It was a year of big headlines for both the nation and Arizona State University. As the world has been faced with new challenges — and opportunities for new solutions — ASU has found innovative ways to help the communities it serves.

The university’s faculty, staff and students have made advancements in health, space exploration, robotics and more, all while expanding access to education and extending compassion to others.

Here are some of the top stories from 2016.


From shooting stars to shooting hoops, ASU researchers were in on some big finds.

Tracking down the Arizona fireball

This summer, a chunk of rock the size of a VW Beetle hurtled into the atmosphere and broke apart. Soon one of ASU’s top meteorite experts was off on a team expedition searching for pieces — after three nights of searching, they were successful.

ASU researcher creates system to control robots with the brain

The director of the Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Lab, Panagiotis Artemiadis, discovered how to handle multiple drones using the human brain.

The case of the missing craters

Associate research professor David Williams was on a team for a NASA mission that explored the dwarf planet Ceres, which orbits in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. He helped pinpoint a lack of big craters, leading to a new model for Ceres’ evolution.

ASU robot teaches itself how to shoot hoops — in a matter of hours

Plenty of machines can shoot hoops, but this ASU robot taught itself to play ball in a matter of hours. Meet the amazing, two-armed, self-taught, hoop-shooting basketball bot called Sun Devil.

ASU team first to prove Uber eases traffic congestion

Uber has provoked great debate over its effects, but research from the W. P. Carey School showed that when the nation’s largest ride-sharing service enters an urban market, it reduces traffic congestion for all drivers.


ASU faculty and staff found real-world ways to solve today’s challenges and prepare for tomorrow’s.

Scientists reveal low-cost test for Zika

Hoping to slow the advance of the Zika virus, researchers from the Wyss Institute and ASU developed a low-cost, practical diagnostic that can be easily administered — even in areas where resources and medical expertise are scarce.

The healing effects of yoga

ASU associate professor Jennifer Huberty and her team are studying the effects of yoga on the stress and grief experienced by women who’ve gone through a stillbirth, and the results are promising. She also hopes to examine yoga’s recuperative powers on those with a rare blood cancer.

Cyber stars at ASU

With more than 200,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs — and an estimate of up to 1 million vacancies by the year 2020 — ASU has established the Cybersecurity Education Consortium to address the growing talent gap in the sector.

The future of water in the Southwest

A three-part series examined the work that ASU is doing in the realm of water as a resource in the arid West.

Mayo Clinic ASU alliance seeks to transform health care

A partnership between ASU and the Mayo Clinic aims to transform medical education and health care in the U.S., helping doctors reduce costs, simplify the system and save more lives.


A sprawling, forgotten building turned into bustling art studios; a tiny satellite turned space exploration on its ear; an uber-popular game turned into a teaching tool — these are just a few ways that the ASU community took an innovative approach to the world.

Dance legend Liz Lerman joins ASU

Liz Lerman — choreographer, author, educator and 2002 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship recipient — joined the ASU faculty at the beginning of the spring 2016 semester.

This guy? He knows people

As subtly as the shift in a gravitational wave, the universe changed. Lawrence Krauss’ Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath number became the lowest in history, placing him ahead of Stephen Hawking, Thomas Edison and Fred Rogers.

The next big thing in space is really, really small

Going into space is now within your grasp. A tiny spacecraft developed at ASU is breaking the barrier of launch cost, making the price of conducting a space mission radically cheaper.

Teaching geography with Pokémon GO

An ASU professor created an education tool that leverages Pokémon Go to improve elementary school students’ geography, math and language skills.

From ‘bulldozer bait’ to a beehive of artistic activity

Once destined to become rubble, the 100-year-old Grant Street Studios structure in downtown Phoenix now serves as the state-of-the-art center of activity and production for graduate programs in ASU’s School of Art.


From student startups to a journalism “teaching hospital” with Google News Lab, ASU’s entrepreneurial spirit thrived.

Filling a huge English-learning need

W. P. Carey School students created a LetsChat app to connect native English speakers with English-language learners in China. The project won $50,000 in the Igniter Challenge competition.

ASU launches partnership to pilot learning tech on campuses

A new initiative — the ASU Draper GSV Accelerator — will help get education technology to the market faster by allowing new ventures to be tested by students and faculty.

Cronkite School teams up with Google News Lab

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication teamed up with Google News Lab to help test new tools and training and encourage their use throughout journalism education.

7 reasons ASU named the ‘Entrepreneurial University’

ASU won the Entrepreneurial University Award at the Deshpande Symposium for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education.

ASU moves up in global patent ranking

ASU ranked 38th among worldwide institutions in earning utility patents, according to the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

Global Engagement

ASU welcomes the global community into its halls and classrooms — the university was recognized as the top public university in the country for international students. The school also sends its scholars around the world to help, study and grow understanding.

ASU top US producer of Fulbright scholars

ASU was the top U.S. producer of Fulbright scholars among peer universities, with 10 faculty members receiving the prestigious honor in 2015–16. ASU also ranked fifth among research institutions in the number of student winners, with 22.

Thunderbird at 70: Rebirth and rediscovery

The Thunderbird School of Global Management marked its 70th anniversary as an international business school. CEO Allen Morrison said its new partnership with ASU has given Thunderbird a chance at rebirth and rediscovery.

Obama highlights ASU during trip to Vietnam

President Barack Obama, during a visit to Vietnam, spoke of ASU’s efforts in that country to improve education in science and engineering.

ASU professor leads audiology team to Malawi

Ingrid McBride, an ASU audiology professor, has traveled to Malawi in southeast Africa for the last six years to address what she calls a “tremendous” need for medical professionals who can help people suffering from hearing problems.

ASU lab digs deep into ancient city’s past

Our three-part series on ASU’s Teotihuacan Research Laboratory in San Juan Teotihuacan, Mexico, told a story about people who once lived in one of the greatest cities of the ancient world — and the people who study them.

ASU takes top spot for international students

ASU maintained its position as the top-ranked public research institution for international scholars and moved up to №3 overall for a college or university, according a 2016 Open Doors Report.

Arizona Impact

Part of ASU’s charter is assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves. Faculty, students and staff embody that.

ASU’s innovation is a benefit for society

In his annual address, ASU President Michael M. Crow said that Arizona State University’s innovative mindset requires collaboration and purpose, and it is driven by a responsibility to the community.

How to turn a stadium into a year-round cultural hub

A team of five graduate students has come up with a plan to create a year-round cultural hub in Sun Devil Stadium that draws people of all ages every day of the week.

Center for Law and Society stands for inclusion

The Beus Center for Law and Society opened this summer with a focus of connecting the community, as much as students, to justice. It will house the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law as well as several public services.

ASU helping community at landmark Westward Ho

This year marked the grand opening of the Collaboratory on Central, a teaching clinic for the various colleges and disciplines represented on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, including nursing, nutrition, nonprofit and social work.

Helping sustain the future of dates

The Polytechnic date palm grove is one of the most genetically diverse collections in the Western Hemisphere. See scenes from this year’s harvest, view an easy and healthful way to use dates, and learn more about the history of “nature’s candy.”

ASU strengthens Tucson

ASU’s School of Social Work program based in Tucson fills a void in the community and includes interns who work with local police. Graduates work at shelters, drug-rehabilitation centers, family-services clinics, schools and hospitals.

Sun Devil Life

The university celebrated icons both historical (Palm Walk turning 100) and new (Michael Phelps).

Phelps looks to life outside the pool at ASU

Arizona’s blue skies and sunshine have been a tonic for Michael Phelps, who has been training at ASU since last summer. He followed his longtime coach, Bob Bowman, who is in his first season as head coach of the Sun Devils swim teams.

Palm Walk: A tale of trees, death, rebirth and mystery

ASU’s iconic Palm Walk turned 100 this year. And as the palms near the end of their natural lifespans, they have slowly started to be replaced, so we took a look at the trees’ past as we prepare for their future.

Fork ’em over in Rio

ASU was well represented at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro — 27 Sun Devils went, representing 15 countries in nine sports.

Celebrating 20 years of hands-on learning at Polytechnic

Twenty years ago, the birth of ASU’s Polytechnic campus was wrought with determination, trepidation — and a shoestring budget. From that beginning on a former military base grew what’s now called ASU’s “maker” campus.

ASU News

As ASU drew accolades ranging from ranking in the top 10 for graduate employability to being named the nation’s most innovative university for the second consecutive year, it also drew some brilliant minds and doubled its number of Nobel laureates.

ASU ranks in the top 100 most prestigious universities worldwide

ASU was recognized as one of the top 100 most prestigious universities in the world by Times Higher Education, the world’s largest invitation-only academic opinion survey.

Drawing the brightest minds to ASU

With the addition of two more Nobel winners this year, the university now claims a quartet of the world’s highest academic honorees.

ASU partnership to help students pay for college

ASU is partnering with a nonprofit organization and PayPal in a program that will provide students jobs as well as tuition assistance based on their grades.

ASU selected nation’s most innovative school for second straight year

For the second consecutive year, Arizona State University is the nation’s most innovative school, according to U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Employers place ASU in top 10 for graduate employability

ASU has been ranked in the top 10 in the nation for graduate employability, according to the Global University Employability Survey 2016.

Originally published at on December 21, 2016.

Official Medium account of ASU. № 1 in innovation. Top 10 of all universities worldwide for U.S. patents awarded. Find more ASU news at asunow.

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