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16 Students Receive Awards During CSUF Research Week

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Student Creative Activities and Research Day, an annual spring event hosted during CSUF’s Research Week, provides undergraduate and graduate students with opportunities to showcase their scholarly and creative activities. This year, 66 students presented their work, expanded their network, improved their communication skills, and gained valuable feedback from their peers and CSUF faculty. For their research and academic excellence, 16 students were recognized with awards at the end of SCAR Day on April 22.

Art history students Micah Cobles and Kimberly Ruiz worked with Mary Anna Pomonis, assistant professor of art, on “The Just Arts Initiative,” which fosters social justice and equity through art education. Their first-place, hand-made poster displayed artwork completed by adults and youth who are currently incarcerated. The undergraduate team traveled to several correctional facilities to host art lessons and explore how art education benefits underserved communities. Their findings indicate that art education improves participants’ mental well-being and encourages social identity development.

Business student Justin Winoto worked with Mitra Sinjini, professor of information systems and decision sciences, and earned a first-place ribbon for their work on designing a machine learning model that classifies student academic performance with 77% accuracy or higher. The insight obtained from their model will help design effective academic support services for nontraditional students and aims to improve degree completion rates.

Cooper Davies and Nicolas Orendain, communications majors, worked with Jon Bruschke, chair and professor of human communication studies, and took first and second place in the College of Communications for their work on investigating if publicity influences trial outcomes. Their work found that traditional media sources influence the public more than social media.

Annabelle Recinos aims to help the U.S. solve major infrastructure issues. The U.S. spends $125 billion annually on rehabilitating and retrofitting concrete structures and bridges. Recinos’ first-place poster unveiled a complete corrosion service life model for reinforced concrete structures. Their work, guided by Pratanu Ghosh, professor of civil and environmental engineering, investigates the relationship between durable and sustainable materials. Their model will help transportation designers make informed building decisions while replacing and repairing deteriorating infrastructures.

Vasavi Vuppala, a graduate student in computer engineering, is working with Jaya Dofe, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, to protect the public and the country from hacking by Hardware Trojans, also known as HTs. In a diverse global economy, outsourcing the production of items like computer chips helps reduce production costs. However, the outsourced product can include minor modifications that can cause profound, malicious design alterations. Vuppala is working to design an adaptable HT, using deep learning techniques that can identify the malicious HT and fortify the digital world against ever-evolving threats.

Jatin Mahey, a computer engineering student collaborating with Ankita Mohapatra, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, works with a team on one of CSUF’s Big Ideas Campaign projects: FIRE – Fire Investigation and Remediation Endeavor. This team of faculty and students explores ways to mitigate wildfires. Their primary goal focuses on designing a device that detects wildfires in their early stage when they are small and manageable to help gain control over the wildfire spread.

Oscar Diaz, a human services major working with Joseph Albert Garcia, associate professor of human services, examines adult children of deaf adults. He compares their adverse childhood and language experiences with English as a second language adults.

Sandra Salas, a child and adolescent studies major working with Melanie Horn-Mallers, professor of human services, aims to better understand the consequences of methamphetamine drug additions on cognition and behavior. Their project studies various biological comments that underlie the use of psychostimulants, demographic information and addiction models.

Mia Botello, a kinesiology major working with Pablo Costa, professor of kinesiology, examines lower back pain in women, which affects more than 80% of the population. The study aims to determine the effects that hip thrusts have on the severity of low back pain and to examine whether hip range of motion contributes to the outcome.

English student Emily Arrey works with Irena Praitis, chair and professor of English, comparative literature and linguistics, on “One Poet’s Voice,” a project that captures Arrey’s journey in understanding the poetic forms of romantic, modern and contemporary poets. She endeavors to understand the world around her by capturing the essence of people and she hopes to learn something about humans through her own original poetry. People do not follow the careful constructs of lines. They resist conformity. By using sonnets to describe them, she pushes people to think of this strict poetic form as a confinement that can be strategically welded to fit the needs of the human. Arrey said that if she can make a single person feel seen, heard or even less alone, she has done her job as a writer.

Jason Batres and their team, Alex Stewart, Katia Perez and Derrick Pham, work with Lucia Alcala, associate professor of psychology to study executive function skills — cognition-related abilities that help children reach goal-directed behaviors — to explore cultural variations in children’s performance on EF tasks. They predict that children from the U.S. will perform better in traditional EF tasks, and Yucatec Maya children will outperform culturally responsive EF tasks. Preliminary analysis indicates that in children’s performance in completing The Tower of Hanoi, a mathematical puzzle, most participants from the U.S. completed the task with at least three discs. Other EF tests demonstrated Yucatec Maya children’s ability to stay on task without supervision. They discovered that Yucatec Maya children helped the adult researcher spontaneously and accurately estimate when the water reached the target line on the bucket faster than U.S. children. The outcome of this study sheds light on how future studies should use both traditional and culturally responsive tasks.

Natalya Rowe, a history major working with Paulo Simoes, a lecturer in the University Honors Program, examines the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam, Netherlands, as a case study to determine the impact and development of successful urban planning and how certain cultural minorities, such as Sephardic Jews within the Iberian peninsula and Latin America, shaped the city’s geography. This research project argues that the exchange between the architecture and materials in the colonies and the Dutch Baroque style will ultimately shape the Sephardic Jewish community’s central synagogue and Jewish Quarter into the ideal urban city model, ushering the Netherlands into a Golden Age. This research project predominantly focuses on social and architectural history, specifically within marginalized groups often brushed to the outskirts of historical records.

Issac Maldonado, a biochemistry major, is working with Niroshika Keppetipola, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, to determine the role of phosphorylation in PTBP2 splicing activity. In this project, they aim to understand the role of phosphorylation in the differential splicing activity of two proteins that play roles in most life-cycle stages: PTBP1 and PTBP2. Outcomes from this project will help advance knowledge of how phosphate modifications can regulate gene expression. Also, having more insight into how PTMs affect alternative splicing mechanisms could lead to novel treatments that can treat diseases caused by alternative splicing misregulations.

Stefany Araoz, a biology major collaborating with Jennifer Burnaford, professor of biological science, investigates the effects of trampling California mussels on two features of individual mussels: attachment strength of individual mussels, which gives us insights into the effect of trampling on future removal potential; and heart rate of individual mussels, which gives insights into the energetic cost of trampling on the mussels. By examining the “small-scale” effects of trampling, they can determine how significant trampling affects these ecosystem engineers, as trampling weakens attachment and affects heart rate, ultimately shaping habitat and influencing community dynamics. Moreover, their work underscores the impacts on coastal areas, guides sustainable use practices and conservation efforts, raises awareness about responsible recreational activities, and fosters environmental conservation efforts among younger students, scientists, and policymakers.

Ashley Robinson, a physics major working with Anton Peshkov, assistant professor of physics, uses 3D-printed micro-boats to study the possibility of displacing objects or producing fluid flows using the collective motion of the nematode Turbatrix Aceti, also known as the vinegar eel. These experiments expand knowledge of how active matter can be used both for the displacement of objects and the generation of fluid flows.

Nicole Bonuso