June Newsletter 2019
Dean's Corner
As I stood on stage at last month’s graduation ceremonies, I was filled with pride for our students and their families, and also reminded of the college’s accomplishments in the 2018-2019 academic year.

In September, we kicked off the year by celebrating the 50 th anniversary of the founding of the Department of Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies at Cal State LA, the first Chicano studies program in the nation. Legendary civil rights leader, Dolores Huerta, who delivered the inaugural lecture, recalled the history of the Chicano civil rights movement in greater Los Angeles in the late 1960s, its successes and cultural imprint. A month later, the Department of Pan-African Studies, the second Black Studies department in the nation, also celebrated their 50 th anniversary founding by honoring four Black leaders and community members. To me, these celebrations highlighted two facts: 1) Cal State LA has always been a pioneer in education and 2) the importance of the ethnic studies disciplines in understanding our collective histories and cultures, and providing a path for a better future.

Among other notable accomplishments, this year saw the launch of variety of programs and events that have come to define the mission and vision of the college. Throughout the year, I have been thrilled to sponsor events that foster connections with students in the college such as a Black students’ meet-and-greet, the Dean’s Lunch Bunch group, while also funding student research presentations at conferences throughout the country. I thank the Health Careers Advisement Office for its leadership in hosting the first ever Health Professions Fair at Cal State LA where 15 professional schools were represented and more than 500 students attended.

In my previous letter, I detailed the $1 million grant awarded to the college by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and I am happy to report that much progress has been made on the pedagogical approaches to teaching science in the University. Faculty are receiving training through the University’s Center for Effective Teaching and Learning (CETL) and Charter College of Education. Likewise, the college is on its second year of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program. The first cohort of four students participated in rigorous research activities and presentations througout the year. This summer, the MMUF fellows will gain research experiences on other campuses such as Pomona College, UCLA and the University of Chicago.

Lastly, I am grateful to our alumni who have continued to support the activities of the college and our students. Attendance at career panels for our students, university events or even contributing financially does not go unnoticed. Thanks to your dedication, our college is making strides in transforming Los Angeles through intentional learning environments and civic engagement.

As we begin the summer months, I invite you for a tour of our campus to learn about the work done in our departments and programs, what’s to come, and how you can help.

Remember, only together can we make a difference. 
Student Highlight 
Like many students at Cal State LA, Serena Zadoorian is a first-generation college student whose family moved to the United States in search of a better life. Zadoorian completed her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Irvine and began pursuing a graduate degree at Cal State LA shortly after. Zadoorian graduated with a master’s degree in psychology and was named the college’s social science recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Student Award at the April Honors Convocation ceremony. She earned a perfect grade point average while working part-time to fund her education.

Zadoorian’s interest in psychology stemmed from her high school coursework in American Sign Language (ASL) when she noticed the distinctive visual attention of ASL users. 

“Soon after I started working with members of the deaf community, I noticed that there was something unique about their visual attention – especially in the periphery of their visual field. Ever since, this observation has helped shape and focus my research interest and master’s thesis.”

Zadoorian’s academic work at Cal State LA has earned her numerous awards including the opportunity to conduct research under the tutelage of Joel Ellwanger, a faculty member in the Department of Psychology.

“I love Cal State LA. I am forever grateful for the resources that I benefitted from as a student. I received one-on-one mentoring from Dr. Ellwanger, and had the opportunity to present my research findings at the Western Psychological Association (WPA) and the American Psychological Society (APS) conferences. In fact, I will be presenting at the American Psychological Association conference later this summer.”

This fall, Zadoorian will continue her graduate education at the University of California, Riverside while pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology.

“Without the support of several psychology faculty members like Dr. Hu, Dr. Dennis, and Dr. Fernando, I would not be where I am today. I am excited to embark on the next phase of my academic career with the hopes of becoming a professor and mentor to others.”
Event Highlights
2019 College of Natural and Social Sciences Commencement Ceremony
Congratulations to the 2019 graduates of the College of Natural and Social Sciences. Last month, more than 1,300 degrees were conferred in three ceremonies that celebrated the outstanding achievements of students in the college. In his address, President William A. Covino encouraged the students to soar to greater heights as Golden Eagles and commit to civic engagement, service and the public good.

For images from the Commencement, visit the Cal State LA photo galleries
Cal State LA Big Data Community Forum
Students, faculty, administrators and community partners gathered on April 22, 2019 for Cal State LA’s first annual Big Data Community Forum. The forum highlighted student projects, research posters and story maps from five spring semester classes as part of the University’s Big Data project. Dean Scott-Johnson welcomed the attendees including special guests Deputy Mayor Miguel Sangalang and Paul Vandeventer, president and CEO of Community Partners. In their remarks, Vandeventer hailed the students as the next “data revolutionaries” for their work using data to understand and improve their communities, and Sagalang implored the students to keep working on behalf of their communities.

The forum is part of the big data grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) which seeks to connect the University to the community through the work of non-profits by mapping City-wide data relevant to three focus areas: social justice, urban environment, and the arts. The grant introduces GeoHub, the City of L.A.’s open data portal, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and data-driven decision-making to students by weaving big data education into undergraduate and graduate curricula.

More than 25 non-profit organizations participated in the spring cohort and were paired with students for their respective research projects. The winning projects included topics on gentrification in El Serrano, crimes and activities in Hollywood, the South L.A. housing crisis, oil drilling, affordable housing, and homelessness. 

2019 Honors Convocation and Recognition of Student Excellence  
On March 22, 2019, the college hosted its annual event honoring students on the Dean’s List with Distinction - undergraduates who earned a grade point average of 3.9 or higher in 12 or more units of graded coursework in 2018.  Veronica Flores , chief executive officer of Community Health Councils and NSS alum, served as the keynote speaker. Flores advised the students to follow their passion, create positive change in the world, and expand their network as a strategy to achieve their career goals. 

At the ceremony, graduate students  Audrey Kishishita   and  Serena Zadoorian   were named the natural science recipient and social science recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Student Awards respectively. The students were nominated and selected to receive the honor based on their outstanding academic achievement in their graduate studies.

A separate celebration and ice cream social honoring students on the Dean’s List – those who earned a grade point average of 3.5 or higher – was held on May 3, 2019. 

MBRS-RISE and MARC Anniversary Celebration
The Minorities in Opportunities in Research (MORE) programs celebrated the 45 th anniversary of the Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) program and the 40 th anniversary of the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program. Both programs are housed within the MORE programs which was established to enhance the development of minority students who wish to pursue research careers in the science disciplines. The event celebrated the generations of Cal State LA students and alumni who have participated in, and benefitted from these programs. Current and former staff members, and faculty mentors were also present. The event featured guest speakers, discussion panels, student poster presentations and networking opportunities.

The MBRS-RISE program (the current incarnation of the MBRS program) is the longest continuously funded grant program at Cal State LA. Furthermore, the MARC program is the longest continuously funded MARC program in the nation.
Conference on Mexican Muralists
T he Conference on Mexican Muralists: Their Art, Their Lives, and Their Times, was held from April 12 – 13, 2019 at the University’s Music Hall. The conference included six keynote and featured guest speakers, a Frida Kahlo performance by actress, Alejandra Flores, and a new book presentation. The keynote speaker, Renato González-Mello, Ph.D., (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) gave a lecture titled, Mural Painting: Art and Propaganda.

The conference was sponsored by Cal State LA’s Office of the President, Office of the Provost, the Gigi Gaucher-Morales Memorial Conference, the College of Arts and Letters, the College of Natural and Social Sciences, the Department of Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies and the Emeriti Association. 

For more, visit the conference page
Encuentro: 25 Years of Zapatismo Across Time & Space
Students, faculty, staff and community members gathered at the University campus for a two-day community gathering to mark the 25 th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising. According to event organizers, the purpose of the event was to learn from past experiences, continue the dialogue, and refocus efforts to imagine a more just and better future.

Representatives of the Concejo de Gobierno Indigena (Council of Indigenous Government) and of Radio Zapatista; artists Emory Douglas, Caleb Duarte, and Rigo23 of the Zapantera Negra project were present. The gathering also included dance performances by Mujeres en Resistencia and Alicia Moseley; on-line conversations with Raul Zicechi and Gustavo Esteva and other theorist activistas; roundtables, workshops, pop-up art exhibits and culminated in an Asamblea General (general assembly).
The LA River: The Past, the Present and the Future
The opening reception of The LA River: The Past, the Present and the Future was held on April 10, 2019 at the University Library. The exhibit features original photographs of the LA River from the Los Angeles Times archives spanning a hundred years.

The exhibit was curated by Choi Chatterjee, Ph.D. (history), Mark Wild, Ph.D. (history), and graduate students in the history department, Sergio Maldonado and Jewelyn Mims
Physics Alumni Lecture and Dinner
On April 16, 2019, the Alumni Group of the Department of Physics and Astronomy held its fourth annual lecture and dinner at the Golden Eagle Ballroom. Cal State LA professor, Mohammad Pourhomayoun delivered the keynote lecture titled “Artificial Intelligence: From Science Fiction to Real Life.” The event was attended by alumni, current students, faculty, staff and other members of the academic community. 
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Alumni Industry Panel
On March 28, 2019, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry invited four department alumni to share their work experience in the chemistry and biochemistry industries. The event was attended by students who were eager to learn how to better prepare for careers in the industry after graduation. The panelists represented various sectors of the industry including manufacturing, cosmetics, and analytical chemistry. The panelists also gave interview and resumé building tips to the students in attendance. 
Three Cheers for Students
Graduate students in the Latin American Studies program, Carissa Alvarez , Guadalupe Arellanes , Maria Beltran , Jimena Laso , Barbara Nanning , Lindsey Ortega , Michiko Soto and Arielle Steimer-Barragan , presented their research at the 2019 Annual Conference of the Rocky Mountain Council on Latin American Studies in Santa Fe. Kittiya Lee , professor of history, was also a presenter.

Janielle Cuala , a 2019 Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate, was featured on Inside the Issues with Alex Cohen, for her work with WiSTEM LA, an initiative of Mayor Eric Garcetti. The program provides mentoring, networking, and community building opportunities for current undergraduates pursuing a STEM degree at a local-area university.

Undergraduate student in the Pan-African Studies and Latin American Studies departments, Nancy Flores and graduate student in the Latin American Studies department, Lupe Arellanes, were recipients of the 2019 Student Research Award from the Center for the Study of Genders and Sexualities at Cal State LA.
Latin American Studies program students, Cindy Mata and Elizandro Umana, earned the Association Students Inc. Outstanding Achievement in Professional and Public Service Award for the 2018-2019 academic year. The award is given to students who have demonstrated dedicated service to the University community and beyond.

Stephanie Njoku, a student in the Department of Psychology , received a complete travel award and complimentary registration for the May meeting of the Association of Psychological Science in Washington, DC. She was also invited to a meeting with the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), a division of the National Institutes of Health to discuss her findings. Her project was selected from among hundreds of other poster submissions.

2019 NSS Outstanding Graduate, Thu-Lan Lily Nguyen , was featured on Spectrum News and CBS Los Angeles for her two-year fellowship at the National Institutes of Health where she will research alongside some of the world’s leading scientists. 

In April, 2019, 11 students and faculty members from the Department of Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies attended and presented at the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS) conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 
Always a Golden Eagle (Alumni News)
David “Olmeca” Barragan , was selected to the 2019-2020 cohort of Citizen Artist Fellow program by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The program recognizes eight change-makers representing every region in the country who use their artistic practice to create positive social impact.

Barragan, a 2016 master’s degree graduate from the Latin American Studies program, is a hip hop artist, producer, and activist.
Sumanta K. Pal, M.D ., associate clinical professor in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research at City of Hope, was selected as a co-editor of Clinical Cancer Advances , an annual report that highlights cancer breakthroughs. Pal graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology at the age of 17 in 1999. He is a 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.
Distinguished NSS alumna, Linda Thor , has been elected president of the Maricopa Community College District in Arizona. She is currently serving as president of the Maricopa Community College District Governing Board, a position she has held since 2016. Thor received her master of public administration degree in 1980.
NSS alumna, Schetema Nealy , became the first African American female to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Nealy earned an M.S. in analytical chemistry in 2008. 
Happy Trails!
Roberto Cantú , faculty member in the Department of Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies, will be retiring after 45 years at Cal State LA. In his years at the University, Cantú founded the Chicano Studies Publications Center, two journals (Campo Libre and Escolios), and wrote the minor in Mesoamerican Studies – the only one of its kind in the California State University system. He was awarded the Outstanding Professor Award in 1990 and the President’s Distinguished Professor Award in 2010. Cantú looks forward to spending time with his wife, children and in the company of friends. 

After 20 years, Cheryl Koos , professor of history and former NSS associate dean, is leaving Cal State LA to begin her tenure as the associate vice president for faculty affairs and development at Cal State Dominguez Hills. 

Professor of history, Larry Guillow , taught his final classes for the Department of History. Guillow began his career at the University in 1991, while he was completing a path-breaking study of race relations in 19 th century Los Angeles. Over the next three decades, he instructed thousands of students in American history courses. In his retirement, Guillow plans to spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren. 
Staff and Faculty News
Saber es Poder Academic Excellence Award

Dolores Delgado Bernal , chair of the Department of Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies, was selected to receive the Saber es Pode r Academic Excellence Award in Mexican American Studies from the University of Arizona. The award recognizes a distinguished scholar whose work has demonstrated sustained excellence and long-term commitment to advancing the understanding of Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrant populations in the United States.
Great Maya Aquifer Project 
James Brady , professor of anthropology and co-director of the Great Maya Aquifer Project, Guillermo de Anda, project director, and their investigative team re-discovered a cave with over 150 ritual objects in the Yucatán Peninsula. The objects have been untouched for more than a thousand years. The discovery was made as part of their work searching for the water table beneath Chichén Itzá and was recently featured in Arqueología Mexica, National Geographic and The New York Times .

The cave, Balamkú, was initially discovered more than 50 years ago but was intentionally buried afterwards for reasons unknown. The discovery is widely regarded as one of the most important finds in the research history of Chichén Itzá. The researchers also believe that the objects could provide more details into Maya cave rituals and intimate details of the civilization.
Other Faculty Accomplishments
Hasmik Arakelyan (psychology) was named a “Hero of the Year” in 2018 by KNX at their annual Helpful Honda Heroes luncheon. The station recognized 51 individuals for their continuous community service work and impact on the community.

Jessica Bodoh-Creed (anthropology) presented the Cal State LA Big Data grant at the Society for Applied Anthropology on the panel, “Collaborating with Cities” in Portland, Oregon.

On April 4, 2019, Choi Chatterjee (history), Afshin Matin (history), Wat Kit Choi (sociology) and Robert Weide (sociology) presented at the conference, “Politics of Autonomy beyond Nation-State: History, Theory, Practice” at the University of Sussex in England.

The conference was co-sponsored by Cal State LA and the University of Sussex and organized by faculty from Cal State LA.

Eileen Ford (history) was recently appointed as a Duncan Gleason California Maritime History Fellow and an E. Peter Maulk, Jr. / Doyce B. Nunis, Jr. Fellow at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in support of her work on  William Wrigley Jr. in Southern California .

Barry Hibbs (geosciences and environment) was awarded a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in support of establishing a REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduate Students) site at Cal State LA. The project is titled “Changing Dynamics of Hydrological Systems in Urban Areas: Response to Human Disturbance and Climate Change.”

Ashley Heers (biological sciences) was awarded a grant from the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) for her proposal titled, “Avian athletes: functional implications of skeletal development.”
Edith Porter (biology) was elected to the 2019-2020 Board of Directors for the Southern California branch of the American Society for Microbiology (SCASM). The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) is the leading society for microbiology at the international level.

Heidi Riggio (psychology) was elected president of the Western Psychological Association for the 2020-2021 year.

Olaseni Sode (chemistry and biochemistry) received a grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund for his project, “Exploring the Many-Body Interactions in Condensed Phase C02: Development of a Novel Intermolecular Potential.”

Ji Son (psychology) was awarded a grant by the California Education Learning Lab for the project, Building and Testing a New Model for Continuous Improvement for High-Impact Online and Hybrid Courses.

Mark Wild (history) published his new book, Renewal: Liberal Protestants and the American City after World War II . The book examines the movement of clergy and laity who sought to restore liberal Protestantism to the center of American urban life after World War II. 

Ping Yao (history) was a guest panelist at the Zócalo/Getty Villa event which explored the lessons that can be learned from the lives of women in ancient times in relation to modern-day feminism.

For more NSS faculty accomplishments, visit the University Reports page .
NSS in the News
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Anthropology • Asian and Asian American Studies • Biological Sciences • Chemistry and Biochemistry • Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies • Geosciences and Environment • History • Latin American Studies • Mathematics • Natural Science • Pan-African Studies • Physics and Astronomy • Political Science • Psychology • Sociology