2020- 2021 Faculty Research Projects

Research Mentoring Opportunities for Students!

 

The Office of University Diversity & Inclusion is excited to soon welcome a new cohort of BEACoN Research Scholars. BEACoN exists to educate and empower underrepresented students and advocate for them as they aspire to successfully complete their Cal Poly education. One great way to do this is through a funded research assistantship and mentoring relationship with a faculty member. Learn more about this year's research projects and consider applying to work with up to three faculty members, submitting the application form once per project you are interested in.

Research projects will last Winter & Spring quarters of 2021 and students who are selected will receive $1,500 per quarter for 100 hours of work each quarter.

 

Our 2021 BEACoN Research Scholars have been selected! All applicants should have received an email notifying them whether or not they were selected this year. Please email Dr. Kelly Bennion (kbennion@calpoly.edu) with any questions.

 

 


 

 

Aerospace Engineering

Dr. Arnold Deffo (he/him/his)

Statically Equivalent Loads: approximation of the elastic curve, shear, and moment distribution of an aircraft wing in bending under prescribed lift distribution.

Beams are structural elements that are central to many design problems in engineering (e.g. aerospace, mechanical, civil). In aerospace engineering, for instance, the main spar of an aircraft wing is often approximated as a cantilevered beam subject to transverse loads due to the lift distribution. There, the task is akin to designing a beam able to withstand this lift distribution. Euler-Bernoulli beam theory—introduced in classes in Mechanics of Materials—is often used to obtain a first approximation for the resulting normal stress, shear force, and bending moment at every cross section along the beam. The starting point is typically the fourth-order ordinary differential equation (ODE) for the beam deflection in terms of its bending rigidity and the transverse load distribution. In this regard, the problem is one of integrating this fourth-order ODE. In this project, we propose a novel approach to this problem whereby we approximate the (usually continuous) load distribution as a collection of point forces that are statically equivalent—i.e. same resultant force and bending moment—to the continuous load distribution. It is well known that though such an approximation is valid to determine the reaction forces and moments at the beam supports, it fails to properly capture the internal stress, shear, and bending moment distribution along the beam. It is therefore the goal of the present work to show that as the number of point forces increases, the proposed method converges to the proper stress, shear, and bending moment. To this end, we examine two examples for a cantilever beam. In the first, we consider a uniform load distribution over the beam while the second, rooted in aeronautics, assumes an elliptical load distribution over the beam.

Student’s role in the research project:

Beyond regularly meetings with the advisor, the student’s role in the project will be as follows:

- Determine the resultant point forces statically equivalent to a given load distribution

- Integrate the ordinary differential equation for the deflection curve to obtain the shear forces, moments, and stresses resulting from a prescribed load distribute

- Show convergence of the scheme to the analytical solution by taking the limit as the number of statically equivalent point forces becomes large.

- Consolidate the research findings through a poster and a report with the possibility of the latter being submitted as a conference paper.

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

After completion of the project, the student mentee will gain significant research skills. Specifically, they will develop the ability to think independently when faced with a problem. Additional benefits more closely related to the topic in question will include a further understanding of the concept of statically equivalent load and its application to aircraft structural design.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

- Integral and differential Calculus: MATH 141 and MATH 142

- Mechanics of Materials: CE204 and CE207 (or equivalently CE 208)

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Though some experience with solving differential equations may prove useful, a strong foundation in the above required courses should enable the student to successfully participate in the project.

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Architecture

Dr. Dale Clifford (he/him/his)

Clean Water Kits

This project addresses the challenge of providing clean water to populations in need at a grassroots scale. Our project methods include background literature review, drawing and modeling to advance design prospects, and testing water quality and quantity produced by the proposed system. Outcomes will include: 1) a full-scale demonstration project that creatively addresses the implementation of solar technology as a design driver, 2) develop design competence and confidence by constructing and testing real projects at full-scale, and 3) gaining an understanding of the economic, climatic, and material issues that affect design decision making in professional practice.

Student’s role in the research project:

The student assistant will be engaged in water purification and construction technology research with support from with faculty (Dale Clifford) and practicing professionals. Together we will construct and test an experimental building mock-up of a low-tech water purification system. In an effort to promote knowledge exchange between academia and practice we will hold bi-weekly meetings with the Seattle office of NBBJ to better understand professional design constraints and experimental testing protocols. This relationship began in Winter 2018 and has resulted in professional mentoring of students and post-graduation hiring.

The scheduling phases for the project are:

Phase 1 (Week 0-10) (approx. 100 hrs)

Research traditional and state-of-the-art techniques for low-cost water purification. Document and make drawings.

Determine the materials, scope, and parameters for the mock-up.

Make scale 3-d assembly models + full-scale details

Team meetings

Phase 2 (Week 11-15) (approx. 50 hrs)

Mock-up construction

Develop testing protocols

Team meetings

Phase 3 (Week 16-20) (approx. 50 hrs.)

Documents produced for show at the CAED gallery, or online if we are unable to meet in person in Spring term.

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

Throughout the project, the student will gain experience in research methods through literature review methods, gain background information in water purification strategies, and gain communication skill by interacting with practicing professionals from leading architectural firms.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Candidates should be interested in using design to make a difference in the world. Completion of second year design studios.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Experience in graphic design/web design is desirable.


Dr. Padma Maitland (he/him/his)

After Hope

This project is part of a longer-term research initiative to facilitate interdisciplinary conversations around hope as a global and historically significant emotion that pervades public attitudes, policies, and discourses around many of today's most pressing issues. It focuses on the development of a digital platform to support and augment the After Hope exhibition at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. Marking the inauguration of the Asian Art Museum’s TRILOGY series, After Hope brings together artists, scholars, curators, and activists for an interdisciplinary and critical examination of hope’s potential to animate form, method, and action. The prompt to think “after” addresses the complex ways hope affects our vision for the future and judgment of the past, asking both what it means to go after hope, and what comes after hope. We will work together to expand the After Hope digital platform as an interactive archive and virtual forum for discussion.

Student’s role in the research project:

The mentee will be responsible for developing and maintaining parts of the After Hope digital platform as a forum for further research and innovation. Responsibilities will include developing interactive content, graphic design strategies, as well as conducting interviews with artists, curators, and community leaders as the basis for online recordings and written content. The goal will be to create content that curates and presents innovative discourses related to contemporary art, emotions, and social change.

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

The mentee will have a chance to be part of a vibrant research team engaging in critical discourses around contemporary art, the history of emotions, and community engagement. They will also play an instrumental role in exploring the potential of digital forums to facilitate academic and public discourses around art. Finally, the mentee will gain skills in web development, graphic design, and exhibition design.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Candidates should be interested in contemporary art, community engagement, and activism. They should have strong reading, writing, and organizational skills, as well as experience with web development and graphic design.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Experience coding and creating interactive AR/VR environments.

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Biological Sciences

Dr. Gita Kolluru (she/her/hers)

Fish genitalia and Behavior

Animal genitalia exhibit remarkable diversity and complexity. Tropical livebearing fishes copulate using a modified fin called the gonopodium. Copulation takes just seconds, during which time the male has to position himself behind and below the female, extend the gonopodium, aim it, make contact with the female, and transfer a packet of sperm—so, this organ is key for mating success. These fish are also very aggressive, and males jab each other with the gonopodium when fighting for mates, so it is a weapon as well as a copulatory organ. Females are very choosy and allow more mating attempts by preferred males.

Our lab works with a captive population of the species Girardinus metallicus, a livebearer endemic to Cuba. Males of this species occur in two forms: most are drably colored and sneak copulations, but rare “black morphs” exhibit a striking black gonopodium, which is displayed to both rival males and potential mates. Our lab is investigating the relationship between gonopodium size and aggressive and mating behavior. We are also looking at allometry, which describes how trait size scales with body size. Our team addresses questions such as: Are males with disproportionately large gonopodia (greater allometry) more aggressive or more successful at mating? Do females prefer these males as mates? Do male types differ in gonopodium size and allometry? We have archived images, videos and data that we use to address these questions, allowing us to conduct meaningful, publishable research virtually.

Student’s role in the research project:

The project primarily involves using computer software and existing, detailed protocols to measure morphological and behavioral traits. The student will work as part of a collegial team including a Canadian collaborator, that meets via Zoom periodically. Depending on the question, the work may include: measuring traits from images using ImageJ and Photoshop software, collecting data by watching videos using BORIS behavioral software, and collating datasets to address new predictions using Excel. These activities will culminate in analysis of data using JMP statistical software. In all cases the student will be trained and guided by me and by experienced students in the lab. There is also the option for the student to spend time in the lab helping to care for live fish. This would involve intensive training using existing videos, Zoom meetings and a written Lab Manual. The student would help to feed fish, maintain healthy tank environments and keep the lab organized. We work with only one person in the lab room at a time and have implemented other safety measures to minimize covid-19 risk.

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

The student will have the opportunity to gain skills in implementing all aspects of the scientific method, including generating hypotheses and predictions, finding and analyzing primary literature, analyzing images and videos, observing behavior in a controlled manner, managing and statistically analyzing data, and understanding the evolution of morphological and behavioral traits. If the student wishes to also care for the fish in person they will also acquire skills in animal care, aquatic lab maintenance, recognition of fish diseases, and testing water quality. The student may also work as part of, or even lead, a team of students, and thereby gain skills in teamwork and leadership. 

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

The mentee would not be required to have any experience or have taken any courses.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

I would prefer that the mentee had taken BIO 263 (Introductory Ecology and Evolution), but this is not at all required for successful participation.

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Dr. Alejandra Yep (she/her/hers)

Nuestra ciencia is our science

Misconceptions plague microbiology education, and most students arrive to college with deep-seated wrongful ideas about the microbial world that are often hard to reverse.  Examples of this are faulty understanding of the way vaccines or antibiotics work and the roles of microbes in the human body and the environment.  This is so widely recognized that the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) developed a Microbiology Concept Inventory (MCI) to help dispel those misconceptions in science undergraduates. We propose to start much earlier, by developing new and engaging experiments and activities that demonstrate key microbiology concepts for a K-6 audience. 

The project has two equally important long-term goals:

1. Microbiology education goal: develop experiments, activities, and accompanying materials that introduce basic microbiology concepts to elementary school students, both engaging them in the scientific process and planting the seeds for a correct understanding of microbiology.  We will contribute toward this goal by developing these materials and making them available for K-6 educators.

2. Diversity and inclusivity goal: demonstrate that science is not “owned” by any specific group nor does it happen in a specific language and that everybody can become a scientist regardless of their background.  We will contribute toward this goal by developing all materials in English and Spanish and by piloting the experiments in Spanish at the immersion school Pacheco Elementary (San Luis Obispo).

Student’s role in the research project:

This project is highly multidisciplinary by nature, and students will work as part of a diverse group.  The role of the BEACoN mentee can be tailored to fit students coming from multiple interests and majors.  Depending on the BEACoN mentee’s previous knowledge and preferences, their role will encompass a subset of the following:

Attend lab meetings and present when relevant (journal club or data presentation)

Search relevant literature and generate annotated bibliographies

Identify key microbiology concepts and common misunderstandings

Develop novel experiments that demonstrate those concepts and can be carried out in a K-6 classroom or at home (without specialized materials) during virtual instruction

Map the concepts and accompanying experiments within the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards)

Test and troubleshoot experiments

Keep a detailed online lab notebook

Develop accompanying bilingual materials for teachers and students.  These include but are not limited to: introduction and background for teachers/students, materials lists, protocols, handouts, quizzes, games, videos, webpages

Be part of a group of Cal Poly students guiding K-6 students in carrying out the experiments, interpreting data, and drawing conclusions (this will be done virtually while schools continue with virtual instruction and in-person when face-to-face instruction resumes)

Write results and prepare poster/talk for presentation at the CSM student research conference

Write results for peer-reviewed publication

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

Microbiology skills and concepts

Primary literature search, analysis, and presentation of summarized results

Experimental design

Protocol development and troubleshooting

Data recording, assessment

Data analysis and reporting

Written and oral presentation skills

Effective science communication for young audiences

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Bilingual Spanish/English, or proficient in written and oral Spanish. 

Interest in teaching

Interest in biological sciences

Interest in promoting diversity in STEM 

Must enjoy working with kids!

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Either of the following would be a plus:

MCRO224/MCRO221

Familiarity with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Experience working/interacting with groups of kids (5-12yo)

 

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Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Long Wang (he/him/his)

Design and Characterization of Strain Sensing Nanocomposites

Strain measurements are typically essential for assessing the performance and integrity of structural systems. Strain sensing nanocomposites, composed of nano-structured fillers (e.g., carbon nanotubes (CNT) and graphene) and polymers, have received extensive attention, mainly due to their superior mechanical, electrical, and sensing performances compared to the conventional sensing devices. While various types of strain sensing nanocomposites have been developed using different material systems and manufacturing techniques, the empirical fabrication approach can be laborious, inefficient, and, most importantly, unpredictable. To address these limitations, the objective of this multidisciplinary project is to strategically design the structures of the nanocomposites to achieve a wide range of optimized strain sensitivities.

Built on the previous experimental and computational work, this project will mainly focus on computationally investigating the effects of mechanical structural designs on the strain sensing properties of graphene- and CNT-based nanocomposites. In particular, the mechanical and electrical properties of the material models will be coupled and characterized for two major categories of mechanical structural designs, namely, stress-concentrating and Kirigami-based stress-releasing structures. Overall, this project will facilitate establishing an innovative methodology for designing nanocomposites of predictable and controllable sensing performance, hence improving manufacturing efficiency and laying the foundation for the multifunctional applications of nanocomposites.

Student’s role in the research project:

The mentee will work with a graduate student who is currently under my supervision. Based on the core computational framework previously established, mentee is expected to design new types of mechanical structures using AutoCAD, conduct multiphysics finite element analysis (FEA) of the mechanical and electrical performance of the material models, and assist with performing parametric study on the effects of distributed manufacturing defects on the nanocomposites’ sensing performance. In addition, the mentee will be trained to deliver literature review, technical reports, and presentations.

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

Through this multidisciplinary research project, the mentee will learn about the multifunctional nanomaterials, sensor designs, structural health monitoring, among others. The mentee will obtain hands-on experience on non-conventional structural design, multiphysics finite element analysis, data analysis, and statistical analysis. In addition, the mentee will receive training on literature review, technical writing and presentation, and collaboration skills.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Mechanics of Materials (CE 204 and CE 207); AutoCAD software

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Structural Analysis, Finite Element Method; experience on finite element modeling

 

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Economics

Dr. Carlos A. Flores (he/him/his)

Estimation of Causal Effects with Multivalued Treatments: The Effect of Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy on Birth Weight

Nonexperimental econometric methods are widely used in many fields like economics, law, sociology, medicine, and many others to evaluate the effects of interventions (e.g., government programs) or “treatments”. The classical method to control for differences in observed characteristics between the treatment and control groups is linear regression. Most of the recent research in this area has been on developing better and more flexible econometric methods to control for observed characteristics, many of which are based on the so-called propensity score. While most of these methods focus on the binary-treatment case (e.g., the effect of whether a mother smokes or not during pregnancy on the baby’s health), it is usually the case that individuals receive different doses or levels of the treatment (e.g., mothers may smoke different number of cigarettes per day). In other words, the treatment may be multivalued instead of binary.

The purpose of this project is to develop a command in the econometric software Stata that implements several of these new methods to estimate the causal effects of a multivalued treatment, while flexibly adjusting for observed characteristics and assessing the comparability of the different treatment groups in terms of their observed characteristics. The methods to be implemented are those analyzed in my previous work with Dr. Oscar Mitnik. The project also includes publishing an accompanying peer-reviewed paper explaining the use of the proposed command and methods. To illustrate the use of these methods with the new Stata command, the project will estimate the effect of the average number of cigarettes smoked by the mother during pregnancy on birth weight, which is a commonly-used measure of a baby’s health. The overall goal of the project is to facilitate the adoption of these recently-developed econometric methods by applied researchers and increase their use in practice.

Student’s role in the research project:

Under the supervision of the faculty, the student will:

- Become familiar with Stata.

- Become familiar with propensity score methods for binary and multivalued treatments to estimate causal effects.

- Clean and prepare the data sets to be used to test the command. Some of the applications to be done will include: estimation of the effects of the amount of training received on future earnings, and the effects of maternal smoking during pregnancy on birth weight.

- Test the new Stata command to check, among other things, that the different options are clear and work properly, that the output is easy to read and understand, and that there are no bugs in the program.

- Provide feedback on ways to improve the command and its output.

- Work on the empirical application to be used in the paper: Estimate the effect of the average number of cigarettes smoked by the mother during pregnancy on birth weight.

- Help to review the paper and provide feedback.

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

- Learn modern econometric techniques that are now widely used in many fields, in academic and non-academic settings (e.g., government and industry).

- Learn how to read technical writing.

- Learn how to clean and manage data.

- Become proficient in Stata.

- Learn how to write programs in Stata to conduct statistical analysis.

- Become familiar with the process of writing and publishing a peer-reviewed article.

- Become familiar with working in a professional setting (e.g., meeting deadlines, time management, interaction with co-authors, etc.)

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Successful candidates will have completed Econ 339 (Regression Analysis) and, if possible, Econ 440 (Advanced Econometrics: Introduction to Causal Inference and Program Evaluation), or equivalent courses. They will also have interest in econometric/statistical methods.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Econ 440 (Advanced Econometrics: Introduction to Causal Inference and Program Evaluation), or equivalent course, and familiarity with the econometric software Stata.

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Electrical Engineering

Dr. Mona El Helbawy (she/her/hers)

 

Performance Analysis of Wearable Devices

This research aims to investigate and contribute to the development of safe and effective wearable technologies to facilitate patients return to normal daily activities at home while still being monitored with the use of modern communication and sensor technologies. A Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN) is a wireless network comprised of low power computing devices or sensor nodes that may be embedded inside, mounted on, or operated in close proximity to the human body. The key design requirements for WBANs include: small size, reliability, wireless communication ability, and low power consumption. Antenna Design for WBANs is essential for the reliability of communication. The shape and size of a WBAN antenna depends on the proposed location of the WBAN node and on the radio technology used for transmission. Ultrawideband (UWB) technology is considered a key technology for WBANs due to its unique characteristics: high-bandwidth, short-range communication, low-power consumption, less sensitivity to fading and low interference probability. The dielectric properties of human body tissues are dependent on the operating frequencies. At UWB frequencies, the high absorption, and hence attenuation, prevents transmission through the human body. Wireless links between WBAN nodes are formed using on-body creeping waves and signal components reflected, diffracted and scattered from other body parts. This research project will focus on analyzing and simulating multiple UWB antenna designs placed on and around the human body for WBANs remote health monitoring applications.

Student’s role in the research project:

- Modeling and simulations of wearable devices using the finite element method based commercial software, high frequency structure simulator (HFSS) and the ANSYS human body models.

- Analysis and validation of simulation results.

- Documentation of findings into a paper for submission to relevant conferences and journals.

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

- Aptitude to conduct research, critical thinking skills, design, analysis and validation of results.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Desire to learn and succeed, persistence and intellectual curiosity.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

A course on Antenna Theory and/or Wireless Communications would be helpful.

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English

Dr. Shanae Aurora Martinez (she/they)

Curating Cal Poly Archives: BIPOC Student Stories Matter

This project is part of a larger plan to build a book arts lab at Cal Poly for historically marginalized students to create living artifacts of their experiences and submit them to an archival repository to be held within Cal Poly Special Collections. It will come as no surprise at a predominantly white institution like Cal Poly, there is a lack of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC) student representation in the Cal Poly Archives. While the book arts lab will be an accessible outlet for the voices of all historically marginalized students, this particular portion of the project will focus on intersectional BIPoC student stories and the logistics of creating, curating, and archiving living artifacts.

The vision of this project is aligned with the broader efforts by some Cal Poly faculty such as Grace Yeh and Steven Ruszczycky to expand historical and present day representation of Central Coast BiPoC and Queer communities in this region. Since this project will result in a multi-discursive archival repository, I expect it to be available for students to contribute storytelling ephemera in the foreseeable future.

Student’s role in the research project:

In the interest of public safety, this portion of the project will also focus on multi-discursive projects that are conducive to curate, archive, and access in a virtual environment. The mentee will be involved with every step of building an archival repository, including: peer outreach to gather BIPoC student stories and ephemera; regular communication with me, library staff, and contributors; editing, if needed; gaining permissions for archival submission; and converting projects to an accessible digital format.

In many ways the mentee will be a project manager, gaining experience with organizing grassroots/micro publishing, archive building, and community outreach. The mentee will meet with me once per week, but should expect to be in regular communication throughout the week. In addition to establishing an archival repository for BIPoC students at Cal Poly, the mentee will also help curate 2-4 BIPoC student storytelling projects for submission. One project will be of the mentees choosing, one project will be the result of a senior project for which I am the advisor, and the remaining two projects will be curated from the creative work submitted by students in my California Storytellers class.

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

The mentee of this project will gain experience with project management, professional and community outreach, artistic curation, literary production, editing, archive building, and they will participate in the long and arduous process of social justice worldmaking in our small corner of Cal Poly.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Preference will be given to students that have experience (or interest) with creative and critical storytelling, writing, editing, archival research, and publishing. Preferably this would be a humanities, arts, or cultural studies student invested in literature, history, art, and decolonial praxis, with strong organizational and communicative skills. Library science students are also encouraged to apply.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Scholarly engagement with issues of race and culture, and/or experience working with or within BIPOC communities.

 

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Ethnic Studies

jaime ding (she/her/hers)

Please Validate Me: A History Project

What makes a scholarly paper scholarly? What makes it worthy of publication? What constitutes acceptable validation? These are the questions that we will embark on, in thinking about the context and history of the ideas of scholarly assessment, including ideas like ‘external validation,’ a phrase that is important in determining a professor’s scholarly value. Researching and understanding the histories of scholarly assessment may take creativity in thinking about sources and databases (using n gram, for example, as a start), using mostly primary sources to create a story of how our higher education systems determine who is the best of the best.

This project is a part of the Digital Publishing Program, from the Creative Works at Robert E. Kennedy Library. The Digital Publishing Program aims to enhance access to non-traditionally formatted Cal Poly scholarship through a more equitable digital publishing system.

Student’s role in the research project:

The mentee will be able to critically navigate databases, hone research skills, use data visualization and other digital tools to create a story of how scholars are validated. As the work will be published digitally, the mentee will also be able to have a tangible scholarship product.

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

The mentee will gain historical research skills, close reading skills, experience with a myriad of digital tools, and an understanding of the workings of publication systems.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Any ethnic studies courses, women and gender studies courses, classes that have discussed critical race theory.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Familiarity or willingness to learn graphic design and website development, generally interested in concepts like treasure hunts or feeling validated. Academic or general interest in history, rhetoric, communication, visualization, images, feeling validated.

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Dr. Grace Yeh (she/her/hers)

Dreams Journal Project: Reflections on Otherwise Worlds

Understanding the unprecedented moment we are living in with the Covid-10 global pandemic, archivists throughout the world have initiated archival projects to capture real-time perspectives for future historians. As with other recent crises, there was a rush to create disaster archives, including documenting the experience of loss and trauma, even as the scope of the tragedy is still unfolding. But what might be the toll imposed by such projects to immediately take possession of and immortalize stories, especially for embattled or vulnerable communities or individuals?

Engaging with and embracing an ethics of care, the Dreams Journal project has two aims. First, the project questions what it means to archive and explores the ethics of care in the gathering of stories. Second, instead of trying to document the present for posterity, the project creates a space to imagine, or dream, of futures outside of systems of oppression through a collective journaling of dreams and visions. The project, which just launched, circulates 30 journals to participants to write, sketch, imagine before it gets passed on to the next dreamer. This project builds upon the preliminary work by the Central Coast Public Humanities Collaborative, Kennedy Library’s Creative Works, Special Collections and Archives, and cultural workers during Summer 2020.

Student’s role in the research project:

The BEACoN mentee will have the opportunity to:

  • Conduct a literature review on ethics and politics of archives and archiving, as well as how BIPOC scholars have theorized dreams and imagined otherwise worlds 
  • Review the journal submissions for themes and help design or refine prompts or virtual workshops to facilitate participation
  • Outreach to different communities, individuals, and organizations and manage the distribution of the journals
  • Gain experience in grant writing

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

The mentee will gain experience in community-based research, project management, archival processing, conducting literature review, and literary analysis of primary sources, with a focus on amplifying perspectives of minoritized communities.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

At least one Ethnic Studies course.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Interest in community stories, decolonizing the archives, and reading ethnic studies scholarship.

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History

Dr. Christina Firpo (she/her/hers)

Beauty and the Nation: Race, Nation, and Consumerism in Vietnam, 1920-1945.

Fashion, cosmetics, body image, and beauty contests are often dismissed as superficial and unrelated to politics. Yet that is far from the truth. Debates about women’s appearance and the image of the woman often shed light on what a nation is and what it wants to be. This project examines beauty and fashion culture in French-colonized Vietnam, 1920-1940, through the lens of national identity and politics.

In the years after World War I, just as Vietnamese women were emerging as a new, powerful consumer class and potential political bloc, new fashions and beauty products from France began flooding the Vietnamese market. In light of these two developments, women’s attitudes about beauty, and their consumption of fashion- and beauty-related items, became a matter of intense interest among Vietnamese intellectuals, who discussed the issue in the context of broader debates about the nation’s place in the international arena.

Interestingly, among the hundreds of newspaper articles about beauty and fashion I have collected in my research on colonial Vietnam, the overwhelming majority were written by men. These male intellectuals took on the unlikely task of dictating fashion trends, offering makeup tips, discussing criteria for beauty contests, and advising women on how to achieve the perfect figure. Yet some also defended Vietnamese “tradition,” warning of the dangers of materialism and modernism and advising against altering one’s natural appearance with makeup. They defined the ideal body shape not just to please men but for birthing and reproducing the Vietnamese “race.” And they regarded international beauty contests not just as entertainment but as competitions among races and nations. Vietnamese women, they believed, needed to represent the nation—and look good doing it. I look forward to working with a student to explore the ways in which the image of women and beauty was used to represent the nation.

Student’s role in the research project:

Under my mentorship, the student-researcher will gather and assess primary source materials, specifically newspaper articles, and literary fiction from the era. Together, we will collect newspaper advertisements, editorials debating the correct ways for women to present themselves, and how-to articles aimed specifically at the female beauty consumer. We will analyze the images and transcribe articles with the aim of creating a digital archive to make these images readily accessible to the public. All research materials are digitized and readily accessible through the French and Vietnamese National Libraries. Although the student’s work will be conducted online—and thus socially distant—I look forward to working closely with and mentoring the student-researcher.

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

In the process of learning about women’s history, Vietnamese history, and economic history, the student will gain practical skills in qualitative research methods, including primary-source research, data analysis, close textual analysis, image analysis. The student will learn the techniques of digital humanities and improve their writing skills. The student will also gain important professional skills, such as managing projects, organizing data, making deadlines, and collaborating on research.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

There are no formal classes required for this project, but I hope to find a student who is enthusiastic about research. The student should be interested in learning about women’s studies, Asian history, or Vietnam studies. The student should be a proficient reader of Vietnamese. The student does not necessarily have to be native-level proficiency (nor be of Vietnamese heritage), but will have a level of competency to read newspaper articles. I speak and read Vietnamese, so I can help the student with more complicated reading passages.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Attention to details and strong organizational skills will be a bonus.

 

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Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

Dr. Mohamed Awwad (he/him/his)

Tackling Climate Change using Electric Vehicles: How to overcome the Range Anxiety Problem

On September 23, 2020, California Governor signed an executive order to "require that, by 2035, all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California be zero-emission vehicles." The move comes to eliminate harmful emissions caused by fossil fuel-powered vehicles that cause climate change. Zero-emission vehicles such as Electric Vehicles (EVs) are gaining increased popularity worldwide and in the United States. EVs are not only cleaner for the environment, but they are cheaper to own and maintain in the long run. Although the use of EVs has many advantages, EVs' mass adoption has not been realized yet. One reason is the relatively short driving range caused by the vehicle battery, coupled with the long recharging time. An additional challenge that faces the mass adoption of EVs is power and electricity shutoffs and blackouts. Electric shutoffs that occur in times of disasters that require evacuation are of specific concern, as EVs may not travel long distances when evacuations are needed, mostly if the vehicles were not fully charged.

The specific objectives of this research include a) reviewing and summarizing existing literature related to the use of EVs and the range anxiety range phenomenon, especially in times of natural disasters' occurrences, b) modeling and solving the problem of optimal EV battery charging stations' locations, and c) conducting experiments and proposing alternatives for decision making.

Student’s role in the research project:

The student will work on: a) conducting a comprehensive review of literature into the concepts of Climate Change, Electric Vehicles, Range Anxiety, and Facility Location Models; b) formulating a problem statement and research objectives; c) selecting and implementing the solution methodology; d) designing and conducting experiments, and d) disseminating the project outcomes through peer-reviewed conference 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) run 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 the challenges that face the mass adoption of Electric Vehicles as a way of combating environmental climate change; c) practice the use of various methods of Data Analytics and Operations Research to model and solve real-life problems; d) gain experience in conducting experiments, and analyzing results, and e) enhance their presentation and communication skills through writing and presenting research papers.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Research methods and/or communication and presentation skills course, background in Operations Research and Optimization, Operations Management, Supply Chain Management, and simulation.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Preferably a student majoring in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Computer Science, Business, or a closely related major.

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Industrial Technology and Packaging

Dr. Ahmed Deif (he/him/his)

Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Supply Chain Resilience

In a post COVID 19 supply chain era, resilience is becoming among the top competitive and operation strategic priorities for supply chain managers. The objective of this study is to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) approach to enhance agriculture supply chain’s resilience, by identifying the major suppliers’ delivery risk, common risks that would affect the Ag supply chain performance and then resilience measures to mitigate the risks based on AI solutions. The aim is also to investigate the development of an overall supervisory control approach to plan and control the implementation of the AI-based solutions to enhance supply chain resilience. This study will provides a practical contribution to the discussion of how to learn from and avoid similar COVID 19 negative impact among agriculture supply chains that are prone to similar crises at different levels. The actors and stakeholders who will be interested in the results of this research include retailers as customers, farmers and processors as providers, and policy makers overseeing agriculture economy at local and national levels.

Student’s role in the research project:

The mentee's role in the project will be:

1- Help in the literature review regarding the role of artificial intelligence in supply chain

2- Share in data gathering from agriculture supply chain stakeholders (via sending some surveys and following up)

 3- Preforming simple primary analysis to the gathered data.

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

The mentee will:

1- Build a good background about business application of artificial intelligence

2- Understand supply chain risk and resilience management in the agriculture sector

3- Develop and apply primary statistical data analysis.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Some background in either agriculture or supply chain or AI is recommended.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Any background or course on AI or supply chain or Ag business.

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Interdisciplinary Studies in Liberal Arts

Dr. Emily Ryalls (she/her/hers)

Feminist Pedagogy: An Intersectional, Interdisciplinary Peer-Reviewed Journal

This project involves the creation of a new academic journal. Housed at Cal Poly, "Feminist Pedagogy" will publish teaching activities and assignments that integrate feminist values with related theories and research on teaching and learning. Given our contemporary context in which teaching methods that interrogate white supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy are under attack, the need for a journal that highlights and proliferates this form of pedagogy is essential.

Student’s role in the research project:

During Winter, the mentee will be required to become familiar with American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines and learn how to navigate Digital Commons. The mentee will also research best practices for creating/advertising a journal, scholarship on feminist pedagogy, and information on existing pedagogy journals, which they will then summarize by writing an annotated bibliography. With this information, the mentee will work closely with the editor to draft the aims and scope of the journal and the initial Call for Papers. During this time, the mentee will also be in charge of marketing the journal via social media and researching appropriate scholars to join the editorial board.

During Spring, the mentee will serve as the Editorial Assistant. In this role, the mentee will track, review, and prepare submissions for publication. This process includes editing (content, formatting, grammar, style, fact checking, reference checking, and final copyediting) and providing administrative support to the journal’s editor.

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

First and foremost, the mentee will have the rare opportunity to participate in the process of creating and marketing an academic journal, while gaining exposure to the academic publishing process. Second, the mentee will learn how to synthesize relevant interdisciplinary literature. Third, through access to reviewer responsibilities, the mentee will learn how to recognize and provide fair and constructive comments on manuscripts. Fourth, the mentee will gain exposure to current research in the field of feminist pedagogy through varied methodologies, as I expect submitted manuscripts to use quantitative, qualitative, and rhetorical research and theoretical approaches. Sixth, given the timeline of publishing, the mentee will gain skills in time management. Finally, the mentee will have the incredible opportunity to network with U.S. and international scholars across varied disciplines.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

N/A

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

It is preferred that the mentee have previous interest in or exposure to feminist theory and intersectionality. While not required, a student interested in graduate study may gain the most from this position.

 

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Kinesiology and Public Health

Dr. Todd Hagobian (he/him/his)

COVID-19 pandemic was largely unforeseen in the US and has led to historic measures to combat spread including social distancing and reducing group sizes. To slow the spread of the pandemic, initial responses by the majority of states issued stay-at-home measures for individuals and families to minimize social contact. With stay-at-home mandates, adults and families were allowed essential functions including medical visits, grocery shopping, and may exercise once per day. However, the historic stay-at-home state mandates may have an unforeseen consequence on cardiovascular disease risk (CVD) by increasing body weight through negative impacts on social behaviors (decreased physical activity, increased sedentary time, unhealthy diet). Stay-at-home measures are also to have more negative consequences for lower income individuals, whose opportunities for physical activity and access to healthy food are already limited. As a result, lower income individuals, already at higher risk for CVD, may experience greater changes in CVD risk factors, including more rapid weight gain. The effects of isolation and stay at home mandates on stress and depressive symptoms may further exacerbate CVD processes. The proposed study uses a natural experiment approach to assess whether stay-at-home mandates to slow the spread of the infectious COVID-19 pandemic may have detrimental chronic disease effects by increasing risk markers related to CVD. Thus, the purpose of this study is to document differences in weight, social behaviors, and psychosocial factors and 24-month changes in these variables over time in up to 3000 US adults and international adults in different stages of stay-at-home mandates.

Student’s role in the research project:

Student work along side myself, other students, and research staff to fulfill the primary aim of the study. This includes assessing participants, and following up with participants. The student will work in Qualtrics (online survey platform) to administer the survey. Student will download survey dean, "clean data", and merge assessment timepoints. The student will also aid (and work closely with) research staff and postdoctoral research fellow to analyze data.

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

-Survey design

-Assessments of human participants

-Experience with data collection and sampling methods

-Aid with quantitative analysis

-Develop professional skills

-Opportunity to aid with presentation and writing of manuscripts

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Interest in COVID-19 pandemic and effects on human health.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Research methods or statistical methods/analysis course is preferred, but not required.

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Dr. Joni Roberts (she/her/hers)

Menstrual Health Communication Messages

This research project focuses on communication messages of menstrual products and menstrual health in general. Students working on this project will analyze, critique, and synthesize existing published literature to determine best practices for communicating these highly stigmatized topics in rural Uganda. Students will spend one quarter researching and reviewing peer-reviewed articles on communication messages and strategies for communicating stigmatized topics such as menstruation. During the second quarter, students will compile the information gained in the previous quarter to create a website that will house and display different types of menstrual health messages for school girls residing in rural Uganda.

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)

- learn to use literature review databases such as Covidence and learn how to thoroughly search the literature on a specified topic.

- use app-based tools such as slack, one-note notebook, and Trello for organizing and communicating.

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

- data management, literature analysis, and, synthesis.

- communicating about a specified topic along with presentation skills.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Completion of ENGL 134 (writing and composition) or equivalent. Students should complete a research methods course or have experience working with a mentor on a research project. Courses or experiences that demonstrate their creativity are also required. Students may highlight said courses or experiences in their application.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Students with creative skills such as graphic design or the like or who has experience with drafting communication messages, creating a website, or working with international populations are preferred but not required.

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Dr. Jafra D. Thomas (he/him/his)

Towards Equitable Communication: Explorations to Guide Knowledge Translation in Kinesiology

Kinesiology is the study of how physical activity relates to life satisfaction, health, and society. (American Kinesiology Association, 2020). To serve the public in ways that are equitable, knowledge translation of kinesiology must happen (Thomas & Cardinal, 2020, NAKHE). What does this look like? It means using insight and critical understanding about human movement to create or revise guidelines for products, polices, and how people work to serve others. Educational resources meant to aid others in leading an active lifestyle are a great way to study issues of knowledge translation. Namely because they represent one persistent barrier to it (Thomas & Cardinal, 2020, TJACSM). Most products lack usability due to hard to read sentences, rare use of summaries, and a poor choice in graphics (Smith & Thomas, 2020, video abstract; Uwadiale & Thomas, 2020, BEACoN Symposium). While educational resources meant for the public are an opportune way to study knowledge translation, kinesiology research in this area has been quite limited. This was the finding of the 2019-2020 BEACoN study that I co-led with Cal Poly undergraduates (Thomas, Uwadiale, & Watson, in review). We discovered that most research only looks primarily at one measure of quality—reading grade level—and that over the last two decades, only one study has directly measured end-users’ understanding of a resource material.

Thus, the purpose of this 2020-2021 BEACoN research project is to push the folds in this area of study. Specifically, the select student(s) will assist me in designing mixed-method studies to figure out how the design of a resource material may associate with end-users’ understanding of it. This includes direct measures of end-users’ understanding of material content. Beyond providing clarification on how design features may relate to end-users’ gains in health literacy for physical activity, the results of this work will provide direction on how training programs may be designed to help folks better communicate with lay adults about kinesiology.

Select Referent Links

• Thomas & Cardinal, 2020, NAKHE: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340223683_To_Drive_Change_as_Experts_Knowledge_Translation_in_Kinesiology_Must_Occur_Background_and_Significance

• Thomas & Cardinal, 2020, TJACSM: https://journals.lww.com/acsm-tj/Fulltext/2020/05010/How_Credible_Is_Online_Physical_Activity_Advice_.1.aspx

• Smith & Thomas, 2020, video abstract: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPxVo8rbP4E

• Uwadiale & Thomas, 2020, BEACoN Symposium: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/kinesp/11

Student’s role in the research project:

Under my mentorship and guidance, the student will…

  1. Assist in locating peer-reviewed literature and recording key findings.
  2. Become familiar with guidelines for designing a quality replication study.
  3. Learn how to prepare project proposals that require approval from an Institutional Review Board, the entity charged with the ethical review and approval of studies that involve human subjects. Specifically, students will complete self-paced training programs and discuss their learning with me.
  4. Draft a study proposal to be reviewed by an Institutional Review Board (see above expectation).
  5. Assist in fine-tuning protocols to improve readability until independent raters could arrive at similar results.
  6. Help outline the limitations of this exploratory research project and outline recommendations for future research.
  7. 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:

Under my mentorship and guidance, the student will develop or advance their ability to…

  1. Explain what health literacy is and describe common communication barriers to promoting it.
  2. Practice application of information literacy to locate peer-reviewed and popular press articles using established search methods (e.g., database filters, search term schemes).
  3. Critically review research literature and catalog information for the purpose of composing a narrative review of research literature (e.g., strengths, limitations, findings, relevance).
  4. Draft and revise works of writing for the purpose of teaching and reporting research results.
  5. Plan, design, and implement a research protocol.
  6. Draft and revise sections of a scientific report (e.g., abstract, methods, discussion).
  7. Report and interpret statistical results.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

  1. Demonstrated experience with managing or organizing a co-curricular projects at the high-school or collegiate grade level
  2. Demonstrated experience with working independently to complete tasks with expediency and consistent with instructions or guidelines that have been provided.
  3. Familiarity with how to perform a basic to advance search of an electronic database or of the Internet to locate information or literature published in the recent to distant past (e.g., periodicals, books, journal articles, videos).

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

  1. An introduction to research methods, such as through an introductory course specific to any discipline or a work-related experience (e.g., volunteer work on a research project).
  2. A fundamental course in reasoning and argumentation (e.g., courses that satisfy GE A3).
  3. A fundamental course in statistics (e.g., courses that satisfy GE B1).
  4. Introductory Course on Health and Physical Activity (e.g., HLTH/KINE 250, Healthy Living; or HLTH/KINE 255, Personal Health: A Multicultural Approach).
  5. Introductory Psychology Course (e.g., PSY 201, General Psychology).
  6. Introductory Sociology Course (e.g., SOC 110, Comparative Societies).

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Dr. Marilyn Tseng (she/her/hers)

Defining challenges in the San Luis Obispo food system

The local food system encompasses many parts – production, processing, distribution, delivery, consumption. Its impacts are felt across multiple dimensions of health - individual, socioeconomic, and environmental. But policies regulating the food system are largely piecemeal. Food-related policies on agricultural production, for example, ignore consequences to human health, and food-related initiatives relating to human health often do not consider environmental sustainability. At a national level, the consequences of addressing only one segment of the food system rather than the food system as a whole include an excessive reliance on monoculture crop production; insufficient supports for family farms; poor labor conditions in production and processing; marketplaces favoring energy-rich/nutrient-poor foods over fresh produce; food insecurity; and high rates of obesity and obesity-related conditions. The objective of this research is to use similar metrics to describe the challenges faced by the food system of San Luis Obispo County. The main question being asked is, ‘What problems does our local food system face?’ Findings from the research will be shared with local food system stakeholders, and to answer another question: ‘How can we enable better integration across local initiatives to address these challenges?’ This research is part of a larger effort towards creating comprehensive rather than piecemeal food policy – first at the local level, but with implications for influencing policy at larger levels.

Student’s role in the research project:

The BEACoN mentee will be responsible for: (1) identifying the range of metrics, representing all components of the food system, to describe food system challenges; (2) seeking available data on these metrics; (3) summarizing the findings both in text and graphically; and (4) presenting the findings to local stakeholders. All of these can be conducted virtually.

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

The BEACoN mentee will gain skills in identifying and evaluating sources of information from a wide range of disciplines; interpreting data; and conveying findings to academic and non-academic audiences.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

The BEACoN mentee should have coursework in basic statistics; and prior experience with some form of research (for example, from coursework), as well as with communication (for example, speech and writing, also from coursework).

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Preferred (but not required) qualifications are: (1) coursework on research methods; and (2) strong interest in and some knowledge of food system issues.

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Liberal Studies

Dr. Amanda Frye (she/her/hers)

Preparing to Teach in a Changing World: Supporting Early-Career Teachers

What supports do early-career teachers need in order to be successful, stay in the profession, and develop into polished professionals? Especially now - with distance learning and the digital divide exacerbating the existing disparities in learning outcomes among public school students?

Good teaching is both an art and a science - teachers must combine a mastery of curriculum content with pedagogical expertise in order to help each learner develop conceptual and practical understanding, remain socially and emotionally engaged in learning, and create environments where students can bring all of their skills, experiences, and identities with them in order to fully engage. However, during California’s recovery from the Great Recession, teacher shortages in the state have only become more critical. Classes and programs that were cut during the lean years have been reinstated, but it’s been hard to find sufficient numbers of classroom-ready teachers to lead them because the supply pipeline for new teachers was severely impacted by the financial downturn. Districts across the state have reported serious shortages of teachers particularly in mathematics, science, bilingual education, and special education. Now, with the current public-health conditions forcing most classroom instruction into the virtual environment for SY 2020-21, teachers are stretching their limits and using all their skills to keep students engaged and learning from a distance. Moreover, as California’s public schools grow increasingly majority-minority, the need for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous teachers and those skilled in culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogy has become more important than ever before.

The transition from student to professional can be jarring for early career teachers even under the best of conditions. Moving from being part of a lively cohort of colleagues to being the newest and youngest teacher in the building, feeling pressed to present as a legitimate professional to parents, students, and fellow faculty members, and learning to interact based on the social norms and expectations of the new environment all take energy and focus. Schools and districts that prioritize equity goals in selecting and hiring new teachers who are skilled in creating warm and inclusive learning environments may nevertheless be ill-equipped to support them in their new roles. These challenges can result in lower than expected levels of academic progress for students and higher than desired rates of attrition among new teachers. This project will explore the early-career needs of teachers and teacher candidates as they transition from undergraduate education programs, earn their teaching credentials, and begin careers as educators in public schools, to create a better understanding of what they need to be successful under rapidly changing circumstances.

Student’s role in the research project:

The BEACoN mentee’s role in this research project will be to 1) assist with data collection, 2) conduct literature searches for contextual background information, 3) help with pilot testing and evaluating survey instruments and interview protocols, 4) collect, code, and analyze survey data, and 5) write research memos documenting the progress of the project.

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

The BEACoN mentee will 1) learn how and when to use qualitative and quantitative research methods including survey analysis and grounded theory coding and analysis, 2) how to conduct a literature search and organize references, 3) how to use qualitative and/or mixed methods analysis software, and 4) gain experience in writing up and presenting research findings for a scholarly audience.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

ES 112, LS 214, LS 461, EDUC 400; or comparable coursework from another institution.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Any research methods courses; demonstrated interest & experience with diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives; experience teaching or working with school-age children.


Dr. Jasmine Nation (she/her/hers)

Exploring Equity and Access in University-Community Partnerships

This project focuses on broadening perceptions of STEM for underrepresented groups, in particular women and Latinx youth. Despite gains in educational achievement over the past twenty years, women and individuals from non-dominant cultures remain underrepresented in STEM majors and careers. Living in Arizona, New Mexico, and California, I have worked primarily with Latinx students, who represent 17% of the population in the United States and only six percent in STEM fields (NSF, 2017). The Latinx population is the largest, youngest, and fastest growing minority group in the United States and as such, the choices, opportunities, and trajectories of these students will greatly shape the future of the country. It is imperative that researchers consider new approaches to recruit and retain these students into STEM and higher education. University-community partnerships offer a powerful approach and educational context, elevating youth voices in the research process, framing science as a way to enact change in students’ lives and their communities, and acting as a bridge between high school and college and career opportunities.

We will investigate potential benefits for undergraduates engaged in service learning through these programs, in particular documenting the experiences of students underrepresented in higher education. Data should show which elements of the program make undergraduates feel connected to their community, increase their knowledge of educational settings, and develop research and teaching skills and how to encourage these design elements in partnerships. We will also evaluate outcomes for the K-12 partners to understand the learning opportunities in informal STEM and maker environments for youth, while advocating for youth to adopt more active roles in the research and dissemination process. Studying youth outcomes over longer periods of time could provide insight into STEM identity development and supports and barriers to participation for STEM-underrepresented students. This work will make visible how university-community partnerships promote youth outcomes on multiple levels, and act as bridging programs to advanced STEM learning in high school, college, and careers.

Student’s role in the research project:

The student research assistant will become a member of an active research group. Working closely with the principal investigator, the research assistant will:

• Collect video and observational data through zoom sessions with K-12 students

• Learn the process of qualitative data analysis including designing individual and focus group interview protocols, transcribing, and coding data

• Conduct interviews and make observations/take field notes in different virtual afterschool sessions

• Assist with the development of an evaluation tool for existing programs in CESAME or the Learn by Doing Lab

• Assist with thematic coding of video and interview transcripts

• Analyze interview data from previous university-community afterschool programs including a summer STEAM project

• Help adapt virtual afterschool lesson plans with an equity focus

• Assist with research bibliography and contribute to a conference submission or practitioner journal article

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

The student mentee will gain experience in the field of education and with qualitative methodology, including documenting students’ experiences, drafting interview protocols, conducting interviews with other students in a virtual format, transcribing interviews and coding interviews (thematic analysis using MaxQDA software). The student will also learn about how to present these findings in various formats ranging from evaluation/summary reports to conference presentations to articles for teachers.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

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

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Students would benefit from having taken LS 413, SCM 302, or SCM 220, any research methods course, or taking them while involved in this project.

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Management, Human Resources, and Information Systems

Dr. Benjamin N. Alexander (he/him/his)

Stakeholder Management during Disruption and Uncertainty

This research project will explore how organizations have addressed their stakeholders as they navigated multiple crises since the beginning of 2020. Specifically, this study will analyze a sample of public organizations and private businesses’ communications including press releases and social media posts to examine how different stakeholders are characterized over time in them. With public organizations, these stakeholders may include taxpayers, community groups, business groups, environmental groups, different governmental organizations. With businesses, these stakeholders may include employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers community groups, regulators, and others.

Drawing on publicly available archival data, researchers will craft short narrative histories for each sampled organization. This contextual data will serve as a backdrop against which to assess themes emerging from the textual analysis of the organizations’ communications. By looking across different cases, the researchers will develop an initial conceptualization of how stakeholders are characterized and why. Interviews with managers will be used to augment these findings by evaluating and elaborating on the initial conceptualization. This research will be inductive, seeking to generate new insights into stakeholder management, rather than test existing theory.

Student’s role in the research project:

The mentee will be involved in all phases of the research project. We will work together to refine the study’s design, finalize the set of organizations to be sampled, collect and analyze organizational communications from various websites, build case narratives, develop initial themes, and prepare for and conduct interviews. The mentee will also be involved in writing a paper that can be submitted to a scholarly journal.

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

Students will gain experience in qualitative and mixed-method research including research design, sampling, collecting and analyzing textual data, recruiting interviewees, interviewing, conducting literature reviews, and, if the mentee is interested, topic modeling. Students will also learn about stakeholder management and practice critical thinking and problem solving in a research context.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

There are no absolute course requirements for this research, but the mentee should have strong reading, writing, and critical thinking skills as well as some degree of data literacy. Students can learn the technical skills along the way, a but it is important that they are comfortable reviewing and synthesizing multiple types of data.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Both Research Methods and Communication courses are helpful, but not required.

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Marketing

Dr. Cindy Wang (she/her/hers)

Power and Consumer Decision-making

This research explores how consumers make marketing related decisions when they are feeling powerful or powerless. It investigates purchase related (e.g. hedonic, utilitarian, mysterious products) and non-purchase related (e.g. pro-environmental and donation) behaviors, and the factors (e.g. gifting, self-regulation motivation, brand relations, frames) that might influence consumers' choices. The goals is to enhance the understanding of consumer behavior, and provide insights for improving Individual decision-making and consumer welfare.

Student’s role in the research project:

The mentee is expected help explore and gather real world ads, provide inspiration and suggestions in survey design intended to test consumers' choices, attend and participate in research meetings, and proofread and polish research questions.

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

Interest for advertising, decision-making, and pro-social behaviors (i.e. environmentally friendly behaviors, charitable donations, etc.)

Knowing graphics editing programs like Photoshop would be a plus.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

No experiences are required, but related experiences would help.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Advertising, prosocial cause, photo-editing.

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Mathematics

Dr. Joyce Lin (she/her/hers)

Modeling Mean Field Equations for Cardiac Tissue

Action potentials are the electrical impulse through cardiac tissue that allows for a heart to beat and pump blood throughout the body. As action potential failure has been strongly linked to sudden cardiac death, we seek a better theoretical model to study parameters that can cause arrhythmia.

The model that we have developed is of intermediate complexity, seeking to incorporate the important factors, while simplifying the others. This model was developed as a master's thesis in the mathematics department, and needs to be implemented, simulated, and analyzed for results.

Student’s role in the research project:

The mentee will

- study the master's thesis that has been written

- implement the model in a coding platform

- run simulations to gather data

- analyze the data for results

- work with the mentor on a manuscript to submit to a peer-reviewed journal.

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

The mentee will gain experience in the field of mathematical biology, learning to implement code and analyze results, as well as co-authoring a manuscript to be submitted for publication. This real-world experience will be invaluable for future career paths in either industry or academia.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Solid foundation in programming and mathematics, specifically differential equations.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

N/A

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Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Lauren Cooper (she/her/hers)

Transforming Engineering Pedagogy and Culture

The Computer Engineering (CPE) program (soon to be department) is one of 14 degree programs offered by the College of Engineering at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). Nationally, there is a great sense of urgency to diversify the computer workforce. However, very little progress has been made in terms of gender parity, proportionate participation by people from minoritized groups, and access and inclusion for people with disabilities. Women-identified people of color - particularly Black, Indigenous, and Latinx women - are particularly underrepresented in the field. At Cal Poly, CPE’s distribution of male and female computer engineering students matches that reported nationally: 89.5% and 10.5%, respectively. However, looking simply at ratios is not enough and masks an even bigger problem: student lack of persistence within the major On average, CPE enrolls 100 first-time freshmen (FTF) yet only graduates 70 students per year. Disqualification rates for students from underrepresented racially minoritized groups are 234% greater than for white students. Likewise, women-identified students are 60% more likely than male students to be dismissed from CPE. Why do these patterns exist? Our hypothesis is that Cal Poly CPE students encounter and are constrained by normative social constructions of gender, race, and socioeconomic class connected to the field’s disciplinary identity and approaches to professional formation. Students from underrepresented and minoritzed groups are cognizant that the Cal Poly CPE program is white-, straight-, and male-centered and that this controls who is welcome, or even permitted entry. This is not simply about numbers but about the culture of CPE – including what problems are prioritized as “worth solving” by the field and what types of knowledge are considered valid in these processes. CPE is grounded in dualisms commonly used to create hierarchies in engineering thought and practice (rational-emotional, male-female, social-technical, concrete-abstract, etc.). Together, this context produces a situation where students from underrepresented and minoritized groups are pushed to hide or discard multiple aspects of their identities to present themselves as (stereo)typical computer engineers. With the binary choice of “in” or “out,” many of these students leave the field.

Some faculty, staff, and students at Cal Poly are currently engaged in a collaborative transformation process designed to co-create a more inclusive and equitable culture in CPE that is grounded in holistic learning experiences that reject the dualisms and hierarchies described above. This research and project is grounded in commitments to equity-mindedness, that “emphasizes institutional responsibility to create equity and directs practitioners to focus on what they can do to close equity gaps … through changes in institutional practices, policies, culture, and routines” (Malcom-Piqueux, 2017; Bensimon & Malcom, 2012). Our BEACoN mentee will play a critical role - namely to engage additional faculty, staff, and students in this project and work with this project’s team (led by Dr. Lauren Cooper [proposed BEACoN mentor], Dr. Lynne Slivosky, and Dr. Jane Lehr) to formally characterize the current state of the department culture with regard to endorsement or rejection of historical binaries in engineering, as well as make visible personal, institutional, and disciplinary structures that influence students’ sense of identity and belonging in CPE.

Student’s role in the research project:

Our BEACoN mentee will play a central and critical role in the research tasks associated with our larger project. Specifically, our mentee will assist with quantitative data analysis for survey data that will be collected in fall 2020, help write a new IRB for the qualitative component of our project, assist with conducting student and faculty interview and/or focus groups in winter 2021, co-lead the qualitative data analysis, be involved with aspects of grant writing (i.e. literature review, research methodologies) to secure future project funding, and work toward publishing a conference paper. All of these efforts can be carried out virtually.

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

This project will be an exceptional opportunity for our BEACoN mentee to gain expertise in engineering education research. Anticipated skills our mentee will gain are related to: research methods and design, interviewing and conducting focus groups, qualitative and quantitative analysis, data presentation and data management, and written and oral communication. Additionally, we aspire for our mentee to develop skills and capacities related to leadership, self-efficacy, knowledge of personal strengths and assets, and confidence in their future career plans.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Students with experience (through coursework or other training/experience) in either statistics/quantitative data analysis OR qualitative data analysis.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

1) Students with interest in both quantitative and qualitative research methods; 2) Interest and prior experience with perspectives and frameworks utilized in areas including Science & Technology Studies, Ethnic Studies, Women’s, Gender & Queer studies, or related areas. Interest and prior experience may be demonstrated by course work, club or other co-curricular participation and/or knowledge gained via lived experiences; 3) Passionate about and committed to the co-creation of more just, diverse, and inclusive STEM learning environments and cultures.

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Dr. Jennifer Mott Peuker (she/her/hers)

Psychological Effects on Thermal Comfort in Higher Education 

While we have guidelines to design to for thermal comfort, we all know of buildings and spaces that are not comfortable and people are either too cold or too hot. When there is little control over room condition, which is usually the case in educational settings, student focus can suffer and affect their academic success. This research project investigates occupant satisfaction and what influences their perception of thermal comfort in classroom settings—specifically the psychological influences on thermal comfort. It asks the question of whether we can influence people to believe that the room conditions are acceptable. we need to understand how students perceive thermal comfort in different situations so that we can use this information to predict thermal comfort, improve student success, and to be able to reduce energy usage in buildings for heating and cooling.

We want to further the understanding of how students perceive thermal comfort with respect to the following:

•Which situations are people willing to sacrifice comfort for a bigger purpose, e.g., save energy

•Knowing/not knowing how flexible or inflexible a system is to changes in temperature/humidity control

•During a regular class time vs. exams

•Lower or higher quality of other aspects of  indoor environment quality: humidity, airflow, acoustics, lighting, air quality

•Physical aspects of the room, e.g., windows, view, shading/glare, size of desks/space for each student, occupant density

More information about the goals of the research and the current status can be found at https://me.calpoly.edu/cptc

Student’s role in the research project:

The BEACoN will be joining a dynamic research group that is inter-disciplinary. Students work together on different parts of the project and support each other in their efforts. We meet as group via zoom once a week. The BEACoN mentee will have the benefit of working with other students and with the professor on research. New ideas are always welcome and encouraged!

There are three options that a student can choose to work on:

  1. Historical Trends: students work to analyze 15 years of calculus 1, 2, and 3 course data to find trends between course performance and thermal comfort. This sub-group works on data analytics.
  2. Room Modeling: students model classrooms on campus to predict indoor conditions. Students also analyze measured room conditions.
  3. CPTC Mobile App: students work on the development and improvement of a mobile app that is used to collect student perception of thermal comfort. The app will also be used to notify users of conditions and information to try to influence their perception of the current conditions. Students will also analyze the data that is collected using the app and be expected to put the results on a website.

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

Depending on the part of the project working on, student can gain skills in the following areas: data analytics and statistics, programming for data analytics, programming a mobile app and working with the iTunes/GooglePlay stores, website development and design, and building/room modeling using DesignBuilder. 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 at a conference or in a peer-reviewed journal.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Each part of the project needs different skills:

  1. Historical Trends: Students need to have background in data analytics, specifically using statistical programs/packages for large data sets.
  2. Room Modeling: Students need to have experience in using 3D modeling programs, such as taken ME 251 or similar.
  3. CPTC Mobile App: Students need to have experience in mobile app development, especially using React, Ionic, and Firebase.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

  1. Historical Trends:  Recommended to have taken STAT 301 and 302.
  2. Room Modeling:  Recommended to have taken ME302
  3. CPTC Mobile App:  Recommended to have taken a course in cyber/computer security and/or CSC 436

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Natural Resources Management & Environmental Sciences

Dr. Charlotte Decock (she/her/hers)

The role of cover crops in soil health and climate change mitigation

Soils are essential for life, providing a wide range of ecosystem services, from supporting plant growth to filtering our water. It is estimated that a third of our agricultural soils worldwide are degraded due to erosion, soil organic matter loss, loss of soil structure, or salinization. To combat the alarming rate of soil degradation, soil scientists and policy makers alike are urging farmers to adopt management practices that improve soil health. One of these management practices is growing cover crops. This practice is particularly promising in orchards and vineyards, which account for over 4 million acres in California. Orchard or vineyard floors, referring to the area between the trees or vines, are often times kept clear of vegetation by use of herbicides or cultivation, leaving the soil greatly susceptible to soil degradation. Cover crops protect the soil surface from the elements and are generally known to improve soil health. In addition, cover crops add organic matter to the soil. This does not only improve soil fertility, but also contributes to climate change mitigation, because roughly 50% of soil organic matter is carbon. Yet, cover crops are currently found in only a small portion of California’s orchards and vineyards. In the Soil Health and Fertility Lab at Cal Poly, we are quantifying the effects of cover crops on soil and plant health in citrus orchards. By clearly documenting costs and benefits to cover crop cultivation, we aim to provide policy makers with a better quantification of the climate change mitigation potential of cover crops, and provide growers evidence needed to make informed decisions regarding their soil management.

Student’s role in the research project:

Observing current COVID-19 safety guidelines, the mentee will have the opportunity to collect soil and plant samples and acquire laboratory skills associated with the analysis of soil and plant tissue analysis. The mentee will work with the faculty advisor to refine a research question, analyze data, and carefully interpret the results. Under the scenario that safety guidelines prohibit in-person research, the mentee will work virtually on reviewing literature and analyzing data from the project, in close collaboration with the faculty advisor and other undergraduate and graduate students working on the project.

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

In this project, the mentee will gain valuable knowledge about soil health and soil conservation management practices promoted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS). The mentee will learn standard operating procedures for field sampling and basic soil and plant tissue analysis. The mentee will be guided through the principles of scientific research and learn how to refine a research question, formulate a hypothesis, conduct and experiment, collect and analyze data, and interpret the research findings in relation to the hypothesis and research question. The mentee will strengthen their skills in searching scientific databases, reading scientific papers and using Microsoft excel to manage, visualize and analyze data.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

This project is suitable for students with an interest in soil science, sustainable agriculture or environmental sciences. Research projects are most successful when participants are enthusiastic, motivated, have a strong desire to satisfy their curiosity, and show a great eye for detail.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Preferable, the student has taken SS 120 Introductory Soil Science.

Soils are essential for life, providing a wide range of ecosystem services, from supporting plant growth to filtering our water. It is estimated that a third of our agricultural soils worldwide are degraded due to erosion, soil organic matter loss, loss of soil structure, or salinization. To combat the alarming rate of soil degradation, soil scientists and policy makers alike are urging farmers to adopt management practices that improve soil health. One of these management practices is growing cover crops. This practice is particularly promising in orchards and vineyards, which account for over 4 million acres in California. Orchard or vineyard floors, referring to the area between the trees or vines, are often times kept clear of vegetation by use of herbicides or cultivation, leaving the soil greatly susceptible to soil degradation. Cover crops protect the soil surface from the elements and are generally known to improve soil health. In addition, cover crops add organic matter to the soil. This does not only improve soil fertility, but also contributes to climate change mitigation, because roughly 50% of soil organic matter is carbon. Yet, cover crops are currently found in only a small portion of California’s orchards and vineyards. In the Soil Health and Fertility Lab at Cal Poly, we are quantifying the effects of cover crops on soil and plant health in citrus orchards. By clearly documenting costs and benefits to cover crop cultivation, we aim to provide policy makers with a better quantification of the climate change mitigation potential of cover crops, and provide growers evidence needed to make informed decisions regarding their soil management.

Student’s role in the research project:

Observing current COVID-19 safety guidelines, the mentee will have the opportunity to collect soil and plant samples and acquire laboratory skills associated with the analysis of soil and plant tissue analysis. The mentee will work with the faculty advisor to refine a research question, analyze data, and carefully interpret the results. Under the scenario that safety guidelines prohibit in-person research, the mentee will work virtually on reviewing literature and analyzing data from the project, in close collaboration with the faculty advisor and other undergraduate and graduate students working on the project.

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

In this project, the mentee will gain valuable knowledge about soil health and soil conservation management practices promoted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS). The mentee will learn standard operating procedures for field sampling and basic soil and plant tissue analysis. The mentee will be guided through the principles of scientific research and learn how to refine a research question, formulate a hypothesis, conduct and experiment, collect and analyze data, and interpret the research findings in relation to the hypothesis and research question. The mentee will strengthen their skills in searching scientific databases, reading scientific papers and using Microsoft excel to manage, visualize and analyze data.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

This project is suitable for students with an interest in soil science, sustainable agriculture or environmental sciences. Research projects are most successful when participants are enthusiastic, motivated, have a strong desire to satisfy their curiosity, and show a great eye for detail.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Preferable, the student has taken SS 120 Introductory Soil Science.

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Dr. Yamina Pressler (she/her/hers)

Evaluating approaches to communicating soil conservation, restoration, and management

Soils are the basis of many ecosystem services, including supporting agricultural production, regulating freshwater resources, storing carbon, and maintaining above and belowground biodiversity. Despite this, soils are threatened worldwide due to unsustainable management practices and a changing global environment. Therefore, conserving, restoring, and managing soils is fundamental to maintaining the ecosystem services they provide into the future. Scientists have long communicated ideas of sustainable soil management, but their approaches to communication, and the impact of these efforts, differ widely. Here, we will analyze dozens of editorials in scientific journals that focus on soil conservation, restoration, and management, identify overarching communication themes, and apply these insights to suggest ways forward for future soil science communication efforts. This project is in collaboration with Dr. Meena Balgopal, a science education and communication researcher at Colorado State University. This project is ideal for a student interested in soils, conservation and restoration, science communication, and/or science studies. The nature of the project lends itself well to remote/virtual work and is ideal for a student interested in conducting research on written texts.

Student’s role in the research project:

The BEACoN mentee working on this project will conduct a systematic search of published editorials related to soil conservation, restoration, and management. The mentee will analyze and interpret the communication approaches in the published texts to identify recurring themes. From there, the mentee will compile a written report describing the major communication strategies found within each editorial, discussing overarching themes, and evaluating how these insights can be used to strengthen soil science communication efforts in the future. Each step of this project will be iterative, where the mentee and mentor will work together to identify and refine themes that emerge from the editorials.

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

The BEACon mentee will gain skills in analytical reading, qualitative analysis and interpretation, argumentative writing, and research collaboration.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

No courses or experiences are required

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Students who have previous experience with reading scientific literature and writing argumentative essays are preferred. Completion of one or more Area A GE (English Language Communication and Critical Thinking) courses are preferred.

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Physics

Dr. Louise Edwards (she/her/hers)

How Massive are Today's Largest Galaxies?

BCGs are the most luminous galaxies in the Universe. They are large, red, elliptical galaxies located at the center of a galaxy cluster. A 5-meterTelescope located atop Palomar Mountain in Southern California has taken images 13 of these monsters. The student will be analyzing this data to reveal information these galaxy's recent past. The goal of this project is to determine the properties of the stars that make up the BCGs (age, mass, etc.).

Student’s role in the research project:

The student will run python computer codes to find the size, shape and mass of the galaxies. The student will plot the best-fit results with a number of galaxy properties, to find if there is a correlation. Summary: The student will run codes and graph the results, with lots of zoom face-to-face time with the PI as well as the other students in the research group.

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

Students will increase their competitiveness with regards to graduate school and jobs in industry as they will learn or improve their coding skills in Python and some astronomy-specific packages and programs, they will practice technical writing skills (including the hard skill of learning LaTeX) handle large data bases, data visualization, and learn astrophysics along the way. 

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

PHYS 122 or PHYS 132 or ASTR 102 or ASTR 101, or relevant high school experience.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

ASTR 101 or 102 or 301 or 302 or 444, computing experience (ie. any CS course, or Physics on the Computer, any research involving coding in any field), any Statistics course.

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Political Science

Dr. R.G. Cravens (he/him/his)

Defining the Role of Religion in LGBTQ Culture & Politics

What is LGBTQ culture and what (if any) place does religion have in it? Despite mounting evidence from surveys and interviews about the lived experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people to the contrary, it is still widely accepted that religion has little-to-no place in queer culture and that most religious traditions remain unwelcoming to LGBTQ people. Because religion is an important factor that motivates both political attitudes and political participation, this misunderstood aspect of queer culture has important implications for LGBTQ identity and political development.

This research project will address the questions of LGBTQ culture, identity, and religious beliefs and practices by collecting survey data from LGBTQ people about their religious and political experiences before and after ‘coming out’ as LGBTQ. The mentee will primarily assist with background research, survey construction, data collection, and data visualization.

Student’s role in the research project:

-Construct annotated bibliographies on LGBTQ culture and religious experiences; LGBT political behavior; and the American progressive religious landscape.

-Draft, edit, and test a 20-minute self-administered online survey instrument.

-Distribute survey to social networks and monitor response rates.

-Review and code open-ended survey responses.

-Conduct preliminary quantitative analysis in SPSS/Stata

-Create presentation materials and potential present preliminary findings at a conference.

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

My mentee will gain research and communication skills that enhance their ability to relate scientific research to a broad audience. In addition, my mentee will gain skills related to quantitative and qualitative research methods that are valuable and translatable to the public, private, and non-profit sectors as well as graduate programs in the social sciences.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

-Interest in LGBTQ politics

-Experience locating, reading, and abstracting peer reviewed journal articles

-Word and Excel

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

-Preference for experience with Stata or SPSS

-Upper division research methods course in a social science discipline.

-Volunteer experience or connections with LGBTQ+ social, political, or religious organizations.

-Social media marketing experience.

-Familiarity with a survey platform such as Qualtrics, Survey Monkey, or equivalent.

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Psychology and Child Development

Dr. Jay Bettergarcia (they/them/their)

SLO ACCEPTance Project: Affirming Cultural Competence Education & Provider Training

The SLO ACCEPTance Project is an innovative approach to training mental health professionals (MHP) to provide affirming services for local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) community members via a 9-month intensive training program. This program draw upon over two decades of quantitative and qualitative research highlighting the dearth of providers with the cultural humility and competence (including knowledge, awareness, and skills) to provide LGBTQ-affirming services.

This is a multi-year training project utilizing a switching replication design and a waitlist control group. The project includes two 9-month training cohorts. Data for cohort 1 (2019-2020) has been collected and is being analyzed. Cohort 2's 9-month program runs from October 2020 to June 2021 and participants will attend 10 training days and participate six 90-minute clinical consultation groups with an expert consultant.

The two overarching project goals include: 1) an in-depth assessment of the objective and subjective knowledge, implicit and explicit attitudes, and clinical skills developed by the participants, and 2) the creation of a network and infrastructure of providers who are well-trained in queer and trans-affirming mental health to provide care for LGBTQ+ people across San Luis Obispo County.

Student’s role in the research project:

All trainings and meeting are conducted virtually and no in-person research tasks are necessary.

Students will join the QCARES research team to work on various aspects of the SLO ACCEPTance training program. Students will have the opportunity to attend trainings, collect qualitative and quantitative data about training outcomes, code qualitative data, analyze quantitative data via SPSS, and practice scientific writing. Students may also participate in dissemination of research by creating infographics about LGBTQ+ mental health.

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

Students will learn about community-based action research, intervention research in the real world, qualitative coding and analysis (thematic analysis & content analysis), quantitative data cleaning and analysis (SPSS), and scientific writing.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Students should have introductory class experience in research methods and statistics.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

More experience in research methods and statistics is preferred, but not required.


Dr. Susana A. Lopez (she/her/ella)

Teacher’s role in the racial healing of central coast BIPOC students experiencing racism and microaggressions.

Experiences of racism and microaggressions can be very damaging to the mental health of anyone, especially for adolescents that are in the developmental stage of identity formation. Teachers can be instrumental to racial healing if they appropriately respond to these incidents of overt and covert violence. Unfortunately, it has been historically documented that school systems have inadequately met the needs of BIPOC students. As a result, focus on culturally appropriate responses to acts of racism and microaggressions including those related to race, ethnicity and immigration is imperative in order to address facilitating racial healing and techniques to use with diverse students.

This research project focuses on exploring the racial healing for monolingual and bilingual BIPOC students of the Central Coast who have experience racism, microaggressions and discrimination. With a concurrent mixed approach, we will investigate the factors in their educational system such as teacher’s response, openness and approach to incidents of race in the class that support racial healing in students and support their mental health. The research team includes academic members, students and community members invested in improving the school experience for BIPOC students. This research study will explore the student’s and teacher’s perspective on what students need to feel supported, accepted and seen in their schools. The participants will be recruited from pre-approved schools or through the snowball sampling method. The goal of this project is to examine the role teachers have in racial healing for BIPOC students and to inform future culturally appropriate and humble school courses, actions and policies that heal and engage in the prevention of racism. Additionally, only after understanding the strengths, can adequate resources and assistance be created to help this population.

Student’s role in the research project:

- The mentee will be expected to work on this project for the time supported on this project, including having an active open communication about challenges and questions, as well as successes.

- Under my mentorship and guidance, the mentee will conduct literature reviews looking at past research and ways to further inform the scientific field. The student, along with the research team, will co-design survey and interview questions that are most appropriate to explore the concepts of interest. The mentee will then actively assist with data collection as part of a larger already established team such as administration of rating scales to participants and interview adolescents and adults through phone or via-zoom.

- The mentee will actively engage in the learning of concurrent (quan + QUAL) mixed method analysis and conduct preliminary analysis with the support of the mentor and research team.

- If progress allows, there will be opportunities for the mentee to present results at local/national conference or/and co-author a manuscript about the results and submit to publication.

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

- The mentee will gain experience in conducting scientific research from conception to finish that can prepare them for possible graduate work.

- As part of this experience, the mentee will gain both methodological knowledge and skills, and the ability to critically think about research (e.g. cultural appropriateness).

- The mentee will build proficiency in conducting literature reviews, administrating quality interviews via tele-methods, transcribing, and how to analyze mixed method quantitative and qualitative data so it accurately reflects the participant’s experiences. Specifically, the mentee will learn qualitative factor analysis methodology.

- If time allows, the mentee will also gain knowledge on how to co-write a quality manuscript paper.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

- The mentee should be interested in community-based research around racial justice.

- At a minimum the mentee should have taken a multicultural or cross-cultural course that have expanded the student’s worldview. This can be done through multiple departments such as Psychology and Child Development, Ethnic Studies or Women’s Studies Department.

- The mentee should have excellent rapport building and organization skills needed to work with multiple systems in the community.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

- It is preferred that the mentee is bilingual (English/Spanish) and has some personal experience with other ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Either self-identity as a BIPOC or an ally.

- It is also preferred that the students have some experience conducting interviews (phone, virtual or in-person).

- This opportunity would be great for students who would like to pursue a doctorate degree in psychology or a related field.

School of Education

Dr. Tina Cheuk (she/her/hers)

#StudentParentJoy: Two Generations, One Future

The historic inequities embedded in our education systems—race, gender, geography, wealth, income, culture—have been further brought to light by the recent seismic shifts in our society. We need allies and champions who can center the lives of student parents. Together we can support the redistribution of power and co-create and transform our campuses so that policies and practices build family well-being. The current absence of and the existing ad hoc policies and practices in how universities support their student parents are simply inadequate in supporting student parent educational attainment and workforce development. The disparities in outcomes across racial, ethnic, and income groups will continue to widen without concerted and strategic efforts to improve policy and practice for student parents.

The #StudentParentJoy media and policy research program is redefining what it means to be a student parent. This work is part of a state-wide movement centering the expressions of joy, resilience, and persistence of student parents, paralleled with action research that fights for the resources and supports to help #StudentParents succeed.

The twitter hashtag #StudentParentJoy is a derivative of #BlackJoy and #UndocuJoy, rewriting the narratives of student parents so that their experiences are underpinned by joy and love—at the same time, operationalized as a form of resistance to narratives that stigmatize parenthood in college. In other words, our work aims to provide a multifaceted representation of who student parents are, what they represent, and how they can control the narrative so that student parent voices are at the center of how they get to represent themselves. It is not enough to have ad hoc news clips that feature student parents; diversity becomes tokenism when representation only serves as an exception to the dominant norm. What we strive for in this media campaign leverages the expression of joy as a radical act that centers authentic narratives of student parents so that their rich and dynamic lived experiences are fully included and normalized in post-secondary spaces.

Student’s role in the research project:

A major programmatic work of this project is building student parents’ social capital through #StudentParentJoy. In our gatherings with student parents this year, we want to encourage and invite student parents to share their stories of strength, persistence, and resilience as they navigate post-secondary spaces as student parents. Our goal is to build out a model of what student parent supports can look like across the 23 California State University (CSU) System, using Cal Poly and other partner CSUs as pilot sites.

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

Policy analysis, launching social media campaigns, organizing networked communities

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Interests in supporting student parents in higher educational spaces, including the intersectional identities held by student parents. No prior research experiences required.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

No prerequisite course work need, only interest in policy and reform efforts in higher education.


Dr. Sonia H. Ramrakhiani (she/her/hers)

Black and Brown student experience on a predominantly white campus: Perceptions of campus climate in the current sociopolitical environment

As we live through a truly divisive time riddled with social injustices in the form of police brutality and children in cages, it is important to examine the effect of these sociopolitical events on college campuses. A college campus is essentially a microcosm of the larger community and therefore, the purpose of this study is to understand the impact of the current sociopolitical climate on the campus climate from the lens of Black and Brown students, specifically at a Predominately White Institution (PWI).

There is a dearth of literature on the experiences of Black and Brown students at PWIs, and the literature that does exist suggests that minoritized students often experience environmental hostility and lack a sense of belonging. Furthermore, the research on campus climate often focuses on crime and violence, however, for the purposes of this study a holistic approach will be adopted that is inclusive of the social, emotional and psychological safety of students. Lastly, the proposed study is designed to give voice to the stories of Black and Brown students using a narrative inquiry approach. A narrative inquiry focuses on the stories of participants to understand social patterns and is commonly used in ethnographic research. The collegiate life stories of Black and Brown students at a PWI will paint a picture of the campus climate from their perspective.

Student’s role in the research project:

My mentee and I will design a plan for conducting the literature review, IRB, data collection, data analysis, and writing of the final manuscript based on the mentee’s interest in each of these areas. I would like our project to feel collaborative, whilst also serving as the primary responsible investigator. The goal is to share responsibilities with my mentee and guide them through all the stages of a research project, from planning to publishing. Lastly, I would like to create a safe environment in which the mentee can learn the above mentioned skills and grow as a novice researcher.
Note: All interviews will be conducted virtually with participants.

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

Student will learn about qualitative research design and develop data collection and analysis skills. Student will learn to design a concise portrait of the existing literature on the topic and gain professional writing skills (and will learn how to format a paper using APA 7). Additionally, student will learn how to design and secure Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval.

Once the project receives IRB approval, student will learn strategies in conducting qualitative interviews using a narrative inquiry approach. Finally, student will learn how to perform qualitative data analysis to identify significant themes. We will wrap up the project with a student-authored peer-reviewed journal publication.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

None, although it would be beneficial if my mentee had an interest in research and/or diversity, inclusion and equity issues.

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

qualitative research skills over the course of the study. Additionally, communication skills could benefit the mentee in data collection (interviewing participants). Finally, APA 7 writing skills might benefit the student.

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Social Science

Dr. Ryan Alaniz (he/him/his)

"Social Problems: Perspectives of Those Behind Bars" Book Project

"Social Problems: Perspectives of Those Behind Bars" is a sociological manuscript with the goal of understanding the social problems that currently plague the United States.  Drawing on more than 700 inmate personal stories, this future sociology textbook unearths the invisible inequalities faced by marginalized people as seen through their eyes.  Social science research is interweaved throughout the narratives to illuminate the widespread nature of these challenges faced by millions of incarcerated Americans and their families. I would be enthusiastic to work with a BEACoN mentee to write two chapters tying inmate narratives to social science literature and national statistics.

Student’s role in the research project:

I have collected the inmate stories and am now in the process of writing the last six chapters of the book. A BEACoN mentee would:

-Analyze dozens of prisoner narratives for chapter fit

-Review Social Science research

-Review national level data to illustrate breadth of socia  and write one or two chapters with my support and encouragement

-Attend meetings with community stakeholders

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

A BEACoN mentee will gain new understanding about the criminal justice system and broad social problems from prisoners' perspectives.  Additionally, they will gain new research skills in finding statistical data, reviewing the sociological and criminological literatures, analyzing narratives for content, and writing in clear non-jargon prose for an undergraduate audience.

What experiences/ courses are required for the student assistant?

Interest in the criminal justice system, specifically the life stories of prisoners

Strong ability to write clearly and concisely

One course in sociology or ethnic studies

What experiences/ courses are preferred for the student?

Sociology 111 Social Problems or the transfer equivalent

Multiple sociology courses, especially those in the criminal justice fields

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