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Sustainability News

ASU hosts AZDA Summit with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsak

April 11, 2022

USDA Sec. Tom Vilsak address the AZDA Summitt at ASU“Out of crisis, it is incumbent upon us to create something better…something more resilient.” Secretary Tom Vilsak, United States Department of Agriculture

Featuring 26 speakers and over 200 Arizonans in attendance – nearly 140 in person – the Arizona Department of Agriculture and ASU Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems co-hosted the 4th annual Arizona Food Summit at ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium San Tan Ford Club March 23 and 24 for two days of information sharing and discussion on how best to move forward on creating a sustainable, healthy food system for all Arizonans.

The days were packed with speakers from across the food system spectrum. The event opened with US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. Secretary Vilsack emphasized the need to link food security with nutrition security and to better translate science to help people make informed choices. Vilsack further challenged Arizonans to engage, to bring young people into agriculture and food work, to support our local farmers, and attend to nutrition security.

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Two CBO proposals finalists for ASU Women in Philanthropy prizes

March 3, 2022

CBO at ASU Women in PhilanthropyTwo proposals headed by the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes leadership were announced as grant finalists for ASU Women and Philanthropy, an organization comprised of women committed to becoming advocates and philanthropic supporters of the university. The proposal presentations took place at the Musical Instrument Museum on Feb. 23.

Designing a public engagement strategy to support the establishment of an effective and equitable US National Biodiversity Strategy was led by Center for Biodiversity Outcomes founding director Leah Gerber, in conjunction with the center program leads. This proposal focuses on how we can more effectively tackle the biodiversity crisis in the U.S. through an inclusive community-led approach leading up to developing a stakeholder engagement strategy for an NBS in the US.

GirlsConserve: Engaging girls in STEM careers using a culturally relevant One Health approach was led by the center's assistant director Gwen Iacona, in collaboration with the ASU Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology (CGEST). GirlsConserve centers around the development of a culturally responsive curriculum for a high school summer camp and mentoring program, focusing on engaging girls in STEM and conservation by following the highly successful model of CGEST’s preexisting program CompuGirls.

CBO's Leah Gerber speaks at GreenBiz22

March 2, 2022

Leah GerberThe business sector's premier annual sustainablility conference, GreenBiz 2022, returned to the Valley of the Sun in Scottsdale this February. The ASU Center of Biodiversity Ooutcome’s founding director, Leah Gerber, was invited to sit on a panel titled "Teaming Up To Tackle Plastic Waste: How Cross-Industry Partnerships Can Ignite Long-Lasting Change", which also included Chairman of SC Johnson, Fisk Johnson, and Senior Director of Facilities for the Milwaukee Brewers, Mike Brockman. Moderated by Chris Coulter, CEO of GlobeScan, the panel focused on addressing plastic waste and the disrupting impact it has on our ecosystems.

In bringing the panel together, GreenBiz highlighted the importance of forming partnerships to tackle plastic waste through innovating solutions to positively impact generations to come. It also addressed how the sports industry is working with companies to adapt to the waste crisis and incorporate various recycling models. GreenBiz is centered around bringing together business, technology, and sustainability with the goal of a clean economy. More than a thousand sustainability leaders were registered for the GreenBiz yearly forum.

Gerber spoke about the mission of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes. She was able to share her knowledge on how businesses can explore opportunities within universities to solve sustainability crises. Plastic waste can threaten the survival of key species and pollute important ecosystems and habitats to further negative impacts on these species. Gerber elaborated on how crucial finding solutions to the plastics crisis is about biodiversity conservation.

CBO conducts research, such as finding regions that are most at risk and pinpointing where the most impactful reduction of plastics could be. They also partner with government, corporate and corporate-facing institutions solutions to provide solutions that can help lower the plastic footprint.

In cultivating partnerships between academia and larger corporations, specific solutions can be found to address the plastics crisis one step at a time.

Could coral habitats be rebuilt on sunken warships?

February 21, 2022

Corals naturally growing on sunken warships in the PacificFaculty and researchers from the ASU Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, teaming with partners from the University of Hawaii, recently published a paper based on their survey of 29 sunked warships around the Bikini Atoll and Chuuk Lagoon in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Until these explorations, it was unknown if the hulls of the ships would sustain the development of biodiversity habitats based on ship size and hull material, location relative to natural reef, time since sinking, ocean currents and water depth. According to this study's findings, the team identified more than 9,100 types of corals that represented around 70 percent of the corals found in the natural reefs in the area. The team determined that ship length, but not water depth, positively correlated with relative abundance and richness at the genus level, meaning that very large wrecks can serve as havens for reef-building corals with a broad genetic diversity. Read more.

Global Futures Laboratory's Diane Pataki, Enrique Vivoni elected AAAS Fellows

February 17, 2022

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals, has elected two outstanding faculty from the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory to the newest class of AAAS Fellows, among the most distinct honors within the scientific community. Additionally, Sara Brownell, who has an appointment with the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, also was elected.

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Klaus Lackner joins Newsweek's America's Greatest Disruptors Hall of Fame

December 20, 2021

Klaus lackner in the CNCE labKlaus Lackner, director of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions and a pioneer in the carbon capture research space, has been named to Newsweek's Hall of Fame for America's Greatest Distruptors. In a special edition published Dec. 15, Lackner was one of five initial innovators tapped to receive this honor, each recognized by the publication as "Visionaries whose career-long actions have had far-reaching impact."

Lackner, who in also is a professor with the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, was the first person to suggest the artificial capture of carbon dioxide from air in the context of carbon management. His work in this space has led to a partnership between ASU, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and the private corporation Carbon Collect to manufacture and deploy the Mechanical Tree, a passive energy carbon collection system. The first Mechanical Tree will be installed for testing at ASU's Tempe campus in early 2022. The research by Lackner and his team has also been recognized by Discover Magazine Discover as one of seven ideas that could change the world.

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ASU receives $6.36M grant to launch Pacific Island research center

September 30, 2021

Funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the center will support research into how Pacific Island communities can build resilience to extreme climate events

Fallen trees and a blue house sinking into floodwater.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced a five-year, $6.36 million research grant that will launch the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA) program as a research center at ASU within the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory. This partnership with ASU is the next step in an ongoing effort of the Pacific RISA initiative to support communities in the Pacific region in becoming more resilient to the effects of climate change. The team will expand their research, advocacy and action from their home base on the Island of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, leveraging support from the East-West Center, the University of Hawaiʻi Water Resources Research Center, various other stakeholders and now ASU, to address the most pressing regional and community-specific climate challenges.

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HUE partnership with City of Tempe for mobile cooling trailer looks forward to future

September 29, 2021

HUE and the City of Tempe unveiled a new project that will not only serve as a place of shelter from the brutal summer heat in the Valley of the Sun, but offer a place for the unhoused community to connect to resources. The mobile cooling trailer was made possible through the generous donation of local philanthropists, Jenny Norton and Bob Ramsey, and will be staffed by the city’s Homeless Outreach Prevention Effort (HOPE) team. 

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Estimating the cost of plastic pollution interventions

September 24, 2021

Plastic pollution in the oceans is one of the biggest issues we face as a planet.

To identify potential solutions, members of the Conservation Innovation Lab, including PhD student Erin Murphy and CBO founding director Leah Gerber, recently published “A decision framework for estimating the cost of marine plastic pollution interventions”, in Conservation Biology. The paper, published with members of the Plastic Pollution Emissions Working Group, presents a framework for evaluating the net cost of marine plastic pollution interventions. The researchers also applied the framework to two quantitative case studies and four qualitative case studies to explore how context of implementation influenced net costs.

Download the paper here: Murphy et al. 2021

News adapted from Conservation Innovation Lab

Taking steps to solve the problem of phosphorus

September 18, 2021

To address the complex ecological, economic and sociopolitical challenges predicated by the rapidly expanding use of mined phosphorus in agriculture, the National Science Foundation has announced the creation of a major new research center.

The Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability (STEPS) Center brings together an interdisciplinary team of experts to pursue a “25-in-25” vision. They are seeking to reduce human dependence on mined phosphorus by 25% and also to reduce current losses of phosphorus to soil and water resources by 25% within the next 25 years.

Funded by an initial five-year, $25 million grant and headquartered at North Carolina State University, the STEPS Center involves faculty, staff and students from eight other partner institutions across the country, including ASU.

Read more at ASU News.

Sept 22: Book launch and roundtable

September 17, 2021

Join the UREx SRN via Zoom on September 22, 2021, 2pm - 3:30pm Arizona time, for a roundtable discussion and launch of Resilient Urban Futures, a new book exploring the ways in which cities are profoundly impacted by climate change, and strategies for cultivating more resilient futures.

Based on practical experience in participatory visioning in nine Latin American and U.S. cities, the volume provides tools for engaging urban communities in resilience strategies. Authors of this open access volume will discuss urban climate inequity, modeling and communicating the impact of extreme climate and weather, as well as visioning equitable, positive, and resilient futures.

Register and download the book.

UREx Future Cities podcast recognized by ESA

September 17, 2021

FutureCities podcast logoUrban Resilience to Extremes SRN's monthly podcast, Future Cities, has been awarded the Ecological Society of America's "Science Communication in Practice Award." This award is given to ESA members who represent excellence in public engagement and science communication.

Future Cities aims to increase awareness of, and to catalyze action on, urban resilience. The show examines this topic by discussing ongoing research, highlighting current efforts, and sharing stories of resilience in cities across the world. By exploring a wide variety of perspectives, the show digs deep into understanding the many dimensions of resilience and the ways in which cities prepare themselves for the extreme weather events of tomorrow.

The podcast, recently added to NSF's Science Zone Radio, has been downloaded about 15k times in the last year (from listeners across the world), reaching #77 on Apple’s "US Life Sciences Podcast" chart over the summer. Visit the UREx website for more details.

Sala to advise US Global Change Research Program

September 17, 2021

Osvaldo-Sala-Blue-ShirtBy Celina Osuna

In July 2021, Osvaldo Sala, founding director of the Global Drylands Center and Julie A. Wrigley Chair, Regents’ and Foundation Professor, was nominated by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to serve a three-year term on the Committee to Advise the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).

Established by the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the USGCRP is, as stated by their website, “a federal program mandated by Congress to coordinate federal research and investments in understanding the forces shaping the global environment, both human and natural, and their impacts on society.” Every ten years, the 13 different agencies that make up the USGCRP, including NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Science Foundation, develop a strategic plan to help people understand the effects of global change on society.

As a leading ecologist in global change research, Osvaldo Sala has been recognized and nominated as a member of the NASEM Committee that convenes to advise the USGCRP in developing its strategic plan. The committee is composed of 28 experts from across the country representing an array of sectors and disciplines spanning the sciences, engineering, and medicine. It is a forum for interaction between the USGCRP and the relevant scientific communities and other interested parties. The committee also helps to identify issues of importance for the global change research community. In addition to assistance with the strategic plan, the NASEM Committee will also help USGCRP as they produce the 5th National Climate Assessment (NCA5), which is a report submitted to the President and Congress every four years.

Call for applications: Knowledge Exchange for Resilience

September 17, 2021

The mission of the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience is to support Maricopa County, Arizona by sharing knowledge, catalyzing discovery, and exchanging responses to challenges together, in order to build community resilience. Through its 12-month fellowship program, representatives from both the community and university come together to share knowledge, discover gaps or opportunities, and respond to challenges. Fellows conduct individual and collaborative research, meeting weekly for six months, then monthly for the fellowship's remainder. Approximately twelve fellows will be chosen for the 2022 cohort.

Successful academic fellow applicants may be tenure-track or non-tenure-track professors at any level (assistant, associate, or full), scholars with instructor or research appointments, or post-doctoral research associates in any discipline. Eligible applicants may be affiliated with any department, school, or research center across all Arizona State University campuses in Maricopa County.

Applications are due October 15, 2021. Learn more.

Making sense of complexity: A webinar series and explainer video

September 17, 2021

Trying to understand complexity and the concept of Complex Adaptive Systems? Learn from your colleagues in the School of Complex Adaptive Systems, College of Global Futures. Their webinar series, Making Sense of Complexity, launched in Spring 2021 and is published online.

If you want to start with something simpler, here's a basic explainer video published last Spring, featuring Michael Barton explaining complex adaptive systems using examples with which most people are familiar.

Ground-breaking climate program for corporate boards

September 17, 2021

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/vgrenon-1525977/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=1705092">Vincent Grenon</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=1705092">Pixabay</a>With climate issues demanding ever more attention from corporate boards, ASU's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, Thunderbird School of Global Management and the University of Oxford's Saïd Business School have partnered with Competent Boards to launch a new program to help directors navigate the complexities of climate change and its impact on their businesses.

The program is designed to give board members, senior executives, business professionals and investors an in-depth understanding of the fast-evolving threats and opportunities that climate change presents for companies around the world, large and small.

Those who enroll now can complete the 6-module online program before the start of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow on November 1. Read the press release.

Call for Abstracts: 21st Annual IGSC Conference

September 17, 2021

The East-West Center International Graduate Student Conference (IGSC) has an open Call for Abstracts for its 21st annual conference with the theme Reimagining Our Shared Future.

IGSC welcomes abstracts from current graduate students, as well as from young professionals and scholars, who have completed a graduate degree within the past three years.

They are looking for submissions from various fields of study that:

  1. Aim to contribute to the sharing and advancement of the multiple knowledges, epistemologies, and ontologies of the Asia-Pacific region; and
  2. Reimagine theory, practice, and policy for a more just and sustainable shared future.

They also invite artistic expressions that utilize alternative methods for reimagining the world we live in. Learn more and submit your proposal.

ASU research reveals 'weak' replicability of place-based research

September 17, 2021

Senior Global Futures Scientist Wenwen Li is co-author on a new publication shedding light on the challenges and opportunities the scientific community faces in replicating place-based research.

Across the scientific community, the repeated testing of studies has always been central to progress. Reproducing and replicating research not only validates prior findings, but it also validates research methods and data that could then be applied to solve other elusive problems and accelerate future research.

But compared with the scientific fields of physics, chemistry and biology, dialogue around the reproducibility and replicability of research in the social and environmental sciences, like geography, has been largely absent and focused on computation challenges.

In a recent perspective paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Li and lead author Michael Goodchild conduct a novel analysis, shedding new light on the challenges and opportunities the scientific community faces in replicating place-based research.

Read more in ASU News. The abstract follows.

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STACC report released: Status of Tribes and Climate Change

September 17, 2021

Senior Global Futures Scientist Otakuye Conroy-Ben is co-author of a new report convened by the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) Tribes and Climate Change Program and written by the STACC Working Group.

The Status of Tribes and Climate Change (STACC) Report seeks to uplift and honor the voices of Indigenous peoples across the U.S. to increase understanding of Tribal lifeways, cultures, and worldviews,the climate change impacts Tribes are experiencing, the solutions they are implementing, and ways that all of us can support Tribes in adapting to our changing world.

Conroy-Ben's contribution to a chapter on water quality discusses the outlook of Tribal drinking water with respect to regulated and unregulated contaminants.

New findings in the role fish play in balancing coral, algae

September 17, 2021

When people think of coral reefs, images of beautiful colors and structures come to mind. But beyond aesthetic pleasure, coral reefs provide numerous benefits, ranging from food security and coastline protection to their role in coastal traditions and cultures. Although reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean floor, they support about 25% of marine life and earn their nickname: the rainforests of the sea.

A major challenge to reefs today is whether corals can persist under changing climate. One way that climate affects corals is by stimulating the overgrowth of algae that can smother the reef, making life tough for new corals to survive.

To better understand the balance between coral and algae, postdoc Shawna Foo and Global Futures Scientist Greg Asner at Arizona State University’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science explored the role of herbivorous fish in keeping check on one of the main antagonists in coral-algae fight for reef space, known as “turf algae.” Their findings were published on Aug. 9 in Coral Reefs, the Journal of the International Coral Reef Society.

Read more on ASU News. The abstract follows.

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