Student Stories: Matthew Brousil

Matt Brousil

Major: Transfer/A.A. and A.S.

Matthew Brousil, who graduated from Lyons Township High School, chose College of DuPage after receiving a scholarship to the Glen Ellyn institution.

While at COD, Brousil was a member of the Living Leadership Program, the Student Leadership Council and the Endowment for Future Generations.

“During my first year, I was just feeling my way around and getting a handle on the atmosphere,” he said. “But I knew how important it was to get involved with other students and learn from their perspectives.”

Brousil was equally impressed with his instructors, including Casey Slott, associate professor of Speech; Richard Jarman, professor of Chemistry; and Michelle Moore, professor of English. It was Moore who told him about Evergreen State College in the state of Washington.

“She thought it was the perfect fit for me, so I visited and fell in love with it,” he said. “She was the one who ultimately gave me the idea to explore environmental studies.”

When Brousil earned both Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees, he was named one of COD's two Outstanding Graduates. At Evergreen, Brousil focused his studies on Agroecology and sustainable agriculture. He worked as a farm assistant intern with a local organization in Olympia called Garden-Raised Bounty (“GRuB”), using this internship for academic credit.

“I consider myself lucky for finding classes that offered almost entirely field-based work, and which set students up for faculty-supported independent research options,” he said. “I was able to take part in a backpacking trip and field ecology course in Patagonian, Chile, through the Wildlands Studies consortium program. The trip was a great follow-up to the Costa Rica Study Abroad I participated in at COD and served as an interesting comparison between environments and lifestyles in Central and South America. 

“With some guidance from Dale Simpson at COD, I also spent a week backpacking and touring Easter Island at the end of my Chile trip. I’ve kept in touch with him since I took his People and Cultures of the Pacific class, and I’ve been working with him in selecting a graduate school for a master’s or Ph.D. program.”

He also began working as an Associate Editor of both Psychology & Social Sciences, and Physical Sciences, Mathematics, & Engineering for the Journal of Young Investigators, an online undergraduate research journal. He later became a research editor and managing editor of the Journal.

Brousil graduated with a dual BA/BS degree focusing on Ecology and Sustainable Agriculture. His first full-time position post-graduation was as an Agricultural Technologist in the WSDA Entomology Lab in Olympia, Wash. He then took a funded research position for a Master in Forest Science at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, where he researched the response of coastal redwood forests to environmental disturbance and climate change throughout California. Due to the 70,000+ acre Soberanes Fire in Big Sur, his fieldwork was cut early and he worked on his thesis, which he successfully defended and earned his degree.

Brousil moved back to Washington and Washington State University, where he worked in Crowder Lab as a lab technician and is now a data manager for the Center for Environmental Research, Education and Outreach (CEREO). CEREO’s focus is interdisciplinary collaboration on environmental projects, which really makes it a perfect place for Brousil.

“While I was with the Crowder Lab, I coordinated research work and assisted with things like data analysis for some of the lab’s projects,” he said. “In this new position, I’ve had the opportunity to really dig into the data side of things while working on projects with collaborators from around the country. These projects cover topics ranging from insect control in U.S. orchards to changes in the ecology of lakes around the world. Through my position, I work more directly with the statistical programming working group and I organize programming workshops for graduate students and research staff at WSU.

“The broad ecological studies and fieldwork that my experiences at COD, Evergreen and Cal Poly afforded me were a great setup for a position like this, where I have the potential to work with researchers from a variety of fields. I’m also grateful to still be doing outreach and teaching-related work as a part of this new role.”

Brousil also returned to the Journal of Young Investigators and joined its Board of Directors, which mentors and guides the undergraduates who run the journal. In addition, he joined the Board of Directors of the Northwest Scientific Association, which publishes a scientific journal and hosts an annual meeting to support a variety of scientific fields in the northwest.

Eventually, Brousil would like to pursue a Ph.D. and go into research and then teaching.

“I want to pass along what I’ve experienced at COD,” he said. “I want to help kids discover how exciting it can be to explore something in-depth and then turn it into something they can pursue in their lives.

“I honestly had no idea how great a resource College of DuPage was going to be for me, and I know that I would have ended up following a completely different and less planned path if it wasn’t for people like Dale who were available to me through the school. As I get further into research methods like using statistics or working in a lab environment, I am realizing how well the Honors Program at COD prepared me. When I was starting my undergraduate degree at Evergreen, I had a strong background in math and lab work from my coursework at COD, so I felt comfortable learning statistical techniques and working in our chemistry labs. As a graduate student, I now use a lot of statistics in my everyday thesis work and I added a soil chemistry component to my master’s research. I owe a lot of my current success in graduate school to my time at COD.”

(Photo by Kelli Finet)

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