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Biology Professor Lauded for Mentorship

Student Scholars Earn Honors for STEM Research Presentations
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A Cal State Fullerton biologist and three students from across disciplines were lauded by the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans (SACNAS) at its National Diversity in STEM Conference this fall in Salt Lake City.

William “Bill” Hoese, professor of biological science, is the recipient of the 2017 SACNAS Outstanding College/University Mentor Award for his “exemplary service and deep commitment” to students, particularly underrepresented future scientists.

“I really groove on that ‘aha moment’ when things just click for students — and  whole new worlds open up,” said Hoese, who has taught at CSUF since 2000.

Hoese co-directs the Southern California Ecosystems Research Program (SCERP) and has mentored hundreds of students, including many first-generation college students, in which over 50 alumni are working in science or have become science teachers.

“I enjoy working with students. They motivate me by their interest and determination,” added Hoese, also the recipient of the University’s 2015 Carol Barnes Excellence in Teaching Award.

Since 2002, Hoese has been attending the SACNAS conference with his students, in which many have won awards for their research — a testament to his mentorship, noted SCERP scholar Kyle Gunther.

Gunther, a senior biological science major who received an award for his research on fennel at last year’s SACNAS conference, added that Hoese has had a positive impact on students: “I think any past or present SCERP scholar would agree that he would do all in his power to see his students get the most out of their education.”

SCERP scholar Holly Suther, a biological science major, and Gunther nominated Hoese on behalf of scholars in the program.

“Dr. Hoese has been a major influence in the betterment of so many students’ lives. He supervises the SCERP scholars as we develop research questions, design experiments, analyze results and generate conclusions.

“He then prepares us for what comes beyond the research, such as presenting at conferences like SACNAS. … He makes us feel that we are important to the university, the scientific community, and to his life.”

Kristy L. Forsgren, assistant professor of biological science, who nominated him on behalf of faculty, called him a “champion of undergraduate success.”

“Bill is such a great mentor because he genuinely cares for every student, and their success and development as scientists. He is passionate about undergraduate students conducting independent research and helping them identify as scientists,” she said, adding that he also is a mentor to her and other faculty members.

“He sets an amazing example of how I can mentor students as well.”

Outstanding Student Researchers

CSUF students Erick Aguinaldo, Christian Do and Adriana Solis each received a 2017 SACNAS Student Presentation Award for their research. The award recognizes the next generation of scientists and STEM leaders for exemplary science.

Psychology major Aguinaldo,  received his award in the social science category; Do, a mathematics major, in the algebra, number theory and combinatorics category; and Solis, a student in the Pre-Health Professions Postbaccalaureate Program, received her award in STEM education and learning.

More than 1,000 students from universities and colleges across the country — including those from Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Duke, Cornell, CSU and UC campuses — presented their work at the conference.

Aguinaldo, a senior, is a scholar in the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) and Ronald E. McNair programs. He presented research that examined the effects of sexually objectifying language on academic performance and body perception, under the guidance of Kristin Beals, professor of psychology. He plans to earn a doctorate and pursue a career in academia.

Solis presented her research on studying college students’ chemistry self-efficacy and its relationship with classroom teaching and students’ learning strategies.

Her faculty mentor Sachel Villafañe, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, pointed out that chemistry self-efficacy is a factor that has been linked to performance and persistence in chemistry and science, and it’s important to understand how different factors have an influence on a student’s ability to learn and achieve.

Solis is a Supplemental Instruction leader for chemistry and physics, a CSUF program that offers students extra academic support through peer-led study sessions. Her career goal is to become a primary care physician and establish a health community center in her hometown of Santa Ana.