Outstanding Graduate, Fall 2021
What excites Karissa Gund the most about the degree she has earned is how her work in the field of environmental engineering could someday impact people’s lives in direct and meaningful ways.
Helping to ensure things like water and air quality is not only about maintaining a clean environment but also about protecting public health and communities’ quality of life, Gund says.
From a broader societal standpoint, bringing those benefits to more places and more people would help minimize environmental racism and further the cause of environmental justice, she says.
Gund recalls that while growing up she “always had a connection with the environment” that later would evolve into a desire to use her growing STEM skills to serve both people and the planet. Her pursuit of that goal accelerated at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.
That happened in part because of her earlier experiences at Scottsdale Community College, where teachers had helped her to “fall in love with mathematics again,” Gund says, after losing her drive to excel in academics while in high school.
She also got an opportunity to assist in health-related research led by John Nagy, a teacher at the community college and an adjunct professor at ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. She would go on to perform more research at ASU, including cancer studies with Professor Yang Kuang in the same school.
Gund assisted in several research projects throughout her undergraduate studies, including work with faculty members in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the seven Fulton Schools. She did hydrology research with Assistant Professor Margaret Garcia, and worked on her favorite project, designing a sustainable city with Associate Professor Treavor Boyer.
Gund has made the dean’s list each semester at ASU and has been a member of various student honor societies. She says Fulton Schools Lecturer Kristen Ward and Assistant Professor Sergio Garcia Segura are among those who have taught her important lessons on overcoming struggles and how to work productively on group projects.
“We need women to truly excel in project performance and bring a different perspective into engineering,” she says.
Gund plans to expand her own professional skills and perspectives by staying at ASU to earn a graduate degree in hydrosystems engineering.