the author of more than 30 books. Read an article about the conference here.


SFIS professor and director of the Risk Innovation Lab, Andrew Maynard, weighed in on a debate regarding a study that seemed to reveal the potential toxicity of Australian baby formula resulting from certain nanoparticles. Maynard said he saw no sign that the formula was dangerous but that the manufacturer would be wise to fund further studies to assuage any doubts. The article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and is available here.


Disney has drawn criticism for claiming they can’t find actors of middle-eastern descent to play leading roles in their upcoming live-action remake of Aladdin. KJZZ 91.5 interviewed Professor Michael Bennett regarding the controversy. “We have to recognize that in an intensely diversified world ... in which your audience is maximally diverse,” said Bennett, “it would simply be foolish to cast an exclusively or even predominantly white set of actors.” Listen to the full interview.


Adam Rutherford with BBC's "Inside Science" talks to Dave Guston, SFIS director and CSPO co-director, about the new annotated-for-scientists edition of “Frankenstein” and the lessons this cautionary tale contains for science today. The book was voted book-of-the-month by the MIT Alumni Book Club. Amy Brand, Director of the MIT Press, which published the book, discussed the book on the Slice of MIT podcast. Listen to the BBC interview.


The Swiss National Science Foundation posted a series of videos developed and produced with Andrew Maynard regarding the opportunities and risks of engineered nanomaterials.


Center for Science and the Imagination’s resident futurist, Brian David Johnson, was tapped for comment in an EdTech Magazine article, “Robots and Related Tech Play a Role in Advancing Curricula.” Johnson said, “Sentient tools will take over simple and social tasks that teachers and teaching aids provide today.” Johnson’s own educational robot project, 21st Century Robot, has been successful in classrooms across the nation. A slightly different article on the same topic is also available.


A new video is available from Risk Bites, the YouTube channel maintained by Andrew Maynard’s Risk Innovation Lab. Dr. Mariya Voytyuk wrote, illustrated, and narrated the video, “What is Epidemiology.”