Our work

Knowledge Enterprise empowers faculty, staff and students to conduct research and create solutions for the world’s most pressing challenges.

We’re changing the way the world solves problems

From rising global temperatures to opioid addiction, emerging diseases to disinformation — the biggest challenges we face are complex, interdependent and daunting. The approaches we have used in the past are insufficient. That is why at ASU, the No. 1 university for innovation, we seek to fundamentally change the way the world solves problems.

We have structured our academic and research units to focus on challenge areas rather than traditional academic disciplines. We measure our success not by whom we exclude, but by whom we include and how they succeed. We convene the best teams — inside and outside the university — to approach challenges holistically. We empower an entrepreneurial mindset among students, faculty and staff across all disciplines and units. And we accelerate discoveries and inventions into the marketplace, at scale.

Focus areas

ASU faculty, staff and students explore hundreds of research topics, with a particular emphasis on areas of greatest societal need. The following are a few of our current focus areas.

Human health

Researchers across ASU take a multifaceted approach to health and well-being that involves developing new diagnostics and therapies, improving health care delivery, understanding prevention, and ensuring equitable access to care. ASU Innovation Zones dedicated to biosciences and health futures provide hubs for ASU’s many partnerships with clinical organizations across Arizona.

ASU Health
Health centers and institutes


Advances in the semiconductor industry over the past half century have made electronic devices smaller, faster and more reliable. Today almost every industry depends on microelectronics, but only a tiny fraction are produced in the U.S. — leaving us vulnerable to threats to security and supply chain. ASU is working with industry and government partners to reestablish America’s capacity for domestic microelectronics and semiconductor manufacturing and innovation.

Microelectronics at ASU

Planetary health

Since 2004, ASU has pioneered sustainability efforts — launching the nation’s first school of sustainability, deploying the largest university solar energy portfolio in the U.S. and more. The Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory is the next step in our continual evolution. It represents the urgent belief that we can and must make a meaningful contribution to ensuring a habitable planet and a future in which well-being is attainable.

Global Futures Laboratory

Scientist holds drone

National security

U.S. leadership is central to national security, and advancements in dual-use technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing are changing the landscape. ASU is on the forefront of critical technology areas that will define the next decade, such as AI and human teaming and novel approaches to securing software and systems.

Global Security Initiative

Space exploration

ASU has been exploring beyond our home planet since the early days of the Space Race, and is involved in over 25 active space missions today. The only university to serve as an executive member of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, ASU is connecting industry, government and academia for the next evolution of space exploration.

Space and planetary science


Faced with drought, a dwindling Colorado River and increasing temperatures, how will Arizona provide enough clean water for its growing population? The state of Arizona has tapped ASU to lead an initiative to provide immediate, actionable and evidence-based solutions to ensure that Arizona will continue to thrive with a secure future water supply.

Arizona Water Innovation Initiative

KE units, institutes and initiatives

Biodesign Institute

Improving health, protecting lives and sustaining our planet

Core Research Facilities

Providing high-level research equipment and expertise to support discovery and innovation

Corporate Engagement and Strategic Partnerships

Connecting organizations with ASU faculty, staff and students for mutual success

Economic Development

Building vibrant, thriving communities across our state and region

Global Security Initiative

Advancing transformational capabilities in science and technology to meet defense, security and intelligence mission needs, through novel research and training experiences

Humanities Institute

Exploring social and scientific issues through historical, philosophical and creative perspectives

Institute for Social Science Research

Supporting the social sciences at ASU by helping students and faculty develop the research skills needed in today’s world

International Development Initiative

Pursuing projects that provide the solutions to build a better, safer world

Interplanetary Initiative

Building the future of humans in space and advancing society through exploration

J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute

Supporting entrepreneurs at ASU and in the greater community at every stage

Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory™

Shaping a future in which all life on Earth can thrive

Learning Engineering Institute

Transforming learning environments and experiences to empower student success

The McCain Institute at ASU

Advancing character-driven global leadership based on security, economic opportunity, freedom and human dignity

NewSpace Initiative

Leading the integration of academic and commercial space enterprises

Research Operations

Supporting investigators so they can focus on their research

T. Denny Sanford Harmony Institute

Working toward a world where every child has the opportunity to experience harmonious relationships.

Highlights of discovery and innovation

First X-rays for laser

Scientists generate the first X-rays with the compact X-ray light source, marking a major milestone.

February 2, 2023

Quantum boost

ASU launches Quantum Collaborative to advance discoveries and applications in quantum technology.

November 1, 2022

Complete coral map

Researchers complete the Allen Coral Atlas, the world’s first full map of shallow water coral reefs.

September 8, 2021

Combating COVID-19

ASU makes the first FDA-approved COVID-19 saliva test in the western U.S. and provides to Arizona.

July 9, 2020

Tiny tumor fighters

ASU helps build nanorobots from DNA that can shrink tumors by cutting off their blood supply.

February 12, 2018

OTES sendoff

The first space instrument built entirely at ASU launches on a NASA mission to the asteroid Bennu.

September 8, 2016

Humans debut

A fossil discovery provides the earliest evidence of our human genus, Homo, 2.8 million years ago.

March 4, 2015

West Nile therapeutic

Scientists use a plant-derived treatment to successfully combat West Nile virus after infection.

February 1, 2010

Microbes clean our water

Scientists invent a system that uses naturally occurring microbes to remove contaminants from water.

February 27, 2008

Phoenix as a laboratory

Phoenix becomes a living lab as one of only two NSF Long-Term Ecological Research sites in a city.

June 19, 1997

Materials for life

Scientists discover the first amino acids originating from outside the Earth in meteorite samples.


Solar gets its start

The same year the solar cell was invented, ASU houses the Association for Applied Solar Energy.

April 25, 1954

Find an expert

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