ASU psychology graduate students win big at the Pitchfork Awards

May 1, 2018

The Arizona State University Department of Psychology won big at the 2018 Pitchfork Awards, netting the ASU Changemaker Entrepreneurship Team of the Year and Outstanding Graduate Student Organization awards.

The ASU Pitchfork Awards recognize exceptional talent across ASU and include awards for service, performance and entrepreneurship. Ryan Stoll and Stephanie Koebele Ryan Stoll and Stephanie Koebele, graduate students in the ASU Department of Psychology. Download Full Image

Entrepreneur of the Year

Ryan Stoll, a clinical psychology graduate student, took home the ASU Changemaker Entrepreneurship Team of the Year

Stoll leads COMPASS for Courage and previously won the ASU Changemaker Challenge, the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative and the Pakis Social Entrepreneurship Challenge at ASU’s Demo Day for his innovative work merging education and the startup world

“The Pitchfork Awards are like an ASU version of the Oscars,” Stoll said. “The whole experience was overwhelmingly amazing. They rolled out the red carpet, the performances were extraordinary and the student nominees were all exceptionally accomplished. It was humbling to be included, let alone to win.”

COMPASS for Courage is an evidence-based social-emotional learning solution for anxiety in school children that uses collaborative, game-based learning curricula to solve stress-related problems.

“We’re not just teaching how to do something in a session with kids,” Stoll said. “We are having them learn and practice these skills in a real-world setting.”

Stoll credits his graduate mentors, Armando Pina and Nancy Gonzales, the supportive faculty in the psychology department and the Venture Devils program for encouraging and validating his idea.

COMPASS for Courage is currently used in over 26 schools in the Phoenix area. The goal is to surpass 100 schools by the end of 2018.

Outstanding Graduate Student Organization

Stephanie Koebele, a doctoral student in the psychology department, is the secretary of internal affairs for the Graduate Women’s Association (GWA), which provides support to female graduate students and women in the ASU community. The GWA won Outstanding Graduate Student Organization at the 2018 Pitchfork Awards.

“The GWA aims to support graduate students through all phases of their graduate programs and in their future careers,” Koebele said.

This year, the GWA hosted a panel on “Women and Gender Equality in Academia and Industry.” The panel addressed the difficulties and unique challenges that women face when pursuing academic careers and careers in business.

Another way the association supports the community is by hosting a “Celebrating Women” event during the month of March, in honor of Women’s History Month. The fundraising from that event supports the Sojourner Center, a domestic violence shelter in Phoenix.

This year during March the GWA collected gently-used bras. They collected 200 used bras that will be used to help support women who are experiencing homelessness across the community.

“Doing drives like collecting bras really helps to support the graduate community by bringing us together to help make a really positive change,” Koebele said. “We’ve really ramped up our efforts this year to try to make a difference, and it has been such a great experience.”

Their efforts were recognized by Pitchfork Awards.

Koebele is approaching the end of her doctoral studies in behavioral neuroscience. She is conducting her dissertation research with Heather Bimonte-Nelson, professor of psychology, in the Neuroscience of Memory and Aging lab and a pre-doctoral National Research and Service award from the National Institute on Aging. Koebele’s research focuses on the effects of menopause on memory, normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease.


Robert Ewing

Marketing and Communications Manager, Department of Psychology


5 things to know if you're a new bike commuter

May 1, 2018

May is National Bike Month. Established in 1956, the monthlong observance aims to showcase the benefits of cycling and encourage noncyclists to give it a try. Trisalyn Nelson, director at the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and an avid bike commuter, offered five pieces of advice for current and potential bike commuters in the Valley:

1. You don’t need any special gear. Think you can’t be a bike commuter unless you’re outfitted in colorful spandex? Think again. “You should feel totally comfortable in whatever you’re going to wear for the rest of the day,” said Nelson. “Lots of times there’s a perception that cycling requires spandex, but that’s not the case.” Bicyclist rides along ASU Tempe campus National Bike Month is a perfect time to start two-wheel commuting. Download Full Image

2. You don’t need a fancy, expensive bike. “I don’t think you need to have a fancy bike but you might want to make friends with a bike technician,” said Nelson. “I think sometimes people get turned off because they either have the wrong bike or their bike is in disrepair; it can be worth investing a little bit to make sure your brakes work well and your tires are not going to get flat all the time.”

3. You need to stay hydrated. This should be a no-brainer to anyone who has lived through an Arizona summer. It gets hot and you need to carry lots of water to stay safely hydrated. Water also offers another great benefit, said Nelson: Natural air conditioning. “If it’s getting really hot, the No. 1 thing you can do to be happier is to wear a natural fiber shirt and put water on your back, by the time you get to where you’re going you’ll likely be dry.”

4. You can use apps to help you ride safely. BikeMaps is a helpful app and website that can help cyclists find a safe route. Founded by Nelson, the website and app work globally and allow people to map their crashes and near-misses. Strava is another app, often used by athletes, that can benefit city commuters. “Recently, Maricopa Association of Governments bought Strava data so that we could try and understand ridership in the city better. You can use these apps to monitor your own movement but you’re also contributing to a massive data source,” said Nelson.

5. You can gain lifelong benefits. “If people are concerned about biking and they can find a way to overcome their safety concerns, they’ll have lifelong health and financial benefits,” said Nelson.

Nelson also emphasized ASU’s continued role in supporting bike commuters traveling to campus. “If there are things ASU could be doing to support, let us know so we can start to accommodate those requests.”

Students or faculty that ride to Tempe campus can take advantage of free showers at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex or Wrigley Hall. Learn more about resources for biking at ASU.

Kirsten Kraklio

Content Strategist and Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences