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Sustainability student, lifelong learner awarded Fulbright

April 29, 2013

When Jaleila “Jill” Brumand was in middle school, she decided she wanted to do something with her life. She had friends who were brilliant and capable and – perhaps typical of children her age – didn’t yet realize their potential.

What gets a child dreaming big dreams? For Brumand it was her brother Sam, who has Down syndrome. For Sam, a feat like tying his shoe took months to master. Brumand knew she could accomplish a lot if she applied herself with the same dedication. Jill Brumand Headshot Download Full Image

“I didn’t want to be one of those students who ‘just passed’ classes,” she says. That sentiment would set the tone for her future.

Fast forward to 2009, the year Brumand, a native of Chandler, Ariz., applied to Arizona State University. Unsure what her major would be, Brumand visited the Tempe campus. On a tour of Wrigley Hall, she fell in love with the School of Sustainability, its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building, and the enthusiasm of her tour guide. This was where she wanted to be.

Brumand came to the university because it was a great value. ASU's cost was relatively lower than Franklin College Switzerland, another school she was considering, and the opportunities through Barrett, the Honors College, were significant. Brumand knew that ASU was a place where she could make a difference.

And she did.

Hands-on experience

During her sophomore year, Brumand began looking for some résumé-building experience. She connected with associate professor Kelli Larson and began work as a research intern, helping Larson study why people decide to manage their residential landscape in one way or another. The study has implications for integrating sustainability into landscaping decisions, which could have a profound impact in a desert city such as Phoenix.

Brumand has worked on the study for the past three years. The internship has given her experience working with social and hard scientists, with collaborators from other cities, and with qualitative and quantitative research methods. Her work became the basis of her honors thesis.

Also in her sophomore year, Brumand worked with Maricopa County to help them reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Brumand and Ed Burgess, a graduate student at ASU, collected and analyzed several years’ worth of data. Their work culminated in a report now published on the Maricopa County Green Government website.

Brumand also gained corporate experience during her junior year working with Dell. There, she examined the emissions created through the company’s supply chain, employee commute and other sources.

At the same time, she was gaining teaching and public speaking skills through teaching an ASU 101 course.

Just to recap: that’s research, government, corporate and teaching experience. Brumand is also an honors student and a double major in sustainability and geography, who has managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA. Clearly, she has done more than “just pass” her classes.

Brumand tips her hat to the School of Sustainability. Many schools provide opportunities for their students to get hands-on experience, she says, but the School of Sustainability goes above and beyond.

“The School of Sustainability has a network of people who care and check up on you," she says. "The support and encouragement of the faculty and staff at the school has been invaluable.”

A new opportunity

As she prepares to graduate, Brumand now boasts an outstanding résumé. Her internship experience helped her earn a Fulbright award at Lancaster University in Northwest England. After graduation, she’ll begin work on her master's degree in energy and the environment through the Lancaster Environment Centre.

Her Fulbright work will compare U.S. and U.K. energy politics, infrastructure and vulnerability to disaster – interesting work that has implications for low-carbon energy policy and decision-making here in the United States.

Brumand is the type who learns at every opportunity. This trait has served her well since her big-dreaming middle school days and no doubt contributed to her Fulbright accomplishment. But for all the honor and recognition that come with earning a Fulbright, what delighted Brumand most was her brother’s response.

Sam was the first person to call her after she received notice of her Fulbright award. He was excited to surprise her with balloons, and he was thrilled to think that his sister might get to meet Merlin, a favorite character from a U.K. television program.

“He is always so excited and optimistic,” says Brumand. “I can always learn more from him.”

Michelle Schwartz

Manager of Marketing and Communications, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability


Kinesiology major receives Barrett Honors College Outstanding Graduate Award

April 29, 2013

Andrew Albert always wanted to be a competitive cyclist.

Albert, a kinesiology major and the recipient of this year’s Barrett Honors College Outstanding Graduate Award, said his interest in the sport was sparked after competing in a triathlon during his junior year in high school. Download Full Image

“The mechanics of cycling and the way a bike becomes an extension of human operability fascinated me,” Albert said. “I enjoyed it immensely and it was then and there that I decided to pursue the sport competitively.”

After finishing high school, Albert, a resident of Chandler, Ariz., started applying to colleges in the state, as well as in California and Colorado. He was accepted to several schools, including the University of Arizona and the University of Colorado in Boulder, but decided to join Barrett to take advantage of the breadth of academic and extracurricular opportunities available at ASU and to remain close to his Scottsdale-based cycling coach.

“At the time, I was focused on building my cycling career,” he said. “Soon, I realized that the competitive cycling lifestyle and living out of a suitcase wasn’t for me. I quickly turned my attention to exercise and kinesiology – subjects that matched my interests.”

In his sophomore year, Albert took a class offered by Shannon Ringenbach, an associate professor of kinesiology and the director of ASU’s Sensorimotor Development Research Lab, who was launching an innovative research project examining the effects of Assisted Cycling Therapy (ACT) on the motor, clinical and cognitive functions in adolescents with Down syndrome (DS). Albert was intrigued and signed up as a research assistant.

“Andrew was the perfect fit for the study as he is a cycling expert,” Ringenbach said. “He hit the ground running, learned the ACT technology, collected data for 10 adolescents with Down syndrome and defended his honors thesis on the topic his junior year.”

Pilot data from Albert’s honors thesis helped the project win a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in 2012. Ringenbach, who’s also his thesis director, said Albert has since become the lead research assistant for the study and has collected data for 30 individuals with DS. He has also helped with recruitment efforts, scheduling, equipment maintenance and training of other graduate and undergraduate students.

“This study would not have been possible without him,” she said.

Albert, 22, has three peer-reviewed journal papers in press, two under review and has co-authored a book chapter titled “Assisted Cycle Therapy (ACT): Implications for Improvements in Motor Control.”

In addition to his academic achievements, Albert also works with special needs populations in the Phoenix area, volunteers at a local nursing facility, serves as a medical team captain for several area marathons and cycling events, coaches youth cycling teams, presides over ASU's American Medical Student Association chapter and has founded a Math and Science Club at Hancock Elementary School in Chandler that engages elementary school children in hands-on learning activities to inspire their interest in the STEM fields.

Still, Albert said he was surprised to learn that he’d won Barrett’s Outstanding Graduate Award.

“Barrett Honors College is full of students who I think are smarter than I am,” Albert explained. “I’m grateful for the award. It’s an honor and a privilege.”

Mark Jacobs, the vice provost and dean of Barrett Honors College, says the award is well deserved.

“Andrew Albert epitomizes the coupling of ability and opportunity that is possible at ASU and Barrett Honors College,” Jacobs says. “He has applied his very high capability to a stunning number of programs and causes.”

Albert said much of his success can be attributed to ASU's size.

“Resources and opportunities for students seem unlimited here," Albert says. "Professors are conducting research on any and every topic one can think of. I was encouraged to interact with my peers and faculty members that led to relationships I wouldn’t have formed otherwise.”

Albert plans to study medicine after graduation and will be taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in a few weeks.

“ASU has prepared me well for a medical career,” he said. “I’ve been involved in research studies, grant-writing, community projects and on-campus organizations that have helped shape my perspective of the role I hope to play in the world around me.”

Albert said he hasn’t zeroed in on a specialization yet, although he’s leaning toward developmental pediatrics or sports medicine. He said he looks forward to the next chapter of his life.

“My first med school acceptance letter would make me very happy as will graduation,” Albert said. “I’ve enjoyed my time at ASU, and I feel equipped and ready to move onward and upward.”

Media projects manager, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development