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Taking the leap to entrepreneurship paid off for winner of 'Sun Devil 100.'
April 25, 2017

'Sun Devil 100' honors top ASU-led firms

The classes he took at Arizona State University laid the foundation for Carson Holmquist’s success as an entrepreneur, leading him to create a business that has grown nearly 2,000 percent in five years.

Holmquist (pictured above), who co-founded and is CEO of Stream Logistics, was named the top businessperson at the “Sun Devil 100” event Tuesday. His Scottsdale-based company, a transportation brokerage firm, showed the most growth among 34 companies that are led by ASU alumni.

Thirty-seven former Sun Devils were celebrated at the daylong event, sponsored by the Arizona State University Alumni Association. This was the third year of the event, which eventually will grow to the top 100 firms led by ASU graduates.

Holmquist graduated in 2008 with a degree in management from the W. P. Carey School of Business. He started working in the transportation logistics business as an intern.

“I was in the industry for five years, and I always knew I was entrepreneurial. I was just waiting for the right timing,” said Holmquist, who founded Stream Logistics with a partner in 2012.

“The hardest thing was making the jump — making that initial commitment to leave a stable job with a promising career path to be an entrepreneur,” he said.

“The on-the-job training helped me learn the nuances of the industry, but the basic fundamentals of business and management were from ASU.”

All of the nominated firms had to be in business at least three years, have annual revenues of at least $250,000 and be founded or led by an ASU alumnus.

In total, the 34 businesses had revenues of $9.5 billion and employ more than 21,000 people. The companies include a law firm, a laser skin center, a manufacturer of sweeteners, an electrical contractor, a winery and a moving company.

Ji Mi Choi, associate vice president of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development at ASU, invited the honorees to become mentors.

“We now have a Venture Mentor network of more than 50 experienced entrepreneurs like you, who we pair with student and faculty teams to nurture ideas, build startups and scale their businesses,” she said.

“As these students become alumni, they’ll continue to grow and one day we’ll be honoring them here.”

Rounding out the top 10 in the Sun Devil 100 Class of 2017 were:

2. Jonathan Beekman, 2002, CEO of Man Crates, based in Redwood City, California, which sells gifts for men.

3. Matthew Michalowski, 2009, president and owner of PXL Bros, a Los Angeles digital marketing company that made images for the movie “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

4. Daniel Henderson, who earned degrees in 2005 and 2010, founder and CEO of the energy-efficient lighting firm Relumination, based in Phoenix.

5. Manpreet Singh, 1997, co-founder and president of Payscout, a Los Angeles-based payment-processing provider.

6. Errol Berry, 2002, founder and CEO of Identico, a printer-cartridge supplier based in Chandler.

7. James Murphy, 1998 and 2009, president and CEO of the Phoenix-based Willmeng Construction Co.

8. Scott Gates, 2004 and 2015, CEO of Western Window Systems, along with the company’s CFO, Heather Zorge, 1998, and CIO, John Engelstad, 2015.

9. Aaron Pool, 2009, owner of Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup, a Phoenix restaurant.

10. Jamie Hancock, 1999 and 2000, vice president of finance for Trestle Management Group, a Tempe community-management company.

Find the complete list of honorees here. Nominations (including self-nominations) for the Sun Devil 100 Class of 2018 may be submitted to  

Top photo: Carson Holmquist, CEO and co-founder of Stream Logistics, talks to the crowd after being named the top businessperson at the "Sun Devil 100" event at Old Main on Tuesday. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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ASU researcher gets military funding to enhance learning, retention up to 30%.
April 26, 2017

Neuroscientist Stephen Helms Tillery triggers fight-or-flight hormone to improve learning

Stephen Helms Tillery wants to make you smarter — by electrically stimulating your brain.

The Arizona State University neuroscientist has been awarded funding for a four-year study to develop a method of brain stimulation that may boost learning and retention up to 30 percent.

The money comes from the Army’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is the bureau behind technology including GPS, the internet, stealth tech and drones.

The brain will be stimulated by a method called Transdermal Electrical Neuromodulation so it learns more quickly, more efficiently and with increased recall.

Certain neuromodulators — chemicals that affect transmission between cells — have broad physiological impacts such as arousal and attention.

“The one we’ll be focusing on is norepinephrine,” said Helms Tillery, an associate professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “You can think of it as the big fight-or-flight hormone in the brain.”

If it’s 2 a.m. and you hear a door open in your house, you will be alert, processing information, making a decision and taking action. That’s norepinephrine working.

Sensory systems have access to the brain stem nucleus, the locus coeruleus, which releases norepinephrine.

“We think that nucleus can be accessed by activating the nerves that enervate our face,” Helms Tillery said. “We’re going to try to access that nucleus by activating these nerves.”

Helms Tillery will be looking for changes in behaviors in restricted circumstances, doing facial recognition, sensory motor mapping (responding to a visual signal with an action directed toward that signal) and sensory processing.

“There is some evidence your senses can be sharpened using the same mechanisms,” he said. If you give some kind of stimulation, like a touch, a sound or a flash of light, there is a change in electrical activity that can be measured in the brain.

“We’re going to see if we can change that electrical signature by pairing it with this cranial stimulation,” Helms Tillery said.

He will record areas in the brain related to vision, perception and decision-making.

“We’ll see if we can change the physiology of those areas with the stimulation,” he said.

DARPA wants to see a 15 percent increase in performance in the first three years and a 30 percent increase in the final two years of the project.

To quantify that, Tillery is teaming up with a group at the Air Force Research Laboratory who studies drone teams. As brain-stimulation techniques are developed, Helms Tillery will be working with them to improve the drone teams’ performance.

He will also be working with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Boston. They have an elaborate virtual shooting range with carbines that fire pneumatically, so they feel and fire like a real weapon. Most of the performers who come through the program are high-level marksmen. Improving their performance is difficult. The Army has been doing studies with sleep deprivation, to deck their performance.

“We’ll see if we can amp it back up, for example,” Helms Tillery said. “The more likely scenario is that we’ll bring novices into those environments and teach them to operate in those environments and see if they can improve.”

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now