CSU Dominguez Hills Hosts Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research
The 17th annual Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR) was hosted by California State University, Dominguez Hills on November 21 in the Loker Student Union. More than 700 students from 50 community colleges and universities from throughout Southern California presented their research findings in posters or oral presentations in various disciplines including history, English literature, microbiology, mathematics, physics, engineering, psychology, and sociology. Thirty-one presentations were made by CSU Dominguez Hills students.
Psychology professor Dr. Maria T. Hurtado-Ortiz led the campus in planning and hosting SCCUR and expressed her gratitude to the Dominguez Hills students, faculty, and staff who helped produce the conference.
“It is an honor that CSU Dominguez Hills was chosen,” she said. “This is a very prestigious conference. About 150 [student] volunteers from two of my courses volunteered their time and helped make this event a successful one. I am thankful to all the CSU Dominguez Hills campus dining staff members, the cleaning crew, all my wonderful student volunteers, all the moderators and reviewers, the police department, and everyone who made this conference a success.”
Dr. Jerry Moore, professor of anthropology, was the keynote speaker for the event. He said he heard a lot of positive feedback about the planning for the conference from representatives of visiting campuses, which included Cal Tech, Occidental College, Harvey Mudd College, the University of California, Los Angeles, and several CSU campuses. It was an “extremely positive thing to have this type of event on campus,” he added.
As keynote speaker Moore spoke about opportunities for undergraduate research at CSU Dominguez Hills and how important it is for students to get “hands-on experience on the field.” A professor at the university for more than 17 years, he said that more students should have research experience.
“Being involved in a research opportunity is one of the best experiences that an undergrad can take with them,” he said.
CSU Dominguez Hills offers research opportunities in almost every one of its disciplines. Programs such as the McNair Scholars program, Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) - Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) and the Team for Research in Ubiquitous Secure Technology (TRUST) help students receive funding for their studies and have a high percentage of students being accepted into graduate programs.
“CSU Dominguez Hills has [some] of the best opportunities for this type of work,” said Moore, “More students should seize these opportunities with both hands.”
Pauline Dixon, a communications major and McNair Scholar at CSU Dominguez Hills gave an oral presentation on her research findings for “Television and black beauty: self esteem levels.” Dixon surveyed African American women ages 18-25 on their viewing preferences. Her hypothesis was that women who favored black actresses over white actresses would have higher self-esteem. Her conclusion was that a preference of one over the other had no effect. Her mentor, professor of communications Dr. Sharon Sharp, was pleasantly surprised to find out that her student was a part of such a prestigious event.
Hurtado-Ortiz also had two of her students presenting research at SCCUR. Psychology students Laurenne Lewis and Britney Parish spoke on “Perceived health risk for diabetes among Latino students.” Lewis and Parish were part of a larger study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), working with Hurtado-Ortiz and her colleague Dr. Silvia Santos, professor of psychology.
“The main reason why I agreed to be the lead faculty mentor for the SCCUR 2009 conference is because I felt that this event would be an excellent opportunity for our students,” said Hurtado-Ortiz. “I was hoping to motivate students who did not know what research was or who felt that research was too difficult for them, to present in the future.”
Hurtado-Ortiz was very pleased with the results of the day, in particular the boost of confidence that it gave her own students.
“One of the best parts of the day was when a student, after seeing [one of their] peers present said to me, ‘Dr. Hurtado-Ortiz, I can do this!,’” she said.
- Jacqueline Tejeda
Jacqueline Tejeda is a communications major and an intern in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.
Photo above: Professor of anthropology Jerry Moore was the keynote speaker for the Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR).
Photo by GK