College of Law announces student awards in honor of late professor

May 4, 2009

Brian Harel, a member of the Class of 2009 at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law who holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Neuropsychology and plans to build a legal career with his knowledge of neuroscience, will receive the Daniel Strouse Prize, the College's Center for the Study of Law, Science, & Technology announced.

One of the top honors at the College, the Prize is named for the late Dan Strouse, a beloved professor and long time Center director who died of cancer in August 2007 at the age of 57. The $10,000 annual award rewards the law graduate whose academic strengths, contributions to the Center and personal qualities most closely mirror those of Strouse. Download Full Image

"Brian was chosen, first, for his intelligence and his enthusiasm for the subject matter of law, medicine and health," said Gary">">Gary Marchant , Executive Director of the Center, Lincoln Professor of Emerging Technologies, Law & Ethics, and a close friend of Strouse. "But Brian also has this conscientiousness, and he is someone who will always roll up his sleeves and offer to be helpful, and that's very much like Dan in a lot of ways."

The Center also announced the three 2009 Daniel Strouse Scholars, Vanessa Lancaster, (Class of 2009), Blair Moses, (Class of 2010), and Ruth Carter, (Class of 2011). Each will receive a $5,000 award.

The Strouse honors were established in 2008 by Dr. John Shufeldt, a 2005 alumnus of the College and chief executive officer of Mesa-based NextCare Urgent Care. Shufeldt and Strouse's widow, Nancy Gonzales, made the final selections based on recommendations from Marchant.

"Brian shares Dan's gift of intellectualism and diverse interests," Shufeldt said. "His breadth and depth of knowledge is impressive. He's done research, is well-published and has taught at the graduate level. However, what impressed me most about Brian is his obvious compassion for others. Like Dan, is a true Renaissance man."

Harel is an avid scuba diver who has searched for a shipwreck off the cost of Honolulu, a runner who has participated in the Halloween 10K in Hell, Mich., as well as the Pig Man Sprint Distance Triathlon in Iowa, and an inquisitive man who lived on a kibbutz in Israel for several months. Strouse loved the outdoors and was a family man and talented musician who played baritone saxophone and rhythm guitar for a rock band. (Harel played saxophone in grade school.)

Harel never had Strouse for class, but when Harel was a first-year law student they met briefly, long enough for the witty, kind professor to make his signature good impression.

"Two things struck me about Dan," Harel said. "One, he smiled a lot. He was a very happy guy and so funny. But also, he was so brilliant, brilliant without trying to be brilliant."

Before coming to law school, Harel received an undergraduate degree in neuroscience from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut. He was a researcher in genetic epidemiology at Yale University and did his postdoctoral residency in clinical neuropsychology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics' Department of Neurology.

Harel chose ASU because of the national reputation of the College of Law's law, science and technology center, where he was a scholar and grant writer for all three years of law school. He also was articles editor for Jurimetrics: The Journal of Law, Science, & Technology, and did externships at the Arizona Attorney General's Office, the Arizona Justice Project and at the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.

What he most enjoyed about law school, Harel said, was learning about its vast differences from science.

“While both law and science seek to determine the truth, they do so in different ways,” he said. “Scientific inquiry is continuous and answers often lead to further questions. But we can’t afford to wait years or decades for the law. People need resolution of their disputes so that they can have closure.”

“And although there are answers, such a thing as right and wrong, the answers are not as clear as they are in science,” he said. “Laws are manmade and thus full of ambiguities and inconsistencies. They do not resolve every situation perfectly. I enjoyed trying to understand how courts interpret laws to ensure fairness and justice while trying to establish good precedent.”

Harel, who hopes to practice health or biotechnology law, will join the law firm of Wiggin and Dana in New Haven, Conn.

He will receive the Daniel Strouse Prize at the College of Law's convocation ceremony at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 15, at ASU's Gammage Auditorium.

"It's such an honor to receive an award that's named for a person who is universally admired in the law school, and was a remarkable individual, not just a renowned professor and amazing scholar, but a remarkable individual," Harel said. "It's a far greater honor to win the Prize for who Dan was, rather than for the money."

The three Strouse Scholars also are exemplary in their academic excellence, interest in law, science and technology, and participation in the Center, Marchant said. They, too, have exhibited "Strouse-like" personal qualities, such as caring for and helping others, commitment to building institutions, and performing extracurricular activities inside and outside the law school.

Vanessa Lancaster holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from ASU where she focused primarily on biochemistry and protein chemistry in bacteria. Prior to law school, Lancaster spent almost four years developing novel smallpox vaccines at the Arizona Biodesign Insitute, one of which is currently undergoing clinical trials for FDA approval.

Lancaster came to the College of Law because of the Center's extensive science and law program. Lancaster earned the Certificate in Law, Science, and Technology with a focus in Intellectual Property and enjoyed working as a Production Editor on Jurimetrics in 2009.

"The LST program gave me the tools to excel in law even as a student," she said. "I am looking forward to an exciting career ahead which, in many ways, is due to the Center."

During law school, Lancaster worked as a technical advisor and law clerk on intellectually property litigation and prosecution cases at The Noblitt Group, PLLC, in Scottsdale where, after graduation, she will work with other scientists and engineers.

The Strouse Award was a pleasant surprise, she said. "I am so thankful that the LST Center and the Strouse family thought of me as a Strouse Scholar," Lancaster said. "I know that Dan Strouse was a central figure in developing the Center and the amazing science program here at the law school. He is remembered and admired by many, and his life is truly inspirational."

Moses graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and worked in health care prior to starting law school. Unsure of what direction to take her law career, she became very involved in the law, science and technology center her first year, where she found direction not only for law-school courses and activities, but also her future law career. She is interested in science and technology law, with a particular focus on genetics, nanotechnology and biotechnology.

Moses is the current President of the Women Law Students' Association, the 2009-2010 Executive Editor of Jurimetrics, a student ambassador, and a member of the Honor Code Hearing Board and the Career Services Advisory Board. She also volunteers at a domestic violence center. Moses will spend the summer working as a summer associate at Polsinelli Shughart (formerly Shughart Thomson & Kilroy).

"It is an incredible honor to receive this award that was created as a tribute to a man who valued his family as much as academic excellence, strongly supported the LST Center, and was committed to the school and community," said Moses who, like Strouse, loves music and sings and plays the piano at church and other events and also plays the flute. "His life inspires me to try to follow in his footsteps in law school and in my future law career."

Carter has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master's degree in counseling from Oregon State University. Before coming to law school, she was a mental-health therapist who specialized in treating adults with HIV.

At law school, Carter has been involved in moot-court competitions, and is a member of the Women Law Students' Association and Phi Alpha Delta. She has been heavily involved in the "Pacing Project," a joint project of the Center and the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, which is exploring better ways for law to keep pace with science and technology. A classically trained soprano, she sings with Arizona Women in Tune, and was a national anthem soloist at Arizona Diamondbacks' games in 2005 and 2006.

This summer, Carter plans to intern for the Army Judge Advocate General in Missouri, and next year she will do an externship at the Arizona Attorney General's office and in the Arizona Supreme Court's Staff Attorney's office.

"I'm so excited and grateful to be chosen for the award," Carter said. "I'm deeply honored to be compared to such an exceptional person."

Janie Magruder,"> color="#0000ff">
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

Virtual Counseling Center provides online guidance

May 4, 2009

His office is overflowing with stacks of research reports on career counseling, stress reduction and how to improve the quality of our lives, so it is a wonder he can locate anything.

Yet it takes just seconds and a couple mouse clicks for ASU professor John Horan to discover how anyone’s career test results will match with massive information on nearly a thousand occupations, each linked to relevant degree programs offered by 7,000 educational institutions. Download Full Image

The Virtual Counseling Center (VCC), a golden example of university-community embeddedness, is offered free to everyone in the country, all under an ASU banner via the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education.

Through the VCC, an array of scientifically validated career exploration tests can be taken and scored online.

 “The merged career and educational databases are huge, with 350,000 URLs (uniform resource listings) packed with text, data and videos,” Horan says.

If a career test matches a person's interests to the job of aerospace engineer, for example, that person is led to videos about that career, along with information such as comparing median salaries in Tucson and Phoenix, and listing universities across the country offering majors in aerospace engineering.

Navigating to the Web site">"> will bring up state-of-the-art career assessment and planning resources, along with evidence-based programs designed to improve academic and life skills.

All of this work grew from Horan tinkering with an Apple ][e computer he bought for his children in the 1980s. In his counseling psychology research, he had found that low self-esteem was caused by certain kinds of irrational thinking, so he wrote a computer program that taught people to think more rationally, and thus improve their self-esteem. That early effort morphed into "The Subject is Me!" program on the VCC.

When the Internet first allowed speech, Horan was waiting with the "Believe It!" program that uses a counseling procedure called “cognitive restructuring” to audibly challenge the irrational career beliefs of young women who may think some careers are unsuitable for their gender. That program was the first of its kind in the nation, and today it is joined by dozens more in the STEM Career Depot, a collection of online resources designed to foster interest and persistence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“If there’s a way to measure people and match them to jobs, we’ve got it on the VCC, as well as programs to help them stay the course,” Horan says, noting that one reason students drop out is because they don’t understand the connection between their curriculum and the world of work.

“The VCC is a terrific resource for our students,” says Elizabeth D. Capaldi, ASU’s executive vice president and provost. “Linking ‘Degree Search’ to the VCC's extensive career database will allow our students to think past graduation and help understand what careers are possible for each major."

“During the first seven years, I couldn’t get anyone to pay attention,” Horan says. “Several of my graduate students did proof-of-concept studies, but I had no traction anywhere else. Everybody ‘gets it’ now.”  

"The Virtual Counseling Center is absolutely mind-blowing," says Andy Hogg, a recent president of the Arizona Psychological Association. "John Horan has always been a decade ahead of the profession."

The VCC began to take off three years ago with the help of professor Marilyn Carlson, who included Horan in her National Science Foundation Math and Science Partnership grant. The funding provided a Web platform and some of the resources to flesh out his concept.

The VCC is now supported by other grants and administered by ASU’s Center for Research on Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology (CRESMET).   

Terence Tracey, ASU professor of counseling psychology, contributed two empirically sound career assessment devices to help get the VCC started. His "Inventory of Children’s Activities" is the only standardized career assessment device applicable to middle-school children. Both English and Spanish editions are available in the VCC.

A year ago, the Arizona State School Board passed a requirement that all Arizona high school students have an "Education and Career Action Plan." Horan says the VCC is adding a couple tweaks to its automated adviser program that will enable 500,000 Arizona high school students to fulfill this graduation requirement in collaboration with their parents and counselors, all for free.

Given the condition of the national economy, this is welcome news to school districts and taxpayers, as well as being enormously beneficial to the students themselves.

Other counseling resources available on the VCC include practice items for the AIMS and other high-stakes tests, health and wellness tutorials, and an array of stress reduction programs, such as relaxation training and an online cognitive therapy curriculum.

 “In the beginning, I thought I would have to create and experimentally evaluate all these programs myself,” Horan says. “But now other researchers have caught the vision. and I am happy to link to their work.” 

The amount of material on the VCC is overwhelming, and graphic artists are working on improving its appearance and user interface.

Building the Virtual Counseling Center has become a second career for the full-time professor of counseling psychology, who says he has “lost the distinction between work and play.” But he also adds that “there are many lifetimes of research and development activity ahead.”