2018-2019 Research Projects

 

Research Mentoring Opportunities for Students!

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

Research projects will last Winter & Spring quarters of 2019 and students who are selected will receive $1,500 per quarter for 100 hours of work.

 


Deadline:

The 2018-19 deadline has passed.

 

 

Architecture

Kelle Brooks

 

Teachers, administrators and students recognize the need for planned outdoor spaces to augment traditional indoor learning and outdoor recess settings to increase student engagement and learning retention. My research addresses this issue through the design and implementation of new sensory bases outdoor learning environments. models for K-12 outdoor learning environments. Children often do not engage in sensory and social activities during recess because the outdoor space is suited solely for sports and gross motor activities. Abundant research shows the benefit of the natural environment on children’s’ ability to learn. I am currently working with local elementary schools to design outdoor learning spaces and developing design prototypes for a variety of types of outdoor learning activities. In response, many schools have begun school gardens to provide outdoor and environmental curricula. These often lack infrastructure (seating, shade, functional ground surface) to support interactive learning and developmentally appropriate activities. My research is to develop multiple outdoor learning models that can be implemented by schools throughout the state and country.

Working with local schools, I am able to test ideas in a tangible way and make a contribution to our community. I am currently working on outdoor learning environments for Rice Elementary School in an underserved neighborhood of Santa Maria and Laguna Middle School in San Luis Obispo, in collaboration with “One Cool Earth”, a non-profit organizations advocating for environmental education and school garden curriculum. There is significant enthusiasm and support for this topic, with monetary donations and volunteer labor. These groups are ready to build, but lack the expertise to effectively plan and design outdoor learning environments. As schools build gardens and develop environmental curriculum, It is critical that they plan and design so that the outdoor environment equally supports social and academic development.

Student's role in the research project:

-Engage in research regarding the relationship of play and cognition
-Develop design proposals at multiple stages in the architectural process: preliminary schematic design, design development and construction documents
-Create presentation materials
-Meet with clients to establish project requirements, present proposals and develop selected designs.
-Tabulate meeting notes and make field observations

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

The student will be part of the design team, meet with stakeholders, and gain project management skills. The student will prepare presentation drawings and take part in community presentations, thereby gaining graphic communication skills and public speaking experience.

Required experiences/courses:

Architecture or landscape architecture first and second year courses.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Students should have an interest in designing educational environments, be able to work cooperatively in a design team and be willing to present their ideas in a public forum. Some experience with construction or construction documents is helpful.


Dale Clifford

 

Sustainability research in architecture increasingly relies on high-technology solutions to lower overall carbon footprint and energy use. At the intersection of architecture, materials science, biology and the arts, our research is a response to this condition.  We study and apply dynamic material properties that enable the built environment to more effectively adapt to fluctuating temperature conditions. Specifically, we apply the visual and thermal qualities of passive materials with high heat-of-fusion – phase change materials – to lower fossil fuel consumption by buildings. In fact, we think we can eliminate the need for heating and air conditioning in most building types in our region, LA included, by innovatively using phase-change materials (PCMs). Currently we are designing ‘maximum surface Thermal Tiles’ via analogue and 3-D resin printing that can be applied to new and existing buildings.

We plan to prototype and test the PCM filled Thermal Tiles for thermal management of a study room in Cal Poly’s Robert E. Kennedy Library that often experience large temperature fluctuations. It is anticipated that the tiles will reduce this temperature swings and visually communicate the potential of buildings to adapt to the environment in real time, as the tiles change from translucent to near optical clarity as they release thermal energy. Please visit biologicarchitecture.com for images and more info and thank you for your interest.

Student's role in the research project:

Our project is multidisciplinary, and as part of our team, the mentee with work with both a professor of architecture and a professor of materials science. The mentee will assist with design, digital modeling, prototyping, visual analysis, and thermal analysis of the Thermal Tiles. The mentee will also participate in the installation of the tiles in the Kennedy Library

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

The mentee will gain skills in fabrication with glass, acrylic, high-resolution 3-D resin printing, and knowledge of the thermal properties of phase change materials. Mentees will gain experience with multidisciplinary design processes, experimental testing and data gathering. The student will also gain experience with constructing something real and effectual.

Required experiences/courses:

Digital modeling (CAD) and experience with the parametric modeling software Grasshopper. Care and craft in assembling physical models. Team player.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Ability to make models is important. Generally, we use a water jet (though experience on this tool is not necessary) to cut out tile parts from glass. We also use a high-resolution 3-D printer (no experience necessary) to construct the Thermal Tiles.


Jennifer Shields

 


Architects design with a range of two-dimensional modalities including rough sketches, precise line drawings, and renderings from digital models. The resulting built works are new three-dimensional configurations of spaces and forms, which humans respond to physiologically. But how does the built work compare with its earlier representations? Human responses can be measured through eye tracking, EEG, heart rate variability, and other methods. My research questions include: Do viewers consistently respond, physiologically, to the same modalities? Do emotional response differences (measured via EEG) parallel visual behavior differences (measured via eye tracking)? Does cultural background or age affect physiological responses to these modalities?
The trajectory of this research project for this academic year is 3-fold:
1. I will be applying for grants to support larger scale studies (I’ve completed two pilot studies so far).
2. I will be repeating a pilot study collecting eye tracking data while participants view a drawing and then a photograph of an architectural space. I have previously conducted this study with architecture students, but will run the study with 3-5 year old preschool participants, to compare the data sets.
3. I am collaborating with Psychologist and EEG Technician Dr. Tiff Thompson, affiliated with UC Santa Barbara and co-founder of Neurofield Neurotherapy in Santa Barbara. We will work with her to develop a research methodology and study protocol that will utilize her stationary EEG equipment in conjunction with eye tracking. Once we’ve successfully defined these parameters, we will conduct a small-scale study with undergraduate Architecture majors.

Student's role in the research project:

A student mentee participating in this research would be engaged in a unique approach to analyzing architecture and the built environment, and its impact on human well-being. The mentee would work with two other research assistants, and be responsible for assisting in all aspects of a study on architectural perception, working with Architecture Professor Jennifer Shields in collaboration with Dr. Tiff Thompson, UCSB Psychologist. Activities include literature review and grant writing, experiment preparations, learning how to operate the hardware and software for an eye tracker and EEG, and running experiment protocols.

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

The student mentee will develop skills in hardware and software related to physiological data, administering a scientific study protocol, and statistical analysis. These hard skills will parallel critical thinking, as strengths, weaknesses, and biases of modes of representation that are often glossed over would be at the forefront of our conversations and research.

Required experiences/courses:

Applicants must be in a CAED major. An aptitude for computer software, an attention to detail, and organizational skills are necessary. 

Preferred experiences/courses:

Adobe Suite skills are preferred. Graphic representation skills (3D modeling, rendering, photography) may be beneficial to the project, but are not required.

 

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Biological Sciences

Gita Kolluru

 

Our lab studies the behavior of freshwater tropical fish. We focus on the link between the way the fish look (coloration, body size, fin characteristics) and the way they behave. By examining mating, aggressive, and predator-prey behavior we're able to answer larger questions about the ecology and evolution of these fish specifically, and of populations in general.

The fish we work with, Girardinus metallicus, is a livebearing species endemic to Cuba, and we perform our experiments in the lab at Cal Poly using our large colony of fish. The fish are exciting and fun to work with because their mating and aggressive behavior is fascinating to watch, because behave normally even with people observing, and because they breed readily in captivity. Our lab typically has more than 10 undergraduates and a graduate student at any given time, and everyone is encouraged to be collegial, cooperative and work together as a team. Several current and former students are so intensively involved with our research projects that they're coauthors on published, peer-reviewed papers.

Student's role in the research project:

Students in our lab are expected to learn the basics of freshwater animal husbandry, and we have an excellent system of hands-on mentorship from experienced students and written protocols to help to train new students. Students would also be expected to contribute to ongoing experiments, for example by helping to conduct controlled behavioral observations, analyze digital images of fish to measure morphological traits, and move fish around to set them up in experiments. All these tasks can be performed around the student's class and work schedules, and will involve training prior to implementation. Most importantly, the students in our lab are expected to act in collaboration with others, and to help each other out to accomplish the tasks of maintaining healthy fish stocks and performing experiments ethically, efficiently and in a way that provides the best experience for all involved.

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

The students will be able to avail themselves of opportunities to be as involved as they'd like to be. By helping with experiments, they will learn the skills of designing and implementing controlled, large-scale experiments (e.g., what kinds of controls should be implemented to prevent biases during data collection, how many animals per treatment group, what kind of tank setup is required, etc.). Data collection and compilation typically involves use of Excel software to organize data. Image analysis involves use of ImageJ and Photoshop software. By helping to compile and analyze data, students would also learn the skills involved with use of Excel to manage large datasets, and use of statistical analysis software such as JMP. Students would be expected to be involved with these tasks commensurate with their background and interest levels. For example, those students wishing to pursue a senior project in our lab will likely be more involved with data compilation and analysis than those students wishing to have a broader research experience.

Required experiences/courses:

There are no formal course or experience requirements to join my lab. The student need only be enthusiastic about the research and fish, and be willing to pay close attention to detail when working in the lab.

Preferred experiences/courses:

It may be helpful for the student to have taken BIO 160 and either be enrolled in or have taken BIO 263, but we have had students start as freshmen with great success.

 

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Civil and Environmental Engineering

Amro El Badaway

 

The research project aims at filling gaps in knowledge related to the long-term environmental fate and transformations of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). The specific objectives of the study include: 1) investigating the fate of capping agents of ENMs in aqueous systems having different chemical properties; 2) determining the influence of changes in integrity of capping agents on the environmental transport and toxicity of ENMs; and 3) integrating the project results into models that predict the fate and transport of ENMs. The project outcomes will lead to a) significant and essential improvement of the accuracy of models that predict the fate and transport of ENMs, b) reduction in the tremendous cost associated with the need to conducting further experimental investigations to assess environmental health and safety of ENMs on a case-by-case basis, and c) providing the necessary information to guide the responsible and sustainable development of nanotechnology.

Student's role in the research project:

The student mentee will assist a graduate student in conducting the experimental testing program. Specifically, the student mentee will prepare aqueous test media; assist in synthesizing and purifying engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) according to published methods; collect and preserve samples; assist in operating analytical equipment to characterize transformations in capping agents of ENMs; and create spreadsheets for data entry and analysis. The student will also participate in dissemination of the project outcomes through oral and poster presentations as well as peer-reviewed articles. 

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) manufacture different types of nanomaterials using wet chemistry techniques; b) operate advanced analytical equipment; c) troubleshoot and solve potential issues that may emerge with such equipment during the course of this investigation; and d) create spreadsheets to enter, verify, validate, and graph the data. Furthermore, the student’s problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, communication skills, self-dependence, and resilience will be improved through involvement in the project activities, interactions with the research team, and participation in dissemination of the project results. 

Required experiences/courses:

Environmental engineering, Environmental science, Chemistry, Biology or closely related majors

Preferred experiences/courses:

Environmental engineering principles and water Chemistry

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Communication Studies

Leslie Nelson

 

Transitions are undoubtedly difficult for everyone associated with the United States foster care system: foster children, foster parent(s), biological parent(s), and social workers. The focus of the current project is on the foster parent perspective. Guided by narrative theorizing, this project seeks to examine foster parents' meaning-making surrounding their foster child's reunification with their biological parent(s). The goal is to collect 25 interviews from current and/or former foster parents who fostered a child that was reunified with their biological parent(s). These interviews will be transcribed and thematically analyzed. Understanding how foster parents make sense of foster children's reunification can shed light on their views of foster care, foster parenting, biological parent(s), and loss.

Student's role in the research project:

Students will have the opportunity to assist in the research process from beginning to end. However, a majority of the student mentee's efforts will be geared at the interviewing portion of the project: recruiting participants, crafting an interview protocol, conducting interviews, transcribing interviews, and analyzing interviews. While the student will learn how to find and evaluate peer-reviewed research, their efforts (both actions and writing) will be focused on the recruitment, interviewing, and analysis portions of the project.

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

Students will be able to gain skills in qualitative methodology (interviewing) -- including preparing an interview protocol, conducting interviews, transcribing interviews, and analyzing interviews. Students will also learn how to search for peer-reviewed academic research articles, recruit and retain participants, and engage in member-checking procedures.

Required experiences/courses:

None, just an interest in communication in diverse family forms.

Preferred experiences/courses:

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


Lorraine Jackson

 


My research falls into an area broadly known as "health communication." Under court order, the largest U.S. tobacco companies are now airing stark black and white text-based TV commercials and publishing newspaper advertisements to publicize the addictive qualities and negative health effects of smoking. The corrective messages stem from a 2006 landmark judgment issued by U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler. However, it took 11 years for the "Big Tobacco Apology Ads" to air because of legal action, some of which involved arguments over the wording of the ads. As a result, these messages were only recently aired in 2017 and little is known about how viewers perceive them. To address this, participants will view the ads and using Likert and open-ended questions, they will report their: (1) perceptions of the effectiveness of the advertisements to educate and deter smoking. Secondly, in the decade since the corrective advertisements were court ordered, cigarette use has declined while vaping, juuling and nicotine addiction through electronic cigarette use has increased considerably. (2) This research will also explore the habits and perceptions concerning other nicotine delivery systems, including perceptions of risk concerning electronic smoking devices.

Lastly, this study explores whether those scoring high in “sensation- seeking” interpret the advertisements differently than those who score low in this trait. Participants will complete a “sensation-seeking” scale to determine whether they fall into a high or low sensation-seeking group. Sensation-seeking is the tendency to seek out novel stimuli and is associated with taking more risks in health behaviors, such as smoking. (3) This research explores whether differences exist in how high and low sensation seekers perceive the “Big Tobacco Apology Ads.” It is hypothesized that high sensation seekers are an “at risk group” for smoking and vaping, and also prefer more stimulating messages than low sensations seekers. They may be less likely to regard the ads as impactful. After data is collected and analyzed, the results and implications for health message design will be discussed, and recommendations for planning health messages will be provided.

Student's role in the research project:

I anticipate involving the student mentee in all aspects of this project. Initially, the student will understand the human subjects approval process, the survey instrument, and rationale for the items on it, and later will be involved in assisting with collecting data from hundreds of participants. We will also meet with a statistical consultant to discuss and plan the statistical analyses, and the student will gain experience working with me as we describe the data, and report results. The student will also be involved in working on appropriate ways to share the results of the study with others in the academic community.

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

As can be seen in the section above, this research will incorporate both quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative data pertains to demographics, attitudes, beliefs, traits, and behaviors. The qualitative data will involve open-ended reactions to the corrective or "tobacco apology" advertisements, and will involve learning about how to code and summarize open-ended data. The student will learn about the research process - from planning, to survey design, data collection, data analysis using SPSS or similar software, as well as the reporting of results, and the implications of those results. Depending on the student mentee's level of interest, I would encourage the student to possibly be involved in the reporting of results at a seminar, conference or through publication if he or she would like to gain such experience.

Required experiences/courses:

None. I don't think any particular courses are required, though it would be helpful if the student had some interest in related topics, whether it be in health, communication, health psychology, public health, or any of the pre-health professions. But this is not a requirement.

Preferred experiences/courses:

It may be helpful, though not required, for the student to have an introductory understanding of research methods though I plan to explain what will be needed.

 

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English

Roberta Wolfson

 

I am working on two research projects. The first is a book manuscript entitled "Refiguring Race and Risk: Antiracist Narrative in the Modern U.S. Security State," which argues that writers of color play a critical role in challenging the racist structures of the modern U.S. security state. Many state-sanctioned risk management practices, such as racial profiling, mass incarceration, and the militarization of the border, rely heavily on racist paradigms that locate risk in racial bodies. I contend that literary narrative offers a critical platform for writers of color to refigure threat and its attendant emotions in the modern U.S. security state. Each chapter examines a racialized site of “risk” – specifically the myth of the “yellow peril,” contagious disease, gang violence, environmental degradation, terrorism, and immigration – with the goal of assessing how Asian American, African American, and Latinx authors can offer new ways of considering these potential threats beyond the logic and affective manipulation of racism. These authors offer new understandings of how the U.S. nation might deal with risk – not through methods of scapegoating and fearmongering, but rather through strategies of community building and resource sharing.

The second research project examines the mixed-race subject as a figure of ungovernability in contemporary U.S. society. At this stage, I am doing very preliminary research on representations in contemporary U.S. literature of the mixed-race subject as racially ambiguous, liminal, and intractable.

Student's role in the research project:

My student mentee would be expected to perform qualitative research around assigned topics and create annotated bibliographies that synthesize this research. This would require the student to search for articles and books on various assigned topics and compile abstracts/summaries of these texts for me to review. The student should also be able to transcribe notes into Word documents. Finally, the student should be able to review/edit drafts of my book chapters for both sentence-level errors and larger structural/content-based issues.

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

Qualitative research and analysis skills, editing/writing skills, argumentation skills, knowledge about academic publishing (particularly in English literary studies)

Required experiences/courses:

The student should have excellent reading comprehension and editing/writing skills. In addition, the student should be able to search through large amounts of qualitative data (e.g. books, articles, etc.) and synthesize this information into summary briefs.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Ideally, the student would have an interest in ethnic studies and literary studies, a career ambition of pursuing a higher degree in either field, and a passion for writing.


Steven Rusczycky

 


The Central Coast Queer Archive Project (CCQAP) is a collaborative, community-based, volunteer effort tasked with researching and documenting LGBTQ+ individuals’ experiences, both current and historical, of the California central coast region. The CCQAP values diversity, inclusivity, and intersectionality as important methodological principles; while the project explicitly focuses on the lives of queer and trans people, it recognizes that desires, intimacies, and kinship networks often take unpredictable forms. In addition, it recognizes that notions of identity as static and self-contained often fail to account for the multiple and complex power relations that shape both individual and collective existence. Therefore, it seeks to include not only the lives of queer and trans people, but also those of other gender non-conforming people and sexual minorities who may not immediately recognize themselves amongst other LGBTQ+ identities.

The CCQAP is a public humanities project. It is committed to utilizing research, archived materials, and other work produced in conjunction with the project for the purposes of promoting awareness of queer history and culture of the central coast region through various means, be it online resources, publications, or educational programming. In addition, the CCQAP aims to build a network of contacts and resources with other archives dedicated to LGBTQ+ materials located in California and beyond.

Student's role in the research project:

The CCQAP is a broad enough project that mentees can find work that will suit their interests. Potential opportunities include: conducting semi-independent archival research, locating potential interview subjects, conducting interviews, outreach to community organizations, identification & evaluation of digital tools and platforms (such as Omeka or Scalar) for building the CCQAP's online presence, building an online presence for the CCQAP, working with the special collections at Cal Poly to process materials, assistance in grant writing, participation in organization meetings, manuscript preparation, etc. In consultation with the student, we'll find something that will suit the mentee's interests.

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

The skills gained will vary depending on the kinds of tasks in which the student wishes to engage, but these might range from data management to qualitative analysis, public relations work, organizational & administrative experience, archival research skills, grant writing, etc.

Required experiences/courses:

Everyone has something to offer this project. Nothing is required beyond the desire and motivation to see one's commitment through to the end.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Students with a humanities background or a strong interest in the humanities is desirable. Some knowledge about queer/trans cultures & history would be useful, but not necessary.

 

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Ethnic Studies

Alpen Razi

 

The Birth of Atascadero: Race, Colonialism, and the Utopianist Vision of E.G. Lewis, 1907-27.

As 2013 marked the centennial of the founding of the city of Atascadero in San Luis Obispo County, California, local historians and civic leaders clashed over the politics of commemoration and the history of racism in the city.  Primarily, the controversy centered on the racist housing policies implemented by the original colony’s founder E.G. Lewis (1869-1950) throughout his tenure as Atascadero’s first mayor (1915-20).  While one prominent local historian argued that the centennial commemorations should not “whitewash” the historical exclusion of non-white people from the community, other civic leaders downplayed the role of white supremacy in the early colony or denied its existence altogether.  Yet missing from these contested narratives of Atascadero’s founding is a broader historical understanding that places Lewis in the context of his larger career of western settlement. A so-called “visionary” and convicted fraudster, Lewis’s attempts to found Atascadero as a racially exclusive early feminist utopia drew upon his prior experiences settling University City, Missouri—a venture which collapsed in accusations of fraud and embezzlement.  Following Atascadero, Lewis would try again to establish another utopian site in the town of Palos Verdes near Los Angeles, California—a site similarly plagued with conflict and allegations of corruption.  This project draws upon the broader history of Lewis’s career in order to contextualize the social and political conflicts at the center of Atascadero’s founding within a broader history of racism and colonialism throughout the West.  Drawing on this research, this project investigates how Atascadero’s early history might offer a critical lens for making sense of the enduring legacies of racism in the present day Central Coast—as evidenced by recent events such as the so-called “blackface” fraternity parties in San Luis Obispo and the allegations of racial profiling made against the Atascadero police department.  This study thus draws upon the history of Lewis and the founding of Atascadero as an important case study that sheds light on the persistence of racism and exclusionary social practices in contemporary California.

Student's role in the research project:

This project will provide scholarly mentorship and experience to a student research assistant.  The ideal candidate should possess an interest in analyzing the history of racism and settlement in the United States and in gaining greater experience and competency in the production of scholarly knowledge in the fields of American and Ethnic studies.  Over the course of the project, the student will be expected to read writings by and about E.G. Lewis, and to familiarize themself with relevant contemporary scholarship on the history of western American settlement. Additionally, the student will carry out specific research tasks using a variety of digital historical and literary archives.  They will also meet weekly with the principal investigator and discuss specific aspects of their research as it relates to the project.  Finally, students will be expected to assist with the production of scholarly work based on this research, including helping to revise early drafts of a conference paper and article based on the research, which the student may also be invited to contribute as second author if they so choose.

Through the Winter and Springs quarters, students will devote roughly 10 hours/week on the project for a total of twenty weeks (approximately 100 hours per quarter).  In the first eight weeks of the project, the student will spend approximately 9 hours/week reading and analyzing relevant primary and contextual materials related to the project and 1 hour/week meeting with the primary investigator to discuss the materials. In the second eight weeks of the project, students will spend 9 hours/week executing specific research tasks (e.g., archival and scholarly research) and 1 hour/week meeting with the primary investigator to discuss their findings.  In the final four weeks of the project, students will spend 10 hours/week helping to revise a draft of a research talk and article.  Student performance in the project will be measured by their successful completion of the designated research tasks as well as their active contributions to regular meetings with the principal investigator.

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

In addition to offering a greater familiarity with American history and the settlement of California’s Central Coast, this research project will also provide the student assistant with greater experience in conducting archival research and qualitative analysis and in working with the theoretical frameworks of critical race theory. Additionally, students will gain other potentially valuable research skills such as historicizing contemporary social issues and producing scholarly knowledge.

Required experiences/courses:

Successful completion of a course (or courses) in the field of Ethnic Studies is a requirement for students who seek to apply for the project.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Additional preference will given to students who have some demonstrable knowledge of any of the following: 1) area knowledge in critical race theory and the production of whiteness; 2) experience working with historical archives or materials related to American/California history and/or the history of print & technology; 3) some background in writing/rhetoric/composition. 

 

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Experience Industry Management

Jerusha Greenwood

 

As the instructor of our undergraduate program’s courses on sustainability and sustainable tourism, I have found a significant lack of resources that synthesize the environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainability centered on our field. Published research on these issues abounds, but I have yet to find a text that accessible for students and captures the scope of the interactions of the Experience Industry and sustainability.

Since I can’t locate such a text, I’ve decided to write one. The purpose of this research project is two fold: to conduct an environmental scan of the resources available to construct such a text, and to write a book proposal to submit to textbook publishers. My goal is for this text to have multi-media components, so I’d like to use a best-practices approach to the environmental scans: what are the most effective multi-media resources for student learning in sustainability.

Student's role in the research project:

The student will be expected to participate in the review of the literature where sustainability and the experience industry intersect, as well as help with the best-practices review for creating multi-media texts and the process for proposing a text book to a publisher. We will work collaboratively through the process, as I expect most of the text-book writing will occur after the student’s commitment has been completed.

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

Skills in information literacy, literature review, data/information management

Required experiences/courses:

Completion of Area A GE courses

Preferred experiences/courses:

RPTA 101

 

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History

Farah Al-Nakib

 

This project focuses on a widely unknown and historically unacknowledged aspect of the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait, which began on August 2, 1990.  A week into the occupation, the Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussain allowed all non-Kuwaiti and non-Iraqi Arab and Asian nationals to leave the country.  Westerners, however, were not granted safe passage out, particularly the citizens of Kuwait’s two staunchest allies: the United States and Great Britain.  Hundreds of American and British civilians were taken to Iraq to serve for months as human shields to protect the country’s key oil and military installations.  Dozens who managed to resist capture went into deep hiding across Kuwait.  The Iraqi regime promised to financially reward anyone who turned in an American or British citizen, and also declared that anyone found hiding or assisting such Western nationals would be immediately executed.  These civilians became indefinite hostages to their circumstances: living in permanent fear of getting caught and having to depend on the kindness of strangers to keep them alive—and to not turn them in.  In every neighborhood across the country, small resistance cells emerged whereby everyday Kuwaitis and other Arabs protected and assisted these Western civilians in hiding: secretly delivering food and other essential supplies, carrying messages back and forth to the U.S. embassy to send to their families back home, and, most dangerously, transporting these civilians to safe houses provided by the Kuwaiti resistance when circumstances in their existing locations became dicey.

My project—based almost entirely on oral history interviews—mainly focuses on the experiences of one young Syrian man who was doing such resistance work during the occupation, and who was caught hiding an American and spent a total of ten months in Iraqi prisons.  The research also however documents the experiences and stories of various American and British civilians in hiding—through oral history interviews I have conducted as well as existing media footage from 1990-91 in which they shared their stories.  The outcome of this project will take various forms.  In addition to a scholarly article on the topic, I am also working on a creative non-fiction narrative that will weave the different stories together in a format geared towards non-academic audiences (either in book form or possibly a podcast).

Student's role in the research project:

The student mentee’s role will consist of three main tasks.  First will be to transcribe the oral history interviews I have conducted and am still in the process of collecting.  Second, he/she will then go through the transcripts and reorganize the content of each narrative into a more coherent chronological timeline, and also organize the material from all the interviews into topics.  Finally, the student will also conduct some online research to gather newspaper clippings and TV footage from 1990-91 on the hostages.

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

The student will learn how to use a relevant transcription software as well as some of the best practices and approaches to transcribing audio interviews.  By going through the interview narratives and reorganizing the material chronologically and topically, the student will develop data management and organization skills.  Finally, he/she will also develop some basic research skills by searching through online media resources (e.g. newspaper and TV archives).  If the student speaks or is learning Arabic, he/she will also be able to search Arabic sources and practice translation (into English).

Required experiences/courses:

The student should be comfortable learning and adapting to new software and technical equipment. 

Preferred experiences/courses:

Some knowledge or background on Middle East history, and Arabic language skills, are preferred but not required.  Some knowledge of using data management software like Nvivo would be an added bonus.

 

 

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Kinesiology and Public Health

Julia Alber

 

Within Cal Poly’s Campus Health & Wellbeing, the Wellbeing and Health Education Department (WHED) is currently responsible for providing health promotion programs for students, including launching multiple health communication campaigns each year. The evaluation of health communication campaigns is critical for assessing the impact of efforts and for informing future initiatives; however, traditional methods for creating and evaluating communication materials require a substantial investment of time and resources. This research project applies an alternative approach, the Design Thinking Approach, to develop and evaluate a campus-wide mindfulness campaign. Preliminary success of applying this approach will be assessed through two specific aims. In Aim 1, a feasibility analysis will be used to examine the acceptability, practicality, and implementation of using the Design Thinking Approach. Aim 2 will involve a preliminary evaluation of the messages created through the Design Thinking Approach. Specifically, user engagement statistics will be compared across two campaigns: 1) the Mindfulness Campaign, which will be developed through the Design Thinking Approach, and 2) the Mental Health Awareness Campaign, which is an existing WHED campaign on a similar topic. An online survey will then be used to compare the message effectiveness of the newly developed messages to existing mindfulness messages. Ultimately, study findings could also support the infrastructure at Cal Poly to effectively raise awareness about relevant health issues on campus and promote healthy behaviors among students.

Student's role in the research project:

The student mentee’s role in this project would be to assist with the development of study materials, analyzing data, and preparing results for presentation and publication. Specifically, the student would assist with helping with analyzing the results from the feasibility analysis, creating an online survey to compare the two campaigns, and analyzing the results from the online survey.

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

The student will gain skills in survey development, statistical analysis, and qualitative analysis. The feasibility analysis and the online survey will incorporate both qualitative and quantitative data. The student will also gain skills in health communication/program evaluation.

 

Required experiences/courses:

There are no required courses/experiences.

Preferred experiences/courses:

It is preferred for the student to have completed some statistical classes and/or had experience in qualitative and/or quantitative data analysis.

 


Marilyn Tseng


This research project will answer this question: is level of acculturation in Chinese immigrant women related to their breast cancer risk? Breast cancer risk is known to increase among Chinese women after migration to the US, and in subsequent generations of Chinese women in the US. Although often attributed to acculturation, whether acculturation affects the trajectory of risk in Chinese immigrant women has not been evaluated in longitudinal data. From 2006-2010 I conducted a study to collect data from a sample of 420 Chinese immigrant women in Philadelphia, including follow-up measures of acculturation, measured using the General Ethnicity Questionnaire, and their mammographic breast density, a strong predictor of breast cancer risk. This research project will involve analyzing data from this study to test the hypothesis that acculturation is associated with higher breast density in this sample of women.

Student's role in the research project:

The student’s role will be to: (1) perform a literature search in order to provide background and context for the proposed project; (2) conduct statistical analyses to test the hypothesis; (3) interpret findings from the analyses; and (4) present the findings in the form of oral/poster presentations and a manuscript to be submitted to a peer-reviewed, scientific journal.

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

The student will gain skills in synthesizing information from a literature review, conducting and making decisions about statistical analyses, drawing appropriate conclusions from analyses, and presenting findings in the form of a manuscript and in front of a scientific audience.

Required experiences/courses:

Requirements are: (1) experience conducting literature searches for a college-level research paper; (2) college-level statistics course; (3) an interest in immigrant/minority health; and (4) organizational skills.

Preferred experiences/courses:

A research methods or epidemiology course is preferred but not required.

 


Sarah Keadle


There are known health benefits to engaging in physical activity, resulting in federal recommendations that all Americans complete 150 min/week of moderate intensity physical activity.(1) More recently, evidence has emerged that increasing steps per day, a common measure of ambulatory physical activity, results in health benefits such as improved glucose tolerance, decreased blood pressure, and reduction of body mass (2). Steps are easily understood by the general public and can be measured by many research grade devices (e.g., ActiGraph, activPAL and BioStamp) and commercial monitors (e.g., fitbit).(3) 

Researchers have conducted validation studies to determine the accuracy of different step counting methods under free-living conditions by comparing step counts from multiple activity monitors to direct observation, the gold standard measure for assessing free-living activity (4). The accuracy of step count methods has been shown to differ between monitors depending on wear location. Results from previous studies indicate that wrist activity monitors frequently over- or under-estimate steps, especially during slow walking and intermittent activities of daily living.(4) Given that the wrist is a common wear location for consumers, there is a need to develop new methods to predict steps. Moreover, intriguing new research suggests that activity monitors are misclassifying time spent driving as time spent stepping.(5) Given that self-reported commuting time is known predictor of poor health outcomes, if monitors are misclassifying this sedentary time as stepping, the utility of activity monitors in studies will be impaired.(6, 7) There is a clear need to develop methods that can distinguish sitting from walking. The purpose of this project is to 1) validate the activPAL, ActiGraph, Biostamp and fitbits for distinguishing step counts compared to direct observation and 2) develop new methods of estimating step counts and driving using a wrist-worn monitor.

Student's role in the research project:

Students will be involved in all parts of the research process from data collection, processing. Analysis and presenting results. This study involves a 90-minute data collection session for each participant. Student researchers will calibrate and set up a portable metabolic system to measure energy cost of the different activities. They will conduct informed consent visits with participants where they explain the study purpose, risks and benefits. Students then will conduct the study visit which involved putting on the monitors, telling the participant when to start/stop activities, and downloading data. We compared the steps measured by the monitors to steps counted by a researcher, so we also have students involved in counting steps off the videos.

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

Students will gain experience with wearable technology, measuring calories, data management and quantitative statistics skills and presentation of research (posters, papers and presentations).

Required experiences/courses:

None

Preferred experiences/courses:

KINE 319 or a research methods course.

 

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Landscape Architecture

Miran Day

 

The Merced River Trail project is a recreational trail and will be approximately 30 miles in length.  The trail will begin in Briceburg and parallel the Merced River to Yosemite National Park through the towns of El Portal and Foresta in Mariposa County, CA. This trail was previously used by the railroad to support the miners of the gold rush era, but is planning to be converted into a recreational amenity for the area residents and visitors to Yosemite National Park. The client of the project is Mariposa County, CA.

This project’s goal is to produce a comprehensive master plan for the Merced River trail that connects related community initiatives, uses stakeholder engagement to establish new consensus around project parameters and outcomes, and expresses a community vision for what the trail experience will be like. Additionally, the project is to define the trail’s identity representing the rich history and culture of the region, and propose a program that identifies the tasks for implementation.

Student's role in the research project:

The project is planned to have two phases: 1) Research and 2) Design.  Phase 1, research will start during the 2019 Winter Quarter and will focus on the history and culture of the region.  Phase 2, design will be completed during the 2019 Spring Quarter. During the Spring Quarter, the project will be introduced to a studio and products from the studio will be part of the project. 

During Winter Quarter, 2019: the student mentee will assist the faculty gathering data related to history of the region, and cultural presence including Native American culture in the region. The student is also expected to research precedent studies related to trails.

During Spring Quarter, 2019: The student is expected to assist the faculty on organizing products/materials developed from the studio for refinement to submit to the client and to use for conference presentations. Additionally, the student will assist the faculty with organization of field trips and stakeholders meetings.

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

- Data management skills: historic values, and natural and cultural significance
- Visualization skills of data
- Site analysis skills
- Leadership and communication skills

Required experiences/courses:

LA 330 Cultural Landscapes: People, Place and Ethical Decisions, or equivalent courses related to cultural values in landscape is required. Also, computer program experience of Photoshop and InDesign is required.

Preferred experiences/courses:

A student who is interested in American history, especially the western history during the mid-1800s, and has taken indigenous study and landscape history class
A student who is interested in Native American history and culture
A student who has Geographic Information System (GIS) experience

 

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Marketing

Stern Neill and Mark Bieraugel

 

The purpose of this study is to examine how shared spaces foster entrepreneurial thinking and behaviors among student entrepreneurs, representing multiple colleges and majors. To deepen our understanding, we propose to use experience sampling (i.e., twice weekly data collection for four-weeks using online survey with email notification) and in-depth interviews to examine when, where, and how student entrepreneurs, participating in Cal Poly Hatchery program, generate innovative ideas. These eureka moments represent knowledge creation relating to business model development that result from dynamic interactions among interdisciplinary student teams and their shared spaces, both on- and off-campus. Our study is a new line of research that seeks to understand the key relational, knowledge-mobilizing platforms that universities can use to better support student idea generation through improved design of shared spaces.

Student's role in the research project:

Learning about then helping to set up the database used to store and retrieve the data we collect. Preparing for and then giving a short talk to help recruit student participants for our project. Assisting in retention of student participants, answering student questions about the survey, helping to distribute the weekly gifts for student participation. Cleaning up the data, and data analysis, along with providing insight into understanding the outcomes of the study.

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

In consultation and collaboration with the research team, the RA will learn about survey design, trouble shooting, problem solving, and how to collect, manage and analyze data sets.

Required experiences/courses:

Strong attention to detail. Work with spreadsheets. Kindness.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Customer service, working with data

 

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Physics

Colleen Marlow

 

The proposed research project will be to study the impact of temperature on the nonlinear current voltage characteristics of sparse carbon nanotube (CNT) network field effect transistor (FET) devices. The project will entail electrical characterization of existing CNT FETs, operation of a closed cycle cryostat and temperature control system down to 10 Kelvin, data analysis of the characteristics of the resulting current voltage data and presentation of results at Cal Poly’s annual College of Science and Mathematics (CSM) Spring Research Conference in the spring of 2019.

CNT FET devices are electrical devices in which the active layer for electrical conduction is composed of a network of randomly arranged metallic and semiconducting carbon nanotubes. The combination of tube types present leads to high resistance metallic-semiconducting tube junctions which dominate the overall network behavior. In cases of sparse networks, where only a few paths for conduction exist within the network, a sensitivity of the entire system to conductive changes at the junction brings about some very interesting physics about how nanoscopic parts of a complex microscopic system dictate its overall behavior.  Ultimately this is what my group is trying to understand and this project in particular will address this by using temperature to control the energy of charge carriers and impact the conduction across junctions in the CNT networks and while collecting data of the overall network current’s response.

Student's role in the research project:

The student will be the lead on the project. In the early stages the student will work closely with the PI (Marlow) to be trained in the operation of the cryostat and electrical characterization measurements and to create a project timeline and schedule. After that the student will be expected to run the closed cycle cryostat system to control the temperature of devices under measurement, perform electrical characterization of devices and analyze the data. Last the student will be expected to give bi-weekly presentations on project progress to Marlow’s research and present the results of project at the CSM Spring Research Conference.

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

The students will gain training in low temperature systems, temperature control and the operation of a cryostat. They will learn electrical characterization techniques of FET devices and a basic understanding of the physics of nanoelectronics systems. They will gain skills in quantifing nonlinearity and asymmetric in data using statistical methods. Last they will gain project management skills, such as time managements and project planning, and communication skills through presentation at weekly lab group meetings and at the CSM Spring Research Conference.

Required experiences/courses:

Student should have taken or currently be taking Phys 206/256 (or the equivalent).

Preferred experiences/courses:

Phys 202 or the equivalent computational experience (MATLAB) is preferred.

 

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Psychology & Child Development

Laura Cacciamani

 

If you were to come across an individual with blindness while walking across campus, what would be your initial thoughts and reactions? Would you think or act differently around this person, perhaps without even realizing it? How much do you know (or think you know) about what it's like to be blind?

This research project investigates peoples' preconceptions of, attitudes towards, and general knowledge of blindness. It's sometimes challenging to understand the perceptual experiences of others, which makes it difficult to know how best to respond and interact. Using survey methods, this project will explore these issues by presenting college students with situational questions designed to assess preconceptions and attitudes. By gaining a better sense of one's thoughts on and reactions to blindness, we can make strides towards correcting misperceptions, educating people on best practices, and understanding each other's differing perceptual experiences. 

Student's role in the research project:

The student will be expected to take initiative on this project and move it forward quickly and efficiently. Tasks will include searching the literature, designing the study (creating questions), collecting data, analyzing data, and writing up the results. I will be there to help at every step of the way; the student will meet with me weekly (at least) to check in and discuss progress on the project. As with any project, I expect timely communication, professionalism, and reliability.

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

The student will gain experience in all stages of a research project, including conducting a literature search, designing the study, collecting and analyzing data using SPSS, interpreting results, and ultimately disseminating the findings via presentations and hopefully a publication. These skills and research experiences are highly desired by graduate programs; thus, this opportunity will help position the student be a competitive applicant to graduate school (specifically PhD programs).

Required experiences/courses:

No specific experiences or courses are required, though an enthusiasm for learning, an inquisitive mind, and an innate drive to get things done is a must!

Preferred experiences/courses:

It is preferred that the student has taken Research Methods (PSY 329) and has a baseline knowledge of scientific theory, methodology, and analysis. Having taken Quantitative Methods (PSY 333) is even better.

 

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School of Education

Briana Ronan

 

The research project is part of a US Department of Education funded grant to recruit and retain students of color in the K-12 teaching force. There is a diversity gap that exists between the US public school system’s white, monolingual teacher workforce and the ethnically, racially and linguistically diverse students that it serves. The goals of the project are to identify the barriers that deter underrepresented students from pursuing a career in K-12 teaching, and to propose initiatives at Cal Poly to support students of color in teacher credential programs. 

Student's role in the research project:

The student mentee will take a significant role in designing and implementing tools that will be used to survey students of color on factors that influence their decision to enter and stay in the teaching force. The student will also be involved in developing and assessing the impact of various School of Education initiatives to recruit and support teacher candidates of color, including mentorship program, future teachers club at local high schools, and implementation of social justice curriculum in credential programs.

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

Students will gain research skills in mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) data collection and analysis, reviews of literature, program implementation and evaluation. Students will also develop project management and communication skills as they work with School of Education faculty and staff on program initiatives.

Required experiences/courses:

Student should be familiar with and interested in researching K-12 schools. Student should be comfortable conducting surveys and interviews with participants. Student should be detail oriented with organizational skills.

Preferred experiences/courses:

Bilingual (Spanish & English) language skills preferred but not required. Knowledge of needs assessment and program evaluation is also helpful but not required.

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Social Sciences

Unique Shaw-Smith

 

The objectives of this project are still under consideration, so the scope may be subject to slight change. In this project, I will be working with the prison librarian at the California Men’s Colony (CMC) to research literacy of incarcerated men in order to make a case for developing programs within the library to address areas of need. The project involves an inductive approach to identifying and understanding those needs. We will meet with various stakeholders, including the prison education program, self-help and recreational groups, to establish a proposal that encompasses the needs of all instead adhering to a one-size fits all approach.

Student's role in the research project:

The mentee will be invited to participate at every stage of the project, from meetings to conducting background research to gathering data and beyond. They will be expected to find, read, and annotate relevant empirical research articles.

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

They will gain experience writing annotated bibliographies, problem identification and solution, the process of gathering and analyzing data, and drawing conclusions. Interpersonal and communication skills will also be strengthened by interacting with marginalized groups and professional staff.

Required experiences/courses:

Must be interested in criminal justice and not intimidated by data analysis. Because we will be working in an environment housing a marginalized population, the mentee must identify and challenge implicit biases that may interfere with research project. They must also be able to gain background clearance and be comfortable entering a secure facility.

 

Preferred experiences/courses:

Research methods (quantitative or qualitative). Ability to read empirical articles.

 

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