Receiving help led applied biological sciences graduate to help others

May 5, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

It was an early exposure to medical issues in William Harper’s family that sparked Harper’s interest in majoring in applied biological sciences and pursuing a career in medicine: “It made me extremely curious to know how the human body works, why it fails to work, and how to fix it,” he said. ASU applied biological sciences graduate William Harper William Harper, an outstanding graduate in applied biological sciences at ASU's Polytechnic campus, said he found Professor Marianne Moore's dedication to her students and her research on bat immunology especially inspiring. Download Full Image

He completed his degree in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State University's Polytechnic campus and will be among the thousands of students graduating on May 6 looking to make the world a better place.

Harper, who is from Modesto, California, chose to attend ASU because of the resources available to propel his career.

“ASU was a good choice for financial reasons,” he noted. “I was also offered a position in Barrett [The Honors College], which seemed like a good opportunity to work with professors and become better prepared for medical school.”

While at ASU, Harper also took advantage of community opportunities in the East Valley to support his career. He interned in internal medicine and with the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center and Banner Gateway Medical Center's Emergency Department.

Along his ASU journey, Harper learned a simple but unexpected lesson that has changed his perspective about education. It’s one that bodes well for the kind of integrative medical practitioner he will become.

“It seems simple, but a professor my freshman year made me realize that taking classes is not just about passing the class,” he reflected. “I have come to believe education is about personally integrating the information presented in order to enhance your understanding of the world, to be a more competent individual in your career and your life.”

Harper recently shared more with ASU Now about the opportunities he has taken advantage of at ASU and his plans for the future.

Question: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

Answer: I think I learned the most important lessons from Dr. Marianne Moore by observing her immense dedication to her research and her students. The patient but unfailingly enthusiastic attitude she displays in her study of bat immunology, and in her assistance to students, has shown me that picking a career you love makes all the work worth it.

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

A: The library was probably the spot I would most consider my home base on campus. I actually worked there for over a year and still go in there when I need a minute to put life together or hours to dedicate to an assignment.

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

A: Make the most out of your education for you! Treat new concepts as potentially vital tools for your pursuit of the fields that interest you most.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I will be participating in research and applying to medical school.

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

A: I would give funding to labs working to understand and engineer novel treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.

Written by Imani Stephens, class of 2019, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; student marketing assistant, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.

Criminal justice grad's research on trouble spots in policing gives her hope

May 5, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Katharine Leigh Brown loves and values the criminal justice system. She even entertained thoughts of becoming a police officer. Katharine (with brown hair and white floral blouse) stands in front of ASU Downtown campus “I have a really big passion for policing and helping the policing system,” Katharine Brown said. “As much as I love and value the system, [there are] injustices with marginalized communities, particularly the poor and the homeless. I just want to contribute and help make it better if I can.” Photo by Alexis Bojorquez Download Full Image

But Brown’s love is not blind and unquestioning. She is acutely aware of policing issues, particularly with regards to marginalized people, that need attention for the sake of police officers and the communities they serve.

“There are practices in policing I see that could use changes, and as of now we don’t have clear answers to what the best changes are,” said Brown of Palmdale, California.

Brown is on the case. She wants her research on fairness and police-citizen interaction to unlock mysteries of how and why the criminal justice system does what it does and how to make that system better for everyone.

“I have a really big passion for policing and helping the policing system,” Brown said. “As much as I love and value the system, [there are] injustices with marginalized communities, particularly the poor and the homeless. I just want to contribute and help make it better if I can.”

Brown is the spring 2019 outstanding graduate for the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

While an undergraduate student studying sociology at the University of California-San Diego, Brown worked as a first responder, a civilian position, in the university police department. She thought she was on a path to become a police officer but decided to add another possible alternative by applying for a spot in the criminal justice master’s program at Arizona State University.

At ASU, she learned she loves research, and her professional interests switched from the academy to academia. Her plans now are to be a career researcher instead of a career police officer.

“What threw me into the research side is realizing there are so many questions that I want answered, and there are so many ways I want to help police departments and officers,” Brown said. “I really think I can have a lot of opportunities to do so as a researcher.”

Brown, a first-generation college graduate, is a scholar of procedural justice. As a graduate research assistant, she worked with Assistant Professor Cody Telep in evaluating efforts by a police department in California to better approach the homeless.

Her master’s thesis research on the influence of officer gender grew from her push for valuing women and their role in the criminal justice system. She will present her research at the American Society of Criminology's annual meeting this November.

“Women are awesome,” Brown said. “They are undervalued. We need to do more research on them because they are amazing.”

While pursuing her doctoral degree at ASU, Brown will continue looking at criminology and the criminal justice system with an emphasis on fairness and process with marginalized communities. Her research will focus on evidence-based policing and procedural justice in a quest to create effective and fair policies that improve relationships between police and communities and implement tactics that make officers safer.

She expects her future research could go in many directions. For example, her interests in gender and crime could lead to an investigation of how things like access to health care for marginalized and poor women may contribute to disparate outcomes in the criminal justice system.

Brown’s research to date on trouble spots in policing gives her hope.

“When you study marginalized populations, when you hear about frequently or see frequently how marginalized populations have had bad interactions with the criminal justice system, it’s disheartening,” Brown said.

“Seeing my fellow students and the professors doing such important work, I think it made me more positive in that I feel like we can help as a population. There’s more we can do and that people are already doing. It’s going to take work and it’s going to take time, but there are things being done.”

Story by Jennifer Dokes