2019-2020 Research Projects

 

Research Mentoring Opportunities for Students!

The Office of University Diversity & Inclusion is excited to be adding a research mentoring component to our BEACoN Mentoring Program. BEACoN exists to educate and empower underrepresented students and advocate for them as they aspire to successfully complete their Cal Poly education.

Research projects will last Winter & Spring quarters of 2020 and students who are selected will receive $1,500 per quarter for 100 hours of work. If you apply to more than two projects, we will only accept the first two you submitted.

 


    

 

 

Animal Science

Siroj Pokharel

Distribution of Microbiome that are Present in a Buffer Zone Supported by the GIS Investigation

Foodborne pathogens can cause severe infection to people and even deaths. In the USA alone, it is estimated that 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 dies from foodborne diseases every year. The goal of this project is to use the GIS tool in identifying the factors associated with prevalence and translocation of pathogens, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Salmonella from one farming area to the other throughout a year (Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall) in particular location. Cal Poly animal units and nearby farming area will be used as a model for this project. Additionally, the GIS will be used to understand the concept of a buffer zone. Animals normally shed these pathogens in their feces and contaminate the surroundings including their body parts, water, feed, and soil. People can get these pathogens if precautions for sanitation and safety are not routinely followed.

In this research, fresh feces shed by dairy cattle, feed and water supplied, contaminated soil, and nearby produce will be collected for the isolation and identification of E. coli and Salmonella spp. and several other microbiomes. After successful completion of this research, the mentee’s will be able to describe the virulence of different foodborne pathogens and their nature of translocation from one area to the other based upon GIS tool.

Student's role in the research project:

The mentee will have an opportunity to work under several faculty mentors who will expose him/her to their specific filed. For example, collecting soil samples to creating GIS maps. Some of the highlighted roles of mentee are as follows:

-Sample collection (soil, feces, water) from the designated farm area, animal units, and produce fields.
-Isolation of DNA from the soil, water, and fecal samples using a DNA isolation kit.
-GIS map creation to better understand the topography.
-Data collection and interpretation.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

They will have a full understanding of how the microbiome gets translocated from one farming area to another.

- Isolation of DNA from the above-mentioned samples to conduct 16s rRNA metagenomic analysis.
-An understanding of the GIS mapping system.
-Data collection, analysis, and interpretation.

Required experiences/courses:

200 level microbiology courses

Preferred experiences/courses:

Student from STEM background.


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Architecture

Padma Maitland

The Art of Hope

This project is part of a longer-term research initiative to facilitate an interdisciplinary conversation around hope as a global and historically significant emotion that pervades public attitudes, policies, and discourses around many of today's most pressing issues. In the first quarter, we will focus on archival and bibliographic research around hope, focusing on Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Pilgrimage to India” in 1959 as a way to think about the “emotional communities” (Rosenwein 2018) that developed around hope during his trip through India. During the second quarter, we will continue doing archival and bibliographic research, while exploring the development of an on-line platform that could serve as a digital archive for the project..

Student's role in the research project:

The student will have two primary roles: They will be responsible for gathering and assessing archive materials related to Martin Luther King Jr’s “pilgrimage to India,” as well as material related to the study of hope and the arts. In the second quarter, we will work together to begin planning and developing an online platform that will serve as a digital archive of the project.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Through the project, the student will gain knowledge and experience doing archival research and new methods in the study of the history of emotions. They will also have the chance to learn about modern and contemporary Asian art. In addition to doing qualitative analysis on a variety of materials, they will have a chance to be part of developing a digital platform, learning about advances in the digital humanities.

Required experiences/courses:

Candidates should be interested in global contemporary art and architecture, especially in Asia. They should also have strong reading, writing, and organizational skills.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Experience in graphic design and website development would be highly preferred.

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Biological Sciences

Magdalena Maj

Effect of Western diet on brain development and memory formation


Our lab studies an effect of Western diet on brain development and memory formation. We specifically focus on an effect of a high-fat and/or high-fructose diet in the juvenile pigs, which are prone to develop a metabolic syndrome within a short period of time. By studying changes in protein level, gene expression, metabolomics analysis, immunohistochemistry staining, as well as carrying out behavioral observation, we are able to look at the bigger picture of how the specific diet impacts the brain development, and link it to a long-term consequences, namely neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
The pigs we work with, Iberian breed, has a mutation in the leptin receptor, which is characterized by elevated voluntary feed intake and increased lipogenic potential. Importantly, our Iberian pig colony on CP campus is the only research Iberian pig colony in the U.S. Our lab has typically several undergraduate and 1-2 graduate students at any given time, and everyone is encouraged to work as a team. Many of our students are passionately engaged and committed to our research projects, thus upon completion of all their assignments, writing, and laboratory work they gain co-authorship in abstracts and research papers.

Student's role in the research project:

Students in our lab are expected to learn the basic techniques in biochemistry and molecular cell biology. We have easy to follow written protocols with multiple photos, and most importantly hands-on mentorship from either well-trained and experienced graduate student or myself. Students would be expected to contribute to ongoing experiments, for example by helping in protein and RNA isolation, cutting thin slices of brain tissues on the cryostat, staining brain slices, and analyzing digital images of brain. The students in our lab are expected to work in collaboration with others, be collegial, work ethically, and efficiently.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The students, by helping with experiments, will learn the skills of designing and performing well-controlled, planned laboratory experiments. They will learn protein and RNA isolation procedures, which involves a proper tissue handling and RNA-free work. Importantly, students will learn how to follow the long lab protocols step by step, which requires attention to details and a careful, mindful reading with a full understanding. In pairs, students will independently perform immunofluorescence staining procedure of brain tissue slices. They will also analyze confocal images using an ImageJ software and compile the obtained data in Excel file. Students will be expected to be involved in these tasks commensurate with their background and interest levels. Students will participate in the lab meetings, where they will have a chance to present their work.

Required experiences/courses:

There are no formal courses required to join my lab. The student should be familiar with micropipetting and basic concepts of biology/biochemistry, hence courses such as CHEM 313, CHEM 371, or BIO 475 are strongly encouraged. Most importantly, the student should be very enthusiastic about the research and laboratory work, and be willing to pay attention to detail, be precise, and very focused when working in the lab.

Preferred experiences/courses:

It may be helpful for the student to have taken BIO 406 (Neuroscience) and BIO 475 (Molecular Biology Laboratory).

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Alejandra Yep

Antimicrobial compounds in traditional Chumash medicine

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common infection to affect humans, and are mainly caused by Gram-negative bacteria from the Enterobacteriaceae group. Multidrug resistance among Enterobacteriaceae is steadily increasing, threatening to make once simple-to-manage UTIs untreatable and making finding new therapies an urgent necessity. California native populations including the Chumash use a variety of local plants to treat and prevent UTIs. Plants synthesize secondary metabolites with antibacterial properties to defend themselves from infections, and more than a third of currently used drugs are derived from plants. We work in a collaborative group including botanists, natural product chemists, and microbiologists to identify antibacterial compounds in the plants used in traditional Chumash medicine to treat UTIs and test them against uropathogenic bacteria for prevention of growth, biofilm formation, motility, and other virulence factors.

Student's role in the research project:

The project involves researching literature and verbal communications from Chumash healers to identify the plants and establish plant parts and delivery method used for treatment. We work with botanists to ascertain genus and species and collect the plants locally, and then with natural product chemists to perform various solvent extractions. Extracts are tested for growth inhibition of bacteria, and active extracts are further analyzed by GC-MS and NMR to identify individual compounds. When available, individual compounds are re-tested for antimicrobial activity. Students will work in all stages of the research process, collaborating with students and faculty from each discipline.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Students will gain basic organic chemistry and microbiology skills like solvent extraction, NMR, sterile technique and bacterial growth, growth inhibition assays, time-kill assays, minimum inhibitory concentration, among other commonly used microbiology techniques. In addition, they will gain general research skills including protocol development and optimization, data analysis, oral and written presentation skills. Students are expected to take part in a poster or oral presentation at the CSM research symposium.

Required experiences/courses:

No specific requirements other than enthusiasm for learning and research. Specific skills will be acquired through involvement in the research process.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Students would benefit from having taken MCRO224 or 221 and CHEM324, or taking them while involved int his project.

 

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BioResource and Agricultural Engineering

Mohammad Sadek

Performance evaluation of agricultural machinery using Controlled Area Network (CAN) data

Tractors are the most common power source for agricultural machinery. The most direct way to measure the machinery field performance is by installing sensors on tractors and implements. However, several disadvantages associated with using sensors for field performance evaluation including cost, time, weather, accuracy, data acquisition system etc. Modern tractors are configured with networked electronic controllers and the physical controller area network (CAN) data typically conform to industry standards, such as SAE J1939 and ISO 11783, to ensure compatibility between hardware devices. CAN data provide a convenient means of data collection in which the complexities of auxiliary sensors and data acquisition systems can be avoided. Tools are commercially available that can capture CAN data and log it to a file. However, many CAN parameters are required to fully understand for machine use, performance, and efficiency, all of which should be evaluated for accuracy before investing in large-scale data collection or using the data to draw significant conclusions.
In the study CAN data will be collected during field operations. CAN messages will be interpreted following J1939 communication protocol. Collected data will be used to investigate the accuracy of the tractor performance as calculated from several relevant CAN channels by comparing it to measured data and theoretical calculation. Currently, we have access to John Deere tractors and devices to read and record CAN data. This research will create an opportunity to develop advanced test procedures that are more representative of field operations to better assess machine efficiency as well as reduce sensors use.

Student's role in the research project:

Student will be involved in all research activities such as group meetings, literature review, test set up, data collection, data processing and report writing.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Student will learn about different instrumentation and measurement techniques used in agricultural machinery field. Student will develop data analyzing skills especially on big data. Skill will help them learn about how to analyze big data and convert them into a useful information. In addition, student will learn about technical writing and presentation. Overall student will work with other students in the group and will experience the complete cycle of the research.  

Required experiences/courses:

STEM background

Preferred experiences/courses:

Agriculture

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Matt Haberland

Robotic Control of Yellow Starthistle

The goal of this project is to develop a robot that tirelessly hunts and eliminates yellow starthistle, an invasive weed that infests millions of acres throughout the western United States. Yellow starthistle's sharp spines inhibit livestock grazing, its toxins cause a deadly neurological disorder in horses, and its competitive nature reduces the diversity of desirable plants and animals. We seek to introduce a technological solution where traditional control measures such as hand-pulling, herbicides, and biological control agents (certain weevils and fungi) are unsatisfactory.

Student's role in the research project:

The student will create a machine vision system that detects the target weed in photographs and video. First, the student will review existing literature to find an appropriate machine learning algorithm for the task and compare each candidate against the de facto choice, YOLO v3, the current state of the art in most real-time object detection tasks. After choosing the best algorithm, the student will select an implementation of the algorithm for use in a high-level programming language, such as Matlab or Python, and train it to identify yellow starthistle using a dataset of rangeland images prepared last summer. Finally, the student will create a portable computer vision system using off the shelf components (e.g. Raspberry Pi and webcam) and test the system’s effectiveness at locating the plant in a local weed-infested environment (Cal Poly beef cattle rangeland). Ultimately, the student’s vision system will be integrated with the rest of the robot, which is also being designed and fabricated this year.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The student will gain experience applying their data science and computer programming skills to a real-world problem. They will learn to identify the needs of a stakeholder (ranchers who seek to control the weed), develop a corresponding set of requirements, design and program a system to meet those requirements, and devise and implement tests to evaluate their creation. Perhaps most importantly, the student will gain practical skill in applying machine learning, which is in very high demand. As I will need the student to document their work, the student will also develop technical writing skills, which are often overlooked but can be just as important as technical abilities.  

Required experiences/courses:

The student should have a strong programming background (in any language) and should be confident in their ability to learn new programming frameworks and algorithms as part of this project.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Experience in aspects of mechatronics/robotics such as microcontroller programming (e.g. Arduino, Raspberry Pi), machine vision (e.g. in Matlab or OpenCV), and/or robotic mapping and navigation would all be helpful.

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Chemistry and Biochemistry

Ashley McDonald

Computational characterization of active-site interactions in human MEK1

MEK1 is a protein that is involved in a key signaling pathway in cells and is a potential target for a variety of cancer therapies. MEK1 works by activating anther protein, ERK1, through phosphorylation. Interestingly, MEK1 activates ERK at two different residues; this is called dual-specificity. Our work aims to understand this dual-specificity by identifying which parts of MEK1 interact with ERK1 and with other important molecules like ATP.
In recent work, we have developed a computational model for activated MEK1 and used this model to identify key residues in the active site that interact with ATP and ERK1. This work aims to computationally characterize these most important interactions using electronic structure calculations. These calculations will characterize what type of forces (electrostatic, induction, exchange, or dispersion) are important in stabilizing the interactions and how the interaction energy changes as the structure changes. This will help us identify the important energetic features of the phosphorylation event and propose a mechanism for this process.

Student's role in the research project:

The student will extract coordinates of interacting pairs (a residue of MEK1 and a residue or ERK1 OR a residue of MEK1 and ATP) from a molecular dynamics trajectory. They will calculate the interaction energy between the two residues using the computational chemistry software package Psi4. Students will analyze the results to determine how the interaction energy changes as the structure changes.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The student will learn to use the Linux operating system, jupyter notebook, and the computational chemistry software package Psi4. They will also develop some python programming skills, and learn how to use remote computing resources, using things like ssh and ftp. The student will learn the differences between different electronic structure methods, the strengths and weaknesses of those methods, and how to identify an appropriate method to solve a chemical problem.

Required experiences/courses:

While this research project involves lots of computational skills, most of the students who join my research group do not already have these skills and develop them over the course of the research project. As long as the student is willing to learn the required skills, no particular prior skills are required.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Having taken a chemistry class (CHEM 124 or 127) along with at least one biology class is helpful, though not strictly required. If the student did already have python programming skills, they would probably be able to move the project along more quickly, but these skills are not prerequisites as long as the student is willing to learn on the job.  


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Sandra Ward

Synthesis and Characterization of Supramolecular amphiphiles for applications in drug delivery

This projects involves using common organic techniques to synthesize molecular building blocks that can self-assemble into well define larger structures. Much like how lipids self-assemble to form cell membranes our synthetic amphiphiles self-assemble to form vesicles. We can encapsulate therapeutic cargo inside vesicles that degrade by a chemical trigger built into the amphiphile. Vesicles can act as carriers and protect therapeutic agent in the blood stream, uptake and efficacy of the drug is improved which can result in lower doses and less side effects.

Student's role in the research project:

Students will synthesize the molecular building blocks and study their self-assembly in water. The majority of the time students will spend doing organic synthesis and then can use a variety of instruments to characterize the compounds they have made.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Students will gain experience in common organic synthesis techniques such as reaction set up, purification by extractions and recrystallization. They will gain experience in spectroscopy to confirm they have synthesized their compound. A variety of instrumentation is available to help confirm the self-assembly and formation of vesicles, their particle size and their ability to degrade and release encapsulated cargo. Overall students will l get experience problem solving and trouble shooting experiments and analyzing spectra.

Required experiences/courses:

Student should have taken one quarter of organic chemistry in order to work safely in the lab.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Student should have taken one quarter of organic chemistry in order to work safely in the lab.  


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City and Regional Planning

Amir Hajrasouliha

Policy and Design Considerations for Autonomous Vehicle Zones

The technology of Autonomous Vehicles (AV) is arriving and it is expected to change not only our transportation mode, but also our cities, and possibly our lifestyles. Policy makers, planners, and designers are not ready to completely adopt this technology at a large scale, due to a variety of uncertainties and risk factors. This research project aims at conceptualizing a set of models for the adoption of AVs in AV zones as a self-contained system within a defined area, where regular cars are prohibited. The objectives of the study include: 1) Assessing exiting AV zone projects, plans, and proposals based on criteria such as the role of public authorities and corporations, the incorporation of multimodal transportation, and urban design characteristics, 2) conceptualizing a set of AV zone models, based on their scale, form, function, and management. 3) listing policy and design considerations for each AV zone model.
The content analysis of AV plans and proposals will be combined with literature review to produce a report that can be used by practitioners, and also as a foundation for further research in this field. Trajectory of this research project are the followings: 1- I will use the findings as the foundation of a planning studio in the next academic year to propose an AV Zone plan for downtown San Luis Obispo. 2- I will apply for some internal/local grants to support the studio at the end of this academic year. 3- Next year, I will apply for external grants to support this research at the national level.

Student's role in the research project:

The mentee will assist with the content analysis of AV plans, documents, and proposals. An MCRP student is currently working on a thesis project closely related to this research. The mentee would work with him and I to create annotated bibliographies. The mentee will be responsible for summarizing and evaluating sources. This would require the mentee to search for academic articles and books, as well as reports and professional plans. The student would organize the annotated bibliographies of these texts for me to review. The student would attend my meetings with the MCRP student, and possibly another faculty member from the University of San Francisco to discuss research findings. In addition, the student should contribute to the writing of the manuscript and be able to review and edit drafts of it.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Content analysis, critical thinking, argumentation skills, skills in finding literature and managing it, editing and writing skills, knowledge about academic publishing.

Required experiences/courses:

No particular course is required for this research. The student should have excellent reading comprehension and analytical skills. The student should be able to read and comprehend a variety of texts, including policy documents, planning reports, books, and articles. The student should be able to synthesize large amounts of qualitative information into summary briefs. Excellent writing skills is also required.

Preferred experiences/courses:

The student should have general interest in the emerging technologies such as AVs and their impact on our cities. Any course that covers this broad topic in any college would be useful. Examples are CRP 338. Digital Cities, PHIL 322. Philosophy of Technology, CE 321. Fundamentals of Transportation Engineering, CSC 302. Computers and Society, UNIV 391. Appropriate Technology for the World's People: Development, UNIV 392. Appropriate Technology for the World's People: Design. Ideally, the student would also be passionate about qualitative research and academic writing.  


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Communication Studies

Aubrie Adams

Exploring Player Identity in Virtual Environments

Video games are now considered a ubiquitous form of new media entertainment. With sales each year generating approximately 20 billion dollars in the US alone, reports from the Electronic Software Association in 2019 indicate that 75% of American households have at least one gamer. Despite the pervasiveness of video games in society and the growing body of research on media effects, few studies explore the ways in which new and evolving virtual reality gaming environments impact a player’s sense of identity or their relationship with their avatar.
The goal of this research is to explore how a player’s personal identity is impacted when interacting in a virtual environment. Traditional research on game studies suggests that players typically think of the characters they control not as a component of their own personal identity, but as a distinct being separate from themselves. However, virtual reality tools immerse the player more deeply into the environment to give players a genuine sense of being fully present in the digital world. From this, a variety of important questions emerge: do players feel like they are playing “themselves” in a virtual reality environment? Or do they feel like they are temporarily subsuming the role of another? How do players mentally prepare for both entering and leaving the virtual environment? How is one’s personal identity impacted when playing a character whose identity is fundamentally different to some degree and what implications does this have for understanding the experiences of others? This study seeks to explore questions such as these.

Student's role in the research project:

Students will participate in four primary phases of study development: (1) study design; (2) data collection; (3) analysis; and (4) paper adaptation. During study design, students will contribute their feedback and insights in developing interview questions. During data collection, students will use virtual reality equipment (Oculus Rift S headset) to allow participants to play a short VR game. Following the VR sessions, students will conduct interviews using semi-structured questions. During analysis, students will type up interview transcripts and participate in organizing the data into categorical themes. Lastly, students will participate in writing a paper suitable for conference presentation and publication.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Students will practice skills in qualitative research methods including generating interview questions, recruiting participants, facilitating lab studies using sophisticated VR equipment, conducting interviews, typing transcripts, analyzing transcripts, identifying themes in data, conducting a literature review, and writing up findings in the form of a scholarly social science report.

Required experiences/courses:

No prior coursework is required for this research assistant position.

Preferred experiences/courses:

It is preferred that students have taken coursework in Research Methods, Media Effects, Values and Technology, or any other comparable media/technology related course.  


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Anuraj Dhillon

Does accommodative words make a difference in romantic partners' conversation satisfaction about a relational stressor?

This research project aims to examine the verbal messages of romantic partners during conversation about a relational stressor. Specifically, this project focuses on the use of accommodative and nonaccommodative messages in heterosexual romantic partners' conversations about a stressor. The study wants to identify messages that are perceived positively and negatively by the relational partners during a stressful conversation and its association with conversation satisfaction and other relational outcomes.
The project hypothesizes that the use of positively valenced-accommodative messages are positively associated with romantic partners conversation satisfaction and relational outcomes, whereas perceptions of negatively-valenced non accommodative messages are negatively associated with romantic partner's conversations satisfaction, and relational outcomes. In order to assess the use of language during the conversation, the researchers will code the transcripts of romantic partners conversations about relational stressors.

Student's role in the research project:

The student mentee is expected to analyze the transcriptions of conversations and help in the entire process of writing a research article. Specifically, the student mentee will code conversations by listing positively and negatively-valenced accommodative and non accommodative messages. These messages will be coded based on established accommodation scale. Student and researcher will together develop the final code book.
Next, student will be summarizing some of the research relevant to the project to understand the underlying basics of this project (researcher would share few articles). Student will summarize the articles by creating annotated bibliography of the research articles.
Further, student will assist in hypotheses testing carried out by the researcher using several statistical softwares, such as SPSS and AMOS. Student will also learn how to LIWC, a text analysis program. This program will be used for textual analysis of the conversations.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The student will learn textual analyses using LIWC and conversation coding. Additionally, the student will learn how to synthesize relevant literature and its application in the project at hand. Finally, the student will learn quantitative analyses of data using SPSS and AMOS.
Overall, the student will learn how to conduct a literature review, conduct quantitative and textual analyses, and how to report research findings.

Required experiences/courses:

None. The student doesn't need any particular courses, though it would be helpful if the student has some interest in related topics, such as romantic relationships and relational communication. However, this is not a requirement.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Research Methods (any department) and Interpersonal Communication courses are preferred but not required.  


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Megan Lambertz-Berndt

Millennial employee perceptions of race-based affinity groups merit in the workplace

This study seeks to explore perceptions of an increasingly common organizational diversity initiative, affinity groups. Affinity groups include individuals with a similar social identity, gathering together to discuss issues concerning the shared identity characteristic (Segal, 2013). Affinity groups include either homogeneous structuring where all individuals must identify with the shared characteristic such as an all-Black affinity group, while hetereogeneous structuring includes those of the same identity in addition to allies. Since affinity groups include a voluntary space for employees to informally discuss topics concerning a shared racial and/or nonracial identity characteristic, they serve as a useful context to examine whether such spaces will lead to more conversations concerning diversity efforts as well as whether incoming millennials will utilize this organizational resource. If millennials do not deem these spaces as beneficial efforts, there may be a lack of attendance or a resistance to supporting such spaces. Attendance is an important factor to consider when instituting a diversity resource however gauging levels of comfortability also provide important insight as to their effectiveness.

Student's role in the research project:

The mentee will help code the data through thematic analysis as well as gather articles in organizational communication scholarship to help aid in the analysis. I currently have data from a previous institution however would like to gather data from Cal Poly as well to draw comparisons.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The mentee will gain knowledge of the IRB process, SPSS, thematic analysis, and how to interpret and write results. They will also learn how to locate a journal based on the aims and scope of our study.

Required experiences/courses:

I would expect the mentee to have taken courses that involve analyzing data and applying a critical lens to scholarship. Overall, I value the critical thinking skills of a student over the completion of a particular course.

Preferred experiences/courses:

I would hope that the mentee will have taken a research methods course however this is not entirely necessary since some research methods courses do not cover thematic analysis. I am more than willing to teach this method to the mentee if they do not have prior experience.  


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Computer Science and Software Engineering

Bruno da Silva

Sentiment Analysis of Software Developers' Comments on GitHub

In spite of advancements in software engineering technologies, we still strongly rely on human-to-human interaction for performing software development activities and driving results effectively. Besides collaborating within a software team, it is not uncommon that software developers also work with other teams within or across organizations, or even independent developers on the other side of the globe. Tools such as GitHub and Jira are essential to support not only source code version control but also to provide critical features to enhance communication and collaboration. Therefore, understanding developers' sentiment while they are engaged in technical work through those tools becomes essential to improve team performance.
Recently, researchers have applied automatic sentiment analysis on pieces of text software developers produce (e.g., commit logs, issue comments, and Q&A forums). However, current results are based solely on academic prototypes, whereas no industry-standard sentiment analysis tools have been applied and evaluated in this field. Therefore, this project aims to automatically measure developers' sentiment on text using well-known industry-standard platforms such as Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and IBM Watson. A typical dataset for this project can be a selection of code review or issue comments from usual developer tools such as GitHub or Jira. Besides implementing a measurement pipeline using the tools mentioned above, we have the stretch goal to perform a comparative analysis of the different sentiment analysis tools applied.

Student's role in the research project:

The student mentee will be involved in all stages of this project, such as designing the study, programming the measurement process through multiple iterations, and reporting results in various formats (e.g., computer-readable, oral, written). We expect that the student mentee's work will be more concentrated on programming the sentiment analysis process, consuming multiple industry-standard software services on the cloud, creating scripts to make API calls, and reading/storing JSON documents. We will schedule weekly meetings to interact with each other, discuss results, review tasks, exchange feedback, and ultimately grow together.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Throughout the project execution, the student mentee will be able to develop a research-oriented mindset of working on research questions, scoping and carrying out a research method, collecting and analyzing data, and reporting results. Also, while executing this project, the mentee will advance their programming skills by using modern software technologies (e.g., REST APIs), consuming industry-standard cloud services, and handling JSON documents. Additionally, with the support of the mentor, the student mentee will develop soft skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, confidence, creativity, and time management. All those are strongly appreciated in the software engineering/computing industry.

Required experiences/courses:

CSC 202 (Data Structures) or equivalent.

Preferred experiences/courses:

CSC 203 (Project-Based Object-Oriented Programming and Design) or equivalent.  


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Zoe Wood

Trajectory planning for autonomous underwater vehicles for photogrammetry reconstruction

Capturing a 3D computer model of real world geometry is useful for many domains, including archeology for site mapping, monitoring and producing educational visualizations. Using photogrammetry to reconstruct such 3D models from a sequence of photographs (or video frames) has gained wide spread acceptance. This project focuses on creating trajectories for an autonomous vehicle with the primary objective to capture `good views’ of the site of interest to then use video frames for photogrammetry reconstructions. Using a robotics motion planning algorithm integrated into a virtual testbed, this project includes trajectory refinement, especially with respect to translating a given digital path (defined by discrete points) into a usable geo-located way-points for an autonomous vehicle to follow and testing to evaluate the trajectories. In addition, further research to evaluate trajectories is needed (either using the virtual testbed or ideally field deployments if resources allow).

Student's role in the research project:

The student researcher will become familiar with the existing software (written in C++ using OpenGL) and extend this project to convert paths represented by discrete points into viable AUV trajectories in a usable format by the AUV. The student researcher will then use the existing software to evaluate these trajectories in terms of photogrammetry results. Virtual tests along with potentially real-world testing scenarios will be explored.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The student researcher will gain experience with robotics motion planning algorithms, the photogrammetry pipeline and various methods to evaluate 3D models. In general, the student will gain technical depth and experience in a field of computer science.

Required experiences/courses:

Ideally the student researcher should have completed their second year of coursework in computer science (CPE 357).

Preferred experiences/courses:

The student researcher must have completed up to (and including) CSC 202.  


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Economics

Stefanie Fischer

Does the Burden of a Sick Child Contribute to the Gender Wage Gap?

In the US women face substantial labor market penalties for having children. On average mothers earn less and work fewer hours relative to their male counterparts. One contributing factor that has been well documented is that pregnancy and the birth of a child require a sustained absence from work. In response, many states have adopted paid maternity leave, though the effectiveness of these policies in terms of mother’s labor market outcomes is mixed.
Another type of leave taking that has received little attention among social scientists -- and may also contribute to the mother labor market penalty -- is frequent work absences associated with a sick child. This type of leave-taking is substantial among working parents with young children and the burden tends to fall on mothers. In this project we aim to (1) document gender differences in work absences for child illness, (2) use variation in influenza season severity to see how the gap changes, (3) investigate whether certain policies (i.e., maternity/paternity leave) moderate or exacerbate the child illness leave-taking gender gap, and (4) try to draw a causal link between this type of leave taking and women’s longer-term labor market outcomes.

Student's role in the research project:

- Download and clean large data files from 30 years of the Current Population Survey (CPS) using the statistical program Stata.
- Construct data visualizations with the cleaned CPS data to document trends in the leave-taking gender gap for different groups (by race, region etc.).
- Conduct a formal literature review including literature outside the field of economics.
- Use modern econometric/data science techniques including writing programs to conduct statistical analyses.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

- Become proficient in Stata.
- Learn how to write a program file to conduct statistical analyses.
- Learn to clean and manage data.
- Learn how to summarize data in tables and visualize data graphically.
- Learn how to read technical writing and synthesize an area of research.

Required experiences/courses:

A successful candidate will have completed Econ 339 (regression analysis) or an equivalent course by the end of Fall 2019. They will have some interest in social science and understanding the gender wage gap.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Ideally, they will have some experience working with data and using some type of programming language (Stata, R, SAS, Python etc.).  


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Jacqueline Doremus

Access to Cannabis: A public health experiment

Legal access to cannabis, be it medical or recreational, represents a public health experiment of an unprecedented scale. The way in which cannabis legalization has occurred – in different states at different times – acts as a natural experiment and lets us learn about how access to cannabis changes health outcomes. From the literature, we know that that cannabis acts as a substitute for prescription medicine. My work has shown it substitutes for over-the-counter medicine, too.
This project will extend my previous work in this direction. The mentee will help gather and prepare data to investigate several new questions. First, how does access change food purchases? Next, how does access to cannabis change health care utilization by older people? Cannabis may be helpful in addressing anxiety and depression. The mentee will learn how to access and process twitter data through the API in order to explore changes in mood, as expressed through twitter data, after cannabis access.
We will also look at maternal health behaviors – are pregnant women increasing cannabis use? Are there detectable negative health implications for neonates? Are women changing breastfeeding patterns in response to cannabis access?
Finally, the project will explore congressional lobbying by pharmaceutical companies to stop federal bills to legalize cannabis.

Student's role in the research project:

First, the mentee will download and organize data from the following sources: google trends, open secrets, CMS, PRISM/Schlenker’s website, twitter API, BLS, ATUS, and other public data sites. Then the mentee will work on cleaning, preparing these data for analysis, and merging some of them. This will be done in R Studio or stata and will be scripted so it is replicable. Finally, the mentee will do basic analysis (tables and figures).

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

- Professionalism: Making deadlines; Timely response to emails; Time management; Polite behavior in meetings (phone usage, arriving on time, not canceling).
- Data creation: Extraction – from pdfs, from web, from excel; Organizing data so it can be used by statistical software; Students are often more familiar with limited analysis within an excel sheet; Data preparation for reading into software is different than analysis in excel –it requires less formatting but needs a specific organization; Creating meta-data; using the twitter API to get tweet data.
- Data preparation: Important – no course on this; In econometrics they are given a clean dataset.
- Coding, do-file and log file management in stata and/or R studio: The importance of replication (avoiding the command line window); Teach them to code in do-files so we can replicate the analysis; Teach them to create date-stamped log files, so they can go back to their old code if they make a mistake.
- Graphical representations of data: Line graphs, histograms, scatter plots, bar graphs.
- Summary statistics: Average, min, sd, correlation.
- Analysis: T-tests; Basic regression analysis.
- Literature reviews: How to find peer-reviewed material; What qualifies as good peer-reviewed material; How to organize peer-reviewed publications for synthesis.
- Writing: Summarize informal research found on the web, data sources, and their results.

Required experiences/courses:

Preparing data for analysis.

Preferred experiences/courses:

ECON 339; ECON 395  


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English

Daniel Isbell

Oral Proficiency and Spontaneous Speaking Performance of Second Language Korean Learners: A Cross-Sectional Examination of Linguistic Features and Listener Judgments

In this project, I will examine how spoken performances in second language (L2) Korean vary across proficiency levels of learners. As part of prior research, where I focused on the development and validation of a diagnostic pronunciation assessment tool, I collected spontaneous speaking samples and oral proficiency measures from 198 learners of Korean as a second language. For this project, I will further analyze the spontaneous speaking samples for a wider variety of linguistic features and collect new data on listener impressions of speakers’ comprehensibility (subjective ease of understanding) and accentedness (subjective difference from a listener’s own speech variety) in order to better understand what distinguishes the spoken performances of L2 Korean speakers at different proficiency levels and what linguistic features predict listener perceptions of speech. Korean, as a less-commonly taught and researched language, is currently understudied in this area, which presents a ripe opportunity to (a) contribute to the study of L2 Korean speaking ability and (b) explore the degree to which findings for L2 Korean align with those of more well-studied languages, e.g., English, French.
Two sets of analyses will be conducted. The first is a set of correlational analyses between (a) oral proficiency and linguistic features of spontaneous speaking performances and (b) oral proficiency and listener impressions of spontaneous speaking performances. These analyses will reveal cross-sectional patterns in linguistic features and listener perceptions across proficiency levels. The second set of analyses will be regression models that model the influence of linguistic features on listener perceptions. Oral proficiency will be explored as a potential moderator variable.

Student's role in the research project:

- Assist with sound file preparation (removing false starts, trimming files to a uniform length).
- Assist with implementation and testing of a Qualtrics survey to collect listener ratings.
- Assist with participant recruitment for listener rating of speech samples (e.g., advertising study to Korean speakers in the U.S.).
- Edit and correct existing transcripts of speech files.
- Assist with analysis of speech in sound files along several linguistic dimensions (e.g., mispronunciations, grammar errors, lexical errors).
- Shadow/develop an understanding of project data preparation, summary, visualization, and statistical analyses as a learning experience.
- With guidance, develop a research question for a smaller-scale analysis they can execute based on the project’s data (e.g., “What is the relationship between oral proficiency and lexical sophistication in spontaneous learner Korean speech?”).

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The student will develop and/or gain the following skills:
- Linguistic analysis of spoken language
- Survey research methodology
- Online survey/experiment implementation
- Conducting their own linguistic research
- Using the statistical software R and RStudio to prepare, summarize, and visualize data. Statistical analysis learning/application opportunities will depend on student experience.

Required experiences/courses:

The student must be a speaker of Korean. They do not necessarily need to have native-level proficiency (nor be of Korean heritage), but at least intermediate proficiency is needed to carry out linguistic analyses on the data. I have reference materials, my own knowledge of the language, and native-speaking colleagues to help with trickier issues that may arise, but Korean ability is a major asset that the student will bring to this research project.

Preferred experiences/courses:

I would prefer the student to have taken ENGL 290 Introduction to Linguistics, or comparable course covering linguistic structure of a specific language (e.g., SPAN 207 Introduction to Spanish Linguistics, ENGL 390 The Linguistic Structure of Modern English). Other experiences with formal language/linguistics-related study would also be considered beneficial (e.g., CSC student with natural language or speech processing experience, student with educational experience related to literacy instruction or speech pathology).  


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Ethnic Studies

Mario Espinoza-Kulick

La Gente Unida (The People United): Immigrant Health Advocacy and Movements along California’s Central Coast

The research project will specifically focus on immigrant health advocacy on the central coast of California (Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties). This project investigates the strategies that advocates deploy to transform health policy and promote equitable access to health care for stakeholders of immigrant health movements, like the #Health4All movement. The following research questions will be considered throughout the process: What are the characteristics of immigrant health movements?  What health conditions are of most concern for these groups?  What tactics and strategies do they employ in an effort to impact health care and health policy?  What roles do culture and political climate play in immigrant health advocacy?
As a mixed-methods project, this project involves primarily qualitative methodologies (e.g., coding, transcription, literature searches, and content analysis) and some quantitative methods (i.e. survey analysis). During the course of this mentorship opportunity, students will learn how to utilize grounded theory coding, analyze quantitative data, and how to approach research with a decolonial lens that aims to contribute to social justice efforts that are useful to underserved and minoritized communities. As an outcome of this project, the mentee and mentor will work together to create a resource that links immigrant community members on the central coast with health advocates and network with community experts involved in this study.

Student's role in the research project:

- The student's role will be to (1) code data, (2) perform literature searches for contextual background information, (3) collect and analyze survey data, (4) write research reports as needed, and (5) develop a resource that links immigrants with health advocates.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Students will learn the following: (1) how to utilize qualitative and quantitative methods, including grounded theory coding and survey analysis, (2) how to use mixed-methods software, (3) how to conduct a literature search and organize references using Zotero, (4) different approaches to research that center social justice and localized knowledge for advancing social change, and (5) the administrative details that are often unpronounced in research practice.

Required experiences/courses:

- Courses required for this mentoring opportunity are ES 112: Race, Culture, and Politics in the United States or equivalent or HLTH 101: Orientation to Public Health or equivalent.
- Interest in health policy, social movements, and immigrant rights.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Experience working with immigrant communities is preferred. Any upper-level course work (200+) that applies to immigration, health, race, class, gender, and ethnicity is also preferred.Experience in quantitative analysis software (STATA or SPSS) is preferred.  


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Jenell Navarro

Northern Chumash Visibility in San Luis Obispo

This project is a partnership between the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini and myself. We are seeking to gauge the level of visibility for the tribe among the general public of San Luis Obispo. The yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini have been here in their ancestral homelands since time immemorial yet many local residents (temporary and permanent) do not know they are on Northern Chumash territories or that the tribe has a thriving ongoing presence. The purpose of the project is to raise awareness and education for the general population of San Luis Obispo to know of the tribe's presence.
This project will be a research service to the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini and a learn-by-doing experience for the student mentee. Through a collaborative methodology, the mentee and I will work closely with the tribe to co-create a survey that can be circulated at large local public gatherings like the San Luis Obispo Farmer's Market and the Chamber of Commerce meetings. The survey will ask specific questions about the respondent's knowledge of the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini. We will develop the survey on a digital platform and help circulate it digitally and in person (on paper). The tribe will utilize the data to meet their sovereign goals of representation and visibility in their homelands.

Student's role in the research project:

The mentee will help co-create survey questions, develop the digital version of the survey, and collect the data for the tribe. They will attend meetings with myself and the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini to ensure the needs of the Northern Chumash are being met in the project. Finally, the mentee's largest role will be to help administer the survey at the large public gatherings mentioned above.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The mentee will gain qualitative research experience with the survey, quantitative data coding with the survey results, and learn how to work collaboratively toward a research goal. They will also engage in ethnographic methodologies as they assist in administering the survey to the general public.

Required experiences/courses:

The mentee must have taken ES 241: Survey of Indigenous Studies and have some experience working to empower Native communities (on campus or off campus).

Preferred experiences/courses:

It would be preferred for the mentee to have taken upper level Indigenous Studies courses.  


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Experience Industry Management

Andrew Lacanienta

The intricacies of memorable tourism experiences

We live in a world where individuals are seeking out extraordinary experiences. Tourism, in particular, is an industry that is heavily participating in the conceptualization, design and execution of memorable experiences. From California, New York, and Hawaii to destinations worldwide tourists are seeking memorable tourism experiences such as zip lines, snorkeling, mountaineering, immersive dining, and cultural tours. With the demand for memorable experiences in mind, the question arises, what makes any given tourism experience memorable?
This research project will use the theory of structured experience, a framework for designing experiences. Using this theoretical framework researchers will investigate the impact of 32 tourism attractions across the islands of Hawaii on participant’s perceived value, delight, net promoter score, and ultimately, how memorable the experiences were. Longitudinal secondary data will be analyzed measure the “memorability” of the experience.
Memorable experiences will be the focus of our research so we will intentionally design this mentored research experience to be memorable as well!

Student's role in the research project:

With my guided help and facilitation the student will be expected to do the following: 1) read academic articles, synthesize information, and help write a literature review, 2) learn how to conduct data analysis, 3) learn how to interpret and write up analysis results, 4) learn how to write an academic manuscript and/or conference abstract, 5) present their work in front of their peers and other industry professionals.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Students will gain practice and competence in writing a detailed literature review, overall research methods, quantitative data analysis using SPSS, refined writing skills, and superb oral presentation skills.

Required experiences/courses:

There are no required courses or experiences - any student is welcome. We will work together to learn the skills necessary for success on this project.

Preferred experiences/courses:

There are no required courses or experiences - any student is welcome. We will work together to learn the skills necessary for success on this project.  


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Yeqiang Lin

Promoting CA Specialty Crops at Trade Shows

With increased globalization and excess domestic supply, it is essential for CA specialty crop producers to explore international market opportunities. Trade shows are a major channel for entering a foreign market. In recent years, businesses use trade shows to develop new international markets and diversify their export/import partners to avoid being a victim of a global trade war. Case evidence supports international trade shows as being an important factor in the development of small-scale exporters and, in particular, export start-ups.
This project will study the most effective trade show strategies for CA specialty crop producers and producer groups. By way of interviews and surveys with CA specialty crops producers, associations, government officials, and trade show organizers, the project goal is to encourage more CA specialty crop producers and producer groups to exhibit at international trade shows, and to do so effectively. We will disseminate our findings to the CA specialty crop industry and measure the change of attitude and behavior intention on exhibiting at international trade shows. We will follow up with those who adopt our findings and track the increase in export revenue, orders, and/or media coverage of individual specialty crop processors/producers in CA.

Student's role in the research project:

Conduct review of literature on the topic and conduct phone and face-to-face interviews with California specialty crop producers. The student will also work on environmental scanning, qualitative data collection, transcription, data analysis, and dissemination of the findings. Specifically, the student will conduct environmental scanning on the international trade show participation of CA specialty crops producers through research using journal articles, government reports, association reports, media coverage, and official websites of key stakeholders. A pool of interview questions for each key stakeholder will be complied as a result of the scanning.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Students have the opportunity to study some of the most important aspects of CA agriculture industry - 1) document the baseline of CA specialty crop producers’ exhibition at international trade shows and impact on export revenue, 2) identify major barriers to and best practices of exhibition, and 3) create guidebooks and conduct workshops on international trade show exhibition (e.g., costs, benefits, regulations, and best practices) and, as a result, encourage more CA producers and producer groups to exhibit at international trade shows. And the students learn to study these things in ways that develop sophisticated skills like critical thinking and articulate communication. In addition, I'll work with the student to help develop the student's survey construction and administration, data analysis, and interview skills.

Required experiences/courses:

Good communication and writing skills.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Basic stats classes. Experience with the CA specialty crops industry would be preferred.  


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History

Matthew Hopper

Prize Papers and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

This project uses previously underutilized archival documents to trace the history of the transatlantic slave trade. Over the past three years, I have traveled to London to conduct research in the National Archives (UK), and have photographed tens of thousands of documents related to the slave trade. Great Britain outlawed the slave trade in 1808 and built a network of treaties with the major slave-trading countries in the Atlantic world (Portugal, Spain, Brazil, etc.) to permit the Royal Navy to search and capture slave ships on the high seas. Between 1808 and 1897, the Royal Navy captured over 700 slave ships and released an estimated 250,000 Africans from captivity aboard these vessels. In the process of prosecuting slave traders in vice-admiralty courts around the British Empire, naval officers produced evidence captured aboard the slave ships in the form of logbooks, letters, invoices, and official documents. For nearly two centuries these documents, collectively known as “prize papers” have remained preserved in boxes in the National Archives in the records of the High Court of Admiralty and have received little attention from historians.
This project explores these original documents – many of which have remained sealed with wax and were never previously opened – to study the horrors and complexities of the slave trade, including the process of enslavement, the purchasing procedures used in West Africa, the tradition of branding captives in order to distinguish them as the “property” of particular merchants, and the types of commodities used in exchange for African captives. Many of these documents are in Spanish and Portuguese. The project also uses the British Admiralty correspondence related to these captures to create the first comprehensive database of captured slave ships.

Student's role in the research project:

Student work on this project would include reading both original prize papers and archived correspondence related to the slave trade. Both sets of documents are written in nineteenth-century cursive, which requires patience and a love for detective work. Depending on the student’s language skills, they may work to translate letters, invoices, and official documents which were seized aboard slave ships from Spanish or Portuguese into English. They may also work on the slave ship database, which uses photographs of 89 volumes of correspondence (in English) between Admiralty and Treasury related to prize cases (i.e., captured slave ships) to create the first comprehensive index of all of the slave ships captured by the Royal Navy in the nineteenth century. The database uses Microsoft Excel to index key information related to each slave ship contained in each of these volumes.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The student will gain historical research skills for working with primary sources from 200 years ago. They will gain a broad understanding of the transatlantic slave trade and the history of abolition. They will gain expertise in the geography of the slave trade. They will also gain experience in creating an original database, locating and extracting specific data from historical documents. The student may also gain experience with translation of historical documents from Spanish or Portuguese into English if they have the skills to do so.

Required experiences/courses:

No prerequisite courses or experiences are required.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Some knowledge of social sciences and qualitative research would be helpful, but is not required. The student should also have strong organizational skills.  


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Thanayi Jackson

Allensworth, CA: Jim Crow Black Utopian "Race Colonies" in the West

Allensworth, CA was an African-American farming town founded by a group of settlers that included Civil War Colonel Allen Allensworth. Born a slave in Kentucky, Allensworth traveled widely after his military service and, despite the gains of emancipation and Reconstruction, by the 20th century was looking for a place to be free in what had degraded into Jim Crow America. He looked West. This project situates Allensworth in the history of the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. In particular, I hope to explore Allensworth as a lens into the postwar hopes, disappointments, and strategies that accompanied black life over the course of these dynamic eras. In the face of the end of Reconstruction and the establishment of Jim Crow segregation, what strategies did black Americans develop? Are “race colonies” like Allenstown examples of black utopian thinking? By examining the formation of Allensworth as its own town with its own local government, it provides insight into the freedom dreams of this postwar community.

Student's role in the research project:

Under my mentorship students will learn about historical research. Together we will play detective and think about where we might find evidence that explains why former slaves and Civil War soldiers founded an all-black town far from the U.S. South in central California. As an historian, I expect to find records from the time in newspapers, magazines, etc. as well as government records, the Allensworth Historical Site, and perhaps even local artifacts and memoirs from the time of Allensworth’s founding and settlement. What other sources can we find? We will be creative in our search for evidence. I will provide instruction and share tricks of the historical trade in order for students to perform their own searches for mention of Allensworth in these sources. This project is conceived of as an intellectual history in which we will seek to understand the motivation behind the construction of an all-black town in the American West. We will interpret these sources together and discuss the relevance of our findings. Do we see evidence that Allensworth was perceived as utopian? For example, how did magazines and newspapers talk about Allensworth at the time – particularly/especially black print culture? Did they talk about Allensworth as a utopia? We will also organize our findings into a research database; chart the town’s governmental structure and infrastructure; and hopefully travel to Allensworth historical site.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

On the research project: This project will teach students qualitative research skills through library and archival research, historical and historiographical analysis (we will talk about how history is told and presented and how we should tell this history), and writing and revising an historical article for publication. This project is also an introduction to Public History. Allensworth, CA is recognized by the California Department of Parks and Recreation as an historical site. Part of the interpretive angle of this project will think about the process by which Allensworth became an historical landmark and how it is presented for public consumption. Allensworth provides an opportunity to see multiple historical focal points at play, including archival research, public history, local history, and government structure. This project is particularly suited for mentorship because I hope to do some thinking with the student and develop a relationship in which we can bounce big ideas off one another. On mentorship: I believe that the college experience is primarily about developing our own voice and life experience through interaction with other thinkers. I often find that students come to college with a belief that they must adapt to an elusive and elite academic language at the expense of their own voice. This is a concept that sometimes derails students and causes them to feel unprepared and even unworthy of academia. As a mentor, one of my primary goals is to help students recognize the value of their own voices. College is not the place to lose your voice but rather to amplify it, hone it, and add it to an academic world in need of a multiplicity and diversity of experience. I also hope to be a sounding board for students to explore their own thoughts, both verbal and written, and explore the new opportunities and professional avenues available through the college experience.

Required experiences/courses:

HIST 202 United States History Since 1865 or ES 242 Survey of Africana Studies or equivalent background in general U.S. or African American history/studies. Familiarity and/or Interest in the period from 1860s Emancipation Era through the Great Migration.

Preferred experiences/courses:

HIST 100 Introduction to the Study of History or ES 112 Race, Culture and Politics in the United States. HIST 303 Research and Writing Seminar in History or ES 390 Research Methodology in Comparative Ethnic Studies; HIST 304 Historiography; ES 360 Ethnicity and the Land.  


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Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

Mohamed Awwad

Blockchain-enabled Sustainable Supply Chain Management

The main purpose of this research is to investigate the effect that blockchain technology implementation might have on sustainable supply chain management. Existing research has identified the benefits of sustainable and socially responsible supply chain management, including improved customer satisfaction. Disruptions in inter-organizational communications make the realization of a fully sustainable supply chain very difficult. On the other hand, blockchain technology has proven its capability in increasing data capturability, traceability, and trust between different parties participating in the blockchain.
The specific objectives of this research include: a) reviewing and summarizing existing literature related to sustainable supply chain management, blockchain technology and implementation of blockchain in the logistics and supply chain industries, b) building a framework of blockchain implementation to make a supply chain more sustainable and socially responsible, and c) quantifying the effect that blockchain technology implementation has on increasing the suitability of supply chain operations through creating models and conducting experiments.

Student's role in the research project:

The student will work both individually and with a graduate student to: a) build a small-scale blockchain-enabled supply chain model; b) gather information and identify both software and hardware components of a model blockchain-enabled supply chain network; c) assist in developing a scalable framework for a sustainable supply chain enabled through the blockchain technology; and d) participate in the dissemination of the project outcomes through peer-reviewed conference and/ or journal papers.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

By the end of this research experience, the student mentee will be able to: a) conduct an in-depth review of literature, synthesize information from the literature review they conducted, and identify research gaps; b) increase their knowledge and awareness of sustainable supply chain operations, and communicate that knowledge to practitioners and researchers; c) further their knowledge about the blockchain technology and its applications; d) experience setting up a lab with all of its components; e) gain experience in conducting experiments and surveys, and analyzing results; and f) enhance their presentation and communication skills through writing and presenting research papers.

Required experiences/courses:

Research methods and/or communication skills course, background in Operations Management, Production Planning and/or Supply Chain Management, and Interest in Blockchain technology.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Preferably a student majoring in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Software Engineering, Business (any discipline), Agricultural Business, or a closely related major.  


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Interdisciplinary Studies in Liberal Arts

Matthew Harsh

Life history analysis to understand scientific careers in Africa

Policymakers and the international development community often see science in Africa in terms of its utility: producing knowledge that improves food security, transport and health systems and fuels economic growth. But science is also a career and way of life for academics and researchers across the continent. This project examines the relationship between these two conceptions of science in Africa. It seeks to understand how the professional and occupational dimensions of scientific careers shape the research agendas and knowledge produced by agricultural scientists in Kenya. Through biographical life-history interviews and video ethnography, the project has collected qualitative data on how scientists based at universities and research institutes in Kenya reflect on their careers, institutional experiences and and the broader social and political contexts that shape their work. This Kenyan study is the first social research project to focus on scientific careers in Africa. It contributes to academic the fields of science and technology and society (STS) and development studies.

Student's role in the research project:

The student research assistant will become a member of an active research group. Working closely with the supervisor and a postdoctoral fellow, the research assistant will:
1) Transcribe video interviews with the help of the AI platform Trint
2) Utilize the qualitative data analysis platform NVivo to code ands analyze the life-history interviews
3) Conduct literature reviews and help write annotated bibliographies on relevant articles and books
4) Help draft an academic article to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal
5) Participate in research meetings

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The research assistant will learn the process of qualitative data analysis, including the coding process, inter-coder reliability and how to use a specific software package: NVivo. The assistant will also learn how to conduct literature reviews, write annotations of references, and get a sense of the academic writing process for qualitative social science. Finally, the assistant will gain an understanding of relevant social science theories from sociology, science and technology studies and organizational studies.

Required experiences/courses:

None.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Some knowledge of social sciences and qualitative research would be helpful, but is not required. The student should also have strong organizational skills.  


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Dawn Neill

Redefining how we assure basic needs on the Cal Poly campus and beyond

On the Cal Poly campus, 27% of students report experiencing food security and 12% report experiencing homelessness within the past year, with rates higher among students of color and first generation students. As part of the effort to expand the reach of food resources on the Cal Poly campus, I have been involved with conducting mixed methods research aimed at understanding how and why students access food assistance programs (CalFresh, Food Pantry, Meal Vouchers, Food Bank Distribution) on campus - and when they don't. Our findings to date include qualitative data with students using these programs. The data provides an interesting first look at access and deterrents to use on campus.
In conjunction with campus collaborators (Nazmi and Tseng), I will begin formal analysis of existing qualitative data and continue expanded data collection on topics of food insecurity throughout Winter and Spring quarters. Data will provide rich contextual data that form the basis for policy recommendations at the levels the Cal Poly campus, the CSU, and beyond.

Student's role in the research project:

The student will conduct additional literature reviews pertaining to college basic needs (food insecurity and housing).
The student will assist in qualitative data analysis, interpretation, and write up.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

They will gain skills in qualitative analysis, library research, and writing.

Required experiences/courses:

I can teach the student the relevant research skills needed to carryout the research. Ideally, a student with writing skills and/or basic social sciences research skills would move forward more quickly, but this is not necessary.

Preferred experiences/courses:

There are few courses at Cal Poly to prepare a student researcher to work with sensitive issues of food and housing insecurity.  


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Journalism

Michael Park

Press Freedoms, National Security and Overclassification: Revisiting the Espionage Act

In May 2019, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was indicted on seventeen counts under the Espionage Act for obtaining and publishing classified military and diplomatic documents. Assange is the first journalist/publisher to be indicted for publishing government secrets, establishing a dangerous precedent against the freedom of the press. Since 1971, the Act has been used to charge at least twelve government officials who provided non-public or classified information to journalists, and before Assange’s indictment, has never been used to charge members of the media. This ominous turn also comes at a time when the President of the United States has continuously attacked the press and even considered “putting reporters in jail” to stop leaks from the White House.
The focus of this project is to explore the boundaries and limitations of the Espionage Act through an analysis its legislative history, and the political and cultural context of the Act’s passage. The fact that the birth of the Act arose during wartime, but also during an era of xenophobia and anti-immigrant hysteria necessitates further exploration of its genesis. This project seeks to examine the intent of the law: was it intended to be used against journalists or citizens who revealed government illegality or deception? Was the Act intended to apply to publishers who received sensitive government information (classified or otherwise) and shared this information to the public? Therefore, the goal of this project is to shed light on the Act’s intended implementation and reach. The research here will be threefold: (1) researching legislative history, debates, etc., and (2) research on the political and cultural context of our republic in the early twentieth-century that likely influenced the enactment and scope of the Act (3) court cases that have addressed the Espionage Act.

Student's role in the research project:

The student research assistant will be expected to be involved in all aspects of the project, but the student will be primarily focused on qualitative research on relevant topics as outlined above (research project description), including annotated bibliographies on books, articles, court cases, legislative reports, and other source material. The student mentee will therefore conduct online research in various academic databases (ProQuest, Lexis-Nexis, Westlaw), but also retrieve and analyze archival material, news clippings, and other source material that are not available online. Moreover, the student mentee will be expected to assist with revising early drafts (grammar, content/structural issues), with the goal of producing a draft worthy of a conference paper and/or peer-reviewed publication in which the student may be invited to be a contributing author or invited participant in a national conference presentation of the work.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The student research assistant will gain skills in qualitative research methods and critical analysis, editing/writing, and will learn how to conduct research on peer-reviewed articles and archival material.

Required experiences/courses:

The student research assistant should have some experience with academic research using various research databases (ProQuest, Lexis-Nexis) or at least a willingness to quickly master the use of such sources. The student assistant should also have strong reading comprehension, writing, and organizational skills and be comfortable analyzing large amounts of information from journal articles, books, legislative material and news articles.

Preferred experiences/courses:

A genuine interest in the subject matter is preferred. Also, courses in research methods (legislative research a plus!), media law/free speech, and strong research ability is preferred.  


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Kinesiology and Public Health

Christine Hackman

Testing of a Social Marketing Campaign to Promote Bystander Intervention

Bystander intervention is currently the gold standard method in teaching college students to prevent sexual assault. Social marketing is a common and effective intervention strategy in promoting healthy behaviors in public health intervention. This project aims to obtain feedback regarding the relevance and approachability of a social marketing campaign aimed at college students. The campaign will be updated and finalized based on participant feedback, and disseminated widely for initial efficacy testing.

Student's role in the research project:

Initial messages have been created and gone through one round of testing and updating. The student chosen for this project will be trained in sexual assault prevention best practices, serve as the point of contact for project partners (graphic designers, other research assistants, etc.), and lead participant recruitment, data collection, and will assist with data analysis. The student will be given the option to help write up the results for presentation (local, national) and publication (peer-reviewed journal). The IRB application for this study is currently being written up, and will be approved by the time the student would begin the project.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The student working on this project will develop their professional and interpersonal communication, time management, and quantitative data collection, management, and analysis skills. The student will also have the opportunity to systematically review scientific literature and develop their scientific writing skills.

Required experiences/courses:

An interest in sexual assault prevention.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Taken and passed a research methods course; basic quantitative data management and analysis.  


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Stefanee Maurice

The gendered experiences of high school and elite-level officials in the United States

The study attempts to identify barriers faced by female sport officials in the United States. Previous studies have reported that spectators, coaches, and even athletes believe women to be more suited to officiate female sports than male sports due to negative, stereotypical perceptions of females in sport. The purpose of this research is to identify the barriers and supports identified by female officials in their pursuit of a career in officiating. This information will increase awareness of perceptions and biases that may still be prevalent in sport, despite changes implemented since Title IX, and identify improvements that may increase the number of female officials at all levels of sport.

Student's role in the research project:

The student will assist myself and my colleague in several stages of the project. Over winter and spring quarters, the mentee will assist in conducting literature reviews and writing annotated bibliographies, transcribing interviews, engage in qualitative analysis, and be a contributor to the write-up and presentation of the results of the study. The student will also be expected to participate in the College of Science and Mathematics Undergraduate Research Symposium in spring quarter. The student is required to attend weekly research meetings with the mentor.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

By working on this project, the student will learn about conducting qualitative research projects. The student will also learn about epistemologies and be given a chance to reflect on their own epistemology and how to collaborate with others whose epistemologies may differ. The student will also learn how to search for and find relevant literature to create literature reviews and write annotated bibliographies. Within that, students will learn how to use a reference manager to store and organize literature in an efficient manner. The student will learn how to transcribe interviews and be engaged in the qualitative analysis that follows. The student will learn how to code data and be an active participant in the analysis of the qualitative data. They will also learn how to identify means to present the results of our findings by locating conferences to submit presentations to and be an active participant in writing the conference abstract and presentation materials. The student may have an opportunity to be an author on the manuscript that comes from the project as well. The student may have opportunities to provide support on additional projects as well. In these circumstances, the mentee may learn how to conduct a focus group and analysis the data from those focus groups.

Required experiences/courses:

The student should have experience conducting literature searches for college-level assignments/classes. No previous research experience required.

Preferred experiences/courses:

It is preferred students have taken a research methods course in their respective major but is not required. Students should also have an interest in sports and an awareness of the inequities surrounding women in sport.  


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Joni Roberts

Self-perception of weight status and contraceptive choice

Unintended pregnancy and overweight/obesity are health crises that can severely jeopardize college-aged women’ quality of life and future well-being. Obesity affects approximately 30% of reproductive-aged women in the United States, and college-aged women are at an increased risk. Weight gain – both perceived and actual -- is a frequently reported side effect that influences women’s discontinuation or nonuse of hormonally-based contraceptives. BMI has been identified as an influence in contraceptive use and perceived weight gain is a good predictor of actual weight gain among women regularly using hormonally-based contraception:
Weight control, management, and satisfaction is a challenge for all women as they age, not only college-aged women. Situated in this reality is the possibility of hormone-related weight gain, across the U.S., many women and providers report the belief that hormonally-based contraception contributes to weight gain. This study will analyze, critique, and synthesize existing published literature to determine whether perceived weight status and contraceptive choice has been studied, especially in the college population.

Student's role in the research project:

The student will:
- Conduct a literature search on the topic in order to provide background and context for the proposed project.
- Conduct analysis of the literature to identify themes relevant to the project topic
- Create a database of findings – this can be done using an excel spreadsheet to create a template of findings. (guidance will be provided)
- Draft an annotated bibliography of the relevant findings highlighting findings that both support the project topic and refutes the project topic
- Begin drafting a review paper of the results to be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal
- If interested, the student may draft an abstract to be submitted to an upcoming conference as an oral/poster presentation

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Students will gain the following skills:
- An in-depth knowledge of a topic or issue.
- skills in comparing, analyzing and evaluating scholarly writing
- skills in the understanding of scholarly writing, debates and competing arguments
- An awareness of different research methodologies
- Improved writing skills
- Learn the process of drafting a scientific article
- Learn how to extensively search the literature

Required experiences/courses:

Completion of ENGL 134 (writing and composition) or equivalent.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Students who have completed a research methods course or who have worked on research projects have an advantage.  


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Jafra (Ja Fray) Thomas

Towards Equitable Communication: An Exploratory Study to Guide Knowledge Translation in Kinesiology

Adults welcome advice on physical activity. Often, they seek it out using the Internet and other means in order to support their personal health and activity goals. Unfortunately, most behavioral resources that U.S. adults locate cannot be read nor understood easily (U.S. National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy). That is because the majority of lay health-related resources disseminated to the public far exceed the eighth-grade reading level, the level which most adults read comfortably. Resources with a physical activity focus are not immune to this readability issue (Thomas, Flay, and Cardinal, 2018). Readability is an issue that has limited the general use of lay health resources for decades, and this problem has received national attention; for example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention toolkit, Simply Put: A Guide for Creating Easy-to-Understand Materials. Lay resources written above the eighth-grade reading level likely instigate the following issues: misunderstandings that might lead to injury or worse; a missed chance to promote health literacy; and diminished motivation to understand and use a resource (Institute of Medicine, 2004). When communication is beyond the comfort level of most adults, this forces a reliance upon socioeconomic capital in order to understand or apply resource content—reinforcing inequities in health. Still, little knowledge exists in kinesiology about the effectiveness of individual-level strategies to get physical activity resources down to the eighth-grade reading level (Thomas & Cardinal, 2018). The aim of this BEACoN research project is to address this gap in knowledge: (1) by reviewing and synthesizing the relevant research literature and (2) by evaluating the effectiveness of methods to improve readability with a sample of physical activity promotion materials. The findings from this exploratory study will be used to develop training modules for pre-health/health professionals and future research studies.

Student's role in the research project:

- Assist in locating peer-reviewed literature and recording key findings
- Become familiar with guidelines for designing a quality replicating study
- Help design a replication study to test methods to improve the readability of physical activity promotion resources
- Assist in fine-tuning protocols to improve readability until independent raters could arrive at similar results
- Help outline the limitations of this exploratory research project and outline recommendations for future research
- Disseminate their experience and the project findings at educational forums, such as those provided by Cal Poly, academic societies, and professional associations

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Students will develop or advance their ability to:
- Explain what health literacy is and describe common communication barriers to promoting it
- Practice application of information literacy to locate peer-reviewed and popular press articles using established search methods (e.g., database filters, search term schemes)
- Critically review research literature and catalog information for the purpose of composing a narrative review of research literature (e.g., strengths, limitations, findings, relevance)
- Draft and revise works of writing for the purpose of teaching and reporting research results
- Plan, design, and implement a research protocol
- Draft and revise sections of a scientific report (e.g., abstract, methods, discussion)
- Report and interpret statistical results
- Use a reference management software (RMS) to manage in-text and reference list citations within a word-processor, as well as circumvent the limitations of a given RMS tool

Required experiences/courses:

Introductory Course to Research Methods specific to any discipline.

Preferred experiences/courses:

1. Introductory Course on Health and Physical Activity (e.g., HLTH/KINE 250, Healthy Living; or HLTH/KINE 255, Personal Health: A Multicultural Approach)
2. Introductory Psychology Course (e.g., PSY 201, General Psychology)
3. Introductory Sociology Course (e.g., SOC 110, Comparative Societies)
4. A fundamental course in reasoning and argumentation (e.g., courses that satisfy GE A3)
5. A fundamental course in statistics (e.g., courses that satisfy GE B1)  


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Management and HR

Patricia Dahm

Reaching Out: The Effects of Family on Personal and Professional Networking

This research study integrates Conservation of Resources (COR) and regulatory focus theory to examine how resource gains and losses generated from the family domain (e.g., energy) lead to gains and losses in the work domain such that daily levels of family-to-work conflict and enrichment affect networking behaviors. We are conducting a ten-day experience sampling study (surveying participants three times daily) examining how networking fluctuates in response to daily family-to-work interactions. We propose that on days when family-to-work conflict is higher than average, employees report lower regulatory promotion focus and are less likely to build their social networks, but may be more likely to rely on personal contacts for support. In contrast, on days when family-to-work enrichment is higher than average, employees may be more focused on achieving career goals and are more likely to build their networks showing that daily family-to-work interactions may have lasting effects on professional resources. Thus, we propose that individuals choose to build professional resources when personal resources are plentiful, but avoid engaging with professional resources when personal resources are scarce. This research extends COR theory by offering regulatory promotion focus as a theoretical mechanism through which resource caravans and loss spirals may begin to unfold.

Student's role in the research project:

Work in Qualtrics (survey software) to set up participant panels and administer daily surveys. Review and test surveys. Support researchers and participants in data collection process and administer compensation. Download quantitative data into Excel and "clean" (i.e., format) the data for analysis. Analyze qualitative survey data for themes around professional networking. Conduct literature review to learn more about professional networking. Compile relevant references.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Survey design, experience sampling methodology, data collection process, data preparation, qualitative analysis.

Required experiences/courses:

Working knowledge of Excel.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Experience with survey design and/or working in Qualtrics a plus, but not required.  


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Marketing

Chris Hydock

The Consumer Problem Survey: Generating Insights from Consumer Problems to Better Undersand the Antecedents and Consequences of Inequality and Happiness

For over 5 years I have collected data every month about the problems consumers are experiencing that they might solve in the marketplace. In addition to the data about the problems consumers are experiencing, the data set includes information about the consumers social identity, happiness, belief in climate change, location, and a number of other variables. The original idea behind this data was that if we could understand the problem consumers' were experiencing we could predict what they would do in the future. While there was some promise using the dataset for this purpose (and there is still potential if that is an interest), the dataset provides many rich opportunities at this point. .
Among other questions, I would like to investigate:
- How consumers of different social identities experience and attempt to solve problems in the marketplace.
- How the types of problems consumers experience impact happiness and vice-versa.
- How geography and wealth inequality in respondents’ location impact happiness.
However, as stated, the data set is rich in opportunities and mentees will be able to drive the project toward their own area of interest (within the confines of the existing data).

Student's role in the research project:

This will really depend on the Mentee. I can design the project around their interests. They might work to first qualitatively analyze a data set to gain a better understanding of what it contains. Next, they would search for interesting relationships that exist. Once they have identified a set of interesting relationships, I will guide them to construct an output (white paper, poster, or short research paper) that writes a story around what they found.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Depending on their experience, they will gain one or more of the following: knowledge about marketing; knowledge about psychology; data analysis skills (beginner-to-advanced), research practices knowledge, and reporting/presentation skills.

Required experiences/courses:

At least one course in Marketing or Psychology; Alternative experiences/course could be sufficient with explanation. Some expereince with data analysis..

Preferred experiences/courses:

Courses or experience in Marketing or Psychology. Expereince with data analysis in R or Python  


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Cindy Xin Wang

Color and Consumer Behavior

The project will examine previous findings on the color options and color choices in consumer behavior area, develop a framework for color choices, and empirically test the color model in consumer behaviors. This ranges from packaging design and color, shopping environment color (store design), color perceptions, and product color decisions. The literature will be reviewed, and new studies and surveys will be conducted. Cross culture elements might be involved. This project could help enhance our understanding on consumers’ product preference, the influence of visual appeal, as well as cross-cultural differences in color choices.

Student's role in the research project:

The students are expected to assist with literature review, by reading and offering input on the literature of color in consumer behavior. The students can lead the research with the approval and guidance of primary investigator and co-investigators. The students are also expected to help design surveys, more specifically, the design of images and stimuli of consumer product and stores to be used in the studies and surveys. The students may need to assist in recruiting and running focus groups. After the data collection, the students are expected to help examine the research project and draw conclusions.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The student mentee will gain experience in conducting marketing research, both qualitative and quantitative, including survey development, study design, participants recruitment, data management, data analyses, and data report. The student mentee will also develop some basic research skills by exploring through online media sources and databases. The student mentee will play an important role in this project and is encouraged to lead the project if willing. We will meet regularly to discuss the project and keep the progress updated. Specifically, the student would assist with the literature review, development of the conceptual model, creating and conducting online survey, data analyses and report. The student mentee is welcome to share their perspectives on the research project as well as other aspects of that could help this project move forward. .

Required experiences/courses:

No experience or courses are required for this class.

Preferred experiences/courses:

The experience of graphic design and editing, and/or aesthetic related work would be a plus. Students who are curious and have interest in exploring social science are preferred.  


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Mechanical Engineering

Eric Espinoza-Wade

Social Robot for Reading Assistance

The research project is part of an ongoing collaborative relationship between the proposer (engineering) and a collaborator in Speech and Audiology. The ultimate goal is to develop a social robot capable of providing therapeutic interventions for individuals with reading challenges. Specifically, a number of children have reading deficits, due sometimes to language and speech impairment. These children would benefit from additional therapeutic practice time, but therapist availability is typically insufficient to address the need. This project represents an attempt to address this issue by embodying therapist-based interventions in a social robot capable of contingent reaction to child performance.
To date, a robot system has been developed using a combination of off-the-shelf components, an Android phone, and 3D printed parts for the robot body. The system has been tested with two unimpaired children, and three children with language deficits. The current project will focus on a redesign of the robotic system, as well as the addition of functionality to the software to ensure that the tool is more useful for clinicians wishing to change robot responses to children, and to analyze child-robot interactions.

Student's role in the research project:

The mentee will be expected to program a social robot designed to interact with children in a reading-based interaction. While code and hardware currently exist, the system needs to be updated and maintained based on specific requirements of the user population. Therefore, the tasks will include programming, design, and experimentation, potentially with human subjects.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Students will gain experience in human subjects research, statistical analyses, machine learning, and quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Required experiences/courses:

Students must complete CITI human subjects training.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Experience with statistics and embedded programming (Python scripting, Raspbery Pi hardware) are preferred, but not required.  


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Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering

Stephen Klisch

Injury prevention biomechanics - pitching and gait

Project 1 - Baseball and softball pitching biomechanics. We will extend our previous work (with youth baseball pitchers) to adult baseball pitchers and youth and/or adult softball pitchers. Once our IRB protocol is revised, we will recruit pitchers, possibly conduct DXA scans (with Dr. Reaves from Food Science and Nutrition and his Nutrition students), conduct pitching motion analysis experiments, calculate injury-related pitching arm kinetics (forces, torques), and conduct statistical analyses to investigate associations between kinetics and anthropometric body measures (body mass, height, arm mass, arm length, body mass index).
Project 2 - Gait biomechanics. We will extend our previous work (with adults) to children, including normal weight and overweight children (the latter being at high risk for knee injuries and arthritis). Once our IRB protocol is revised, we will recruit children (elementary school age), possibly conduct DXA scans (with Dr. Reaves from Food Science and Nutrition and his Nutrition students), conduct gait motion analysis experiments, calculate knee kinetics (forces, torques), and conduct statistical analyses to investigate associations between kinetics and anthropometric body measures (body mass, height, body mass index, body fat percentage).

Student's role in the research project:

Winter quarter - With other funds, we will be supporting 5 other students. 2 of those students will be new hires, and during this quarter our current students and the PI will train the new students (including Beacon students) with previously developed training modules including literature review, biomechanics theory, human subjects protection, IRB protocols, motion analysis experiments, marker placement, data post-processing including data filtering and smoothing, statistical analysis, report writing, and communication skills.
Spring quarter - Beacon students will work with other team members to recruit participants, conduct and analyze motion analysis experiments, write final reports by the end of the Spring quarter, and possibly co-author conference papers.
If students are interested in continuing their work, they will be encouraged to apply for the CENG SURP program.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Conducting relevant literature searches, implementation of IRB protocols, motion analysis experiments, marker placement on human body anatomical landmarks, data filtering and smoothing, data management, statistical analysis (e.g. ANOVA and regression), communication skills.

Required experiences/courses:

ME 212 (Dynamics)

Preferred experiences/courses:

ME 326 (Intermediate Dynamics).  


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Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences

Seeta Sistla

Characterizing terrestrial responses to land use management

California is a national leader of both solar energy development and agricultural production. As water becomes scarcer and costlier, there is growing tension between land use choices centered around: maintaining conventional agricultural systems, transitioning land to renewable energy farming through solar energy development, shifting agricultural strategy (e.g. conventional to conservation farming), or alternate land uses (e.g. housing development). This research project will allow BEACoN students to study the effects of land use decisions on terrestrial conditions in one of two systems of their choosing within: (1) Cal Poly's conventional/conservation farmland or (2) large-scale solar array developments in fallowed agricultural areas and other previously degraded landscapes.
Placing solar arrays on farmland and other human-modified landscapes represents a promising area to unite energy production with ecological restoration and the sustained conservation of ecologically valuable land. Despite the potential ecological and economic synergistic benefits that coupling these land uses could create, the impacts of solar arrays on fallowed farmland and other disturbed landscapes are not well understood. Similarly, shifting from conventional to conservation agriculture has the potential to significantly improve soil health; however, the rate and extent of these soil changes remains poorly quantified. I will work with a BEACoN student to assess the ecological costs and benefits of solar energy development in fallowed and degraded landscapes or conservation vs. conventional agriculture. Specifically, we will characterize the direct and indirect effects of these land use strategies on terrestrial microclimate factors, soil carbon and nutrient pools, soil moisture and water holding capacity, soil decomposer activities, and invertebrate communities. We will use this research to help inform agricultural and solar development models for institutions, smallholder farmers, and managers of degraded landscapes (i.e. old landfills, construction sites).

Student's role in the research project:

The BEACoN student mentee will be expected to meet with me twice a week to develop and implement a field and laboratory sampling protocol to test key questions regarding the impacts of land management (solar field development or conservation vs. conventional agricultural management) on a suite of soil quality indicators, including abiotic (i.e. bulk density, organic matter content) and biological (i.e. soil respiration, microbial biomass, substrate use) properties.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The BEACoN student mentee will gain skills in soil ecology experimental design, field and laboratory protocols, and data recording/analysis. At the end of the spring quarter, we will work together to synthesize the student's results in a poster. If the project is successful, I will encourage the student to continue the study in future quarters with the goal of publishing the project in a peer-reviewed journal.

Required experiences/courses:

Introductory courses in soil science and/or ecosystem ecology would be helpful to set the stage for a successful project. Curiosity regarding a desire to understand terrestrial responses to land management decisions and global change factors is critical, as is patience for research design and implementation!

Preferred experiences/courses:

Any prior background in research is helpful, but not necessary. I am open to working with students who want to engage in fundamental research related to terrestrial responses to land management decisions and global change factors more broadly considered.  


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Psychology and Child Development

Linda Lee

Effectiveness of a school-based anti-bullying program

Children’s early contact experiences with peers, positive or negative, are likely to shape children’s attitudes, and their later experiences with peers who are different ethnically and/or linguistically. When the experiences are negative, such as in the case of bullying, children are likely to disengage socially and academically from school. Early elementary school years are a crucial developmental stage for researchers to examine peer exclusion and whether or not school-based anti-bullying programs effectively reduce bullying at school. The goal of the research project is two-fold. First, it examines the role of home language (i.e., English or Spanish) in children's friendship selection. Second, it aims to assess the effectiveness of a school-based anti-bullying program.

Student's role in the research project:

The student mentee will be working on various aspects of the project including data collection, data entry, data cleaning, and conducting preliminary analyses.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The student mentee will gain hands-on experience with research method, data management, and quantitative analysis.

Required experiences/courses:

None

Preferred experiences/courses:

Preferably any research method course and a desire to pursue a doctoral degree in psychology or related field.  


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School of Education

Tina Cheuk

Gender Equity and Organizational Transformation in Institutes of Higher Education

How can Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) foster inclusion, well-being, and affordability for pregnant students and students who have children?
The overarching work is situated within the area of work-family justice, studying ways IHEs, as a complex organizational system, can support members within their community to have the opportunity and power to fully participate in both learning work and family care. Pregnancy and the transition to parenting are challenging endeavors for undergrad or graduate students. The goal of this research project is to understand and make visible the factors that impede women's trajectories in IHEs, with a focus on pregnant and students with dependents, so that fair treatment and advancement of all students—regardless of gender identity—will be possible. In what ways are IHEs moving toward a more inclusive and innovative environment that advances the scholarship and well-being of a diverse undergraduate and graduate community? What existing cultural attitudes and policies are in place in IHEs that prevent these students from fully participating in their learning and familial lives? Lastly, how are students' familial commitments intersecting with their cultural upbringing and economic status?

Student's role in the research project:

The student mentee will take a significant role in researching existing literature around the issues of pregnant and parenting students in IHEs. This includes familiarity with Title IX protections, proposed and passed legislation that informs the Education Code, as well as policies and practices that have been found effective in supporting pregnant and students with dependents. Additionally, the student will co-design instruments (i.e., surveys and interviews) that allows us to understand what is happening here within Cal Poly—documenting and understanding the successes and failures of existing efforts, start to identify theoretical gaps, and begin to build a framework of how we consider work-family justice within complex educational organizations that is reflective of the diversity of the student population.
Under my mentorship and guidance, the student mentee will be expected to produce two main deliverables. First, the student will write an internal report for the University that can be used to inform the work of various departments and committees (i.e., Student Affairs, Office of Equal Opportunity, Office of the Registrar, Associated Students, Inc., Disability Resource Center, Orfalea Family & ASI Children's Center, Campus Health and Wellbeing, Financial Aid and Scholarship Office, Status of Women Committee, etc.) towards work-family justice. Second, the student will author an op-ed (e.g., The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed) that is reflective of the lessons learned and challenges faced as a work-family justice scholar. Depending on the progress of work, there may be opportunities for the student to begin detailing an outline and draft manuscript that would be appropriate to submit for publication.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Students will gain methodological skills that are will be used to answer the research questions. These include building proficiencies in: research design, review of literature, data collection and descriptive analysis. Students will also learn how to write for various audiences and genres (i.e., reports, op-eds, and academic peer review journals).

Required experiences/courses:

Student mentee should be interested in the research topic around work-family justice and gender equity in IHEs.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Student mentee should be interested in organizational change as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in higher educational spaces.  


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School of Education, Teacher Education

Oscar Navarro

Recruiting and Retaining Teachers of Color

This study investigates the experiences of teacher candidates of Color enrolled in three different teacher credential programs at a predominantly white public institution of higher education in California. The study focuses on how teacher candidates of Color encounter and respond to racialized experiences in their teacher preparation programs. Two main research questions guide our study: 1) What are the racialized experiences of teacher candidates of Color at a predominantly white institution? 2) In what spaces and situations do they encounter issues related to race and racism within the credential program and how do they respond to such situations?

Student's role in the research project:

The student will be involved in data analysis, writing up data with the mentor and research team, and potentially presenting findings at a local/national conference. Moreover, the student will work with the research team to write and submit a paper for publication.

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

Data analysis and writing for publication(s).

Required experiences/courses:

Education 400: Developing Teachers of Color (offered Spring 2019)

Preferred experiences/courses:

Identifying as a student of Color.  


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Social Sciences

Kylie Parrotta

Addressing Multiple Pillars of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing”

The project is a multipronged effort to build trust and legitimacy between students, community members, and law enforcement. The data collection efforts thus far stem from community policing work—“Being Ready in Diverse Group Encounters in Delaware” (BRIDGE Delaware)—which grew from a desire to build on a strong relationship between the Delaware Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (DE NOBLE) and the first collegiate chapter of NOBLE at Delaware State University (DSU NOBLE). We responded to President Obama’s 21st Century Policing taskforce report and strive to address several recommendations for building trust and legitimacy between students at a Historically Black University (HBCU) and police on campus and in the community.
Our major goal is to build trust and legitimacy between community members and police by hosting Town Hall Forums, Law and Your Community Trainings, and Reentry Simulations. Over the last few years, we have collected response papers from students who have attended community policing townhall forums and Law and Your Community Trainings on campus. We extended our efforts to collect survey data from all audience members who attended townhall panels that we have hosted in a series of locations on and off campus up and down the state. There is potential that future data will be collected in California.

Student's role in the research project:

- Do a literature review on disproportionate minority police contact, distrust of police, and community policing
- Enter close-ended survey data into Excel
- Upload response papers into Atlas.ti and work on qualitative coding
- Conduct preliminary quantitative analysis in SPSS
- Create presentation materials and potential present preliminary findings at a conference
- Attend meetings with community partners and law enforcement agencies .

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

My BEACoN research assistant will gain multiple skills that will prepare them for entry level work and/or for graduate level course work. While completing data entry, I will teach the student the importance of data management, including protecting confidentiality and quality control.
With regards to data analysis skills, the student will learn two software platforms—Atlas.ti and SPSS—transferable skills that they can list on their resumes. My mentee will learn about coding (open and focused), intercoder reliability, building levels of abstraction through visual representations of coding patterns and themes, and analytic memoing. Quantitative literacy will be a central component of the project and the student will learn to run descriptive statistics, crosstabs, and multivariate analyses. Finally, the students’ reading comprehension, quantitative literacy, writing and oral presentation skills will all be further developed in addition to overall attention to professional socialization.

Required experiences/courses:

- Interest in disproportionate minority contact with police and community policing
-Experience locating, reading, and abstracting peer reviewed journal articles
-Excel and Word
-Qualitative Methods or Quantitative Methods
-Preference for experience with SPSS


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World Languages and Cultures

Silvia Marijuan

The use of Spanish in Guadalupe: community, public space, and immigration

Since language, culture, and identity intertwine in public spaces, it is essential that we analyze how languages are used in those public places (for example, in stores, at schools, in health centers) in order to better understand the social and linguistic dynamics of a community. In other words, the language choices and the modes of expression used on signs, on bulletin boards, on advertisements, etc., are not neutral, but are shaped by community rules and codes which govern their use. To uncover such rules and codes, we need to examine how members of the community linguistically construct the public sphere. The nature of this construction has implications for immigrant groups which are looking to take part in that community’s practices.
Even though in the past two decades the field of sociolinguistics has studied the use of language expressions in the public space in the United States, with only a few exceptions, the Spanish-speaking world has largely been left out of this academic discussion. The goal of this research project is to fill this gap in the literature by documenting and analyzing how Spanish is used in an array of public spaces (for example, in stores, schools, community health centers) in Guadalupe, CA, a city whose population is 88.7% Latinx (Census Bureau). Special consideration will be given to how Spanish interacts with English and indigenous languages (e.g., Mixtec), and how non-Spanish speaking immigrant groups (e.g., Syrians) adapt to the use of Spanish in the community. Interviews and photographic documentation will be collected as part of this analysis. The result of this research will expand our understanding of bilingual/bicultural practices on the Central Coast, and will inform the field of sociolinguistics, as well as diversity and inclusion.

Student's role in the research project:

Under the principal investigator’s oversight, the student mentee will:
-Engage in research regarding sociolinguistics and the use of Spanish on the Central Coast
-Assist with the development of interview protocols
-Conduct interviews and make field observations in different community settings in Guadalupe, CA
-Collect photographic documentation of language expressions in the public space
-Assist with the transcription and coding of interview data
-Assist with research bibliography
-Create presentation materials

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The student mentee will gain experience in the field of sociolinguistics and its qualitative methodology, including documenting language samples, preparing interview protocols, conducting interviews with locals in different settings, transcribing interviews and coding interviews (thematic analysis using NVivo software). The students will also learn to summarize research papers and make presentations to share with the local and academic community, enhancing his/her/their communication skills.

Required experiences/courses:

The student mentee needs to:
- have completed one course in Linguistics or a related field (any department).
- speak Spanish at least at the intermediate level.
- be motivated to engage with the community.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Having a social sciences research methodology course (any department) is a plus, but not a requirement. Advanced knowledge of Spanish, fluency, or near-fluency, is also preferred but not required.  


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Wine and Viticulture

Jean Dodson Peterson

Effect of vine age on performance of Zinfandel grapes and wines in the Edna Valley, California

The majority of winegrape cultivars (Vitis vinifera L.) planted commercially are done so with the expectation that they will be in production for a minimum of 20 years. Although the specific number of years in production required to make a vineyard block economically viable varies from site-to-site and by production goal, the longer vines are kept in production, the larger the profit margin. Damage and decline by the root aphid, phylloxera (Daktulospaira vitifoliae Fitch), various species of nematodes (Pongrácz 1983) and wood root diseases, such as Eutypa (Eutypa lata), are all factors that have contributed to decreasing lifespans of commercial vineyards. As a result of that trend, ‘old’ vines have become more and more valued and sought after by industry and by consumers (Sullivan and Draper 2003). This is despite the fact that there is no legally recognized definition of what age constitutes the ‘old’ vine designation and that there is a current void of studies examining the role vine age has in phenological development, fruit and wine quality factors. There are only a handful of studies that have suggested the importance of vine age in wine quality (Heymann and Noble 1987, Renyolds et al. 1994, Zufferey 2007, Grigg et al. 2017), but not all of them had the opportunity to compare identical plant material, at identical sites, under viticultural practices held constant, or to make wine out of the both young and old vines under these conditions. This proposal presents an experimental design that will provide the unique opportunity to execute research under these conditions and addresses the issues the other studies were unable to control.

Student's role in the research project:

The student will be intimately involved in both vineyard and winemaking aspects of this project. In the Winter months, the mentee will assist the me in examining vine capacity. This is assessed through the carbohydrate reserve pool, determined by destructive analysis on a subsample of the treatment vines using the protocol detailed in Smith and Holzapfel (2009). Trunk diameter and circumference will also be measured. Internode and shoot length above the second cluster will be examined as well.
During Spring,, the student mentee will assist in gas exchange assessments, net photosynthetic rate, stomatal conductance and transpiration of both old and young vines.
By the time the student has joined the project, the first year grapes will have been harvested and fermented. By Spring, we will be gearing up to run sensory on these wines. The student will have the opportunity to assist in running the wine sensory panel. The sensory panel will consist of 15 individuals. The student mentee will help in the raining and evaluation protocols for sensory analysis will be performed as described (Casassa et al. 2013c) and assist with the analysis of the wines for color, taste, aroma, flavor and tactile attributes by generic descriptive analysis (Lawless and Heymann 2010).

Anticipated skills to be gained by working on this research project:

The student will gain both viticulture and enology experience. This includes becoming intimately familiar with grapevine physiology and phenology as well as learning and participating in the bottling of wines and the execution of a wine sensory panel. Several laboratory techniques will be learned during the color analysis and during the non-structural carbohydrate analysis. There will be an a significant amount of data analysis and management involved.

Required experiences/courses:

Some basic exposure to agriculture is required. Some vineyard data collection days can be physically demanding and it helps to have had some experience in production.

Preferred experiences/courses:

WVIT 233 - Basic Viticulture would be incredibly helpful to have completed or be in the process of completing.  


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