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Science & the CSU

A Closer Look

Student Researchers Bring Big Ideas

15-05-02-CSUSB-- Jessica Pope Mayers, from California State University Los Angeles, presents her research projected titled "A Controlled Field Study of Showups: Examining the Effect of Suggestion and Suspect Similarity at the 29th Annual CSU Student Research Competition at California State University, San Bernardino on Saturday, May 2, 2015. Photo by Corinne McCurdy/CSUSB

CSU students are addressing today’s top issues including the impact of minimum wage increases, California’s water crisis, and the public perception of police officers. They are also developing solutions that can make a difference in our lives including creating power from carbon dioxide and making breakthroughs that could lead to more effective treatments for cancer.

These topics were among nearly 200 research projects presented at the CSU’s 29th annual Student Research Competition at CSU San Bernardino May 1-2. The event hosted the best and brightest students from throughout the CSU–in order to participate, students had to be selected by their campus or take top honors in their own campus research competition.

Over the two-day event, 260 students from 22 CSUs presented 200 research projects in 19 sessions, which were broken down by student level and a number of research categories including humanities and social sciences, agriculture, chemistry, biology and health sciences. more »

Seven Ways to Save Water in the California Drought


The CSU’s Water Resources and Policy Initiatives (WRPI) leverages the expertise of about 250 researchers from throughout the CSU to help solve the state’s complex water issues. Due in part to this system-wide initiative, the CSU is now recognized as a critical resource working to solve the state’s water challenges.

One of WRPI’s goals is to provide faculty expertise to support California’s need for sustainable water resources.

CSU experts are also educating Californians about the importance of sustainable water consumption in the home. Daily water use plays a major role in the state’s supply.

WRPI water expert and Sacramento State Professor Christine Flowers-Ewing insists that Californians need to do our part to save water, and it can start in the home. Here are seven tips that Flowers-Ewing says anyone can do to help reduce water use: more…

CSUN Satellite to Explore the Stellar Frontier


In a small, multipurpose electrical engineering lab located at the heart of campus, a team of 27 California State University, Northridge students, four professors and a Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) scientist eagerly gathered around a table covered with circuit boards. They were witnessing a historic first rehearsal between the custom-made CSUNSat1 cube satellite and a JPL energy storage system that will help explore deep space in extremely cold temperatures.

CSU’s Partnership with Chevron Grants Local Junior High Students Access to Fab Lab


Hands-on learning at the Fab Lab at CSUB

California State University Bakersfield provides Fruitvale Junior High School students access to the campus Fab Lab. The opportunity has enabled the junior high school to offer Project Lead the Way Class, the nation’s leading provider of STEM programs, with students beginning projects in the classroom and completing their design work in the Fab Lab.

“A Fab Lab is the place where students and entrepreneurs come to imagine, to design and to make almost anything that they want” said Sherry Lassiter, director of Fab Foundation.

With Fab Lab consisting of the same core machines and processes in all of its locations, the CSU is joining a global network of over 400 Fab Labs in more than 50 countries. more…

SF State study finds deadly frog fungus dates back to 1880s


An anaxyrus americanaus frog

A deadly fungus responsible for the extinction of more than 200 amphibian species worldwide has coexisted harmlessly with animals in Illinois and Korea for more than a century, a pair of studies have found.

Ag Programs Get Global Attention


The World Ag Expo is the largest farm equipment and technology show in the world and takes place in California’s Central Valley, one of our nation’s most important agricultural regions. As the CSU produces more than half of the state’s graduates in agriculture, the event sets the perfect stage for faculty and students to showcase how the CSU is helping California maintain its status as an agricultural powerhouse.


CSU Biotechnology Symposium Highlights Student, Faculty Research


Nearly 700 students, faculty, alumni, administrators and partners gathered at the 27th annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium in Santa Clara Jan. 8-10 to share research and advance innovation in the life sciences.

The symposium, organized by the CSU’s Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB), showcases the research of hundreds of students working toward high-demand science, technology, engineering and math degrees. This year, CSUPERB received 318 abstract submissions from 21 CSU campuses, representing research from about 160 faculty-led labs across California.


CSU Makes a Big Splash at the Annual MAES Symposium


High school student builds a prosthetic hand with guidance from undergrads at SDSU.

MAES—Latinos in Science and Engineering—has come a long way since hosting its first symposium 40 years ago at CSU Fullerton. Today, they boast more than 50 professional and collegiate chapters across the country, with the mission of encouraging and supporting Latino students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Every year, MAES hosts a symposium to give student members an opportunity to meet industry recruiters, present original research and compete for scholarships. This year, CSU students made a big splash at the 40th Annual MAES Symposium in San Diego.

A Hole in One for STEM Education


CSU teaching credential students are getting hands-on experience teaching scientific principles like Archimedes’ principle and Newton’s theory of gravity through their application in sports like baseball and golf.

The future teachers from CSU campuses across the state are serving as mentors in the Chevron STEM ZONE, an interactive exhibit that highlights the scientific side of sports through a variety of hands-on learning stations for kids. The idea is that sports can make science more engaging.

STEM ZONE travels to a number of golfing and sporting events throughout the state. At nearly each stop, local CSU students are invited to serve as exhibit mentors. CSU faculty prepare the teacher candidates to highlight scientific and engineering practices, depending on the sport.


CSU Labs Recognized Globally for Shark Research


Students and faculty at the CSU’s Pacific Shark Research Center in Monterey have discovered dozens of new shark species. The Shark Lab at CSU Long Beach uses cutting edge technology developed by student engineers to track white sharks.

The two labs are recognized around the world for their research on sharks, which has been printed in countless journals and featured on TV networks including National Geographic, PBS, BBC and the Discovery Channel.

In both labs, much of this discovery and innovation comes from student researchers who get hands-on experience, training and guidance from faculty mentors Dave Ebert and Chris Lowe.

Students working in Dave Ebert’s Pacific Shark Research Center have discovered so many shark species, the lab has about 30 to be named.

“About one-fifth of all new shark species have only been discovered within the past ten years,” Ebert said. “My lab has been responsible for about 10 percent of those—making us the second-leading institute for discovering new species.”

The Pacific Shark Research Center is part of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in Monterey, which serves a consortium of CSU campuses in Northern and Central California. Student researchers get hands-on experience using the lab’s state-of-the-art marine science equipment.

Paul Clerkin, a San José State graduate student working in Ebert’s lab, discovered eight new shark species during a 2012 expedition to the Southern Indian Ocean. His findings captured the attention of producers at the Discovery Channel and he was featured in the network’s “Shark Week” programming over the summer.

Ebert says he hopes that all of this attention can lead to more reliable sources of funding for research in his lab.

The CSULB Shark Lab focuses on understanding the behavior and migration patterns of sharks and rays. The lab aims to provide the public with science-based information about sharks so they will understand why they are important and why they are worth protecting.

Professor Chris Lowe is carrying on the legacy of Donald Nelson, who started the lab back in 1966. Nelson was a pioneer in shark research and the first to utilize tracking technology. Lowe continues to develop innovative tracking technology, his lab recently creating autonomous underwater robots to track tagged sharks.

Lowe’s lab often partners with the computer science and engineering departments at CSU Long Beach, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and other universities to develop and integrate much of this new technology.

“When biology students are working side by side with science and engineering students, they have the ability to get more done,” Lowe said. “Combining disciplines in this way is the wave of the future and something that is garnering interest and funding from major research organizations.”

Ebert and Lowe’s labs have teamed up for a number of projects, utilizing each other’s knowledge and resources.

“Our research is furthering conservation efforts,” Lowe said. “The more we know about sharks, the more likely we are to make changes that benefit both sharks and humans.”


Dr. Christopher Lowe highlights his lab’s research on white sharks, which serve a very important role in Southern California’s marine ecosystem.


Marine biology equipment at CSU Long Beach gives students hands-on learning experience.

Collaborative Research Leads to CSU Science Success


By Stephanie Thara

The juvenile gopher rockfish is one of the species that research faculty are working with to determine how fish are affected by climate change. (photo credit: Jocelyn Douglas)

The juvenile gopher rockfish is one of the species that research faculty are working with to determine how fish are affected by climate change. (photo credit: Jocelyn Douglas)

CSU faculty members continue to make waves in the science community as five CSU researchers have won a prestigious grant of nearly $900,000 from the National Science Foundation to conduct collaborative research on ocean acidification and hypoxia. Dr. Scott Hamilton from Moss Landing Marine Laboratory-San Jose State, Dr. Cheryl Logan from CSU Monterey Bay and Drs. Brian Tissot, Eric Bjorkstedt and Jeffrey Abell from Humboldt State will be combining their expertise to examine how climate change can affect the behavior, physiology and gene expression of rocky reef fishes.


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