Arizona State University has become widely recognized as one of the most innovative universities in the nation, and the establishment of the Glaunsinger Innovation Award by William and Lorna Glaunsinger in 2019 further reinforced that reputation.
The award is given to a graduate student, or a team of graduate students, in the School of Molecular Sciences for excellence in achieving the school’s mission of discovering molecular-level solutions to real-world challenges through the development of research ideas, methodologies or inventions and entrepreneurship. Bill Glaunsinger presenting the inaugural SMS Innovation Award to David Ciota with SMS Director Neal Woodbury. Bill Glaunsinger (left) presenting the inaugural School of Molecular Science Innovation Award to David Ciota (middle) with School of Molecular Science Director Neal Woodbury (right) at A 2019 award ceremony. Photo by Mary Zhu/School of Molecular Science Download Full Image
It includes a commemorative plaque, a grant to support further near-term development and access to expert entrepreneurial assistance and potential additional financial support after evaluation by SkySong, The ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center.
Thanks to a recent generous gift from the Glausingers to the ASU Foundation, the award has been funded in perpetuity.
William Glausinger chaired the ASU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry from 1986 to 1989. During his time as a faculty member at ASU, he supervised several research facilities, directed industry-university cooperative programs and founded ASU’s first high-technology, venture capital-funded corporation.
Most recently, Glausinger served the ASU Emeritus College as assistant dean of sciences and professions. As a faculty member, he published over 140 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He has eight patents in chemical micro-sensor technology based on 43 inventions. Glausinger received numerous awards throughout his academic career, including the first Outstanding Teaching Award in the Department of Chemistry at ASU, the ASU Distinguished Research and Creativity Award, the national Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Technology, and the International Scientist of the Year Award for outstanding contributions to the field of solid-state science.
“The germ of the idea for this award came from my prior inventions at ASU as a faculty member and later on with my involvement with ISEF (Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair), where many of the most creative high school students in the world display their inventions,” Glausinger said. “My primary motivation for establishing the SMS Innovation Award was to formally recognize significant inventions made by graduate students at this early stage of their careers and to provide a pathway for their further development via ASU’s SkySong Innovation Center.”
Glaunsinger added, “I think what sets this award apart from other graduate-level awards at ASU, as well as at other universities, is the emphasis on innovation and providing a viable mechanism for further development of the invention.”
There have been four Glausinger Innovation Award recipients to date: David Ciota in 2019 for the sustainable synthesis of nano-structured transition metal oxides; Swarup Dey in 2020 for rapid, inexpensive methodology for liquid biopsy-based cancer diagnostics; Nghi Nguyen in 2021 for converting carbon dioxide to fuels using sunlight and molecular-modified semiconductors; and Thu Thao Nguyen in 2022 for developing a catalyst that provides a sustainable and efficient method to produce semiconductor coatings.
MORE: ASU grad student wins Innovation Award for sustainable semiconductor coating process
“Their projects emphasize environmental sustainability and preserving human health,” Glaunsinger said. “In this regard, they are doing an admirable job of fulfilling the SMS mission. I have been very impressed with the research accomplishments of all of the awardees and hope that this award will help encourage these as well as future graduate students to continue to pursue their inventions.”
William and Lorna Glaunsinger continue to support innovation in a variety of venues. They have taught several courses on energy and the environment to high school teachers nationwide. They also served as judging chairs for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix in 2005, 2013, 2016 and 2019. They were members of the Local Arrangements Committee responsible for volunteer recruitment, public outreach and providing an enduring legacy to science education in Arizona. They also served on an international judge advisory committee responsible for making improvements in the judging process. 
William Glausinger recently received an inaugural Innovation Award from the Association of Retiree Organizations in Higher Education for the successful development of a science fair mentoring program for Arizona high school students who have been selected to attend ISEF. 
Science writer, School of Molecular Sciences
This summer, Arizona State University’s School of Molecular Sciences provided in-person instruction to a record number of 540 enrolled online students, who took laboratory courses in organic chemistry, biochemistry and analytical chemistry in a specially designed, condensed and immersive format.These courses give students the hands-on experience with laboratory equipment and procedures they need …
This summer, Arizona State University’s School of Molecular Sciences provided in-person instruction to a record number of 540 enrolled online students, who took laboratory courses in organic chemistry, biochemistry and analytical chemistry in a specially designed, condensed and immersive format.
These courses give students the hands-on experience with laboratory equipment and procedures they need for their careers.
“I am applying to medical schools, and one of the first things they ask me is whether I have research experience and have been in a lab and done my own experiments,” said Febronya Oraha, a pre-medical student. 
Biomedical sciences major Erica Williams echoed that sentiment.
“Medical schools and graduate schools want to see hands-on lab experience, so this program will strengthen my applications,” she said.
“We started these labs in 2018 with two courses and around 50 students, but we knew even then that the challenge would be whether we could successfully scale the programs,” said Ian Gould, School of Molecular Sciences professor and associate dean of online and digital innovation in the school. “We now have six courses, serve 10 times as many students, and we are looking forward to next summer, which will be even bigger.”
In addition to the original General Organic Chemistry Lab courses, the offerings now include Elementary Organic Chemistry Lab, Elementary Biochemistry Lab, Analytical Biochemistry Lab and Analytical Chemistry Lab. Together with a new Elementary Physical Chemistry Lab course that allows students remote control operation of instrumentation and experiments, online students now have access to a wide range of hands-on chemistry and biochemistry experiences.
Many students were also part of ASU’s corporate partnership programs, including Starbucks, LabCorp and Uber.
The labs serve students from a wide range of disciplines, including molecular science, biological sciences, forensic science, justice studies, business and psychology.
This summer, ASU’s School of Molecular Sciences provided in-person instruction to a record number of 540 enrolled online students, who took laboratory courses in organic chemistry, biochemistry and analytical chemistry in a specially designed, condensed and immersive format. Photo courtesy School of Molecular Sciences
Students seeking online degrees often work full time and need to use vacation time to attend; however, most agree the in-person experience is worth the time and expense.
“The condensed lab format has been both hectic and enjoyable,” said Michael Mazzitello, a supervisor at a nuclear power plant in Minnesota. “Coming here was an investment, but it is well worth it. My experience will allow me to meld theoretical knowledge to practical experience and learning. I will apply what I’ve learned here to my job.”
“The labs allow me to apply what we’ve learned online in actual practice,” said Stephanie Sutton, a biochemistry student from Anaheim, California, and a Starbucks scholar. “You can’t be a scientist without doing scientific experiments.”
In addition to the lab experience, the online students say they also enjoy the benefits of meeting and networking with their peers and ASU faculty, who up until then they knew only virtually.
“I’ve had a blast since I’ve been here; I’ve connected with so many people. It’s really cool to see my professors in person as well,” biochemistry major Noah Hogan said.
MORE: ASU Online students’ startup organization grows to become one of largest university clubs
“I enjoyed interacting with such a diverse group of students during the summer labs this year,” said Orenda Griffin, manager of online programs in the School of Molecular Sciences. “Assisting students with this unique opportunity to live out their dreams of becoming a scientist is so rewarding. Observing students make their Sun Devil experience real and meaningful while here on campus is truly a privilege.
“The nontraditional approach of allowing online students to conduct experiments in person is one of the foremost reasons I love managing the online programs in the School of Molecular Sciences.”
Bryan Lozada, from Gilbert, Arizona, says he is looking forward to a career in pharmacology.
“Almost everything I’m doing here, whether using a micropipette or other lab equipment, and learning how to conduct myself safely and professionally in a lab, is something I will need in my career. I work full time, and I would not have been able to graduate without ASU Online,” he said.
See more photos from the summer lab and learn more about school’s online programs.
Get to know past online students and learn about their experience in the video below:

Video of The School of Molecular Sciences Respects its Online Students

Top photo: Undergraduate students Sadie Grossman (left) and Leah Hendley in the Organic Chemistry lab course, summer 2022. Photo courtesy Mary Zhu/SMS
Science writer, School of Molecular Sciences
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