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Sustainability scientist receives Public Humanities Scholars Award

View Source | April 15, 2019

Joan McGregorThe Arizona Humanities council has named Arizona State University professors Joan McGregor and Natalie Diaz as recipients of the Dan Shilling Public Humanities Scholars Awards. McGregor is a senior sustainability scientist and a professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. A ceremony to celebrate the honor took place April 14 at the Mesa Arts Center.

McGregor began her career as an academic with a focus on legal philosophy and applied ethics, frequently teaching courses on bioethics and environmental ethics. From there, she became interested in climate justice, which eventually segued into a focus on food systems.

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Meet affiliated faculty Chris Wharton

April 5, 2019

Chris WhartonThe Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems focuses on innovative ideas and solutions to the many challenges of current food systems. In this series, we’re sitting down with the Swette Center affiliated faculty to catch up on food systems, innovation and what makes a good meal. See the rest of the series on our Food Systems Profiles page.

Read on for an interview with Chris Wharton, assistant dean of innovation and strategic initiatives at ASU's College of Health Solutions.

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Meet affiliated faculty Christy Spackman

April 1, 2019

Christy SpackmanThe Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems focuses on innovative ideas and solutions to the many challenges of current food systems. In this series, we’re sitting down with the Swette Center affiliated faculty to catch up on food systems, innovation and what makes a good meal. See the rest of the series on our Food Systems Profiles page.

Read on for an interview with Christy Spackman, assistant professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

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ASU partners with Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings to initiate Global KAITEKI Center

View Source | April 1, 2019

hand reaching out to touch digital globeA unique center officially opens on April 3 at Arizona State University, housed within the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

The Global KAITEKI Center is funded by Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation (MCHC) and its group’s think tank and research institute, the KAITEKI Institute, and led by Professor George Stephanopoulos, who holds joint positions in the School of Molecular Sciences and the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

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Sustainability scientist to explore farm labor shortages, immigration policy

ASU Now | March 28, 2019

An apple farmAn ASU Now story discusses the complicated matrix of farm labor, wages, costs and consumer prices when it comes to getting produce onto our plates. The growers who produce that produce have been sounding the alarm in recent years that the lack of farm labor is cutting into their livelihoods and leaving crops unharvested in the fields.

An Arizona State University professor has been examining the issue of farm labor and how immigration policy could affect how much we pay for vegetables. The research caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has given Senior Sustainability Scientist Timothy Richards, a professor in the W. P. Carey School of Business, a two-year grant to delve deeper. He will be working with colleagues at California Polytechnic State University and Cornell University.

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Meet affiliated faculty Valerie Mueller

March 26, 2019

Valerie MuellerThe Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems focuses on innovative ideas and solutions to the many challenges of current food systems. In this series, we’re sitting down with the Swette Center affiliated faculty to catch up on food systems, innovation and what makes a good meal. See the rest of the series on our Food Systems Profiles page.

Read on for an interview with Valerie Mueller, assistant professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies.

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Meet affiliated faculty Chuan Liao

March 20, 2019

Chaun Liao talking with people around a map on the groundThe Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems focuses on innovative ideas and solutions to the many challenges of current food systems. In this series, we’re sitting down with the Swette Center affiliated faculty to catch up on food systems, innovation and what makes a good meal. See the rest of the series on our Food Systems Profiles page.

Read on for an interview with Chuan Liao, assistant professor in the School of Sustainability.

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Interview with chef, author and slow food advocate Alice Waters

March 20, 2019

Alice Waters sitting at table outdoors with fresh food and flowersInterview by Kayla Frost

Alice Waters — who will deliver a free, public Wrigley Lecture on March 27 — is a world-famous chef who founded and owns the restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. Waters has written 16 books, including two New York Times bestsellers “The Art of Simple Food I & II” and, most recently, a critically acclaimed memoir “Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook.” Waters also founded the Edible Schoolyard Project with the goal of establishing teaching gardens in schools and connecting them with sustainable food curriculum (“edible education”) for pre-kindergarten through high school students.

In anticipation for her Wrigley Lecture, titled “We Are What We Eat: Teaching Slow Food Values in a Fast Food Culture,” we asked Waters a few questions including how food can be a conduit for solving major issues in society and what advice she has for anybody who wants to discover the joy of seasonal, local, delicious food. Read the interview below, which has been edited for length and clarity.

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ASU students developing off-grid tech to help small farms build resilience to climate change

View Source | March 18, 2019

SolarSPELL students posing with solar panelA new article on ASU Now, "ASU students developing off-grid tech to help small farms build resilience to climate change," tells the story of how five Arizona State University computer science seniors found themselves tackling issues of climate change and sustainable food systems. As part of a capstone project called SolarSENSE, these students are using SolarSPELL off-grid technology to make agricultural sensors more affordable and accessible for small, rural farms around the world. SolarSPELL, Solar-Powered Educational Learning Libraries, is a project directed by Senior Sustainability Scientist Laura Hosman.

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Meet affiliated faculty Chrissie Bausch

March 13, 2019

Julia Bausch in front of AgaveThe Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems focuses on innovative ideas and solutions to the many challenges of current food systems. In this series, we’re sitting down with the Swette Center affiliated faculty to catch up on food systems, innovation and what makes a good meal. See the rest of the series on our Food Systems Profiles page.

Read on for an interview with Julia (Chrissie) Bausch, postdoctoral scholar with the Kyl Center for Water Policy at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

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A spark to start the fire

March 12, 2019

Sparkler emitting a flareSparking new ideas is the goal of the new Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems research grant program. Ten grants of up to $5,000 each will be awarded to Arizona State University faculty-led research teams proposing interdisciplinary food systems work. Yes, this is a “mini-grant" program so the award will likely fall far short of covering the full costs of your research — but we hope that these resources can help catalyze new work and, in some cases, assist ASU faculty in completing the “pre-work” necessary to pursue larger grant opportunities.

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Interview with food systems activist Raj Patel

March 11, 2019

Raj Patel HeadshotInterview by Kayla Frost

If you know anything about Raj Patel, you know he has a lot to say about our food system, capitalism and activism. After Patel delivered a Wrigley Lecture at Arizona State University in November 2018, we asked some follow-up questions over the phone. But before we get to the interview — an introduction.

Patel, a research professor in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, has written several books including “The Value of Nothing,” a New York Times and international best-seller, and “Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System.” Patel’s most recent book, which he co-wrote with environmental historian Jason W. Moore, is “A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things.” He’s also a co-host of the food politics podcast “The Secret Ingredient.”

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Meet affiliated faculty Carol Johnston

March 7, 2019

Carol JohnstonThe Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems focuses on innovative ideas and solutions to the many challenges of current food systems. In this series, we’re sitting down with the Swette Center affiliated faculty to catch up on food systems, innovation and what makes a good meal. See the rest of the series on our Food Systems Profiles page.

Read on for an interview with Carol Johnston, associate dean and professor in the College of Health Solutions.

Question: How did you get interested in food systems issues?

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Protecting the hive: ASU scientists discover path to colony-level immunity in honeybees

View Source | February 14, 2019

Honeybee on flower covered in pollenHoneybees frequently make international news, as their global decline threatens the world’s food supply. Since honeybees pollinate the majority of crops that humans use for food, scientists have been searching for a way to maintain healthy bee populations.

Now, researchers with Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences and the University of Helsinki are one step closer to understanding the complex immune mechanism that protects honeybees from diseases in their environments.

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ASU food entrepreneur program ready for 2019

View Source | January 10, 2019

Man sells drinks outside of a food truckThe Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University is excited to learn more from one of our sister food programs on campus, Prepped, in 2019. ASU recently announced that Prepped has secured funding for the next two years for its incubator program helping entrepreneurs in food-based businesses.

Prepped is already working with FoodLab at ASU's School of Sustainability on sustainable business techniques. The Swette Center looks forward to working with these new entrepreneurs to add sustainable food systems principles into their businesses strategies.

Farm bill passes, but victories are overshadowed

View Source | December 20, 2018

Farm field at sunsetSwette Center Executive Director Kathleen Merrigan was recently quoted in an article by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The article, called “The 2018 Farm Bill Is Now Law. But the Shenanigans Continue…,” describes that Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (known as the “farm bill”) was authorized, but many complications have arisen.

The author, Ricardo Salvador, notes that some colleagues are advocating for food reform through alternate avenues. He specifically mentions Merrigan: “Kathleen Merrigan has determined that to escape the Groundhog Day spin cycle she will now emphasize partnering with innovators in the food industry: ‘It is a time of intractability in policymaking at the federal level. And while I’ll always be engaged and vocal in federal food policy…right now, the private sector is leading.’”

Salvador concludes with the farm bill’s victories, and says that people must stay positive and persistent when trying to create an equitable food and agriculture system.

ASU rises in national research rankings

View Source | December 20, 2018

Research labContinuing on its path as a rapidly growing research enterprise, Arizona State University reported $545 million in research expenditures for fiscal year 2017, up from $518 million in FY16, according to a recent report by the U.S. National Science Foundation. ASU is holding its rank at No. 44 for total research expenditures in the U.S., remaining ahead of the California Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago. Among institutions without a medical school, ASU moved up one spot to No. 8, ahead of Princeton University and Carnegie Mellon University.

In addition, ASU announced that its research expenditures for FY18 now total more than $600 million — a first for the university.

The NSF’s FY17 Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) rankings, its most recent report based on FY17 expenditures, has ASU holding a strong lead among all reporting institutions, including a No. 1 ranking in anthropology expenditures, ahead of Harvard and Stanford universities.

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Global Locust Initiative wins USAID/OFDA grant to launch pilot project in Senegal

View Source | November 28, 2018

Arianne Cease wearing gloves working in a labLocusts have afflicted humanity throughout history, with devastating consequences. It’s no surprise that locusts are one of the 10 plagues in the biblical book Exodus. These insects are species of grasshoppers that can swarm in the millions and wipe out fields of crops in the blink of an eye.

The Global Locust Initiative, an Arizona State University program aiming to study and manage locust outbreaks, recently won a half-million-dollar grant from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (a part of the U.S. Agency for International Development). This is the first time an ASU program has been awarded an OFDA grant, according to research advancement manager Ann Marie Hess, whose dedication to this partnership and work as a research advancement manager, alongside program manager Ariel Rivers, was critical to landing the grant.

With this funding, the Global Locust Initiative team — directed by senior sustainability scientist Arianne Cease — will test whether soil amendments to millet fields in Kaffrine, Senegal, decrease locust outbreaks, improve millet yields and increase farmer livelihoods.

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Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Stockholm Water Prize co-recipient to be keynote speakers at Phosphorus Forum 2019

November 21, 2018

Washington, D.C. capitol building with flowers in foregroundThe Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance has announced that Kathleen Merrigan and Bruce Rittmann will be the keynote speakers at Phosphorus Forum 2019, scheduled for April 5, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Kathleen Merrigan, who holds a PhD in environmental planning and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has decades of experience in agriculture, sustainability and food systems. As the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture from 2009 to 2013, Merrigan managed the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative to support local and regional food systems. She became the first female chair of the Ministerial Conference of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization in 2009; she was named one of Time magazine’s “100 most influential people in the world” in 2010; and she was the Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University, where she led the GW Sustainability Collaborative and the GW Food Institute. In 2018 Merrigan became the first Executive Director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University.

Bruce Rittmann, who holds a PhD in environmental engineering from Stanford University, was named a 2018 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for revolutionizing water and wastewater treatment through the development of environmental biotechnology-based processes. His work has led to a new generation of water treatment processes that can effectively extract nutrients from wastewater. In his research, Rittmann has studied how microorganisms can transform organic pollutants to something of value to humans and the environment. He has authored or co-authored more than 650 peer-reviewed scientific papers and has chaired the Program Committee of the Leading Edge Technology Conference of the International Water Association. Rittmann is Regents' Professor of Environmental Engineering and director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at ASU's Biodesign Institute.

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Conservation International partners with ASU’s Decision Theater on innovative tool

View Source | November 7, 2018

A dry, cracked bed of dirt with grass in backgroundClimate change. Species loss. Pollution.

These are well-known consequences of economic development threatening human and ecological health. International efforts to mitigate these threats are also familiar, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting endangered animals and cleaning our air and waterways.

However, perhaps the most crucial threat is also the most neglected — land degradation.

Approximately 1.3 billion people depend on polluted or degraded agricultural land. This leads to reduced agricultural productivity and access to water and increased carbon emissions. It is a complex problem with serious implications for food security, health and sustainable development.

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