Arntzen Grand Challenges Lecture Series

The Arntzen Grand Challenges Lecture series is inspired by Dr. Charles (Charlie) Arntzen, Founding Director of the ASU Biodesign Institute. Dr. Arntzen is internationally recognized for his novel applied research on the development of genetic strategies for using plants to manufacture pharmaceuticals and produce cost-effective vaccines or drugs to save lives around the world, especially in developing nations.

The Biodesign Institute seeks nature-inspired solutions to grand challenges in health, security and sustainability for global impact.


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Recent lecture:

COVID-19 and the 2021 Global Supply Chain Crisis

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 at 5 p.m. | Biodesign B Auditorium

Zachary S. Rogers

Zachary S. Rogers, PhD

Assistant Professor, Operations and Supply Chain Management, Colorado State University 

For years, global supply chains expanded and became increasingly complex in a quest to make shipping goods and services around the globe cheaper and faster. COVID-19 threw these finely tuned systems into tail-spin, making it difficult to find everything from toilet paper to pickup trucks. This disruption was not the first, nor will it be the last - but it has led to new ways of thinking that may lead to significant changes in the coming decades. There will be great change, but also great opportunity for innovation and connection. Zachary Rogers will share what's next and how it will impact your life, availability of everyday goods, personal data and the world economy.

Available on demand here.


Past lectures:

Understanding and combatting the pandemic coronavirus

Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020 at 6 p.m. | virtual |  Replay now

Britt Glaunsinger

Britt Glaunsinger, PhD

Professor, Departments of Plant & Microbial Biology and Molecular & Cellular Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Class of 1963 Endowed Chair, University of California, Berkeley
HHMI Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute 

The coronavirus pandemic has upended society and dramatically changed the face of scientific research. This unprecedented global shift towards the singular goal of understanding how this novel coronavirus works and how to stop it has contributed to a remarkably rapid and deep understanding of the viral lifecycle. In this context, Glaunsinger will describe the latest findings on how SARS-CoV-2 slips past our cells’ barriers, hijacks the cellular machinery, is amplified to form new progeny virions and escapes detection by the immune system. Glaunsinger will also highlight the viral components that are targets for therapeutic interventions and vaccine design, whose degrees of success may ultimately define the duration of this pandemic.

Questions and answer session to follow.


The Deep Learning Revolution

Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019  |  Marston Exploration Theater  |   5 p.m.

Terry Sejnowski

Terrence J. Sejnowski, PhD

Francis Crick Professor, Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Director, Institute for Neural Computation and Professor of Biology, Computer Science and Engineering, University of California, San Diego

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of engineering that has traditionally ignored brains, but recent advances in biologically inspired deep learning have dramatically changed AI and made it possible to solve difficult problems in vision, speech planning and natural language. If you talk to Alexa or use Google Translate, you have experienced deep learning in action. This lecture will explore the past, present and future of deep learning. 

The Arntzen Grand Challenges Lecture Series is made possible through a fund that supports an annual visiting scientific leader who will present his or her work of global impact, connect with ASU scientists, share ideas with students and engage with our local community. Give a gift today.


Programmable Genome Engineering Using CRISPR Technology

Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018  |  Marston Exploration Theater  |   4 p.m.

Samuel Sternberg

Samuel Sternberg, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Columbia University

Few discoveries transform a discipline overnight, but scientists today can manipulate cells in ways hardly imaginable before, thanks to a peculiar form of adaptive immunity mediated by Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR). From elegant studies that deciphered how these immune systems function in bacteria, researchers quickly uncovered the technological potential of Cas9, an RNA-guided DNA-cleaving enzyme, for genome engineering. Today, this core capability is being harnessed for a wide variety of ambitious applications, including human therapeutics, agricultural improvement, and the elimination of certain infectious diseases. Sternberg will describe the discovery and basic function of CRISPR technology and highlight recent advances in our understanding of CRISPR biology, which continue to inspire exciting technological innovation.