Student's philosophical thinking leads him to Budapest


April 29, 2018

Forrest Schreick has long been a friendly face around Coor Hall. For the last six years, the graduating philosophy MA student made the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies his academic home and even helped fellow students as the writing tutor in the SHPRS Writing and Logic Studio.

“It was an excellent experience, and it was very fulfilling to help other students grow their skills in the craft of writing,” Schreick said about his experience as the writing tutor. “Being able to write clearly and concisely is a skill I value and constantly attempt to develop in myself.” Forrest Schreick photo Forrest Schreick is getting ready to move to Budapest, Hungary, to pursue a PhD in philosophy at Central European University. Download Full Image

Schreick just successfully defended his dissertation “Russellian Monism and Mental Causation” and is getting ready to move to Budapest, Hungary, to pursue a PhD in philosophy at Central European University.

He answered a few questions about his time at ASU.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: For philosophy generally, it was when I was taking Dr. Botham's PHI 101 class. In that class, we engaged with difficult questions in a way that I really connected with. The only topic I didn't really care for at the time, philosophy of mind, ended up being the field I am now most passionate and curious about. This happened when I took Professor Kobes' Philosophy of Mind course as a junior.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective

A: Between my ethics classes and talks with professors, my views about the permissibility of various acts have shifted dramatically over the years. Perhaps the best example is about whether or not it is permissible to eat meat. Going into undergrad, I never seriously questioned it (I'm the son of a butcher, after all). But, after reading Singer my freshman and sophomore years, I became a vegetarian. But, in the last couple months, after several discussions with Professor Portmore, I've been somewhat convinced that being a vegetarian is not an efficacious way of reducing animal suffering.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I didn't really have any direction or idea what I wanted to do when I graduated from high school. I went to Red Mountain in Mesa, and most students there funnel into ASU. I knew I wanted to go to university, so it just seemed like a natural choice.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: I'm going to cheat and give two pieces of advice, but I think they're related. First, if you can, every semester take a class outside of your major or area. Some of my favorite classes in undergrad were classes I took out of a passing curiosity about a field I didn't know very much about. I learned so much in these classes, and they challenged the way I saw myself and the world. I think having your most intimate views challenged and being made to feel uncomfortable in some ways is an essential part of the university experience. If you don't know where to start, try anthropology.

Second, ASU is a huge institution and it's easy to just get lost in the crowd. But the benefit of the size of this institution is the sheer number of opportunities available. I think ASU gives to its students what they put into it. If you seek out additional opportunities, you can find them.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: Noble Library has always been a favorite place of mine. It's so much quieter than Hayden, so it makes a great place to study or relax before or after an important test. Though, I fear by saying this I may have let the secret slip.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After I graduate with my MA in May, my first project will be attempting to prepare the chapters of my thesis for publication. Then I will be moving to Budapest, Hungary, to pursue a PhD in philosophy at Central European University. I'll either continue my work on consciousness, pursue another topic in metaphysics more generally, or do research on the great German philosopher G.W. Leibniz. I developed a deep appreciation for the work of Leibniz in Dr. Watson's History of Modern Philosophy class and Professor Reynolds' Rationalism class. He was truly one of history's greatest minds and probably the last universal genius. Perhaps all that needed to be said about Leibniz was said by Diderot, “Perhaps never has a man read as much, studied as much, meditated more, and written more than Leibniz. … When one compares the talents one has with those of a Leibniz, one is tempted to throw away one's books and go die quietly in the dark of some forgotten corner.”

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Climate change is truly an existential threat to humanity. So, I'd take that money to people who know much more about it and how to tackle it than I do. 

Erica May

Communications specialist, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

480-727-3203

Learning to be a scientist by figuring it out along the way


April 29, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

This May, Heather Meyer will be graduating from Arizona State University with her PhD in geological sciences from the School of Earth and Space Exploration. Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Meyer had the opportunity as a kid to see a space shuttle launch from Kennedy Space Center, sparking her interest in space. Heather Meyer During her time at ASU, Heather Meyer joined the NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Team, led by Mark Robinson of the School of Earth and Space Exploration. Download Full Image

Then, as an undergraduate at the College of Charleston, she discovered planetary geology, which offered the perfect combination of her interests in both geology and space exploration, and so her path was set.

For graduate school, Meyer chose ASU and joined the NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Team, led by Mark Robinson of the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

“ASU provides unparalleled opportunities to get involved in planetary missions to many solar system bodies,” says Meyer.

Meyer is now a planetary scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. Her most recent published research includes a new moon map featured in Science News, using LROC data, showing where debris from giant impacts fell on the moon’s surface.

She answered questions about her time at ASU:

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

Answer: I used to wonder how some people became such successful scientists and where they learned everything, but the reality is that no one is born a successful scientist. We are all just figuring it out as we go along by applying scientific reasoning. That helped change my way of thinking about becoming a scientist (you don't need to know it all beforehand) and gave me hope that I can learn to be a good scientist too.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Work with your adviser to set realistic goals and reasonable achievements. Grad school in particular gives you very few major benchmarks, so you need to formulate some achievements on your own to remind yourself how much you are actually accomplishing along the way. And don't compare your progress with anyone else! That won't help anyone.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I spent a lot of time at the MU Starbucks. Late nights, early mornings and afternoon pick-me-ups all required coffee. Conveniently, all of my friends relied on coffee too, so we often went together to work or chat.

Q: What are your plans after graduation? 

A: I will spend the next two years in Houston working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Lunar and Planetary Institute doing primarily lunar research. Beyond that, who knows? There are some wonderful opportunities coming up in planetary science, and I hope to remain involved with active planetary missions and research.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Only $40 million for a global problem? I'd probably put it toward education and sustainable living for impoverished communities to aid in the fight to eliminate poverty.

Karin Valentine

Media Relations & Marketing manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration

480-965-9345