Summer Newsletter 2018
Dean's Corner
Happy New Academic Year! Can you believe it’s time for a new school year?! It is my hope that this coming year will be filled with more outstanding achievements by NSS faculty and staff. I also look forward to another year of intentional engagement that transforms Los Angeles, our city, our region, and our state, and more importantly, transforms our students’ lives. When I took the helm of NSS two years ago, I recognized the commitment of faculty and staff in creating educational experiences for students. We have the opportunity to strengthen and refine that commitment, and be culturally responsive and inclusive. 

Last year, we began an ambitious strategic plan that will shape the future of the College. In November 2017, a Strategic Planning Committee was formed to bring the plan to fruition. The committee included faculty (emeriti, tenure, tenure-track, and lecturer), staff, students, alumni, and community partners. Four planning sessions, facilitated by Academic Leadership Associates (the strategic planning firm hired to guide us in this process), afforded us opportunities to hear the voices of our stakeholders, with a town hall in March 2018 that formally ended phase one of the process. These sessions facilitated the creation of the College’s new mission: We are agents of change, promising to serve and transform greater Los Angeles and the global society through innovative and intentional learning environments, socially conscious and equity-minded civic engagement, and impactful and (inter)disciplinary research. To read more about the plan, visit the NSS webpage.

As we embark on a new academic year, I hope that our values of intentionality, collaboration, scholarship, and civic-mindedness shine forth in all we do. I look forward to the successes the new academic year will bring. 
Student Highlight 
Robin Sehler graduated in May 2018 with a master’s degree in geosciences - a feat she once deemed impossible.

Sehler enrolled in the Department of Geosciences and Environment in 2016 as an eager student, wife, and new mother. She chose to study at Cal State LA after researching the department’s NASA DIRECT-STEM program with the knowledge that acceptance into this program would gain her access to Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where she aspired to work.

Sehler’s tenure in NSS was “nothing short of the best.” Her research primarily focused on water cycle, soil moisture, precipitation and how they interrelate. Through determination and perseverance, she was soon awarded an internship with JPL where she worked with NASA satellite data to compare precipitation data to soil moisture data using MATLAB and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Since the internship was GIS-intensive, she felt confident in her abilities due to her academic training in the geosciences department.

Sehler was awarded a research internship position at Princeton University’s Cooperative Institute for Climate Science. For 10 weeks this summer, she will stay at the university to work with renowned scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (NOAA/GFDL), a world-leading center of earth system modeling, research and prediction.  
Event Highlights
Esri Visit
Esri welcomed NSS faculty and students to its 5 th Annual Higher Education Open House held March 9, 2018. Students and faculty attended presentations by Esri staff members who shared their personal career journeys with Esri. Presentations were also given on Esri applications. Jennifer Bell, product manager for Esri, conducted a live construction of a Story Map using ArcGIS to illustrate its user-friendly capabilities. Esri human resources personnel also presented the various career and internship opportunities available for students and recent graduates.

NSS faculty and students were surprised by a visit from Jack Dangermond, founder and president of Esri. In conversation with Dangermond, Dean Scott-Johnson highlighted the innovative work by NSS students utilizing Esri products: GIS and ArcGIS. She also expressed gratitude to the entire Esri open house team for their hospitality.  
Climate Disasters, Climate Solutions 
The opening reception of Climate Disasters, Climate Solutions was held at the John F. Kennedy Library on April 4, 2018. The art exhibit, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Times, featured original photography from the last 50 years, presentations on campus climate initiatives, and a book display of recently acquired literature on environmental history and the sciences.

The exhibit was curated by Choi Chatterjee, Ph.D., professor of history, with help from two graduate students, Benjamin Baca and Guadalupe Pena. 
Andreoli-Woods Lecture Luncheon 
The  Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) programs  held its annual Andreoli-Woods Lecture Luncheon with featured guest speaker,   Paul Henry Barber, Ph.D. ,  professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Los Angeles. The event honored the MORE and LSAMP-BD graduating students who are pursuing graduate degrees (MS or Ph.D.) at prestigious universities in fall 2018.

Provost Lynn Mahoney welcomed attendees including special guests, Jeff Silverman and Amelia Perez-Silverman – both Cal State LA alumni who established  the Jeff and Amelia Silverman: MBRS-RISE Scholarship (Minority Biomedical Research Support – Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement)  for student participants in the program.

In his keynote address, “ Lessons in Probability from an Improbable Marine Scientist ,” Barber described his unusual path to earning his doctorate degree. He implored students to “draw inspiration from others but realize they are following their passion.” 
Conference on Chicano History
The Conference on Chicano History, Historiography, and the Historical: Out of Many, One , commemorated the 50 th  anniversary of the founding of Chicano Studies at Cal State LA. The free conference featured guest speakers who discussed topics on the Chicano movement including the Anglo-Mexican newspapers in times of dictatorship and revolution, colonial revolts in the history of New Mexico and the Chicano generation. Keynote speaker, Mario T. Garcia, Ph.D., distinguished professor of Chicano studies and history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, gave a lecture  Why I Write Chicano History: My Personal Odyssey .

For more on the 2018 conference, visit the  conference page
Chinese American Oral History Project
On Saturday, June 2, 2018, the Cal State LA Chinese American Oral History Project, Chinese Club of San Marino, Hon. Linda S. Wah, and Professor Gay Yuen hosted a fundraising event at the home of Cal State LA alum, Isaac and Celia Hung. The funds raised from the event went to the continuation of the Chinese American Oral History Project which aims to document the lives and contributions of Chinese Americans in Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley. The project also serves as an opportunity to elevate student success through civic engagement and community participation, strengthen ties between Cal State LA, Downtown Los Angeles, and the San Gabriel Valley, and to invigorate Asian and Asian American Studies (AAAS) at Cal State LA.

Congresswoman Judy Chu and Assemblymember Ed Chau recognized the efforts of the AAAS program and Professor Juily Phun for their contributions to the advancement of the Asian American people in Greater Los Angeles. 
Happy Trails!
Professor Margaret Jefferson
Happy retirement to Margaret Jefferson, Ph.D., who began her career 40 years ago in the Department of Biological Sciences. Though her official retirement date was on August 23, 2013, she completed five years as a FERP faculty member which ended in May 2018. Jefferson served as the campus coordinator of the NSF funded LSAMP and LSAMP-BD programs since 1993 and 2002 respectively through 2018. After many years of shepherding students into successful careers in STEM, she is looking forward to disconnecting and getting lost in her favorite habitat, the Sonoran Desert. She also plans to fill her time traveling extensively and volunteering for her favorite causes.
Maria Murillo
Happy retirement to Maria Murillo who worked for the Department of Geosciences as its coordinator for the last 20 years. She began her Cal State LA career on a temporary basis with the Department of Political Science before moving permanently to geosciences. Her positive interaction with faculty, staff, and students endeared her to all.

“I am definitely going to miss the campus but most of all, I will miss the students. I truly enjoyed working here. I wish I could have spent my whole career here,” said Murillo. 
Professor Sandra Sharp
Sandra Sharp, Ph.D., who has been a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences since 1986 celebrated her retirement in May 2018. After retirement, Sharp plans to do what she does best – research. She also plans to spend more time with her family, singing in a chorus, and traveling. On her itinerary this year are Spain, Vienna, and Tuscany. 

Safe travels!
Three Cheers for Students
  • Carolina Santillan was selected as a participant in the 2018-2019 California State University Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program.

  • Arlene Sagastume was awarded first place at the 32nd Annual Student Research Competition held at California State University, Sacramento.

  • Dalesy Casasola was awarded the 2019 Golden Eagle Award for Excellence by the University. She was also selected as a Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar for the 2018-19 academic year. 

  • Monica Wooters, Paula Ayala, Arielle Steimer-Barragan, Lindsey Ortega, and Carolina Santillán presented their research at the 2018 Conference of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies in Reno, Nevada
  • Angela Burgos, Brandon Gonzalez Ardon, and Caitlin Zarate were awarded the Vera R. Campbell Promise Scholarship which is being administered by the Institute for Field Research.

  • Congratulations to NASA DIRECT-STEM team (Lixzandra Flores Rivera, John DeVries and Elizabeth Metzler-Winslow) for presenting their research at the 232nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

  • Four students from the Cal State LA Math Circle which is coordinated by Tuyetdong Phan-Yamada, Ph.D., qualified to participate in the USA Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO) and USA Junior Mathematical Olympiad (USAJMO).

  • Wendy Layco was selected as the non-STEM major Cal State LA nominee for the CSU Trustees’ Award.
Always a Golden Eagle (Alumni News)
Deanna Nash , former NASA DIRECT-STEM program participant and geography master’s graduate, and current doctoral candidate at UC Santa Barbara, had her thesis accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres.

Jess Phoenix , master’s geology graduate and former lecturer in the Department of Geosciences and Environment recently wrapped up her candidacy for the United States 25 th Congressional District. In March, she spoke to students in POLS 1000 (Government and Society) about the importance of civic engagement and social entrepreneurship in the current social and political climate.

Recent Department of Biology graduate, Benjamin Nittayo’s , spotlight in the Asian Journa l focused on how personal tragedy serves as an inspiration. Benjamin will continue his academic career this fall while pursuing a doctorate degree at the University of California, Davis. 
Staff and Faculty News
Distinguished Women Awards
On March 14, 2018 the University honored nine women for outstanding achievements and significant contributions to the University and the community. The honorees included Bobbie Galaz, from the NSS Advisement Center, Ruzanna Karmiryan, sociology, and Birte Pfleger-Cullinan, professor of history.
The annual event was hosted by the Cross-Cultural Center and the University-Student Union. 
HERS Leadership Institute
Hengchun (Haley) Ye, Ph.D. , recently completed the 2018 HERS Leadership Institute at the University of Denver. This intensive, two-week residential leadership development program is designed for participants to gain the knowledge, skills, and perspective needed for advancing women leaders in higher education.

“It was the most inspiring and empowering learning experience that I have ever had. I have connected with so many wonderful female trailblazers who aspire to make a difference in the academic world and beyond,” states Ye.  

Ye also participated in the Luce Program, the Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP), and the Leadership Development Program for Higher Education (LDPHE).
The Houseguest from Xinjiang
ChorSwang (Swan) Ngin, Ph.D. , co-authored (with playwright CY Lee) and produced the play “The Houseguest from Xinjiang” about a Chinese Muslim exchange student in Los Angeles. The play, which ran for two nights (October 20 – 21, 2017) at the University-Student Union Theatre featured Cal State LA professors, staff, and students. The play delved into cultural intersections and explored sensitive issues of Chinese and American identity, the Muslim ban, and religious beliefs all done with humor, fun, laughter. The play also featured traditional dances in Chinese culture, Xinjiang and Lion dancers. Aminah Abdul-Jabbar (Pan-African Studies), and Juli Kang updated and directed the play. The play was co-produced by professors Kamran Afary and Lena Chao (Department of Communication Studies) and, Fred Smith (Cross-Cultural Center).
NSS Nominees for the Outstanding Staff Award
Five NSS staff members were recognized at the Staff Appreciation Breakfast held on June 21, 2018, as nominees for the Outstanding Staff Award.

Lisa Bautista , grants program coordinator for the Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) Programs, was nominated for her outstanding contributions to the successes of the program.

“Lisa’s work is invaluable and a large part of the success of the MORE Programs. She has become the glue that binds this research training community together,” says Carlos Gutierrez , Ph.D. , MORE Programs co-director.

Gilbert Garcia , dubbed “the Mayor” by Dean Scott-Johnson, was nominated by the Dean’s Office for his outstanding work ethic, friendly demeanor and exceptional problem-solving skills.

“Gilbert is very meticulous in his job functions and goes the extra mile when necessary. He sets a very high standard in the area of job performance, and most of all, he is always helping people with a smile,” says Tommy Luong, NSS resource manager. 

Violet Capistran , current assistant to the associate dean, was also nominated for her outstanding work ethic, efficiency, planning and organizational skills, friendly demeanor, and initiative while working as the psychology department coordinator.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the success of our department largely depended on her dedicated services and skills,” says Senqi Hu, Ph.D., psychology department chair. “She is the embodiment of excellence of this institution, and every day, everyone in the department is aware of our good fortune to have been supported by her hard work and commitment.”

Kristy Jones , ITC analyst, and Amy Miller , assistant to the associate dean, were also recognized for their years of service to this institution. Kristy Jones is marking her fifth year while Amy Miller is celebrating her 10 th year with the university. 
Other Accomplishments
NSS Health and Science Careers Advisor Maite Villareal Rodriguez , was awarded the Outstanding Student Organization Advisor of the Year by the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) at the Student Leader Awards in May 2018.

Professor Barry Hibbs and Godina Ying won first prize in the outstanding paper category at the 9th International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology, held June 25 to June 29, 2018 in Houston Texas.

Professor Kris Bezdecny (geosciences and environment), Professor Choi Chatterjee (history), Alexandra Wright (biological sciences), Yixian Wang , (chemistry and biochemistry), and Elizabeth Torres , (biological sciences), were awarded the LaKretz Family Endowment for Environmental Science grant for their respective academic and research work.

Professor Kirsten Fisher received a National Science Foundation grant to digitize Cal State LA's herbarium's plant collection as part of a California wide collaboration to understand the effects of climate change on flowering time.

Professor Rene Vellanoweth was appointed to the State Historical Resources Commission by Governor Jerry Brown.

Professor Yangyang Liu was received a three-year grant from the Department of Defense (DoD) Research and Education Program for a proposal to design new functional materials for the fast degradation of poisonous chemical weapons and understanding the mechanisms that contribute to it. 

For more NSS faculty accomplishments, visit the University Reports page .
On the Bookshelves

Professor Eileen Ford published her new book, Childhood and Modernity in Cold War Mexico City last spring. Through the lens of childhood, the book focuses on the transformations that occurred between 1934 and 1968 in Mexico. Ford puts the experiences of children in Latin America into their historical, political, and cultural contexts.

Professor Afshin Matin recently published his new book , Both Eastern and Western: An Intellectual History of Iranian Modernity . As a revisionist work of intellectual history, the book challenges many of the dominant paradigms in Iranian and Middle Eastern historiography and offers a new narration.

Professor ChorSwang (Swan) Ngin published her new book, Identities on Trial in the United States: Asylum Seekers from Asia , based on her work as an anthropological expert witness for asylum cases in federal courts.

NSS in the News...
Save the Date!
Friday, October 12, 2018
Golden Eagle Ballroom
Thursday, September 6, 2018
10:50AM – 12:30PM
Golden Eagle Ballroom
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