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Posts from: March 2011

Cal Poly, Sacramento State in National Energy Competition

October 22, 2015

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Driver Troy Anderson and passenger Minh Tran of California State University, Sacramento wave as they maneuver their Electric Smart car in front of their home during the commuting contest at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon at the Orange County Great Park, Irvine, California  Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Teams of students and faculty from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Sacramento State designed and built two of the world’s most innovative and efficient solar powered homes.

The two teams were a part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s biennial Solar Decathlon in Irvine October 8-18. For the competition, they had to design and build a house that was powered only by solar energy.

Sacramento State and Cal Poly competed against only 12 other universities from across the country in the highly-selective competition.

The Department of Energy holds the event to accelerate the adoption of energy-efficient designs and products by educating students and the public about the benefits. The competition also provides participating students with unique training that prepares them for the clean energy workforce.

For the CSU students, the real-world experience builds on the hands-on learning they are already receiving in engineering, design, architecture and communications. As they spend months fundraising, planning, designing, analyzing, and finally building and improving their homes, teams rely on expertise from many disciplines.

The homes are judged in 10 different areas, based on affordability, design and efficiency. This year, Cal Poly ranked third and Sacramento State was tenth overall.

This was Sacramento State’s first year in the Solar Decathlon. Cal Poly also finished third the only other time it competed in the event in 2005.

CSU Takes Part in Climate Change Forum

September 2, 2015

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coast small

The CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST) was part of a panel on climate change hosted by U.S. Congressman Alan Lowenthal in Long Beach September 2.

COAST Director Krista Kamer, PhD, informed Lowenthal and local leaders about what the program is doing to tackle climate change statewide and how lawmakers can use the CSU’s network of expertise in decision and policy making related to the issue.

Panelists addressed climate change topics including identifying areas of the community that are most vulnerable to its effects and current projects and initiatives underway that are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing resiliency. They also identified areas in which Lowenthal could make a difference in Congress.

Dr. Kamer gave an overview of COAST, which integrates CSU’s systemwide resources to advance knowledge of natural coastal and marine resources and the processes that affect them. She also went over how COAST is addressing climate change and preserving Southern California’s ecosystems.

Dr. Kamer was joined by experts from local water districts, environmental agencies and researchers from universities including the University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles.

Sea slugs: A cancer treatment?

August 25, 2015

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Two CSU professors are leading innovative sea slug research to help cure one of the world’s most deadly diseases: cancer. Cal State L.A. Biological Sciences Professor Patrick Krug, PhD, and Cal Poly Pomona Biological Sciences Associate Professor Ángel A. Valdés, PhD, are among the handful of scientists studying seas slugs to uncover medical mysteries and develop break-through solutions to complex health issues. Read more.

“Living Labs” Link Sustainability, Student Success

August 19, 2015

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CSU campuses are essentially small cities that provide the perfect “living lab” for future engineers, water resource professionals, urban planners and environmentalists. When academic programs collaborate with campus facilities, faculty and students engage in hands-on research that makes campuses more sustainable—and students go into the workforce prepared to solve real-world problems. Read more.

Stewards of the Oceans

July 15, 2015

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Ashley Quackenbush presenting at Western Society of Naturalists conference about her “Get Into Your Sanctuary Day” campaign.

For the past 40 years, U.S. national marine sanctuaries have worked to provide a secure habitat for species close to extinction and protect historically significant shipwrecks and artifacts —and now California State University (CSU) students are helping to guard these underwater treasures.

As part of CSU’s role in advancing sustainable environmental science, the CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST) has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) to place students in unique internships. Read more »

Cal State L.A., San Jose State Receive $9.6M from NASA

July 1, 2015

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Cal State L.A. and San Jose State received $9.6 million to conduct NASA-related research and education to help train a new generation of scientists and engineers. Read more »

Student Researchers Bring Big Ideas

June 2, 2015

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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. Read more »

Seven Ways to Save Water in the California Drought

April 24, 2015

Tags: A Closer Look

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: Read more »

CSUN Satellite to Explore the Stellar Frontier

March 18, 2015

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

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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. Read more »

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

March 15, 2015

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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.
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Ag Programs Get Global Attention

February 12, 2015

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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.

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CSU Biotechnology Symposium Highlights Student, Faculty Research

January 14, 2015

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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.

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CSU Makes a Big Splash at the Annual MAES Symposium

October 31, 2014

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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.
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A Hole in One for STEM Education

October 9, 2014

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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.

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CSU Labs Recognized Globally for Shark Research

September 11, 2014

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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

August 25, 2014

Tags: A Closer Look

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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CSUMB Student Selected for Prestigious Marine Scholarship

August 14, 2014

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Emily Aiken

CSU Monterey Bay Graduate Student Emily Aiken will be developing innovative technology to further advance research on the wonders of the deep sea thanks to the 2014 Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship.

Awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, this year’s scholarship was awarded to only three graduate-level students nationwide and recognizes scholars for their outstanding research.
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10 Inventions Made in the CSU

August 13, 2014

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CSU campuses are hotbeds for innovation: campus resources and faculty mentorship gives students the support system to develop into entrepreneurs, while faculty research provides solutions and innovations to meet the needs of California’s changing economy.

Here are 10 inventions—ranging from scientific and medical breakthroughs to everyday household items—that you may not know came from the great minds of CSU faculty and alumni.

Student Researchers Connect with CSU President, Trustees

April 2, 2014

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CSU Bakersfield student Kelsey Padilla discussing her research on the relationship between sea surface temperatures and precipitation levels with CSUB President Horace Mitchell and Governor Jerry Brown
CSU Bakersfield student Kelsey Padilla discussing her research on the relationship between sea surface temperatures and precipitation levels with CSUB President Horace Mitchell and Governor Jerry Brown

Student researchers and their faculty mentors spend years working on projects that help solve complex water and coastal zone challenges. For 25 student-faculty teams, their experiments culminated with presentations of their findings to Governor Jerry Brown, CSU campus presidents, Trustees and other CSU officials after the Board of Trustees meeting on March 25.

“It’s so nice that the Trustees and Presidents get to speak to students one-on-one , see what they are working on and hear what they have learned at the CSU,” said Dr. Krista Kamer, director of CSU’s Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST). “These students are the end product of what our Trustees and Presidents are fighting for and why they do what they do.”
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Keeping the Water Flowing

March 21, 2014

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Image courtesy of

It has been a dry year for the Golden State so far, and the drought is only projected to get worse. The rain received in February was not enough to be a drought-breaker, and California’s rainfall deficit is still rapidly reaching record highs. With the significant reduction in the number of crops being grown and devastatingly low river and reservoir ebb and flow tides, Governor Brown declared a drought State of Emergency. Managing the state’s water resources is crucial in helping maintain the health of California, and the CSU is taking necessary actions to produce proficient leaders in the water industry.
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Research Takes Spotlight at CSU Symposium

January 28, 2014

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Nearly 700 students, faculty, alumni, administrators and partners gathered at the 26th annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium in Santa Clara Jan. 9-11 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. More >>

Igniting Fire Research at HSU’S Fire Lab

November 15, 2013

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HSU Fire Lab

In 2012, federal agencies spent $1.9 billion battling wildfires in the United States. Wildfires are getting larger, causing more damage and becoming more dangerous and expensive to fight. Humboldt State University’s Wildland Fire Laboratory is working to understand the flammability differences of fuels in an effort to better manage wildfires and lessen the negative impacts they can have on ecosystems.

As one of only three universities in the nation to have an active indoor fire research lab, HSU’s Wildland Fire Lab houses state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge technologies that allow students and faculty to work together to study fire behavior. Faculty and students conduct research that tests the flammability of different fuels (tree debris, grasses and decomposed organic matter that help spread wildfires) using the fire lab’s burning facility, thermal infrared imaging camera and fire modeling software.

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Archive Enables Salton Sea Solutions

October 31, 2013

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Salton Sea

Southern California’s Salton Sea is a big, complicated problem, and for the past 30 years, lawmakers, farmers, environmentalists, water agencies and other stakeholders have been trying to solve it.

In fact, it’s hard to keep track of all the work that’s been done. The Salton Sea Authority, a joint powers authority that aims to revitalize the sea, fears that the same research is being recommissioned. That would waste valuable time and resources as the sea’s condition continues to deteriorate.

By creating a Salton Sea Repository, the Water Resources Institute (WRI) at CSU San Bernardino is facilitating potential solutions. The archives are expected to help the Salton Sea Authority and others assess and understand potential restoration plans—with all of the research and documents in one place, they don’t have to start from scratch.

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Bridging the Gap between Academia and Sacramento

October 16, 2013

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Former State Senator Sam Blakeslee speaking at the luncheon.

On October 4, CSU’s Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) hosted a one-day workshop at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where faculty and students in science disciplines learned successful strategies on how to bridge the gap between academia and Sacramento.

COAST collaborated with State Senator Sam Blakeslee and his staff at the Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy at Cal Poly SLO, the Center for Coastal Marine Sciences at Cal Poly SLO and the Institute for Applied Marine Ecology at CSU Monterey Bay to bring the “Connecting Science to Sacramento: The Role of Science in Policymaking” event to fruition. The workshop consisted of six sessions where legislators, state agency personnel, policy committee staff and journalists shared with faculty, staff, students and community leaders details about the policy and decision making process.
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Fresno State Alumnus Awarded WRPI Scholarship

September 6, 2013

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The California State University Water Resources and Policy Initiative (WRPI) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently selected a Fresno State alumnus to receive the first-ever WRPI/USDA scholarship for post-graduate research.

Irvin Arroyo was selected for the WRPI/USDA Watershed Management Doctoral Scholarship, a new addition to WRPI’s Watershed Management Internship Program. The $40,000 scholarship was created to support underrepresented students pursuing post-graduate study in the food, agriculture and natural resource sciences.

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Reviving the L.A. River

July 8, 2013

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Looking downstream at the Glendale Narrows. Unlike most of the river, this stretch has an earthen bottom.

The Los Angeles River recently became a summer haven for fishers and kayakers. In June, a 2.5 mile stretch called the Glendale Narrows opened up for public recreation–the first time in 80 years that the public could legally access any part of the river.

In an effort to combat devastating floods in L.A.’s low-lying neighborhoods, the entire river system was channelized in the 1930’s. Since then, the river has primarily served as a flood control channel—not a river.

Although efforts to revitalize the river have existed for decades, the new recreational activities are bringing them to life in a different way.

Cal Poly Pomona urban and regional planning professor Meredith McKenzie says the LA River Revitalization Project is not only about restoring the river, but restoring the public perception that there is a river—and it’s part of our natural ecosystem. Read more »

MLML Graduate Awarded the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship

June 19, 2013

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Michael Fox studying the effects of disturbances on kelp and their associated communities during his lab at the MLML.

Michael Fox, who recently completed his M.S. at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, is one of three recipients of the 2013 Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship. The scholarship, which is awarded annually to only three to four scholars from across the country, provides financial support to encourage independent graduate-level research in oceanography, marine biology, or maritime archaeology.

At the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Fox studied the recovery from disturbance in giant kelp. He is now pursuing a Ph.D. in marine biology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The scholarship will be used to support his dissertation of how nutrient pollution affects the dominant processes structuring competitive interactions between reef-building corals and macroalgae.
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“Why We Chase Storms”

June 5, 2013

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The devastation caused by the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma has generated controversy and curiosity about storm chasers—those who follow deadly weather for the sake of science, fascination or curiosity.

San Francisco State meteorology professor John Monteverdi is one of them. The atmospheric scientist just returned from the field where he has been observing one of nature’s most unforgiving environments.

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Competition Highlights Student Research

May 14, 2013

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CSU student research Rose-Matthew Rose of Cal Poly Pomona talks with judges about his research, "Obstacle Avoidance for a Quadrotor Using Light Weight and Inexpensive Sensors," as part of the 27th Annual California State University Student Research Competition at Cal Poly Pomona May 10, 2013.

A Humboldt State student found that stem cells have the potential to help the bones of older individuals heal faster after breaking.

A team of Cal State L.A. engineering students developed new experimental designs for supersonic rockets.

A Cal Poly Pomona student is testing a new vaccine for the flu.

These are just a few of the nearly 200 student researchers who presented projects at the CSU’s 27th annual Student Research Competition at Cal Poly Pomona May 10-11.

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SCMI Pursuing a Mission of Research and Education

April 23, 2013

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Students participating in lab and field research during the CSU Marine Biology Semester

Students participating in lab and field research during the CSU Marine Biology Semester

The Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI) —a consortium of 11 Southern California universities, including eight CSU campuses—has been providing marine research and education support to the CSU for over 15 years. Committed to offering marine expertise and hands-on field experience to students, the SCMI develops science education programs, facilitates research in marine science, and works with university and community members to execute environment monitoring projects.
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Catching up with CSU’s Watershed Management Interns

April 9, 2013

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In 2011, the CSU’s Water Resources and Policy Initiatives (WRPI) launched a four-year internship program intended to harness the research capacity of CSU faculty and students in order to address the critical water issues facing California.

The USDA-funded Watershed Management Internships are already giving CSU students valuable hands-on experience. The interns delve into various aspects of natural resource protection carried out by three USDA agencies: the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Agricultural Research Service and the Forest Service.

The first year saw a variety of projects on a wide range of topics, incorporating many aspects of environmental issues in California. Below are just a few examples of the work these students and faculty are doing:

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Four CSU Faculty Awarded California Sea Grant Focus Awards

March 28, 2013

Tags: A Closer Look

left to right: C. Cass, K. Hardy, S. Hamilton, and J. Long(left to right: C. Cass, K. Hardy, S. Hamilton, and J. Long)

CSU faculty has received four of the six California Sea Grant Focus Awards for new investigators from the California Sea Grant. Humboldt State’s Dr. Christine Cass, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Dr. Kristin Hardy, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories’ Dr. Scott Hamilton, and San Diego State’s Jeremy Long are among the early-career investigators who have been commended for their extraordinary scientific merit.
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Going Global at the World Ag Expo

February 27, 2013

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Every February, 100,000 visitors from more than 70 countries flock to a small town in California’s Central Valley for the largest farm equipment and technology show in the world. Though its location may seem remote, the World Ag Expo takes place in one of our nation’s most important agricultural regions.

The CSU students and researchers that headed to the International Agri-Center in Tulare for this year’s expo Feb. 12-14 showcased some of what they do to help California maintain its status as an agricultural powerhouse.

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SJSU, Cal Poly Take Charge in Energy Innovation

February 14, 2013

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In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama called on America to advance clean energy research and technology. Obama said that investment in clean energy innovation holds the most promise for both our environment and economy.

San José State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo recently made announcements regarding their roles in such innovation: SJSU has launched a program to train students for the fast-emerging energy storage industry, and Cal Poly received a $1.3 million grant to help turn San Luis Obispo’s wastewater into energy.

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The Point Sur Arrives

February 1, 2013

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Congratulations to the crew of the R/V Point Sur for their Jan. 26 arrival at Palmer Station on Anvers Island, Antarctica.  Their journey has already spanned nearly two months since departing from home – Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in the Monterey Bay area. More …

COAST Awards $85,500 to 32 CSU Students for Marine Research

January 30, 2013

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San Francisco State Student Mark Russell will use his COAST award to investigate weight loss in marine birds affected by oil contamination. Credit: International Bird Rescue

SFSU Student Mark Russell will use his COAST award to investigate weight loss in marine birds affected by oil contamination. Credit: International Bird Rescue

The CSU’s Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST) recently awarded 32 CSU students a total of $85,500 to provide support for students engaged in marine and coastal research with CSU COAST faculty members. The Student Awards for Marine Science Research will stimulate student interest in marine-related careers and provide scholars with the opportunity to obtain the skills necessary to join a highly skilled, technologically advanced workforce while promoting and supporting CSU faculty research.
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New Director Aims to Advance Ag Efforts

January 17, 2013

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Mark Shelton, associate dean of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences, was recently named executive director of the CSU’s Agricultural Research Institute (ARI). ARI is a comprehensive applied agricultural and environmental research program that partners the CSU’s colleges of agriculture with the state’s ag industries.

In his role as executive director of ARI, Shelton works closely with systemwide CSU leadership, as well as faculty and staff from each of ARI’s member campuses – Chico, Pomona, San Luis Obispo, and Fresno. He’ll also be leading efforts with the ag industry and agency partners to promote and advance ARI.

Shelton has served as Cal Poly’s campus ARI coordinator since the initiative’s inception in 1999.

“It’s been rewarding to see the program benefit faculty and students,” Shelton said. “Over the past 13 years, I’ve seen this program build ties between CSU campuses, and provide critical funding, research and equipment needed to advance the industry and education.”
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Fusing Biology and Technology

January 11, 2013

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The 25th Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium brought together students, faculty, alumni, administrators and partners from across the 23 campus university system to advance an intricate and cutting edge understanding of life.  More than 700 current and future biotechnology researchers and professionals participated in this silver anniversary symposium held in Anaheim from January 3-5, 2013.  The symposium was a showcase for the year-round work incubated by the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB). Read more »

Gold Fever: Students Create Hands-On Exhibits for CSU Chico’s Gateway

December 14, 2012

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Sam Jameson and Shane Tack demonstrate their Magna Bike for the Gold Fever exhibit at the Gateway.

Sam Jameson and Shane Tack demonstrate their Magna Bike for the Gold Fever exhibit at the Gateway.

Rachel Teasdale, former interim director of the Gateway Science Museum and current professor of geological and environmental sciences at CSU Chico, knew that this fall’s exhibit, Gold Fever! Untold Stories of the California Gold Rush, was not going to have a lot of hands-on activities. Since one of the goals for exhibits at the museum is that visitors participate in an active way, she created an assignment for her students in Mineralogy and Lithology to create hands-on activities. In groups, students came up with a topic and created hands-on stations where visitors can learn about minerals, mining, and the uses of minerals in the exhibit.

Read more about these projects, including student descriptions of their goals: here.

MLML Research Vessel Departs for Five Month Expedition in Antarctica

November 30, 2012

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On November 29, the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories’ (MLML) Research Vessel Point Sur and its crew departed 8,200 miles south to assist the National Science Foundation (NSF) with its study of the Antarctic Peninsula. After increased interest in climate change impacts to the Antarctic continent, the NSF enlisted the help of MLML—a graduate program in marine science for CSU East Bay, Fresno, Monterey Bay, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and Stanislaus—to analyze the habitat, chemistry, climate, biology, geology and physics of the Antarctic Peninsula around the U.S. base at Palmer Station. Research will focus on subtidal ecology, geology and the tagging and tracking of marine mammals.

Scheduled to return home in May 2013, R/V Point Sur plans to support additional science projects in Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico during its journey to and from Antarctica. Follow the ship’s path and read about the crew member’s adventures on the MLML Martine Operations’ website.

Cal Poly Professor Receives Grant to Host Protein Workshop

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Dr. Lars Tomanek, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to host a five-day workshop on proteomics (the study of proteins). Twelve participants will gain hands-on experience in the methodology involved in proteomic analysis and will attain an in-depth understanding of how the protein structures in organisms change due to environmental stress.

The workshop will take place December 10-14 in the Environmental Proteomics Laboratory at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Participants, who include professors and graduate students from across the nation, will learn how to separate proteins by their charge, quantify proteins by their molecular mass, and use 2D gel- electrophoresis and mass spectrometry to identify proteins. Attendees will be able to analyze their own samples, generate their own data set, and will be exposed to the various tools that facilitate the interpretation of their results.

In addition to the $35,000 NSF grant, the CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) and BioRad provided funding for the program which will allow participants to initiate several new proteomics projects and help build a larger community around environmental proteomics.

Is Agricultural Waste the New Plastic?

November 20, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

Yeast is an essential ingredient in the beer brewing process. But after it serves its purpose during fermentation it leaves behind waste sediment, and it’s hard to come up with ways to recycle it.

Stumped with a sustainable answer to its yeast-waste, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company collaborated with researchers at nearby Chico State. The result was a research project that showed promising results in using agricultural waste as a means to create a biodegradable plastic.
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Obama back by popular demand: A CSU Fullerton professor does the math

November 6, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

With polls showing the presidential race neck and neck, Americans are coming up with some creative ways to predict our next president—from a psychic pet squirrel, to the number of Obama and Romney masks sold for Halloween, even to the outcome of an Ohio State Buckeye or Florida Gators football game.

However, math remains the most reliable way to predict the president. Although polling is not an exact science, CSU Fullerton civil engineering professor Chandra Putcha is using math and science to take it to another level of accuracy.

Putcha created a comprehensive way to make predicting a more scientific process. He forecasted the outcome of the Nov. 6 presidential election using his own integrated approach that includes both state polls and probability calculations based on historical information.
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SF State Professor Weighs in on Superstorm Sandy’s Effects

October 30, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

Hurricane Sandy battering the U.S. East coast. Photo courtesy of NASA.

On Monday, states all along the eastern seaboard felt the wrath of Hurricane Sandy as she left eight million people without power, submerged parts of New York City under 13 feet of water, grounded more than 15,000 flights around the world, and left at least 30 victims in the United States dead. The eastern states are still experiencing the devastating effects of this storm today.

The first high tide cycle struck southern New Jersey Monday morning, inundating numerous locations with significant coastal flooding. During the second high tide later that evening, storm surge flooding swamped portions of New York City. Sandy was officially categorized as a post-tropical cyclone when she landed in New Jersey near Atlantic City at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, with top sustained winds of 80 mph.

“This is not just a normal hurricane,” said Jan Null, a lecturer of meteorology at San Francisco State University. “This happened at the tail end of hurricane season, at the time of year when the air has been drawn in from the cold front in Canada. This is a hybrid storm.”
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CSU Chancellor’s Office Greets Endeavour

September 21, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

The CSU gets an amazing close up view of both shuttle and 747 as they cross above the university’s headquarters.

Late last year, we brought you the story of work that CSU aeronautical engineering programs are doing to ensure the U.S. continues to send humans to space after the Endeavour retires.  Today, the CSU Chancellor’s Office greets the shuttle itself as it flies piggyback to its new home at the California Science Center. Read more »

A Research Update from the Grapevine

September 10, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

At Fresno State’s recent “Grape Day,” leaders in wine research discussed the fruits of their labor and kept local grape growers and winemakers up to date with some practical research. The campus also showcased its fabulous viticulture educational programs, which play a major role in the economy of the Central Valley, as well as the state.

California is America’s top wine producer and the world’s fourth leading producer after France, Italy and Spain. The Wine Institute reports that the industry generates a $61.5 billion annual economic impact to California.

Since winemaking is not an easy task, enologists (those who study the science of wine and wine-making) at Fresno State and other CSUs are developing practical research and fostering innovation to ensure that California continues to make the world’s finest wines. Here are a few of the projects featured at Grape Day that have the potential to make a major impact on California’s wine industry:

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Cal State Fullerton Arboretum Preserves California

September 4, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

With more than 4,500 different species of plants spread across 26 acres of land, Cal State Fullerton’s Arboretum is helping California preserve its agricultural history. Housing the Orange County Agricultural and Nikkei Heritage Museum, the restored Victorian Heritage House and a luxurious botanical garden, the Fullerton Arboretum serves as a natural classroom to students, faculty, staff and the general public.

“We are like an Arc in that we save species that are no longer in existence or near extinction,” said Greg Dyment, director of the Fullerton Arboretum. “There is a history behind every piece, and people come here to learn about the region’s agricultural history.”
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Protecting the Seas through Ballast Water Testing

August 6, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

Cal Maritime’s 500-foot TS Golden Bear is helping save the seas from being invaded by foreign organisms by offering the nation’s first shipboard and land-based ballast water treatment systems testing facility. TS Golden Bear can determine if a ship meets both the shipboard and land-based testing requirements, which are two independent sets of rigorous tests for ballast water treatment systems to determine the efficiency of reducing marine vessel environmental impacts; most testing facilities can only determine one or the other. Read more »

Passing the Torch of Scientific Knowledge through Mentorship

July 24, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

CSU’s Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) and CSU Monterey Bay’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC) recently launched an undergraduate student summer research program that pairs CSUMB students with COAST faculty at campuses across the CSU. Undergraduates studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics are working with professors at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CSU East Bay, San Diego State and San Francisco State.

During their 10-week, paid internships, students are researching topics such as the influence of temperatures on sea turtles, the sleeping patterns of sea slugs, development of non-toxic coating for boats and how organisms have adapted to changes in the environment.
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Big Problems, Small Solutions

July 19, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

Some of the biggest problems in applied science – such as personalized genome mapping and affordable renewable energy – require the aid of some of the world’s smallest devices.  In the meticulously maintained clean room at CSU Northridge, students create and test these nanotech devices under the direction of Assistant Professor Henk Postma.

Going from Theory to Reality

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Learning by Teaching

July 6, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

Fresno State students teach science as they learn. Funded by an Engaged Department Implementation Grant, the undergraduates prepare demonstration experiments as part of the general education Chemistry and Society course, first-year general chemistry laboratories, and upper-division analytical chemistry course. In partnership with the local non-profit Discovery Science Center, the Fresno State Chemistry Department conducts one-hour labs throughout the academic year for kindergarten through 6th grade students. These events allow children the opportunity to learn from both CSU undergraduates and faculty.

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How do fireworks work?

July 3, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

Every Fourth of July, Americans gather to watch our favorite display of patriotism: pyrotechnics.

But have you ever wondered how fireworks work? From the bombs bursting in air, to the rockets’ red glare, it’s a chemical reaction that gives them their signature bang and stunning visual effects. Chico State chemistry grad and pyrotechnic specialist Frank Eberle discusses the science behind fireworks.

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CSU Strengthens Efforts to Solve State’s Water Woes

June 12, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

CSU Strengthens Efforts to Solve State's Water Woes

California depends on water now more than ever. With a growing population, climate uncertainty, and aging infrastructure, issues surrounding water resources and policy are hard to ignore. The state faces many challenges—stemming from issues such as ecological problems in the San Joaquin Delta and growing pressure on our water delivery system.

When it comes to water, the California State University’s 23 campuses have vast expertise and wide-ranging resources. By collaborating with state agencies, these resources can be utilized to help solve the state’s water problems. The efforts also create learning and research opportunities throughout the CSU. That was the idea behind the CSU’s Water Resources and Policy Initiatives (WRPI) when the systemwide group was created in 2008.

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COAST Reinforces CSU Marine Excellence in Washington, D.C.

June 11, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

CSU’s Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST) met with elected officials in congressional office to discuss contributions that the CSU has made to marine science during Capitol Hill’s Ocean Week 2012 in Washington, D.C. last week.

COAST representatives Krista Kamer, James Lindholm, Beth Pardieck and Dean Wendt conveyed to policy and decision makers the organization’s ability to tap CSU faculty and students’ scientific expertise to help address critical marine and coastal issues.

“We were able to show how the CSU has been building upon the success of California’s coastal research and were able to tell people what we are doing to advance marine science,” said Kamer, COAST’s director.
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Viewing the Transit of Venus

June 5, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

Today, Venus will pass directly between the sun and Earth, making this an historical event that will not be seen anywhere on Earth for another 105 years. The Transit of Venus will begin at 3:06 p.m. PDT and will reach the exact center of its transit path at 6:25 p.m. Since the sun sets around 8 p.m., stargazers in California will be unable to view the end of the transit, which occurs a little before 10 p.m.

The transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the moon, where Venus moves left to right blocking light from the sun to the Earth. Since Venus is much further away than the moon, those watching will only be able to see a small black dot across the surface of the sun.

Just like the eclipse, observers should protect their eyes during the Transit of Venus. Staring at the sun can ruin the eye’s cells and cause blindness.
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Student Studies Take Center Stage

May 11, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

A Harvard-bound San Diego State student investigates why certain body tissue is more susceptible to disease, a CSU Bakersfield student aims to eradicate the cause of the Valley Fever, and a CSU Northridge student joins the battle against childhood obesity.

These are just a few of the more than 200 students that presented their remarkable research at the 2012 California State University Student Research Competition.

The best student researchers in the CSU system showcased their talents at the 26th annual CSU Student Research Competition May 4-5 at CSU Long Beach. The competition is held to promote excellence in undergraduate and graduate research as it recognizes CSU students’ innovative achievements.
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COASTing Toward Progress

May 4, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

The CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST) highlighted the organization’s achievements toward advancing California’s coastal and marine resources at its annual meeting at the CSU Chancellor’s Office on April 25.

COAST—a network of hundreds of CSU faculty members, scientists and students actively working to address the state’s critical marine and coastal issues—has made strides in research that are integral to the development of ocean, coast and coastal policy. In academic year 2011-12, COAST provided $181,000 in support research for CSU students. Scholars received the opportunity to work with CSU faculty on marine science projects; travel across the state, nation and world to present their findings; and participate in summer internships with organizations dedicated to conserving California’s ecosystems.
Read more »

In a galaxy far, far away

May 3, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

It’s hard to believe that only a couple decades ago, the existence of planets beyond our solar system was just a theory. Today, the discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting other stars has captivated the entire world—and scientists are just beginning to answer the age-old question: could there be life on other planets?

A pair of San Diego State astronomy professors are part of the NASA Kepler Mission leading the effort to find out, and the two have already made some groundbreaking discoveries.

As part of the Kepler Science Team, SDSU professors William Welsh and Jerome Orosz are analyzing data gathered from the Kepler satellite. The satellite was launched in 2009 to survey a portion of the Milky Way galaxy for Earth-like planets that have a greater potential to sustain life.
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Cal State L.A. students grind out high honors with pepper mill, camping stove

April 20, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

By applying the skills and knowledge they are learning through Cal State L.A.’s industrial technology program, two groups of CSULA students placed second and third for their innovative projects—the Cal State L.A. Pepper Mill and The Eagle Stove—at the 2012  Western Tool Exposition and Conference Manufacturing Challenge.
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CSUs tackle urban coastal crises

March 15, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

Fishing boats docked in Monterey, CA

In California, sustainability doesn’t stop at the seashore. The state’s urban coastal waters face many environmental threats including fishing, pollution and chemical runoff. Cal State Long Beach and CSU Monterey Bay are among six California universities selected to take part in a research grant program aimed at making the state’s urban coastline more sustainable.

Long Beach and Monterey Bay researchers will join those from the University of Southern California, Stanford University, Mills College, and the University of the Pacific in an integrated program, which involves both research and public outreach—to help Californians understand and conserve their coasts.

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CSU Coastal Science Fellows Serving California

February 24, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

Four California State University graduate students and recent graduates were inducted into the 2011-2012 California Sea Grant State Fellowship Program, where they will explore marine issues, environmental quality and resource management.

The State Fellows Program is a prestigious and unique educational opportunity that matches highly motivated students with marine-based state and federal agencies in California. Each fellow will receive a $3,166 monthly stipend for up to 12 months to receive “on the job” experience in the planning and implementation of marine and coastal resource policies and programs in the state. Since the program’s inception in 1988, only 73 students have been funded by the program—20 being CSU students.

CSU Exploring the Unexplored

Tags: A Closer Look

Offering nearly 4,000 total degree programs, the CSU allows students to explore the different realms of industries such as life science, biology, oceanography, botany, chemistry, archeology and geology. In addition to having degree options in niche professions like watershed management, fisheries biology and forestry, the CSU maintains classes that give students a well-rounded education in all aspects of science.

Through executing research, experimenting in the field, working with the local science community and participating in science-based organizations, CSU faculty brings ample experience to their classes. Faculty members make science come to life by offering hands-on opportunities and a wealth of knowledge to students in classes such as wetlands ecology, remote sensing, geomorphing, mycology (study of fungi), ichthyology (study of fish) and ornithology (study of birds).

The Salton Sea: Fishing for Answers

February 22, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

The Salton Sea (photo by Tony Kawashima)

Southern California’s Salton Sea is an ecological disaster zone—it’s a stinking, stagnant, salty lake that experiences frequent “die-offs” of thousands of fish and birds. It appears nearly devoid of life, but the oddly beautiful body of water is a surprising oasis—it continues to support a valuable ecosystem of fish and migrating birds. A Sacramento State study aims to see how long this life can last.

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CSU Monterey Bay’s Underwater Disco

February 17, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

Submarines and submersibles (small subs) provide their operators with some capacity to interact with the outside world.  However, you run into problems when scientists want to add a new outside tool that they can operate while safely inside.  Just drilling control wire holes in the hull does not work – given humans’ pesky need to breath and the crushing pressure of deep water.

The students of CSU Monterey Bay Professor Steve Moore’s robotics class came up with a solution, and in so doing created “Squid Disco.”

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Algae: Plants on a Power Trip

February 7, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

Aquatic biomass

A Sonoma State University collaboration with the city of Santa Rosa is proving that with just a little help from Mother Nature, cars can run on algae—giving a whole new meaning to green energy. 

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STEM Growth

February 6, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

The CSU has launched a number of new initiatives aimed at building interest in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. New partnerships are helping to break the barriers these subjects create for many students, as they are critical building-blocks for college-readiness and lifelong success.
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CSU Firsts in Scientific Discovery

Tags: A Closer Look

Extensive research is behind every scientific discovery, and the CSU has created an environment where faculty and students can expand their skill set and make a difference in scientific research. With facilities filled with state-of-the-art equipment, CSU faculty have been able to make strides in the realm of science, such as developing novel approaches to disease treatments, providing in-depth insight about natural disasters and helping NASA discover new planets.
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Saving California’s Coast…One Project at a Time

January 28, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

Buzz about marine issues, coastal activities and water experiments filled the CSU Chancellor’s Office on Jan. 24 as CSU students and their faculty mentors presented a multitude of projects detailing potential solutions to California’s complex water and coastal zone challenges at the second annual COAST Faculty-Student Poster Reception featuring WRPI.
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Creating a winning playing field

January 20, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

Creating a winning playing field

The success of some of the world’s biggest sporting events like the Super Bowl, the PGA Championship and the World Series—and that of your favorite athlete or team – is dependent on sports turf managers. Professional sports which require a grass surface require a team of these skilled experts.

For them, watching grass grow can be exciting—a sign they are creating a level playing field for athletes. However, getting the perfect turf is a science in itself, and more complex than you’d imagine.

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Living for Science

January 12, 2012

Tags: A Closer Look

The Twenty-Fourth Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium continued a proud tradition of bringing the CSU’s greatest minds in life science research, engineering and technological innovation.  With more than 600 researchers, mentors, students and faculty from across the system, the yearly program provided an opportunity to build bridges on collaborative research, share educational practices and celebrate the achievements of CSU students and faculty.

No time went to waste during the symposium.  Lunch featured faculty hosted topic tables, where a salad might be served with a side of bioengineering. Read more »

Dedicated to Fuel Cell Energy

December 23, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

CSU campuses lead the way in exploring fuel cells as a clean, ultra-efficient way to generate energy.  This technology has developed from units designed for spacecraft and vehicles to large-scale units that now power buildings and homes.

San Francisco State University and Pacific Gas and Electric demonstrate the potential of fuel cells through a project that combines two separate systems for a total of 1.6 megawatts of electrical power – enough energy to supply about 1,200 homes.

Below are a few milestones of the project.

Photo credit: Gino DeGrandis

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Study Gives Weight to Hormones

December 5, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

When men and women begin an exercise regimen, men typically lose weight quickly, and women tend to have more trouble shedding those extra pounds. A recent Cal Poly San Luis Obispo study may provide an explanation to the weight-loss gender gap.

Exercise normally boosts the metabolism, serving as a natural appetite suppressant. But research led by Todd Hagobian, assistant professor in kinesiology at Cal Poly, provides evidence that this benefit only occurs in women who are already lean.

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CSU Marine Faculty Awarded $1.75 Million in Grants

November 23, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Four California State University marine science faculty members have been awarded a total of over $1.75 million in grants to examine ways on how to manage and improve California’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

CSU faculty will work with students, researchers, scientists and fishermen to collect information targeting marine life and habitats inside and outside the protected areas along the coast of California.

The awards will allow the CSU to enhance its marine science programs giving both students and faculty the opportunity to apply their scientific expertise and knowledge to help solve coastal issues.
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A World of Possibilities

October 31, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

A group of CSU students* (from Fullerton, San Bernardino and San Diego) assemble on the dais after attending a session on the role of stem cells in neurological function and disorders

A group of CSU students* (from Fullerton, San Bernardino and San Diego) assemble on the dais after attending a session on the role of stem cells in neurological function and disorders

Science thrives at the edge of what’s possible.  Pushing the boundary leads to discovery and to solutions for intractable human problems.  One field pushing the boundary is biotechnology, especially in the area of stem cell research related to regenerative medicine.  California State University students and faculty united with fellow explorers this month in Pasadena as part of the 2011 World Stem Cell Summit.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine sponsored the CSU participants.  The participating CSU students conduct research in stem cell related fields through the Bridges to Stem Cell Research programs.  CIRM has awarded CSU funding for 13 Bridges programs.  This allows students to benefit from the faculty expertise and lab facilities at CSU and partner universities. Read more »

A New Space Race Launches CSU Endeavors

October 19, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Last week, a Los Angeles ceremony celebrated NASA space shuttle Endeavour’s new home. Beginning in 2012, the aircraft will be housed at the California Science Center. Although Endeavour is California-bound, it will no longer live up to its name or original purpose.

After its 135th flight, NASA’s shuttle program ended this year. Endeavour and sister ships Atlantis and Discovery—American icons for human innovation and space domination—will be museum pieces, resting next to models of Sputnik and Explorer 1, among other artifacts. Reminders that everything, even NASA’s shuttle program, must come to an end.

NASA Chief Charles Bolden says the shuttles will now inspire a new generation of explorers. Hopefully inspire them to go into aeronautical engineering—because right now, America doesn’t have a way to send our astronauts into space.

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Viticulture research examines extended cool growth for wine grapes

October 10, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Research from California State University, Fresno is exploring a new approach to wine-grape growing in the sizzling San Joaquin Valley that could extend cool-season growth of certain varieties producing higher-quality wine grapes.

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CSI: Cal State L.A.

September 29, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

When you think of DNA analysis, firearms identification, examining blood patterns and narcotics testing, a college campus is not the first thing that comes to mind… but now it should.

The Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, which is located on the Cal State L.A. campus, is comprised of the forensic crime laboratories for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles Police Department, making it the largest local full-service crime lab in the United States on a university campus. The center also contains classrooms and labs for Cal State L.A.’s School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics and houses the California Forensic Science Institute (CFSI).

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The Science of Life

September 23, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

The CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology recently participated in a BayBio campaign to educate the public on the impact of life sciences on the environment, human health and the economy.  A thirty second spot featuring the CSU ran on KPIX/KBCW, a CBS affiliate station, and was seen by half a million residents throughout the Bay Area and northern California.

Below are descriptions of the various campus projects highlighted in the spot. Read more »

Turning CSU Innovation into Action

September 16, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) brought CSU experts together with other state science and education leaders to create the 2011 Innovate to Innovation (i2i) action plan. The report’s goal is to secure California’s role as an innovative leader in sciences.

The CCST coordinated the annual year-long plan, which was presented to California lawmakers in Sacramento last month. The CCST was established by the state legislature in 1988 to offer expert advice to the state government and to recommend solutions to science and technology related issues.

This year’s plan addresses two critical priorities for California—education and water resources—and CSU personnel made considerable contributions.

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Study Predicts Sea Level Rise May Take Economic Toll on California Coast

September 15, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

California beach towns could face hefty economic losses caused by sea level rise in the next century, according to a new state-commissioned study conducted by economists at San Francisco State University. The study forecasts the economic impact of sea level rise on five communities: Ocean Beach in San Francisco; Venice Beach and Malibu in Los Angeles; Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County; and Torrey Pines State Reserve in San Diego County.

Funded by the California Department of Boating and Waterways, the study examines the cost of coastal storm damage and erosion, both of which are expected to increase as sea levels rise. It also forecasts the economic impact of sea level rise on tourism and natural habitats, as beaches that have been narrowed by erosion lose their appeal to visitors and their ability to sustain wildlife.


When the Power Grid Fails

September 9, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

power lines

At approximately 4 pm on Thursday, Sept. 8, two CSU campuses went dark.  A blackout that began through human error in Arizona had spread across county, state and national borders.  For the students, faculty and staff of San Diego State and CSU San Marcos the blackout is a major upheaval of their daily routine – interrupting work and instruction, darkening traffic lights and limiting communications.  Of particular concern in the American southwest, the blackout also took out air conditioning during one of the hottest weeks of the year. 

How does such a widespread failure occur?  To understand grid system failure requires a grasp of how electric power is different from other resources.  The primary challenge is that electrons are extremely difficult to store. Read more »

Shedding some light on watersheds

September 7, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

It’s not a piece of farming equipment or something you might see in a neighbor’s backyard. A watershed actually refers to an area of land that collects and contains surface water and drains (or sheds) it off into the same place. Essentially, every bit of land is part of a watershed. So, you’re in a watershed right now.

For example, in California, a watershed could start with melting mountain snow that forms small streams, which eventually flow to a river. However, each watershed system is unique. The United States Geological Survey reports that there are nearly 200 watersheds in California alone.

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Aspiring Researcher at Cal State L.A. Looks at Protein to Remedy Infectious Diseases

August 25, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Cal State L.A. Newsroom

Summer program provides first-hand lab research experience for students

With a passion for science and medicine, Daniel Delgado hopes to play a part in finding future cures for some of the world’s most infectious diseases.

For 10 weeks this summer, Delgado is participating in Cal State L.A.’s Bridges to the Future Program. Being exposed for the first time to advanced lab research, he is helping to study the biological function of a protein found in airways of humans and other mammals, identified as Palate, Lung and Nasal epithelium clone (PLUNC).


Shaken Up by East Coast Earthquake

August 24, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

At about 1:51 p.m. on August 23, cell phone networks were congested, tweets of personal earthquake reports filled the Twittersphere, office buildings were evacuated, traffic lights were knocked out and sirens filled the streets all along…the East Coast.

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck Virginia, affecting several states along the U.S. eastern seaboard including Washington, New York and the Carolinas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. An earthquake of this magnitude is unusual in the mid-Atlantic region (which is where the earthquake hit), and this was the largest earthquake to hit the East Coast in more than a century.

Earthquakes are fairly common along the Pacific Coast in western states like California, but are rare on the Atlantic Coast because of its different geological structure. Thomas Rockwell, a professor in San Diego State University’s Department of Geological Sciences, believes there are two potential reasons for the quake in Virginia.
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Zzyzx: The CSU’s Scientific Oasis

August 15, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look


If you’ve made the journey from Southern California to Las Vegas, you’ve probably seen the sign for Zzyzx, the I-15 exit somewhere in between Barstow and Baker, California—about 175 miles from Los Angeles. Curious motorists pass by it, wondering what actually exists beyond it and who would dwell in this inhospitable and desolate place. 

The answer would be desert researchers, of course. Zzyzx -pronounced “zy-zicks”- is an ideal location for these folks because it’s home to the CSU Desert Studies Center, a rich research resource in the Mojave.

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Camp Prepares Students to Care for the Planet

August 12, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Students explore the Dow Wetlands near Pittsburg and Antioch, CaliforniaCSU East Bay’s Concord campus recently hosted a science themed summer camp that prepared students to care for the watershed, Delta and planet.  For a week, 42 Contra Costa County high school students attending the 2011 Environmental Sciences Camp had an opportunity to explore renewable energy, water management, habitat conservation and the impact of plastics on the ecosystem.

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Hook, Line and Sinkered into a Sea of Garbage

August 5, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

From ocean pollution to overfishing, human impacts have caused dramatic changes in coastal and marine ecosystems worldwide.

The toxic chemicals from oil spills or sewage disposal, slowly decomposing garbage and fishing gear left in the ocean are often the causes of sickness, injury and death to marine animals. Most of the waste humans produce on land eventually reaches the oceans, either through deliberate dumping or from run-off through rivers and drains. In fact, over 80 percent of marine pollution comes from land-based activities.

Since its establishment in 1966, the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) has executed in-depth marine science research and given students pursuing their Masters of Science degrees the hands-on education needed to excel in marine topics such as marine life decline.
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Carmageddon: Apocalypse … later?

July 20, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

This past weekend’s closure of the 405 freeway in Los Angeles dubbed “Carmageddon” turned out to be a prophecy that thankfully didn’t live up to its apocalyptic expectations. The fears of citywide gridlock in response to a two-day closure of nearly 10 miles of the 405 never materialized. Commuters and travelers with the courage to brave the predicted chaos were pleasantly surprised with nearly nonexistent traffic. So, what happened?

Dr. Xudong Jia, a civil engineering professor at Cal Poly Pomona, shed some light on the anomaly. As an expert in a field that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and natural environment, including highways, his research focuses on a fact of life and a source of enduring frustration for LA commuters—traffic.
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Summer Camp has Gone Bio

July 19, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

High school students at Biotech Camp use genetics testing during a forensics lab in order to determine who's ''guilty''Summer camp has gone high-tech at CSU East Bay’s Concord campus.  For a week, 60 Contra Costa County high school students attending Biotech Camp had an opportunity to explore a variety of areas in life sciences, including biofuels, forensics, disease, stem cells and bioethics.
Read more »

WRPI confab focuses on funding for water fixes in ‘disadvantaged communities’

June 30, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

With many relatively poor neighborhoods throughout California facing serious issues regarding safe drinking water, properly treated wastewater, and effective management of stormwater, the CSU’s Water Resources and Policy Initiatives is looking to establish sustainable efforts to use technical, social, and other ways to foster environmental restoration and economic development in disadvantaged communities by improving water infrastructure.

To advance the cause, WRPI held a one-day conference in Rancho Cucamonga June 28 on  “Developing Funding For Disadvantaged Community Infrastructure Projects.”

Details are in this news release.

Duh-rrrripp. Duh-rrrripp. Grow. Grow.

June 28, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Drip irrigation on peanut plants (USDA)

Irrigation innovations conserve water, but need infrastructure, delivery systems to evolve

Stuart Styles knows drips better than just about anyone. He heads the Irrigation Training and ResearchITRC Director Stuart Styles Center at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he is a professor of agricultural engineering.

In this podcast, Professor Styles, a member of the CSU’s Water Resources and Policy Initiatives, talks about drip irrigation and what transformations are needed to broaden its use – and conserve more water.

Styles, with more than 25 years’ of field experience in irrigation as a consultant and engineer, was honored in 2004 as the Irrigation Association’s Person of the Year.

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Sean Kearns (l) and Stuart Styles (r) in CSU studio(Podcast transcript follows at bottom of article.)
Read more »

From Zimbabwe and back, via CSUCI, to fight AIDS

June 20, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Spurred by her intent to help find better ways to battle AIDS, Elisabeth Freeman made her way from her homeland of Zimbabwe to CSU Channel Islands.

Elisabeth Freeman at CSUCI, 2006Now, after earning a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2006, she’s returned to Africa to help communities develop sustainable ways to improve public health. For the story in her own words, read “Looking Beyond the Cure,” the latest post in the CSU’s Voices and Views blog.

Here’s an excerpt: Read more »

That’s what you call quite an accomputationalishment!

June 14, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

ACM programming team at CSU, Chico, with advisor Moaty Fayek.Go 2,800 miles. And then go figure.

That’s what four California State University, Chico students did—and did it well—at the World Finals of the “Battle of the Brains” last month in Orlando, Fla.

Officially titled the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest, the IBM-sponsored competition tests teams’ ability to solve complex computer-programming problems in a hurry. Read more »

Another serving gleaned from ARI confab

Tags: A Closer Look

Participants at the June 7, 2011, CSU‘s Agricultural Research Institute’s Faculty Research Partnership Building Conference faced no shortage of food for thought as they heard from a variety of presenters, including representatives of other CSU research consortia  focused on biotechnology, coastal/marine issues and water resources.

Here are a few proverbial plums gleaned from the podium: Read more »

Planting a seed to expand ag research

Tags: A Closer Look

The roots of relevant agricultural research draw intellectual nutrients from many realms – from genomics, proteomics, irrigation, immigration, soil science, atmospheric physics, law, policy, technology, and more.

Iceberg lettuce - USDA photoAnswers to questions about water supply, food safety, airborne pollutants, and other challenges increasingly require perspectives from beyond the traditional herd of agricultural experts. That’s why the California State University’s Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) rounded up about five dozen researchers with diverse backgrounds at the CSU Chancellor’s Office earlier this month for a one-day conference.

ARI Executive Director Joe Bezerra gave the group, which represented 18 of the CSU’s 23 campuses, one goal: To identify and foster new innovative and collaborative research partnerships among CSU faculty. Read more »

STRIDE sets sights on obesity, other weighty health issues

June 2, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo programs among array of CSU research and outreach efforts

Less soda. More “onion.”

That’s a good recipe for reducing and preventing obesity, particularly among children. And it’s being prepared by a legion of students and faculty conducting research and outreach efforts throughout the California State University.

Ann Yelmokas McDermottAs described by Ann McDermott, who directs the STRIDE programs at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the “onion” is a layered—and integrated and comprehensive—socioecological model for approaching the wide range of factors that contribute to excessive weight. In the model, the individual is in the center, surrounded by layers that represent an expanding series of major influences. They range from “interpersonal” ones close to the core, such as family and friends, to the organizational, community, and public-policy realms farther out.

“We’re addressing each layer of the onion,” said McDermott of STRIDE, which stands for Science through Translational Research in Diet and Exercise.

Cal Poly Pomona student Frances Alencastro (front) and her mentor for stem-cell research, Professor Ansel Zhao (back).(Click here for an overview of obesity work  in the CSU, including stem-cell research on fat production, vertical gardens on playgrounds, and briefing Michelle Obama. More resources are below.) Read more »

Coming at obesity from many angles

Tags: A Closer Look

Via research, outreach, CSU tackles weighty issue in labs, communities

It takes a ton of effort, coming from many directions, to tackle a big problem like obesity.

Map from NIH of adult obesity in U.S. Click to enlarge.According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, 34 percent of Americans age 20 and older are obese and another 34 percent are overweight. Nearly 20 percent of youths ages 6 to 19 in the U.S. are obese, triple the rate of a generation ago.

Using strategies informed by biochemical, health and other research, efforts to reverse those trends focus on two key tactics:

  1. Help people make smart food choices.
  2. Help people be more physically active.

While First Lady Michelle Obama and others take the lead nationally, students and faculty from around the California State University advance the cause through community outreach and research projects.

San Diego State University health psychologist James Sallis was among roughly a dozen experts invited to the White House in July 2009 to brief Obama as she prepared to launch her campaign against child obesity. Read more »

Zhao, students use stem cells to track fat creation, drugs’ side effects

Tags: A Closer Look

At Cal Poly Pomona, biology professor Ansel (Yuanxiang) Zhao and her students employ stem cells to examine the counterbalancing molecular mechanics of fat development and fat breakdown.

Watch out for side effects

In a four-year, $422,000 study funded by National Institutes of Health, they are investigating how 14 different drugs (already known to cause weight gain as a side effect) may inhibit or prevent the breakdown of fat. (Here are the NIH abstract and a report from Cal Poly Pomona.)

Ansel Zhao (front, center) and her student-researchers According to Zhao, “Many common drugs prescribed to millions of people each year have been clinically linked to significant weight gain as a result of undesired side effect (referred to as obesogenic effect), but the underlying pharmacological mechanisms are poorly understood. Read more »

The body seen via DXA

Tags: A Closer Look

The relatively new DXA scan, short for dual energy x-ray absortiometry, offers the advantage of showing body fat, muscle mass and bone in the same image.

DXA scan of Biggest Loser_before

A 2006 study co-authored by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo researcher Susan Puhl compared DXA scan results with those obtained from four other commonly used methods to gauge body fat, including skinfold measurements and bioelectric impedance analysis.  (Puhl, a kinesiology professor at Cal Poly, died in 2007.)

(Science & the CSU takes “A Closer Look” at obesity work here.) Read more »

Obesity resources from CSU, NIH

Tags: A Closer Look

For more about California State University programs and research related to nutrition, obesity and health, visit these CSU centers and institutes Read more »

Final dispatch on tsunami in ‘Japan Reconnaissance’

May 27, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

“The most important lesson is that underestimating the hazard has tragic consequences.”

That’s the kernel to remember, reports Lori Dengler, a geology professor at Humboldt State University, as she concludes her “Japan Reconnaissance” series of posts about her recent journey through tsunami-ravaged landscapes. Read more »

From tsunami wreckage in Japan, sobering lessons for California

May 20, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Locomotive at Minimi Sanriku pushed 8 meters off tracks and toppled over, crushing commemorative tsunami stones in the process.

CSU geologist shares ‘recon’ in blog, photos

For the fourth time in less than two years, Lori Dengler has crossed the Pacific or the equator – or both – to explore in the wake of a devastating tsunami. She goes in search of scientific data and anecdotal evidence that will improve community preparedness for the next tsunami – whenever, wherever it hits.

Dengler, a Humboldt State geology professor oft-honored for tsunami awareness and earthquake-safety, just returned from a 10-day reconnaissance trip to Japan. As part of a contingent sponsored by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, she visited several cities that had been hit hard March 11 by the Tohoku-oki earthquake (or Great East Japan earthquake in its English translation), and by the fast-rising waters that quickly followed.

(She was among several CSU faculty who provided expertise – in the form of aid, advice and analysis – to benefit both Japan and California. Read the news story here.  Click here for other tsunami posts in Science & the CSU.  Mouse over photos for Dengler’s captions; click to enlarge them. For a gallery with 93 of Dengler’s reconnaissance photos from the trip to Japan, click here. )

Dengler describes her trip in a series of blog posts at the Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group’s site: A “wrap-up” post will come soon. (Update: Click here for a report on her  “Japan Reconnaissance” wrap-up.)  Chronological excerpts follow below. First, from Day 7, this one explains why she goes there: Read more »

By giving genes the silent treatment, Bonneau earns biochemical kudo

May 18, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Society’s national RNA poster honor goes to CSUCI student researcher

In genetics research, as in many mysteries, it’s often what isn’t said nor seen that provides the clearest clue. And, as Ashley Bonneau will tell you, silenced genes don’t get expressed.

Bonneau, a biology major at CSU Channel Islands, Ashley Bonneau, left, with mentor Nitika Parmarhas spent more than two years there silencing particular genes and examining the ensuing effects on cell growth. The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology recently cited the excellence of her investigation into improving silencing techniques, presenting her its award for the best RNA-themed research poster at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Her poster is titled “Double knockdown of the Rheb gene in mammalian cells using RNA interference.” (Click for abstract.) Read more »

White House honors science-guiding star from CSU

May 16, 2011

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Cal Poly SLO’s Bergen makes it a dozen – at least – Presidential Awards for Excellence in teaching/mentoring for CSU

Biology is about growth, development, metabolism, ecology and – for Anne Marie Bergen – making sure schoolchildren “get it.”

Anne Marie Bergen

Long ago Bergen earned a biology degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (1985) and a teaching credential from CSU Stanislaus (1988). Last fall, she returned to Cal Poly to serve as its Teacher in Residence in biology.

In the 22 years between, she was in Oakdale, east of Modesto, doing the kind of science teaching that earns the attention of the president.  Yes: THE president. Read more »

Stellar Roster: CSU’s White House honorees for science guidance

Tags: A Closer Look

As  Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Teacher-in-Residence Anne Marie Bergen receives the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching this week, she joins a select group of CSU individuals and programs to have been honored by the White House for science mentoring — including Frank Bayliss of San Francisco State University and CSU Northridge’s Steven Oppenheimer last year.

(In the photo above, Oppenheimer is in front row, second from left; Bayliss is in the back, third to the right of President Obama. Click to enlarge the photo.)

Nine CSU faculty members and two programs have received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), a similar honor, also administered by the National Science Foundation. It cites those who excel at enhancing the participation of underrepresented groups in all levels of science education.

In chronological order, here are the PAESMEM honorees from the CSU (with campus): Read more »

Aerospace legend Rutan on space exploration in CSU’s VnV

May 14, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Burt Rutan — a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo whose company Scaled Composites became the first privately owned organization in space when it launched its SpaceShipOne — opines on the way forward for space exploration in a new posting in the CSU blog Voices and Views.

Read it here: The New Space Race by Burt Rutan

Wonder how many CSU graduates have been into space? This 2007 CSU news release has a roster of the CSU alumni who became astronauts.

Here are profiles of some of them.

COAST to dive into PRIMO conference for global look at marine pollution

Tags: A Closer Look

Short for “Pollutant Responses in Marine Organisms,” the biennial international PRIMO symposium will bring researchers from 26 countries to Long Beach LA River into LB Harbor  (CSULB Geology)May 15-18, thanks in large part to key organizers from CSU Long Beach.

PRIMO is supported by several organizations – including the California State University’s Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST), which is sponsoring a session on “Impacts of Changing Ocean Conditions.”

In roughly 120 talks, researchers will present findings related to societal and industrial toxins in a range of organisms, from microbes to whales. Talks will also focus on tracking animals, biomarkers, bioaccumulation, and endocrine disruption.

Details are in this CSU news release: CSU’s COAST, Others to Convene at Global PRIMO Sessions
to Address Toxins in Aquatic Life

— Sean Kearns

‘Dr. Ramani’ reaching masses with research via ‘reality TV’

May 12, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Some researchers avoid news interviews because they see them as experiments with unknown outcomes and no control groups. Not Cal State L.A. Associate Professor of Psychology Ramani Durvasula; while she recognizes the risks, she participates eagerly, seeing interviews as opportunities to improve public health.

Ramani DurvasulaDurvasula is carving out a niche as a “go-to” articulate, informed psychologist, providing expertise on critical issues — such as obesity and HIV — for a range of television programs, including on CNN, the E! network and in a Bravo network series called “Thintervention.” Sometimes she’s simply called “Dr. Ramani.” Read more »

CSU faculty members judge, students interpret as ambassadors to world’s largest science fair

May 11, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

More than 50 CSU faculty and students are serving as higher-education ambassadors Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, being held in Los Angeles this week:
  • About 20 students from seven CSU campuses are volunteer interpreters – in Spanish, Russian and Mandarin. Students from the CSU’s Math and Science Teacher Initiative (MSTI) are helping with the Inaugural Student Observer Caucus, a program for students to exchange ideas and network.
  • CSU faculty have been tapped to judge some of the ISEF projects, which were created by more than 1,500 high school students from more than 65 countries.
  • The Intel ISEF is a program of the Society for Science and the Public, a partner with the CSU in a service-learning in science, engineering, technology and mathematics.
Learn from this CSU news release:

Illustrating an eon – or a frog

April 29, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Carnivorous plants by Chelsea Crist, from CSUMB "Illustrating Nature" exhibit poster.

Natural-history exhibits showcase CSU’s museum-quality talents

Expect to spot naturalists sketching on napkins – and fine art on the walls – at the opening reception for “Illustrating Nature” Friday, May 6.

The annual exhibit of work by students in the CSU Monterey Bay Science Illustration Program, it will be on display at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History through June 4. (The public is invited to an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. at the museum, 165 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove.)

One of several current connections between CSU campuses and science museums, “Illustrating Nature” will display 63 artworks and sketchbooks depicting Costa Rican poison dart frogs, a gravel ghost wildflower, Neanderthal jewelry production and other phenomena and organisms. Poison dart frog by Sean EdgertonThe detailed pieces are derived from pen and ink, scratchboard, colored pencil, watercolor, gouache, acrylic and digital media. Each piece is paired with a specimen from the museum’s collection.

Read more »

WRPI gets the lowdown on the Delta

April 28, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Imagine the landscape between San Francisco Bay and Sacramento peppered with hundreds of inverted “islands,” dry basins isolated by levees – and below sea level, still sinking, amid a vast network of water channels.

The picture, all too real, is of California’s Delta in the 21st century.

At the April 27 annual meeting of the CSU’s Water Resources and Policies Initiatives, experts provided an overview of the Delta’s history, an update on its status, and a rundown on the key factors that will shape the outlook for its future. Read more »

Water solutions: WRPI’s applied research for a precious resource

April 27, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Ranging from harvesting rainwater in urban areas to tracking polluted groundwater in agricultural regions, the discussion at today’s annual meeting of the California State University’s Water Resources and Policies Initiatives (WRPI) flowed all over the map. It touched on avocados, dams, the Delta smelt, and, most often, the future.

With its pool of experts from throughout the CSU – with backgrounds in biology, hydrology, economics, statistics, engineering, and more – the WRPI focuses on research, training and new technologies and strategies to help California develop and maintain sustainable water resources for the 21st century. Read more »

From battlefields to farmers’ fields

Tags: A Closer Look

At Fresno State in June 2010, an agricultural expert advises U.S. Marine Corps officers who are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.

CSU helps USMC prepare soil, plant seeds for a safer Afghanistan;

pre-deployment ‘basic training’ in agriculture helps to counter insurgency

When the firefight abates amid the war zone in Afghanistan, some U.S. Marine Corps officers head off to nearby farms – armed with a basic training in agriculture provided by the California State University Consortium for International Development.

Along with improving quality of life and fostering good local governance, improving agricultural sustainability is a key goal of counter-insurgency efforts in embattled regions, said Bill Erysian, CID executive director.

“Agriculture is the number-one non-security issue facing Afghan peace and stability,” he said.

To help U.S. forces address it, CID developed a week-long training course called “Rapid Assessment of Farming Systems in Non-Secured Areas.” Presented last June at Fresno State, the course’s first graduates were 15 officers with the 11th Marine Regiment Civil Affairs Detachment, stationed at Camp Pendleton. They then deployed to Helmand Province; and they debriefed Erysian and his colleagues when they returned to the U.S. Read more »

Back to the future in fuel cells: A talk with pioneer Peter Lehman

April 19, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

On paper and in animations, fuel cells can appear pretty simple. Putting them to work – in power plants, cars, planes and maybe even handheld electronics someday – is trickier.  In their labs and offices, the California State University scientists, engineers, administrators and students pushing the research, development and implementation of fuel cells face many challenges – relating to electrochemistry, supply and demand, society and infrastructure, the market and, of course, policy and politics.

Yet, with visions of a much more sustainable society, they navigate through them to create clean power, spawn innovation, and train a legion of enlightened energy professionals.

Peter Lehman, a professor of environmental resources engineering at Humboldt State University, has directed Humboldt’s Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC) since it was established 1989. Read more »

Once sent to the moon, fuel cells rising in the CSU

Tags: A Closer Look

Humboldt State's "Stack-in-a-Box" portable fuel cell.

‘Clean-energy,’ hydrogen projects

fuel power plants and vehicles,

foster research and learning

NASA sent fuel cells to the moon and back to provide Apollo spacecrafts “clean” electricity and, for astronauts, the handy byproduct of pure water.

In the decades since, pioneering faculty and students in the California State University have sent fuel cells around the block and into the sky, as power sources for innovative street vehicles at Humboldt State University and for unmanned aircraft at California State University, Los Angeles.

And at CSU Northridge, a 1-megawatt fuel-cell power plant generates Inside the fuel-cell power plant at CSU Northridgeelectricity for university facilities – and cogenerates surplus heat to warm buildings and to heat water for various uses (including the swimming pool). Other byproducts support a simulated sub-tropical rainforest.  (A 1 Mw plant can provide power for about 1,200 average homes in the U.S.)

These and other research, education, outreach and energy-infrastructure projects in the CSU are advancing the use of fuel cells as a viable source of clean energy for a range of purposes, from a hypothetical apartment complex in Santa Monica to an emerging research institute in the United Arab Emirates. Read more »

Interview with Noyce Scholar Maelanie Galima

April 14, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Here is the transcript of the podcast interview with Noyce Scholar Maelanie (“Lanie”) Galima (March 2011). For the full story, Science & the CSU takes “A Closer Look” here:

Transcript (3:55)

Jennifer Wicks:

Hello. This is Jennifer Wicks with the California State University on “Science and the CSU.” I’m here with Lanie Galima, who is a Noyce Scholar.

I would like to take a minute to talk a little bit about the Noyce Scholarship Program. It was created and funded by the National Science Foundation and encourages talented majors and professionals in science, technology, engineering and math to become math and science teachers in high-needs K-12 schools.

Lanie earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology at Cal State Long Beach before pursuing a doctoral program at the University of Texas. She’s currently on a leave of absence from her Ph.D program to pursue a teaching career. She finished student-teaching last semester in the Noyce program. She was recently hired in a part-time position at Pioneer High School in Whittier to teach earth science and biology.

Welcome, Lanie. Thank you for joining us today. Read more »

Interview with Noyce Scholar Margarita Velasco

Tags: A Closer Look

Here is the transcript of the  podcast interview with Noyce Scholar Margarita Velasco (March 2011). For the full story, Science & the CSU takes “A Closer Look” here:

Transcript (5:08)

Jennifer Wicks:

Hello. This is Jennifer Wicks with the California State University on “Science and the CSU.”

I’m here with Margarita Velasco, on the line with me today, who graduated last fall with a biology degree at Cal State Long Beach. She has plans to become a high school science teacher. Thanks to the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program, she’s already well on her way. Right now, in fact, she’s taking timeout from student-teaching three biology classes at Pioneer High School in Whittier.

Welcome, Margarita. Thank you for joining us.

Margarita Velasco:

Hi. Happy to be here today. Read more »

Students’ drive, Noyce program help CSU prepare top-notch science teachers

April 13, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Noyce Scholar Margarita Velasco student-teaching biology at Pioneer High School.
Noyce draws science majors in, sets them up;
in podcasts, 2 describe path to classroom career
With California facing a projected shortage of more than 30,000 math and science teachers, the CSU has nearly doubled its production of well-prepared math and science teachers since 2005.
Boosting this acceleration is the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. It encourages talented majors in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and professionals in STEM careers to become K-12 math and science teachers.
NSF supports more than 30 active Noyce projects on 17 different CSU campuses, totaling roughly $26 million in awards. In exchange for the support – which includes scholarships, stipends (up to $15,000 per year), training and workshops, Noyce participants commit to teaching for a time in a high-needs school.
In these podcasts, two Noyce Scholars from CSU Long Beach – among hundreds in the CSU who personify the effort – describe the forces that led them to science teaching. Read more »

Survey of CSU science faculty makes Science editors’ lit-pick list

April 1, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

‘Investigation of Science Faculty with Education Specialties’ in CBE—Life Sciences Education

A report on California State University science faculty, in the current issue of CBE—Life Sciences Education, is cited in “Editors’ Choice: Highlights of the Recent Literature,” a list released today by the journal Science.

The article, “Investigation of Science Faculty with Education Specialties (SFES) within the Largest University System in the United States,” analyzes a survey of 59 CSU faculty identified as SFES. Read more »

Tsunami – 10 surges in 4 hours at Morro Bay

March 17, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

 Tidal chart shows tsunami surges at Morro Bay, 3-11-2011

‘Had it been a few hours later…’

About 10 hours after the Honshu earthquake initiated a tsunami in Japan March 11, the first surges began to reach California’s coastline, including Morro Bay at 8 a.m.

Oceanographers at the San Luis Obispo Science and Ecosystem Alliance (SLOSEA) took heed and measurements.  This report comes from its executive director, Dean Wendt, who is a biology professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which coordinates SLOSEA from its Center for  Coastal Marine Sciences. Read more »

How does a dual-isotope rubidium magnetometer work?

March 16, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Magnetometer for studying affect of gravity on spinning atoms at CSU East Bay

Let’s hear from CSU East Bay physics professor Derek Kimball.

After all, the machine is in his lab, where he uses it to try to see how gravity alone might alter the axis of a spinning atom.  (His work is mentioned in “Trying to Catch Gravitational Waves,” the latest  feature in “A Closer Look.” )

So, Dr. Kimball, how does a dual-isotope rubidium magnetometer work?

“The rubidium atoms are contained in a glass cell with special anti-relaxation coating on the inner surface that enables atomic spins to remain polarized (oriented in a particular direction) for up to one million bounces off the cell walls. Read more »

Trying to catch gravitational waves

Tags: A Closer Look

Not waiting for a supernova, CSU researchers focus on mirrors

Theoretically, Albert Einstein is a physics icon. So… It doesn’t matter.  His theories still get double- and triple-checked.

LIGO researcher and CSU Fullerton physics professor Joshua Smith with students in lab.For example, to confirm Einstein’s general theory of relativity, astrophysicists by the score, including some in the CSU, keep trying to spot – if only for a millisecond – gravitational waves.  As yet, none has.

Among those contributing to the effort are CSU Fullerton’s Joshua Smith and his students. Along with several others in the CSU, they have been part of an international search party of physicists – called the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). Read more »

Tsunami – Operations suspended, vessels survive at Moss Landing Marine Labs

March 12, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Heeding an official tsunami warning, the California State University’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) suspended diving and boating operations Friday. Research Vessel Point Sur –  the largest in the MLML fleet, at 500 tons and 135 feet long – was already out of the water, in an Alameda  drydock for annual service and painting.

Aerial view of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories along coast between Monterey and Santa Cruz.Lab officials, including its captain, discussed taking the 56-foot R/V John Martin out to sea. They decided to leave it moored in Moss Landing Harbor with the rest of the lab’s fleet, which includes a 30-foot aluminum R/V Sheila B., four 24-foot Boston whalers and a 25-foot rigid-hull inflatable boat.

“We just loosened the spring lines to allow it to move,” said MLML Director Kenneth Coale. Read more »

Tsunamis – from north to south, some CSU insights

March 11, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

When a great earthquake struck Japan earlier today, it triggered a tsunami that devastated many areas along Japan’s coast. Meanwhile, across the ocean, residents along more than 500 miles of coastal California began to prepare for the prospect of a tsunami arriving about 10 hours later.

The news also generated this reminder for coastal Californians: If you are at the beach and a major earthquake strikes, do not wait for an official warning: Move to higher ground or inland as soon as possible.

Tsunami warning signAccording to Humboldt State geology professor and tsunami expert Lori Dengler, California’s north coast is the most tsunami-prone area of the continental United States.  Thanks to efforts by Dengler, her colleagues and students, the region’s residents have developed heightened levels of awareness, preparedness and response. Read more »

STAR photos surface, show budding teachers at major research outposts

Tags: A Closer Look

As reported in a recent CSU news release, Kaitlyn Fiechtner and Helida Haro embarked on a STAR trek last summer, going where no pre-service teachers had gone before: NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Kaitlyn Fiechtner, a Fresno State math major, at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. Photos newly provided to Science & the CSU offer some clues to their adventures – and to others who worked in other pioneering facilities as participants in STAR – the California State University’s pioneering Science Teacher and Researcher program

After orienting them, STAR dispatches its fellows for summer sojourns to national laboratories and other research centers to conduct research with the labs’ engineers and scientists. (See the release for details.)

Here are glances at some recent STAR participants (click on photos to enlarge them): Read more »

A force to attract physics teachers, PhysTEC open house at CSULB April 9

March 10, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Guests at CSULB's 2010 PhysTEC open houseLooking for educators with electromagnetic personalities, the PhysTEC program at California State University, Long Beach will  host an open house for high school physics teachers and their students Saturday, April 9, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

PhysTEC, the National Physics Teacher Education Coalition, promotes the recruitment and development of undergraduate and graduate students looking to teach high-school physics or physical sciences. Read more »

Where Research Waters Flow

March 9, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Reflections on Suisun Marsh in California's Delta (DWR photo)

From floods to droughts, from ag to  urban,

WRPI links CSU expertise to hydro issues

By Sean Kearns, CSU Public Affairs

Ask David Zoldoske, “What’s the biggest misconception Californians have about water?”

Before taking half a breath, he’ll tell you: “That we have enough of it. Absolutely. That’s it.”

Zoldoske is executive director of the California State University’s Water Resources Policy Inititatives, a systemwide multidisciplinary network that brings CSU expertise and resources to bear upon key issues of water management, policy and quality. Read more »

Spring Fashion Tip: What goes with La Niña?

March 3, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

A NOAA satellite image from Jan. 3, 2011, shows below normal sea-surface temperatures near the equator. (Red-warmest; dark blue-coolest.)

Cool waters in eastern Pacific usually portend drier (but not in north), chillier weather for California, CSU scientists report

By Sean Kearns, CSU Public Affairs

Before updating my spring wardrobe to go with this year’s La Niña weather cycle, I asked a meteorologist, “Do I go for sweaters or shorts?

“Definitely sweaters,” Steve LaDochy told me. A geography professor at California State University, Los Angeles, he bases his advice on what he calls “one of the best predictors of California temperatures”: the temperature of the surface waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Read more »

When tornados touch down – in California?

March 2, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

With sights on supercell thunderstorms,

SFSU’s Monteverdi tracks twisters

Supercell storm near Limon, Colo., 2005 (photo by J. Monteverdi)

By Sean Kearns, CSU Public Affairs

John Monteverdi enjoys his whirlwind schedule.John Monteverdi, SFSU meteorology professor

Every year, as soon as spring term ends at San Francisco State, he packs up and heads out on his annual tornado safari – which has taken him throughout Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma and beyond in search of supercell thunderstorms.

(About 10 percent of supercells will trigger the sequence of cascading events that spawns a tornado.)

Sometimes, Monteverdi heads out in a major hurry, trying to catch up to a sudden supercell sighting in California.

Wait a minute. Tornados in California? Read more »

COAST covered across CSU

February 14, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Vignettes emerge of reception’s poster students

Chelsea Rochman gathers samples with dipnetIn the wake of the Jan. 25 launch of the inaugural COAST  Faculty-Student Poster Reception, coverage of the christening continues to ripple throughout the CSU.

(“From the lab, the beach, the abyss” offers “A Closer Look” in Science & the CSU.)

In “Plastic Soup,” a post in the CSU Voices and Views blog, Chelsea Rochman describes her wide-ranging, far-cruising research into the extent and impacts of plastics in the ocean. Read more »

CSU seeks to infuse research into undergrad STEM curricula

February 12, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

The Council on Undergraduate Research recently selected a consortium of nine CSU campuses to participate in its initiative to “institutionalize” research opportunities for undergraduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

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Industry report cites CSU key role in biomedical sector

February 4, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

California’s leadership rooted in ‘entrepreneurial workforce,’ ‘culture of innovation’

Why do people come to California?

When the chief executive officers of nearly 100 of the state’s leading biomedical companies were asked why they set up shop in California, these are the keys they cited:

  • availability of a highly skilled, entrepreneurial workforce; and
  • California’s culture of innovation, anchored by leading research universities.

The CEO survey anchors The California Biomedical Industry 2011 Report, released earlier this week (Feb. 1) by the California Healthcare Institute.Computer-derived image of cancer cell, from cover of CHI 2011 biomedical industry report

The 105-page report describes California’s rise to global leadership in the biomedical industry and the impact of the industry’s presence on the state. California, it says, houses the biggest concentration of biomedical companies, researchers, entrepreneurs, suppliers, venture capitalists and workers in the world.

The California State University, the report notes, plays key roles in preparing that workforce with the requisite skills to advance biomedicine. Read more »

‘We were stunned’

February 3, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Chico professor, co-authors find disconnect between botany grad students, faculty, employers

When botany graduate students say, in general, that their strongest skill is in written communication, their professors and potential employers say not so fast—that’s where improvement is needed most.

The disconnect in perceptions emerged from a survey of roughly 200 graduate students, 400 faculty members and nearly 1,000 employees of government agencies, consulting firms and other organizations.  Conducted as part of the U.S. Botanical Capacity Assessment Project, its findings are presented in the February 2011 issue of BioScience.  Kristina Schierenbeck,  a biology professor at California State University, Chico, is among 11 co-authors—all members of BCAP’s advisory board.

“We were stunned by each sector’s responses,” the authors write. Read more »

From the lab, the beach, the abyss

January 25, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

Atmospheric view of ocean surface. Along with sun rays, water mixing in the depths drives climate cycles. (NOAA photo)

COAST research, students tell trustees, delves into array of marine realms

To reach the restaurants and fish counters of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, seafood travels an average of 3,400 miles.

The ocean-atmosphere feedback systems affected by climate change may have their pace set by waters mixing far below the surface—in the abyss.

Those nuggets are among findings from the inaugural CSU’s Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST) student-research showcase, at which faculty mentors and student researchers discuss their work with the CSU’s Board of Trustees and campus presidents.

A sea slug of the genus PolyceraThe studies come from 20 campuses, the Ocean Studies Institute consortium and the CSU’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratory. Presented at a CSU Chancellor’s Office reception after the Board’s Jan. 25 meeting, they focus on topics that include unseen internal waves, highly publicized marine-protection areas, ocean acidification, gene-tracking in the sea, and ripple patterns in submerged sand. Read more »

Students tackle brain receptors, find mutant genes, win awards

January 14, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

CSU Biotechnology Symposium honors excellence of student research –

Fullerton’s Schott takes Eden Award; Long Beach’s Ricarte, the Nagel

Bustle and brainpower were in abundance at the 23rd annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium, held Jan. 7-8 in Anaheim.

Experts described challenges – and achievements – of delivering medicine and designing medical technology in developing countries. A panel of two journalists, two geneticists and a bioethicist provoked lively and lingering discussions on privacy and DNA testing. Tips and business cards flowed at career-networking sessions. Professors shared their findings from the frontiers of cellular physiology, bioinformatics and genetic regulation.

However, in a hotel ballroom striated by partitions adorned with research posters, the CSU students’ sessions created the most buzz – literally. Down the room’s alleys, dozens of small groups huddled to exchange questions and chatter in overlapping conversations about membranes, protein molecules, viral releases, genetic expressions, “how’d you do that?”, and the like. Read more »

CSUPERB Cites Stellar Biotech Efforts with Symposium Awards

January 4, 2011

Tags: A Closer Look

CSU faculty to be honored Jan. 7-8 for outstanding research, education, service to students

Two explorers of life at the molecular level ­ one who searches for novel antibiotics and another who tracks the transport of brain signals through membranes ­ will be honored for outstanding contributions to biotechnology research and education Saturday, Jan. 8, at the California State University 23rd Annual Biotechnology Symposium in Orange County. Read more »

2011 CSUPERB Awards

December 23, 2010

Tags: Uncategorized

The following awards will be presented Jan. 7 and 8, 2011, at the CSU Biotechnology Symposium (at which the recipients of student awards will be selected): Read more »

CSUPERB Spectrum of Research

Tags: A Closer Look

For the findings they will present at the CSU Biotechnology Symposium, student researchers also imaged, tested, extracted and observed aspects derived from an array of life forms. Some focused on genetic components of “model organisms” – such as species of fruit flies, mice, roundworms and mustard plants.

Some examined viruses (such as HIV, avian flu, and ebola) and bacteria (such as E.coli, streptococcus, methane-producers and drug-resisters). Others searched for microbial disinfectants on bullfrog skin and cancer suppressors in natural oils.
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CSU to Send Hundreds to SACNAS

December 20, 2010

Tags: A Closer Look

From genetics to ecology to forensic entomology, students to present research at national conference advancing Chicanos and
Native Americans in science

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CAREER path: Tracking xylem channels of the chapparal

Tags: A Closer Look

A brief Q&A with Brandon Pratt, Assistant Professor of Biology, CSU Bakersfield Recipient of a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Development – CAREER – award

Brandon Pratt stands in a field of yellow flowers that is part of the chaparral od Southern California

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CSU to Showcase Student-Faculty Research

December 16, 2010

Tags: A Closer Look

Expert panels on human DNA analysis, healthcare solutions, commercialization to highlight key 2-day academic-industry network gathering

(December 16, 2010) – Genes, proteins, cancers and crops are among the realms explored in 236 research projects from 22 California State University campuses to be presented at the 23rd annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium Jan. 7 and 8, 2011, at the Hyatt Regency Orange County.

With roughly 500 CSU students and faculty joining nearly 100 industry professionals, community college representatives and elected officials, the symposium is the major annual event dedicated to developing emerging and future biotechnology researchers in California.
Read more »


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