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Friends, family continue legacy of College of Health Solutions research associate

Nearly 5 years after her death, Jane C. Hurley's dissertation has been published

Woman standing next to a research poster.

College of Health Solutions Research Associate Jane Hurley at the 2019 Active Living Research Conference. Hurley's friends and family worked to continue her legacy after she was struck and killed by a vehicle in 2019. Courtesy photo

March 22, 2024

Jane Hurley, a PhD research associate at the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University, was tragically killed in 2019 when a vehicle involved in a traffic accident struck her while she was on a sidewalk in Phoenix.

Since then, friends and family have been committed to making sure she will be remembered by working to get her dissertation published. It took five years, but Hurley’s dissertation was published this year in the journal Health & Place, just ahead of the deadline to apply for the Dr. Jane C. Hurley Memorial Scholarship on April 15.

The scholarship was established by Hurley's parents, who wanted to honor Hurley’s academic interests and legacy. The ASU Foundation funds the scholarship and provides options to donate.

Alma Chavez Strasser, senior director of development for the College of Health Solutions, said such scholarships help ASU students navigate the challenges of higher education and honor the legacy of those who wanted to make a difference.

“As an ASU alumna and parent myself, I know it can be a bit daunting for students and their families,” Strasser said. “ASU’s attention to inclusion and supporting students from all backgrounds has always been meaningful to me. I am grateful that I have an opportunity to contribute to raising scholarships for current and future Sun Devils.”

College of Health Solutions Professor Marc Adams met Hurley in 2013. He needed a doctoral student for his research to promote physical activity in neighborhoods, and the two spent the next six years researching, conducting studies and becoming friends.

“(She was) an exceptional candidate for our exercise and nutritional sciences PhD program at the time,” Adams said. “I offered her a position, and she moved from California to Phoenix and started working in our research lab.”

Hurley was a central figure in the lab in helping to keep the team morale high and helping students from all levels learn new things. She was an exceptional mentor to students and a leader that people looked up to.

Hurley’s death came just two months after finishing her PhD and receiving a job offer from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work on making neighborhood environments safer for walking and cycling.

“It was such a tragedy that she was just at the start of her professional career, her whole life ahead of her, and had just completed a major accomplishment in earning a PhD,” Adams said. 

Alison Cantley, a mentee of Hurley, approached Adams during a celebration of Hurley’s life about publishing the dissertation Hurley had worked so hard to complete. Adams thought it was an amazing idea.

“I'm proud of Alison," Adams said of her contributions to getting Hurley's dissertation published. "I know it meant a lot for her to give this to Jane."

Other contributors to the dissertation included Adams, Steven P. Hooker and ASU Professors Michael Todd, Punam Ohri-Vachaspati and Barbara Ainsworth.

Story by Aidan Hansen, communications assistant, College of Health Solutions

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