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“Why We Chase Storms”

June 5, 2013

Category: A Closer Look

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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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Passing the Torch of Scientific Knowledge through Mentorship

July 24, 2012

Category: A Closer Look

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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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Dedicated to Fuel Cell Energy

December 23, 2011

Category: A Closer Look

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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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The Science of Life

September 23, 2011

Category: A Closer Look

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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 »

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

September 15, 2011

Category: A Closer Look

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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.


Hook, Line and Sinkered into a Sea of Garbage

August 5, 2011

Category: A Closer Look

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

May 16, 2011

Category: A Closer Look

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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 »

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

April 19, 2011

Category: A Closer Look

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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 »

Tsunamis – from north to south, some CSU insights

March 11, 2011

Category: A Closer Look

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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 »

Spring Fashion Tip: What goes with La Niña?

March 3, 2011

Category: A Closer Look

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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 »


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