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Authors, artists explore solar futures in new anthology

ASU Now | March 22, 2019

Colorful illustration featuring two people facing each other under the sunTo begin to imagine the difficulties, joys and adventures of human life powered by an energy system dominated by solar, last week Arizona State University published “The Weight of Light,” a free digital book featuring science fiction stories, essays and art exploring a variety of possible solar futures.

The book features four original science fiction stories — three of which take place in possible future versions of Arizona, with a fourth unfolding in a revitalized and transformed Detroit — each illustrated by an artist from the Phoenix community. The stories are accompanied by essays written by ASU faculty and graduate students in a wide range of fields, from electrical and systems engineering to public policy and futures studies.

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Recreational fisheries need new management, says sustainability scientist

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science | March 19, 2019

man stands at the back of a fishing boatSenior Sustainability Scientist Joshua Abbott is a principal author of a new opinion paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled “Governing the recreational dimension of global fisheries.” Abbott is an associate professor in Arizona State University's School of Sustainability and an affiliated faculty in the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes.

The paper discusses the importance of recreational fisheries and the need to improve their management and their inclusion in fisheries policymaking. “Recreational fisheries deserve to be considered on equal footing with commercial fisheries, particularly in mixed coastal fisheries,” the authors argue.

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ASU professor’s Mexico research garners local award for Latina/o achievement

ASU Now | March 11, 2019

Maria Cruz-TorresMaria Cruz-Torres, a senior sustainability scientist and an associate professor in the School of Transborder Studies, has been documenting a lesser-seen side of Sinaloa’s prized seafood industry — its female shrimp traders — for 20 years. This research project earned her the Victoria Foundation’s Eugene García Outstanding Latina/o Faculty Award last September. Launched in 1969, the Phoenix-based group was the first Latina/o community foundation in the United States and now hosts an award series honoring contributions in academia, civil service and the arts around Arizona.

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Freshly minted Regents' Professor plumbs geospatial data to make sense of the world

ASU Now | February 8, 2019

Stewart FotheringhamYou could say Stewart Fotheringham, a distinguished sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, is where he is now because of a dogged preoccupation with that perennial question of the human condition: Why?

“When I look at a map of disease rates across the country, for example, and I see there are clusters of high rates over here and low rates over here, what I want to know is why? What's causing that?” he said.

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Building a better future | January 28, 2019

Artist rendering of new ASU building ISTB7The Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 7 will serve as a new gateway to the ASU Tempe campus. The approximately 258,000 gross-square-foot, high-performance research facility will foster an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge generation and leading-edge research, including innovative endeavors focusing on the sustainability of food, water and energy.

In addition to public outreach and exhibit spaces, ISTB7 will house Global Futures, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service, School of Sustainability, and the Institute of Human Origins. Designed by architect firms Architekton and Grimshaw, the facility is expected to be completed in 2021.

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Philosophy of sustainability science research project receives funding

January 15, 2019

Tree that looks like a brain inside profile of headC. Tyler DesRoches, an Assistant Professor in the School of Sustainability, is part of a research team that recently won a €10,000 (approximately $11,400 grant) from the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science to develop a new research project entitled “Philosophy of Sustainability Science.” The primary purpose of this project will be to develop a systematic and philosophically sophisticated understanding of sustainability science, legitimize it as a field of science and propose effective strategies for its development.

DesRoches explained that a philosophy of sustainability science will answer many questions, including: “What, if anything, is distinctive about sustainability science? What makes sustainability science different from other scientific practices? What is the role of values, particularly ethical values, in sustainability science? Is ethics essential to sustainability science? Finally, sustainability scientists are keen to promote interdisciplinarity, but is scientific integration always a good thing? What conditions must be satisfied for successful interdisciplinary exchange?”

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Big power from a small container

ASU Now | November 29, 2018

Nathan JohsnonWith a $2 million grant from the Office of Naval Research, an Arizona State University professor is working to improve on his solar-powered, electrical grid-in-a-box for use in far-flung corners of the world where power doesn’t reach.

Microgrids are small isolated power systems, such as on oil rigs, in rural villages or at military expeditionary camps. Nathan Johnson, an assistant professor in the Polytechnic School, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, created a solar-powered grid contained in a shipping container.

“Microgrids are often described as an on-grid system that can isolate,” said Johnson, who is also a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. In summer 2018, Johnson received a $2 million, two-year grant from the Office of Naval Research.

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DOE awards $4.5 million to ASU teams to discover new ways to harness carbon dioxide for reducing cost of biofuel

ASU Now | November 7, 2018

bursts of green lightThe U.S. Department of Energy has announced 36 projects that together have been awarded $80 million to support early-stage bioenergy research and development. Two ASU research teams are among the grantees, with the grants to ASU totaling about $4.5 million.

The two teams are headed by sustainability scientists in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability: Willem Vermaas, foundation professor in the School of Life Sciences and a member of the Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis, and Bruce Rittmann, director of Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology and regents’ professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment.

The DOE is investing $80 million to reduce the cost of algae-based, drop-in fuels to $3 per gallon by 2022, providing consumers with affordable, reliable transportation energy choices.

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Making the most of conservation money

ASU Now | October 25, 2018

black footed ferretOne of the balancing acts faced by conservation agencies is how to conserve and protect as many species as possible from extinction with limited funding and finite resources. In the U.S., conservation agencies are supported and guided by the Endangered Species Act, the seminal wildlife conservation law signed by President Nixon in 1973 that is currently being reviewed by Congress.

Over time, the number of threatened and endangered species added to the ESA has grown faster than the funding for their recovery. As a result, conservation agencies have struggled in making decisions about how to apply the available resources to the greatest effect.

The result of this inadequate funding has been that while the ESA has brought back many species from the brink of extinction, many of those species remain on “life support,” never fully recovering to independence once again. This adds fuel to the debate over the effectiveness of the ESA.

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Pioneering planetary management

ASU Now | January 23, 2018

Image of a GlobeWith the goal of harnessing the innovative capacity of academia and developing options for the sound management of our planet, ASU President Michael Crow announced the launch of the Global Futures Initiative in January 2018.

Global Futures will take the pieces ASU already has and fuse them together more tightly while breaking intellectual ground. It will build new and bigger collaborations; find untapped opportunities that lie between disciplines, schools and existing projects; and amplify ASU’s global impact.

That's according to Peter Schlosser, Vice President and Vice Provost of Global Futures, who was recruited from Columbia University to lead the effort.

“Global Futures is a platform from which to take a broad look at the trajectory of our planet and the role of global society in shaping it," said Schlosser, "to gather and synthesize knowledge from many frameworks and to fundamentally alter how we manage the planet in ways that achieve sustained habitability.”