Fifth Annual Student Research Day: Research and Mentorships Give Students Experience as Scholars
California State University, Dominguez Hills hosted its 5th annual Student Research Day on Feb. 18 in the Loker Student Union, showcasing the research and creative activities of students and their faculty mentors. This year, presentations by more than 180 students and 60 faculty mentors highlighted scholarly research on topics ranging from the effect of exposure to violence in the media to social justice for pregnant and parenting teens.
Students were eager and excited to present their findings. Dulce Gonzales, a graduate student in psychology, worked with mentor Dr. Carl Sneed, associate professor of psychology, on “Sexual Risk Behavior Among Early Initiators of Sexual Intercourse.”
“I conducted a survey among 200 Dominguez Hills students to find out about their first sexual experience,” said Gonzales, who is working on her master’s degree in clinical psychology. “I wanted to find out why teenagers were having sex at an early age and [I included] questions about demographics and ethnicity [associated with] their first sexual experience.”
Ian Werkheiser is of the winning presenters who will represent CSU Dominguez Hills in the CSU Statewide Research Competition at San José State University April 30-May 1. He received his master’s degree in humanities from CSU Dominguez Hills as an extension student who took most of the classes online.
“I haven't had the opportunity to interact with faculty, staff, and peers as much as a traditional student, so the Student Research Day was a great opportunity to reinforce a sense of community for me,” he said in an e-mail interview. “It also confirmed my desire to pursue a Ph.D. in my field [of] philosophy.”
Werkheiser, who worked with mentor Daniel Greenspan on “Make Believe Knowledge: Epistemology in Fiction,” focused on “fictional knowledge” in literature which is the concept of factual information about invented characters, events, and places.
“My research was [focused] toward finding an epistemology of fictional knowledge – i.e., what it means to say that we ‘know’ Sherlock Holmes was born in England, even though he was never born at all,” says Werkheiser. “It was a bit abstract, but I found it very interesting. I was surprised to find that what most people, both untrained audiences and philosophers, think of as the obvious answer was false. Most people think that we know something is true in a work of fiction because the author tells us it's so, or tells us something that implies that this is so. I argue that this is actually false, as indicated by our frequent doubting of the words of the author in a book. This sort of counter-intuitive thought is the reason why encouraging research for students is so important.”
Kiyomi Yamada, another psychology student, presented on “Mindfulness in the University Classroom: The Effect of Mindful Awareness Practices (MAPs) on Students' Capacity for Learning.”
“I myself experienced mindfulness practices in the classroom introduced by Dr.(Tara) Victor (assistant professor of psychology) last year,” says Yamada, who specialized in children with developmental disabilities as a practitioner in her native Japan. “I thought it really worked for learning and reducing stress. We brought [our] daily stress to the classroom in the evenings, but we needed to reset our minds to prepare for learning in the here and now.”
Senior Natalie Schuster, an archaeology major and McNair Scholar presented her poster on the “Antropogenic Landscapes of the Sononusco region of Chiapas, Mexico, Past and Present.” Along with mentor Dr. Janine Gasco, associate professor of anthropology, Schuster illustrated with GPS maps the environmental degradation in the Chiapas region.
"We’re hoping to see how much has been depleted either through human agency or population growth," says Schuster of their findings. "It’s all about awareness,
to show what’s going on in that part of the world."
A main aspect of Student Research Day is to give undergraduate students the opportunity to do graduate research and presentations, supporting the university’s goal of encouraging academic activities and the direct interaction with faculty it promotes as an essential component of a student’s learning experience. Involvement in research also enhances students’ future endeavors, such as going to graduate school.
Schuster says she based her decision to transfer from Long Beach City College to CSU Dominguez Hills based on the reputation of the archaeology program and its individualized attention to students.
“I had the opportunity to go to Berkley or UCLA but I chose [Dominguez Hills] because of the archaeology program,” says Schuster. “They do more for their undergrads than most schools do.”
The first Student Research Day at CSU Dominguez Hills was held in 2005 and was organized by Dr. Laura Robles, dean of the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, and Dr. Mohammad Eyadat, associate professor of information systems and operations. Eyadat served as this year’s conference chair.
Fourteen students and the ten winning presentations will represent CSU Dominguez Hills in the CSU Statewide Research Competition. They include:
Mayra Avila, history: “Mujeres en México during the Bracero Program, 1942-1964”
Faculty Mentor: Marisela Chavez
Julie Felt, psychology: “Electronic Media Violence Exposure: Associations with Short- and Long-term Behaviors”
Faculty Mentor: Mark Carrier
Eric Flior, computer science: “Continuous Biometric Authentication in Online Examinations Using Keystroke Dynamics”
Faculty Mentor: Kazimierz Kowalski
Kimberly B. Hughes, Sara A. M. Silva, education: “Social Justice for Pregnant and Parenting Teens: An Educational Leadership Perspective towards Positive Educational Outcomes”
Faculty Mentor: Anthony Normore
Kiryl Katushkin, management: “Human Resource Outsourcing and Offshoring to Central and Eastern Europe”
Faculty Mentor: Thomas Norman
Alex M. Keleman, biology: “Hepatitis Screening, Knowledge, and Prevalence among Vietnamese-Americans in Orange County, California”
Faculty Mentor: John Thomlinson
Steven Oliver, April Quinn, Brianne Switzenberg, and Hadley Vargas, cccupational therapy: “The Meaning of Dating for Adult Males with Spinal Cord Injury”
Faculty Mentor: Claudia Peyton
Hector Preciado, education: “Scaffolding Content-Area Instruction for English Learners: A Field-Based Project”
Faculty Mentor: Anthony Normore
Mercedes Robbins, history: “Compton: A Glimpse into the Decade of 1960-1970”
Faculty Mentor: Ericka Verba
Ian Werkheiser, humanities: “Make Believe Knowledge: Epistemology in Fiction”
Faculty Mentor: Daniel Greenspan
- Fredwill Hernandez
Fredwill Hernandez is a communications major and an intern in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.
Photos above: Dulce Gonzales, a presenter and graduate student in psychology with mentor Dr. Carl Sneed, associate professor of psychology
Photo by Fredwill Hernandez