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‘Catalyst’ Research TV Show Produced by ASU Students Returns to Arizona PBS

February 11, 2019


A prime-time program that explores cutting-edge research at ASU is returning for a second season. Produced by Cronkite School students, the show returns Wednesday, Feb. 13 on Arizona PBS.


“Catalyst,” a program that explores cutting-edge research at Arizona State University and its potential impact on the community, is back for its second season on Arizona PBS.

The program, produced by ASU students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will air Wednesdays at 9 p.m. beginning Feb. 13 on Arizona PBS.

Supported by ASU’s Office of Knowledge and Enterprise Development, the 30-minute show explores interdisciplinary research initiatives happening at the university, including the environment, human behavior, sustainability and urban planning among other topics.

“Catalyst” is hosted by Cronkite Professor of Practice Vanessa Ruiz, a former co-lead anchor for 12 News, the NBC affiliate in Phoenix.

“Every episode, we are visiting different locations throughout the Valley, exploring these incredible research and technology breakthroughs,” she said. “Our viewers have already made it clear how much they love the show, and I can’t wait to show them what we have in store with these new episodes.”

Cronkite students work under the direction of Professor of Practice Steve Filmer, an award-winning television producer whose credits include “ABC World News Tonight” and “Good Morning America.” Under his guidance, students receive hands-on experiences in research, storytelling, videography, editing, writing and production.

Students at the Cronkite School, the home of Arizona PBS, began working on Season 2 as part of the school’s professional immersion program. The Cronkite School has more than a dozen professional programs in which students work in professional settings under the guidance of faculty.

Filmer said this season will feature more segments with Ruiz and researchers on location. “You'll be seeing more of our scientists and researchers out of the lab and into the world,” he said.

Segments include ASU School of Life Sciences researchers who visited the Phoenix Zoo to study cancer rates among larger animals, as well as an ASU molecular biologist who went to the Barrett-Jackson auto auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, to draw a connection between “biological engines” and cars.

Another segment features ASU students from the School of Music and the School of Arts, Media and Engineering who collaborated with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to map movements and sounds of animals and their habitats to help local government agencies during construction projects.

Additionally, students from the School of Music and the Arts, part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, created a new musical score for the show opening as well as various episode segments.

Cronkite School Dean and Arizona PBS CEO Christopher Callahan said the show supports the station’s mission of promoting lifelong learning, while also providing real-world experiences for Cronkite students.

“‘Catalyst’ showcases the exciting research happening at the country’s most innovative university,” Callahan said. “To have students from across ASU collaborating on this program exemplifies the unparalleled experiences offered at this university.”