Showcasing the high standards for student research and faculty mentorship at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), nine students garnered top honors in four categories during the statewide 2020 CSU Student Research Competition, which was hosted via Zoom by CSU East Bay on April 24-25.
Studio arts major Jose Espinoza earned first place in the Creative Art and Design category for his art presentation “Illustrating Historical Truth through Visual Research.”
Espinoza’s work has its origins in his lifelong fascination with history, and his belief that stories found in history books are often not accurate. His award-winning art reflects the colonization of Mesoamerica that began in the 1500s, drawing attention to the “imprisonment of the descendants of the Mesoamericans” being detained at the U.S.-Mexico border today.
“It was shocking and surprising when I heard I won first place. I was happy just to be part of the competition,” said Espinoza, whose research mentor was Devon Tsuno, assistant professor of art and design. “What I learned most from the experience is hard work pays off.”
Taking second place in the Behavioral and Social Sciences category was Saray Valenzuela Jaime, for her solo research project “A Mindful Approach to Improving Work Performance among College Students.” Kevin Montes, assistant professor of psychology, provided guidance with her research.
Margott Dela Cruz, Gabrielle Makrdichian, Yadira Ramirez, and Ceferino Vinas took second place for their probe into the impact of “fake news” through their team research project “www.fakenews.you: Cognition’s Influence on People’s Reactions to False Internet Information.” Mentoring the psychology students to a win in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (graduate) category were Mark Carrier, professor of psychology, and Nancy Cheever, professor of communications.
Occupational therapy (OT) graduate students Ciara Nagao, Kelsey Santos, and Madison Werchowsky also placed second with their research project, “Experiences of Occupational Therapists Working with High-Needs, High-Risk Youth,” under the mentorship of Heather Kitching, academic fieldwork coordinator in the OT Department. The research team competed in the Health, Nutrition, and Clinical Sciences (graduate and undergraduate) category.
John Price, professor of physics and interim dean of Graduate Studies and Research, said that the student researchers did exceptional despite the many challenges related to COVID-19. “Most research activities have been paused while we wait to return to campus. This also made us almost completely unable to work closely with the student presenters in preparation for the statewide research event,” Price said. “Even so, they all rose to the occasion, and we had one of our best results ever.”