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Remembering Ryan Turner

Remembering Ryan Turner

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On February 25, 2018, the beloved alumni, Ryan Turner, passed away at the age of 34 after an intense battle with cancer. Ryan was a 2015 graduate of the dual degree Engineering and Public Policy Ph.D. program within CMU Portugal.

One of Ryan’s greatest passions in life was education. In his research, he sought to answer the question of whether technology helps students learn, or whether it impedes their performance in terms of focus and distraction. He collected data during his time in Portugal, and analyzed his findings in depth at CMU. In May 2015, Ryan’s doctoral thesis, “ICT and Peer Effects on Academic Performance in a University Setting: Evidence from Portugal” was certified under Pedro Ferreira at CMU and Rui Marques in Portugal. Ryan’s findings hold clear implications for the future of higher education. Pedro and the other researchers Ryan worked with will carry his work further and nurture the seeds of research he planted during his time with CMU Portugal as a way to honor his legacy.

When Ryan enrolled in the dual degree EPP program, he entered a developing environment with an open mind and perseverance to meet all of the challenges of doctoral study. His advisor and mentor, Pedro Ferreira, who Ryan worked with in both Pittsburgh and Portugal, said:

“I met Ryan when we came to the program, as a young man embarking on a mysterious journey. Everything was new, the country, the language, the standards he was going to be held against. He conquered it all. I will always remember Ryan as the sharp, knowledgeable man that graduated delivering a very nice piece of work to the world and as someone that was sure (as never seen in another PhD student) of what the next step should be. Ryan was always friendly, disciplined, and very patient.”

Ryan embraced Portuguese culture and the country became central to his life’s narrative in more ways than one. In addition to the doctoral study he conducted there, he also met his wife, Ana, and they married in the Madrid Temple. Ryan and Ana relocated to Salt Lake City after his doctoral graduation. There, they taught Book of Mormon classes and volunteered together as ordinance workers in the Salt Lake Temple until their daughter, Esther was born. Ryan worked for the LDS Church and at the time of his passing, was Chief Data Architect.

Ryan obtained his Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy in the College of Engineering at CMU and at Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon. Prior to doing his doctoral study, Ryan earned his Master of Science in Engineering and Public Policy from CMU in 2013. In 2010, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from University of Virginia. Before he completed his undergraduate education, Ryan served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Australia Adelaide Mission.

Ryan exemplified a life of service to his family, faith, and community. He met his sickness with the same bravery and selflessness with which he approached every challenge in his life, always putting his wife and daughter before himself. He will always be remembered for his warm smile and loving personality. He will be missed tremendously by all who knew him. He leaves to cherish his memory his wife, Ana Patrícia, his two year old daughter, Esther, his parents, and his two brothers.