Third annual Research Fellows Colloquium presents professors accomplishments

Abbey Seltzer

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The Office of the Provost presented the Third Annual Research Fellows Colloquium, an exhibition of six distinguished faculty and their research, Wednesday.

“The important thing about research is that it helps solve relevant problems,” said Mark Stover, dean of the Oviatt Library. “We often get dozens of applicants.”

Six faculty members were selected as the 2010/2011 Fellows: Curt Dommeyer (marketing), Ramón Garcia (Chicana/o studies), Sembiam R. Rengarajan (computer and electrical engineering), Nathan Durdella (education), Dr. Kristy Michaud, (political science), and Willain Whiting (kinesiology).

Each Fellow gave a short presentation then there was a brief question and answer opportunity for the audience.

“This program empowers faculty and encouraging scholarship in the university,” said Julia Potter, special assistant to the library. “The impact this has on the Fellows is enormous. It benefits everyone, from the campus to the larger community, and beyond.”
The recipients of the 2011/2012 Fellowship are already working on their projects.

“It’s a really meaningful event for the school,” said Potter. “It makes me proud of CSUN.”

The Fellows took a year off teaching to focus on their research, and had different experiences, but all agreed that the chance to focus on their research was valuable.
“We don’t usually have time to devote to our individual research and still teach classes, attend committee meetings, and all the necessary parts of teaching,” said Dommeyer.

He was able to complete two projects, one of which looked at improving grading techniques of individuals in group projects using the Segment Manager Approach.

Other projects include Durdella’s study of precollege characteristics, college experiences, and college outcomes of student veterans, focusing on student GPA and sense of belonging.

“What we know is primarily about the transition from military to college, but not what happens to the veterans after,” said Durdella. “We’ve noticed that majoring in engineering, social sciences, and business can lower the GPA of student veterans.”
Michaud worked with researchers at other universities to write a book manuscript about energy crises, a combination of energy shortages and soaring prices. Her area of focus was the energy crisis of 2008.
“We had cheap energy for a number of decades,” she said, pointing to a graph in her presentation. “That era is over.”
Not all of the Fellowship projects were crunching numbers and analyzing data. Garcia wrote a book-length monograph about documentary photographer Ricardo Valverde. He spent a large amount of time in the archives at UCLA, he said.
“It’s very important to have this kind of support in an institution of this size,” said Garcia.
Kinesiology and biomechanical expert William Whiting agreed.
“The project allowed me to collaborate more with other colleagues,” he said. “It also helps persuade students to look more at a future in research. They would come in and see what we were doing and ask to help.”
“You need continuous time to be involved in a project like this,” Rengarajan said.