Sports medicine, brain science form perfect career for ASU graduate

April 26, 2023

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.

Pursuing higher education can be one of the most unpredictable yet rewarding paths that one can take. For some, discovering what they want to do is a process, and for others, their interests are clear from the start. For spring graduate Andrew Monaghan, his experience was the latter; an interest in sports, exercise and kinesiology was always at the center of his life. Andrew Monaghan Andrew Monaghan, who hails from Northern Ireland, will graduate with a PhD in exercise and nutritional sciences, in addition to a diploma notation and Master's Distinguished Medallion for graduating with a cumulative 4.0 GPA. Download Full Image

Hailing from Rathfriland in Northern Ireland, Monaghan felt it was the right choice to relocate to the United States.

“I have a passion for sports and enjoy various athletic activities. Running is a personal favorite of mine, and I've completed three marathons to date, with my best finish being fourth place at the San Francisco Marathon. In addition to running, I enjoy playing football (or soccer, as it's known in some parts of the world) with a group of Irish ex-pats here in the Valley. A fun fact is that I am an identical twin — my twin brother is also completing his PhD in a very similar topic at Auburn University,” he said.

Backed by a full-ride athletic scholarship, the track star attended Mississippi State University where he competed while concurrently pursuing a degree. In 2016, he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology, with a focus on clinical exercise physiology.

Monaghan continued his education at Colorado State University, where he served as a graduate teaching and research assistantship while completing a master's degree in health and exercise science. He worked closely with Brett Fling in the Sensorimotor Neuroimaging Lab. This is when his career trajectory started to take shape.

“I owe my 'aha' moment to Dr. Brett Fling, whom I worked with at Colorado State. One initial research project involved studying how the left and right hemispheres of the brain interacted with each other, utilizing a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation; this involved administering an electromagnetic pulse to the scalp and observing the resulting response,” he explained.

Motivated and inspired by what he learned, Monaghan knew it was his calling to work in neurorehabilitation research.

“I was captivated by this experience and knew then that I wanted to delve deeper into the mechanisms behind how our brain governs our ability to walk and maintain balance,” he said.

Bolstered by his experience as an athlete and qualifications for kinesiology and sports medicine, the decision to pursue this career path felt like the right fit — and Arizona State University the ideal place to establish roots.

“I moved to Arizona to work with Dr. Daniel Peterson at ASU, where I have been since 2019,” Monaghan said.

Supported by the programs and opportunities from the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA), the Graduate College and the College of Health Solutions, Monoghan feels ready to tackle the next chapter.

Monaghan will graduate with a PhD in exercise and nutritional sciences, in addition to a diploma notation and Master's Distinguished Medallion for graduating with a cumulative 4.0 GPA. We asked a few questions about his experience at ASU and future plans.

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

Answer: My experience working with individuals affected by neurodegenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease has instilled in me a deep appreciation for the significance of mobility and the intricacy of neural regulation concerning walking and balance. Mobility is a fundamental component of independence, and when this ability is compromised, it can take a severe toll on an individual's quality of life. My involvement in neurorehabilitation research focused on enhancing walking and balance among these populations has been incredibly fulfilling and rewarding.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I selected ASU primarily due to the exceptional research conducted here. In particular, I was drawn to the work of Peterson, who focuses on researching balance in individuals with Parkinson's disease. When I discovered Dr. Peterson was seeking a PhD student, I jumped at the chance to work with him.

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

A: It's difficult to pinpoint a sole, crucial lesson I've learned from my mentor, Peterson, as there have been so many valuable insights. However, if I had to choose one, it would be the importance of maintaining a curious mindset, which is essential in research.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to students?

A: Take advantage of the extensive expertise offered by the incredibly talented and diverse faculty at ASU! We have world-renowned experts in various fields here in the Valley, and if you are keen to learn about their research, don't hesitate to reach out to them, even if you feel like an imposter. In most cases, these faculty members are delighted and more than willing to lend a hand.

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

A: One of my favorite spots on campus is Hayden Library. When I was taking classes, I would often spend hours in the courtyard outside the library, working on projects and assignments. If I needed to concentrate better, I would locate an individual study room and get right to it. I also enjoy coffee shops, so I spent time at the Memorial Union, sipping coffee and chatting with friends.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduating in May, I am excited to embark on a new journey as a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. My research will focus on how the brain controls balance in Parkinson's disease. Ultimately, my long-term goal is to become a professor and lead my research lab. I am passionate about contributing to neurorehabilitation and equally enthusiastic about mentoring students. I aim to inspire and develop world-class scientists who can significantly impact the field.

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

A: Although I may be biased due to my research interests, I would allocate these funds towards efforts to identify the root cause of Parkinson's disease, with the ultimate goal of preventing it altogether.

Marketing Content Specialist, Graduate College

ASU’s film school attracts next generation of filmmakers

April 26, 2023

For Brooklyn Shumway, a junior majoring in film and media production, the 2020 launch of The Sidney Poitier New American Film School at Arizona State University seemed like fate.

“I chose ASU because of the incredible opportunities that were opening up,” Shumway said. “Living in the Mesa area, it almost felt like destiny that The Sidney Poitier New American Film School opened its doors in Mesa to students just as I transferred.” Portrait of a woman with long blonde hair wearing a floral blouse. Brooklyn Shumway Download Full Image

The school operates across three cities, including ASU’s Tempe campus, the Los Angeles-based California Center and the Media and Immersive Experience (MIX) Center, a brand-new 118,000-gross-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in downtown Mesa.

Now on track to graduate this fall, Shumway credits ASU’s transfer tool, MyPath2ASU, with helping her navigate through the transfer process from Mesa Community College

“MyPath2ASU was a great guideline in helping me stay on track while earning the right credits toward my degree,” said the the aspiring writer, director and actor.

“Earning my associate (degree) before transferring led my track astray just a bit, but because of MyPath2ASU, I’m on my way to graduating with ease from the building blocks that I’d established.”

MyPath2ASU is designed to ease the transition to ASU for Maricopa Community College transfer students like Shumway, as well as any other community college student anywhere in the United States, no matter where they are in their academic journey.

A new kind of film school

The school's 750 students represent creative diversity, with more than 40% of its students from underrepresented backgrounds.

“I’ve really enjoyed the diversity and freedom of subjects in courses,” Shumway said. “I’ve found such liberation in expression — especially in my story-centered classes like Intermediate Screenwriting and Introduction to Film and Media Production this semester.”

Students also have opportunities to use Hollywood technology through partnerships, including with the John Hughes Institute and with Dreamscape Immersive, the world’s leading virtual reality company. It is also the first film school to offer students the tech used in "The Mandalorian," — that is, virtual production with extremely high-resolution LED wall and floor screens made by Planar Studios at the ASU California Center. The MIX Center will offer the technology starting in the fall semester.

Qualified transfer students from Arizona and California community colleges can can earn a bachelor's degree in film with a concentration in filmmaking practices at the California Center, located in the newly renovated Herald Examiner building.

The Los Angeles space gives film students from every background an opportunity to connect with and learn in the entertainment capital of the world. 

A passion for filmmaking

Currently, Shumway is focused on building up her resume and sharpening her screenwriting skills with ASU faculty. 

“The biggest mentor figure for me at ASU right now is Professor Chris LaMont,” Shumway said. “He helped me redefine my screenwriting capabilities and streamline them to really sell a story. Next semester, I plan to take individualized instruction from him to better understand how I can progress as a screenwriter.”

Below, Shumway shares more about her transfer experience. 

Question: Who (or what) inspired you to go to pursue higher education? 

Answer: My passion for filmmaking was my biggest drive to pursue higher education. My family was so supportive of me in that decision, so those two factors really impacted my decision.

Q: Why did you decide to attend community college?

A: Community college was more affordable than a university and offered smaller class sizes. I felt more at ease knowing that I could easily get help from an instructor when I needed it because of that.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to a new transfer student?

A: Know the difference between quality and quantity. While it may be easier to procrastinate or submit a half-effort assignment, your quality of learning will suffer for it. It is always better to work hard for the sake of learning the most and gaining the best experience possible.

Q: Why (and when) did you choose your major?

A: First and foremost, I am a storyteller. Sharing stories is what I love, and filmmaking is a beautiful way of doing just that. In high school, I juggled between creative writing and film and media production, but I eventually chose the latter, as I found more opportunities to share stories with a larger audience.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate with your bachelor's degree?

A: I’m looking to write, direct and act in films (whether feature films or short films) to build up my resume, eventually getting to the professional level.