Page 1

advancing research, innovation, entrepreneurship, strategic partnerships and economic development at ASU, in Arizona and globally

20 17 Year in review

ASUresearchmatters ASUResearch

ASU excellence ASU is one of the fastest-growing research enterprises among universities with more than $100 million in research expenditures. ASU research expenditures

$546.5M $600  M $500 M $400 M $300 M $200 M $100 M ‘02
















Rankings by research expenditures*


for total research expenditures among institutions without a medical school


for anthropology, ahead of University of Michigan, Harvard and Stanford


for geological and earth sciences, ahead of Stanford, MIT and Penn State


for social sciences, ahead of Berkeley, Cornell, UCLA and Penn


for humanities, ahead of Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Columbia


for transdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and other sciences, ahead of MIT and Carnegie Mellon


for political science, ahead of Berkeley, Penn State and Duke


for electrical engineering, ahead of Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and MIT


for for HHS-funded (including NIHfunded) expenditures among institutions without a medical school, ahead of Princeton, Georgia Tech and Carnegie Mellon

9 2 4 5 9

1 4 4 7



for NASA-funded expenditures, ahead of Stanford, Georgia Tech and UCLA

*National Science Foundation HERD Survey 2016

2017 accomplishments

14 7

NSF Early Career Development Program (CAREER) awards



among all university recipients

faculty members elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)


total AAAS fellows at ASU

In 2017, ASU became the first U.S. university to achieve ISO 9001:2015 certification for its research operations. ISO 9001 is the world’s most widely recognized quality management standard. Our certification:

• ensures that we provide the highest-

quality service to our researchers, with an emphasis on consistency and efficiency

• helps us save time and resources through more efficient ways of working

• improves decision-making and risk management

• creates a culture of

continual improvement

New tools to fight deadly diseases Early detection of disease can vastly improve our ability to treat it effectively and also prevent its spread. Researchers at ASU are tackling some of the most difficult-to-diagnose diseases in the hopes of getting treatment to those who need it faster. Researchers in the Biodesign Institute identified a biomarker that can detect pancreatic cancer in its earliest stages. Because it is so hard to detect, eighty percent of patients currently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will die within the first year. Biodesign researchers also developed the world’s fastest and most accurate blood test for tuberculosis. The test can provide results in a few hours rather than up to the two weeks currently required. ASU and Mayo Clinic researchers have partnered to create a test for detecting Valley fever more quickly and efficiently. Current tests look for antibodies that can take weeks or months to develop after exposure, so the researchers are focusing on detecting the fungus that causes Valley fever instead. ASU researchers have developed a technology to turn smartphones into lowcost, mobile microscopes. These dark-field, mobile microscopes can be used at clinics and hospitals that are on the front lines of triaging outbreaks around the world, making health care diagnostics more affordable to limited-resource areas, particularly in the developing world.

ASU researchers are also approaching treatments from new perspectives for enhanced effectiveness. The world’s first plant-based Zika vaccine, developed at ASU, could be more potent, safer and cheaper to produce than any other efforts to date. The new vaccine conferred 100 percent protection against multiple Zika virus strains in mice.

An ASU-led team is exploring autism treatments that improve the gut microbiome through fecal microbial transplants. Early research showed an 80 percent improvement of gastrointestinal symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders and 20-25 percent improvement in autism behaviors, including improved social skills and better sleep habits.

Where no university has gone before In 2017, ASU made great strides in furthering our understanding of the universe. The university joined an international consortium of 11 other institutes and universities to build the largest telescope to date. The Giant Magellan Telescope, the first in a new generation of “extremely large telescopes,” will give researchers a closer look at the first stars and galaxies and provide an understanding of planets outside our own solar system — including ones that could support life. But ASU researchers are already peering into the depths of space, such as the ASU astronomers who discovered 23 young galaxies. Their findings, published in the Astrophysical Journal, will help researchers pinpoint when the first stars and galaxies began to illuminate the universe. An ASU astronomer played a key role in the first observation of a gravitational wave source. Two neutron stars merged in a titanic explosion that blew out a burst of gravitational waves and gamma rays. The research team captured the flash, pinpointed the source and helped determine what happened. Here in our own stellar neighborhood, ASU is participating in more than a dozen NASA-funded missions. Among these, ASU is leading the journey to Psyche, an asteroid that appears to be the exposed nickeliron core of an early planet. A total of $480 million was awarded for the project, which will launch in 2022 and could provide a unique look into the violent collisions that created Earth and the terrestrial planets. ASU faculty will also play key roles on the Southwest Research Institute’s Lucy mission, which will investigate a swarm of primitive asteroids near Jupiter. Launching in 2021, Lucy will carry an instrument designed and built at ASU to measure asteroid surface temperatures and physical properties.

A outlook for solar tech tech Abright bright outlook for solar ASU is at the forefront of renewable energy research, pioneering new advancements and novel solutions every day. Our commitment to clean energy is evidenced by the scores of solar panels spread across our campuses, as well as the sizable investment in energy research. In 2017, ASU researchers earned six SunShot awards from the U.S. Department of Energy, which recognize and support the development of new and improved commercial photovoltaic technologies. This places ASU as No. 1 for the number of awards received in the Photovoltaics Research category for the second consecutive year. Engineers from ASU, working with scientists from Stanford, created a new, high-performance solar cell comprised of two materials stacked together. The tandem solar cell captures different wavelengths of light, boosting sunlight-to-energy efficiency to record-breaking levels for cells of its type. In addition to engineering novel approaches, ASU researchers have taken us one step closer to unlocking the secrets of photosynthesis, and possibly to cleaner fuels. Their discoveries solved the mystery of how a simple, soil-dwelling bacterium harvests energy even under severe, low light conditions. This may also lay the groundwork for higher-efficiency, organicbased solar panel design.

Research on the safe side The Department of Homeland Security awarded ASU $20 million to lead its latest Center of Excellence. Researchers will build data analytics, economic analysis and management systems to improve effectiveness of DHS organizations, such as the Transportation Security Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Customs and Border Protection. An ASU engineer is developing technology to keep our data safe and secure by using the electrical activity of heartbeats and other unique biometrics as authenticators.

Do you ever feel distracted or sleepy behind the wheel? Researchers at ASU are developing an artificial intelligence that can learn your driving habits and provide assistance in unsafe situations. This automated co-pilot could take control and drive to safety in an emergency.

Tech transfer ASU catapulted to No. 21 in the new Milken Institute tech transfer rankings, up from No. 43 in 2006, the last time the report was issued. ASU now ranks ahead of Harvard, USC, Duke and Johns Hopkins University. In FY 2017, ASU innovators:

• • • •

received 84 U.S. patents launched 15 startup companies* submitted 277 invention disclosures executed 97 licenses and options

More than 110 companies have been launched based on ASU innovations and have attracted more than $670 million in external funding. More than 500 people are employed at ASU-linked startups.

*based on ASU-owned or co-owned intellectual property (does not include independent student and alumni startups)

ASU making a difference Easing fears about a volcanic apocalypse ASU research can help you...

After ASU research showed that conditions for an eruption could develop much faster than expected, news articles began predicting doom and gloom from the supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park. But according to ASU geologist Christy Till, not only is the volcano closely monitored, but there are no signs of imminent eruption. “I am here to tell you, you can sleep soundly tonight. Not all eruptions at volcanoes like Yellowstone are super-sized. In fact, most of the eruptions in Yellowstone’s history have been pretty small. So it is much more likely that the volcano would have a small eruption should it kick into gear again,” she says.

Staying healthier on planes Factors like plane size and boarding method can have a huge impact on infection rates when traveling. The ASU team that announced these findings has proposed outbreakreducing strategies to the government and airlines. In the meantime, try to pick smaller planes for your travel.

Making an informed investment A big data crunch from a professor of finance revealed that Wall Street’s supposed “weekend effect” — a slump in stocks on Mondays — actually disappeared in 1975.

Cleaning your hands and the environment In September 2017, the Food and Drug Administration implemented a ban on the prevalent antimicrobials triclosan and triclocarban in consumer goods. The ban was informed in part by more than a decade of research from ASU’s Biodesign Institute, which concluded that the chemicals are ineffective and pose risks to human health and the environment by contaminating air, soil and water.

Blocking bullying at the source An interdisciplinary effort created BullyBlocker, an anti-cyberbullying app that combs through social media profiles for keywords or phrases that could indicate bullying and alerts parents or guardians.

Celebrating literary bicentennials with new books 2018 marks the bicentennial of “Frankenstein,” Mary Shelley’s novel exploring the societal consequences of scientific endeavors. As part of ASU’s celebration, three faculty members have edited a new edition of the book annotated for scientists, engineers and creators of all kinds. And ASU’s Devoney Looser published “The Making of Jane Austen,” shedding new light on the author’s posthumous rise to fame in the 200 years since she died.

Helping mom make the best decisions for her Are mothers happier working or staying home with the kids? Research from an ASU psychologist indicates that there’s no right answer — it’s wholly dependent on mom’s preference. If her choice aligns with what she wants, well-being soars.

Planning safer cities Knowing the lay of the land is crucial for first responders during emergencies and for civic planners making decisions that direct a city’s future. An ASU geophysicist created special maps for Houston and Miami showing areas at greatest risk for storm flooding.

Entrepreneurship ASU was awarded $4.6 million in grant funding to advance entrepreneurship programs from organizations such as Cisco Systems Inc., Clinton Global Initiative, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the National Science Foundation, Verizon Foundation and the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The Kauffman Foundation’s Inclusion Challenge, a new initiative to welcome more women and underrepresented minorities into entrepreneurship, completed its first year at ASU. The program wrapped up with 14 participants receiving seed grants — four from the university and 10 from the local community. The challenge, supported by a $245,000 grant, will continue in 2018 with six new programs. In partnership with the city of Phoenix, ASU’s Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN) created the RISN Incubator, a niche business accelerator geared toward waste-to-product entrepreneurs with the goal of promoting and propelling a circular economy in the Phoenix area. Part of ASU’s Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, the RISN Incubator is supported in part by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and ASU Entrepreneurship and Innovation (E+I).

Kudos for Bravo Bravo, a payment and tipping app created by Phoenix couple Maria Luna and Hector Rodriguez and incubated within ASU E+I’s Venture Devils program, scored big on ABC’s Shark Tank. The duo impressed judges and brought home $150,000 in investment money.

One man’s trash, another man’s building material Trash Zero, a waste-to-product company, began working with ASU faculty and labs on Re-crete, a fillable concrete slurry created using recycled materials.

International Development ASU was awarded more than $8 million in 2017 for projects that tap the knowledge and imagination of faculty and students to improve life in developing countries, including $5 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development to modernize teacher education in the West Bank and $3 million from the U.S. State Department to help Pakistan graduate better-skilled lawyers. The university commits comprehensively to its partners. The West Bank project is ASU’s third there, following on Empower Kids Palestine, a science curriculum program, and Next Generation Leaders, which trained ministry officials and school principals. In Pakistan, ASU has three additional initiatives, engaging humanities faculty, journalists and — in a $20 million project — energy engineering faculty in two universities. And ASU is reinventing the role that universities play in international development. On the thought-leadership level, ASU is the only university seated on the boards of the field’s most influential associations, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and the Society for International Development.

On the ground in emerging countries, ASU is revolutionizing the research-to-practice pipeline through Solutions Labs, in which ASU researchers partner with practitioners to create new approaches to development challenges. For instance, in 2017 the Frontier Economies Logistics Lab began developing online game-style simulations for training supply chain operators in Ghana. The Global Impact Collaboratory demonstrated innovative data collection methods in Haiti and Mozambique. ASU students stepped up through the Student Development Corps, contributing their talent and energy to research and action projects in the U.S. and overseas.

Partnerships Fortune 1000 company Benchmark Electronics decided to move its corporate headquarters from Angleton, Texas, to Tempe, Arizona, motivated by proximity to ASU’s resources, talent pipeline and expertise. The company broke ground on its new headquarters in November. In June, ASU and adidas announced the Global Sport Alliance, a strategic partnership aimed at shaping the future of sport and amplifying sport’s positive impact on society. Far beyond a traditional athletic partnership, the Global Sport Alliance brings together education, athletics, research and innovation to explore topics including diversity, race, sustainability and human potential, all through the lens of sport.

ASU leverages the strengths of clinical partners in education, research and innovation to improve patient care and enhance patient outcomes through a sustainable health ecosystem.

Mayo Clinic Dignity Health Banner Health Phoenix Children’s Hospital HonorHealth Barrow Neurological Institute Maricopa Integrated Health System Mountain Park Health Center Steward Health Care

Through the Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University Alliance for Health Care, ASU has integrated the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine through dual-degree programs and a jointly developed curriculum in the Science of Health Care Delivery. ASU has also deepened interactions between faculty through adjunct appointments and novel programs to expand research and clinical capabilities. ASU focuses on innovation through programs such as the MedTech Accelerator, hosting a Payment Reform Summit to inform health care policymakers, and planning a 150,000-square-foot Health Solutions Innovation Center adjacent to the Mayo Clinic Hospital. Dignity Health and ASU launched a strategic initiatives program to advance research and education in key programmatic areas like population health, educating a prepared health care workforce and building a healthy clinical workforce.

Year in Review 2017  
Year in Review 2017