2018 Faculty Retreat Abstract


Faculty Name: Tuyetdong Phan-Yamada, Mathematics
Abstract: This talk presents the paper scheduled to published on AMATYC in May 2018. We will explore several patterns in matrices in Zn populated using the rule of Pascal’s triangle. We will discuss the patterns in Zp, Zp^2 and Zpq for some prime numbers p and q. Color coding these matrices generates some interesting patterns.

Faculty Name: Edith Porter, Biological Sciences
Talk Title: Dietary fats? Maybe not  so bad... 
Abstract: Evidence is mounting that not only small proteins but also some fats (lipids) are used as antibacterial weapons by our first line of defense. Our lab has developed a new concept in which epithelial cells, the cells lining our body surfaces, greatly contribute to our defense against microbial invasion. In response to microbial products and host proteins that communicate inflammation,  epithelial cells increase their fat uptake and up-regulate the expression of enzymes involved in antibacterial fat biosynthesis, as well as increase expression of natural protein antibiotics and proteins that alert and recruit other types of defense cells. The newly synthesized antimicrobial lipids and proteins are then secreted and kill the microbes while additional host defense cells are recruited. Thus, we should think twice before eliminating all fats from our diets!

Faculty Name: Anonymous. Physics and Astronomy
Talk Title: When Three's a Crowd
Abstract: There is a "sociology" within the atomic nucleus. Just as we know in human interactions, the presence of an additional person can control the social structure in a group of people, so also in the atomic nucleus the presence of an additional nucleon affects the state of a nucleus. In this talk we will look at new structure revealed in the helium nucleus using experimental data from the M.Sc. thesis of one of our graduate students.

Faculty Name: Eric Wood, Biological Sciences
Talk Title: The effects of urbanization, invasive species, and land use on biodiversity
Abstract: Urbanization, invasive species, and land use change are three major factors implicated in the decline of global biodiversity. In the Avian Ecology and Conservation lab, we study the effects of these factors on avian and insect communities. Our research is applied and intended to provide information to help in the management and conservation of natural resources. In this talk, I will highlight our ongoing work in the LA Urban Forest, the Owens Valley (one of our main water sources), and the Texas/Mexico border.

Faculty Name: Dmitri Seals, Sociology
Talk Title:
How do symbolic boundaries intersect in political discourse? Much is still to be done to craft a truly intersectional perspective on the formation and combination of social boundaries in discourse. This study traces the circulation of boundary language in active political forums on Reddit, revealing patterns in how users construct their own identities and speak about stigmatized others and showing how these patterns change over time. Drawing tools from computational linguistics and cultural sociology, the study uses large-scale quantitative analysis to identify broad patterns in boundary work and qualitative analysis to understand how these patterns manifest in discourse.

Faculty Name: Jessica Bodoh-Creed, Anthropology
Talk Title: The ER Effect: How a Primetime Drama Saved Lives and Changed Medicine
Abstract: Based on the accepted idea of the CSI Effect, I created the ER Effect, which posits that since the mid-1990s, medical television has included more technical jargon, medical graphic realism, and more bloody, gory scenes from which audiences are watching and drawing knowledge. My research uses medical journal reports about the effects of ER’s medical knowledge, as well as interviews with actors, producers, writers, consultants, physicians and nurses on staff, and directors of ER and other medical shows to demonstrate that audiences learn from medical fictional television and that medical practices have changed because of storylines and audience perceptions.

Faculty Name: Ericka Verba, Latin American Studies
Talk Title: From the End of the Earth to the Louvre, a 5-Minute Biography of Chilean Artist Violeta Parra
Abstract: In 1964, Violeta Parra (1917-1967) became the first Latin American artist to have a solo show at the Louvre Museum. A musician as well as visual artist, her songs have been performed by Plácido Domingo, Joan Baez, and hundreds of musicians throughout the world. This biographical presentation attempts to answer the rhetorical question posed by Parra herself in a letter, “How could I have an exhibit at the Louvre, I who am the ugliest woman on the planet, who comes from a tiny country…from the ends of the earth?” in 5 minutes.

Faculty Name: Helen Wells, Anthropology
Talk Title: Landscape Archaeology in the Western Mojave Desert
Abstract: Through their enrollment in ANTH 424/4240, more than 100 CalStateLA anthropology students have been involved in this research project, which focuses on the use of natural rock shelters by Late Prehistoric mobile hunter-gatherers. Research questions address the locations of sites in relationship to natural features, including springs and other water sources; differences in intensity of use between campsites; and the identification of sites that appear to represent ritual activity. In addition to recording the sites in detail, we completed limited excavations at 17 sites between 2007 and 2016.  Data analysis is ongoing.

Faculty Name: Debra Garcia, Ph.D., Psychology
Talk Title: I'm Freaking Out!: Comparison between Perceived and Actual Stressors of Adolescents and Parents of Adolescents
Abstract: The changing landscape of our global society has created complex urban microsystems for adolescents in the United States (George, Dumenco, Dollase, Taylor, Wald & Reis, 2013).  These challenging spaces have caused an increase in stress for teens who typically do not discuss their daily stress experiences with parents.  Given this fractured communication, this study sought to identify actual reported stressors of teens.  This mixed-method study found significant differences in actual and perceived stressors as reported by urban teens and their parents.

Faculty Name: Daphne Liu, Mathematics
Talk Title: Colorful Mathematics
Abstract: Graph theory is one of the fastest growing fields in mathematics in the past decades. This is partially due to the advances of technology, its abundant applications, as well as its close relations to other areas in mathematics.  For instance, the famous Four Color Theorem asserts that it takes at most four colors to color the regions of any map!  We introduce how graph models are used in our daily life, and how graph coloring research is intriguingly related to research in number theory and topology.

Faculty Name: Melisa Hendrata, Mathematics (Poster, joint work with E. Demeke)
Talk Title: The Interplay of Supplemental Instruction and Math Emporium in Improving Students' Learning
Abstract: Research shows that roughly 65% of post-secondary students are underprepared for college-level mathematics. Across the United States, pedagogical efforts are underway to tackle the problem of math remediation. Yet, Developmental Education remains an insurmountable problem. In this poster, we report a study we conducted with 95 Math 930 students who agreed to enroll in a three-weeks Math Boot Camp during Winter Intersession 2018 that incorporated lecture, Supplemental Instruction, and Math Emporium. Our findings suggest that these students made significant gain in their understanding of fundamental topics in Intermediate Algebra. Furthermore, students' responses on a pre/post math/intelligence mindset survey suggest that they were more likely to have a growth mindset after the Boot Camp.

Faculty Name: Yong Ba, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Talk Title: Finding the Molecular Mechanism and Function of Antifreeze Proteins, and its Outlook
Abstract: Antifreeze proteins (AFPs) protect organisms living in subzero environments from freezing damage. Unlike the freezing point depression by salt dissolved in water, AFPs impose insignificant adverse effect on cell’s osmotic pressure. Dr. Ba’s research group has been looking at the interfacial molecular behaviors of ice-AFP-water interphase using state-of-the-art nuclear magnetic resonance, and electron paramagnetic resonance techniques. Thus, insight into the mechanism and function of AFPs have been understood at molecular level. Based on the mechanistic understanding, we have made a milestone discovery on new functions of artificially modified AFPs. The prospect of this discovery will be shared with you.

Faculty Name: Luoman Bao, Sociology
Talk Title: Gender Ideology, Religion, and the Division of Household Labor Over the Life Course: A Cohort Comparison
Abstract: The division of household labor between wives and husbands changes over the life course along with various life transitions and differs by cohorts. The negotiation of the division of household tasks can also be affected by spouses’ gender ideology and religion. Using five waves of data over a seventeen-year span from the Longitudinal Study of Generations (LSOG, 1988-2005), we examine the effect of spousal gender ideology and religion on trajectories of the division of household labor over the life course for continuously married heterosexual couples from different cohorts.

Faculty Name: Kittiya Lee, History
Talk Title: Cannibal Theologies in Colonial Portuguese America (1549-1759)
Abstract: My presentation examines translation manuals written in the Brasílica, the lingua franca which was based on the ethnic speech of Tupi Indians and used in the religious conversion of native peoples in Portuguese America (1549-1759). I argue that translations about the sacrament of Communion reflected the Tupi beliefs that altered Christianity and joined Tupi and Iberian Catholic thoughts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. But in the eighteenth century, non-Tupi Indians reinterpreted the ideas and renamed the host taken in Communion. But in every telling, the Eucharist promised that the eating of an other gave access to salvation.

Faculty Name: Eyob Demeke, Mathematics
Talk Title: Cooperative Learning and its Impact in Developmental Mathematics Courses
Abstract: In this poster, we report on the evolution of developmental students’ mathematics background knowledge after two different four-week courses that emphasized active learning. Students’ progress, or lack thereof, was measured using a diagnostic test developed by the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP). A pre-/post-test analysis of the Second Year Algebra Readiness Test (SYART) showed that students in both courses showed statistically significant growth, leading us to conclude that thee four-week intervention in math remediation has a considerable impact

Faculty Name: Carlos Gutierrez, Linda Tunstad, Krishna Foster, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Physics, Psychology
Talk Title: Preparing Cal State LA Minority Students for Success in PhD Programs
Abstract: By 2044 there will be no majority group among US populations. If the nation is to lead in scientific research, all American populations must contribute as PhD-level scientists. The Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) programs have developed intense BS and MS research training programs reverse-engineered from the characteristics, habits, and skills of highly successful graduate students in top PhD programs. This has yielded outstanding results: 70% of MORE undergrads and 85% of its MS alums enter and succeed in top PhD programs. The NSF ranks Cal State LA as the top BS institution of origin of Hispanic science PhD recipients among all predominantly BS/MS colleges and universities in the continental US.

Faculty Name: Jamil Momand, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Talk Title: Why is it so difficult to treat advanced breast cancer?
Abstract: Better therapies have helped lower the percentage of deaths due to breast cancer by 30% since 1992 Earlier diagnosis and new medications, such as Herceptin, have led the way to these advancements. Still, with one in eight women being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime much work is necessary to combat this disease. One of the major problems with breast cancer is its resurgence after initial remission. Our lab seeks to discover and characterize the molecules responsible for resurgence with the hope of designing treatments that lower the mortality rate and increase quality of life.

Faculty Name: Gabriela Fried Amilivia, Sociology
Talk Title: Sealing and Un-Sealing Uruguay's Transitional Politics of Oblivion, 1985-2015 
**Poster presentation on the Post-Transitional Justice Process, the Struggle against Impunity and for Truth and Memory in Uruguay, the findings of my work published in Latin American Perspectives (2016)**

Faculty Name: Barry Hibbs, Geosciences & Environment
Talk Title: Hydrologic research in urban coastal California watersheds