Basketball helps ASU student score in STEM

May 8, 2015

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To hear Sai Tummala tell it, basketball helped him in his STEM classes. Sai Tummala in an ASU men's basketball game Download Full Image

Performing on the court helped him relate to the physiology classes he was taking and motivated him to excel. Both were difficult, but he learned to stick with the things he wanted to do.

Tummala played on the Sun Devils men’s basketball team, appearing in 14 games and averaging little more than 4 minutes per game.

But in the classroom he really starred.

Tummala is a member of Barrett, The Honors College, carried a 4.0 grade-point average and made the dean's list every semester.

He will graduate with a degree in biology, animal physiology and behavior. His plans include medical school, having already passed the Medical College Admissions Test.

“Both my parents are physicians. So growing up I was naturally drawn to it,” Tummala said of his choice to go into STEM. “I thought it was easy and really interesting.”

Now that he is graduating, Tummala relishes the opportunities he was given and the help he received along the way. As a result he has a great appreciation for those who teach.

He learned about teacher caring when working on his thesis, which was an assessment of the Bio Bridge student transition program.

“It was cool for me to see the way teachers and professors in institutions work, and try to improve student experiences,” he said.

This supported a fact he experienced while at ASU.

“The teachers I’ve had are really passionate about teaching, and they push their students to go beyond the classroom and explore,” he said. “It was surprising to me while at ASU how much STEM teachers really care. It was very impressive.”

Tummala plans to take a year off and then get serious again about his future in STEM.

“I’m hoping to go to med school,” he said. “I’m interested in orthopedics, orthopedic surgery, so I can stay around sports for the rest of my life.”

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


STEM student is engineering a bright future

May 8, 2015

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When he was deciding which college to attend, Brett Larsen of Chandler had to make a choice between two in-state schools. Brett Larsen Download Full Image

"ASU and U of A recruited me pretty heavily because I was a National Merit Scholar,” Larsen said. “Each provided very good offers. I chose ASU because of Barrett.

“Barrett is like being part of a smaller, close-knit group of scholars in the middle of a big research university.”

That intimacy helped Larsen achieve big things in his schoolwork and extracurricular activities at ASU.

Larsen will graduate this May with a double major (electrical engineering and physics). He has conducted several research projects while working at ASU’s Flexible Electronics and Display Center since freshman year. His current project involves flexible arrays that can be used to detect and disarm explosive devices. Larsen also has worked at the particle collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, and at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque.

As a STEM student at a large university, Larsen found invaluable help in the engineering peer-mentor program, the E2 Camp and the school’s emphasis on treating its students as engineers from day one. He has given back to these programs by acting as a mentor as well.

But his hunch about Barrett, The Honors College paid off handsomely, allowing him to make connections with other engineering honors students and with students from across the university.

“I enjoyed living in that community,” he said. “It had a big impact on getting me involved on campus.”

Now that he is graduating, Larsen is looking to spread his wings a little and move to California. He will be attending Stanford in the fall, working on his doctorate in computational physics.

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications