Four Titans came out on top at the annual California State University Student Research Competition, held virtually April 29-30. The wins helped Cal State Fullerton tie with Sacramento State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for most student.
Seniors Azeem Horani and Mauricio Gomez Lopez won first-place honors, while senior Julia Teeple and graduate student Mehrshad Mazaheri earned second-place awards. They were four of eight students who represented CSUF at the competition, which brought together scholars from 23 CSU campuses to showcase their research, scholarship and creative works.
“All of our students’ presentations were excellent and I was amazed to hear how capably they answered the judges’ questions,” said Binod Tiwari, associate vice president for the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects.
Biochemistry major Horani won first place in the undergraduate Biological and Agricultural Sciences session for his presentation, “Identification and Characterization of Nuclear Export Sequences in Polypyrimidine Tract Binding Protein 1.”
“I have always been interested in biology’s central dogma: DNA is transcribed to pre-mRNA, which is processed and translated into proteins,” Horani said. “PTBP1 is involved in the processing of pre-mRNA, which is critical for proteins to be made in the body. I was also interested in the implications of this research where it could be used to better understand and treat neurodegenerative diseases.”
Gomez Lopez, a physics major, earned his top spot in the undergraduate Physical and Mathematical Sciences session. His presentation, “Studying the Material Properties of an Active Suspension of Swimming Bacteria,” focused on using high-power lasers to trap and move microscopic particles in E. Coli suspension.
“The competition was amazing,” Gomez Lopez said. “With the pandemic, it felt like people were working in their niche labs very closed off. But with this competition it opened my eyes to other truly fascinating research done by other students here on campus, but also at different campuses.”
Having started her work in the summer of 2019, biological science major Teeple had to pivot her research when the university shut down during the pandemic and she had restricted access to the lab. Her project, “Analyzing Flow Using Accurate Manta Anatomy,” earned second place in the undergraduate Biological and Agricultural Sciences session.
“I transitioned to this project because I had the opportunity to begin the work completely virtually by using computer simulated flow … to understand the principles of fluid dynamics,” Teeple said. “This unexpected switch allowed me to explore the field of biomechanics and I loved it.”
Mazaheri is a mechanical engineering graduate student, and his presentation, “High‐speed machining of 2219 Aluminum utilizing Nanoparticle Enhanced MQL lubrication,” earned second place in the mixed Engineering and Computer Science session.
First-place winners received $500 while second place received $250.
“These students competed with scholars and researchers from all over the state and they came out strong,” said Terri Patchen, faculty fellow for CSUF Student Creative Activities and Research. “We look forward to seeing more Titans present their hard work in this forum in the future.”