Student Spotlight: Matthew Brousil

Matt Brousil

Matthew 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 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 is now in a funded research position for a Master in Forest Science at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

“Through the MS position, I am participating in research into the response of coastal redwood forests to environmental disturbance and climate change throughout California,” he said.

Due to the 70,000+ acre Soberanes Fire in Big Sur, his fieldwork was cut early and he’s now writing his thesis, which he will defend in the winter. He has presented preliminary findings from his research at the Ecological Society of America’s conference in Fort Lauderdale and will join other researchers in presenting work at the upcoming Coast Redwood Symposium in Eureka, Calif. In 2016, he joined the Board of Directors of the Northwest Scientific Association after helping to manage their Facebook page for several years.

“I consider this an excellent opportunity to reach out to other young researchers who are finding ways to get involved in the regional scientific community,” he said. “It has also helped me to learn about other researcher’s work in a variety of different fields and academic levels.”

Brousil is moving back to the state of Washington as he finishes his thesis and would like to pursue a Ph.D. in the future. Eventually he would like to go into research and then teach.

“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)

More about Transfer programs

Outstanding Graduates for 2011

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Lisa LaRose and Matt Brousil

Lisa LaRose and Matt Brousil are College of DuPage's Outstanding Graduates for 2011.