Event Wrap-Up

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 to the event 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 LA’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 Serano, crimes and activities in Hollywood, the South LA Housing Crisis, Oil Drilling and Affordable housing sites, and the homeless population.

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Over 200 students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered at the Golden Eagle Ballroom on October 29 for the 5th Annual Black Community Honors Dinner celebration. The event also doubled as the kick-off of a yearlong celebration of the 50-year anniversary of the founding of the Pan-African Studies department at Cal State LA.

The evening recognized four individuals who have dedicated their lives to racial and social justice for the Black community. The honorees included U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee of the 13th Congressional District; Teri Williams, president and chief operating officer of OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in the nation; Akinyele Umoha, Cal State LA Pan-African Studies alumnus and chair of the African American Studies department at Georgia State University; and Nana Lawson Bush V, professor of education and Pan-African Studies at Cal State LA and a traditional African priest. Bush V was also named a 2018 Outstanding Professor by the University.

Melina Abdullah, professor and chair of the Pan-African Studies department, introduced the honorees. In her remarks, she recounted the impact Black Studies courses had on her early life and education. Provost and Vice President Lynn Mahoney delivered the university welcome. Pan-African Studies is housed within the College of Natural and Social Science.

Photos from the 2018 Black Community Honors Dinner

Science deans and associate deans from the California State University campuses gathered at Cal State LA on October 18 and 19, 2018 for their annual meeting. Dean Scott-Johnson welcomed guests and explained the goal of the meeting: to foster inclusive excellence, collaborations and the science of team science. John Matsui, director of the Biology Scholars Program at UC Berkeley, gave the keynote address “Inclusive Excellence through the Lenses of the HHMI.” Professor Patrick Krug, from Cal State LA’s Department of Biological Sciences gave a lecture on his research titled “From comics to ‘omics: Growing up during the genomics era in the CSU?” at the evening reception which took place at the Cal State LA Fine Arts Gallery.

The deans ended the two-day meeting with a trip to NASA-JPL.

Link: CSU Science Deans Annual Meeting Photos

Sumanta (Monty) Kumar Pal, M.D., received the Distinguished Alumnus Award for the College of Natural and Social Sciences at the 2018 Alumni Awards gala. The event, held at the Golden Eagle Ballroom on October 12, honored 11 distinguished alumni including MGA Entertainment CEO, Issac Larian as Alumnus of the Year.

Dr. Pal enrolled in the college at the age of 13 through the university’s Early Entrance Program. He graduated at the age of 17 with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1999 before earning his medical degree at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is an internationally recognized leader in the area of genitourinary cancers, including kidney, bladder, and prostate cancer. He is currently the co-director of City of Hope’s Kidney Cancer Program and is the head of the kidney and bladder cancer disease team at the institution.

During his acceptance speech, Dr. Pal, thanked the University for providing warmth and stability while he grieved the loss of his father as an incoming freshman student. He also credited the university’s outstanding professors including Dr. Kevin Baaske, for his early success. He noted that the affordability of the university coupled with its rigorous academic syllabus paved the way for his career achievements. President William Covino and Dean Pamela Scott-Johnson presented Dr. Pal with the award.

Dr. Pal was a member of the General Education Honors Program (now the Honors College). Through annual donations, Dr. Pal and his wife, Reena Pal, established an endowed scholarship in his father’s name, The Prabir K. Pal Endowed Scholarship, to provide financial support to Honors students enrolled in the Early Entrance Program.

To date, Dr. Pal has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles that have been featured in prominent journals including The Journal of Clinical Oncology, Lancet Oncology, Cancer Cell, and European Urology.

20 students from Garfield and Roosevelt high schools participated in the 2018 Grifols Summer Science Academy at Cal State LA. Launching in 2015, the two week program was designed to encourage minority students to pursue careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. For two weeks, these students were exposed to learning in a university setting where they conducted research, field activities and received hand-on learning. The students were welcomed to the program by President Covino and Grifols, Inc. president and Cal State LA alum, William Zuniga. Covino expressed gratitude to Grifols, Inc. for his support of the program while Zuniga encouraged attendees to absorb lessons taught by faculty members and teaching assistants.

The participants presented their research at the end of the two-week program. Student speakers, Sarahi Cisneros (Garfield) and Katy Castillo (Roosevelt) credited the program with widening their views on career choices other than traditional careers in the medical field; they now see a career in STEM as a viable option. The students also thanked Dr. Hyunsook Park, Cal State LA faculty in charge of the summer program and curriculum, for her dedication to their success in the program. At the end of the ceremony, proud family members gathered around their loved ones congratulating them on this achievement.

Link: Summer Science Academy Photos

On May 25, over 1,200 College of Natural and Social Science students received their Master’s or Bachelor’s degrees from California State University, Los Angeles. To facilitate an intimate atmosphere, commencement ceremonies was divided into three events. The morning ceremony conferred degrees for students in the departments of Anthropology, Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Geosciences and Environment, Mathematics, Natural Science, and Physics and Astronomy. The afternoon ceremony graduated students in the Asian and Asian American Studies, Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies, Latin American Studies, Pan-African Studies, Political Science, and Psychology departments. The evening ceremony conferred degrees for students in the departments of History and Sociology.

Social Justice champion, Stewart Kwoh, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, was the keynote speaker in the afternoon ceremony. Mr. Kwoh was also bestowed with the University’s highest honor, the Doctor of Laws for his commitment to “building multiethnic and multiracial coalitions and advocating on behalf of historically underrepresented and undeserved communities” according to Cal State LA’s president, William Covino. In his remarks, Mr. Kwoh highlighted his organization’s advocacy work including the recent passing of Senate Bill 1050 which allocates $240 million for college readiness, college access and retention programs, for low income students. He also detailed his most memorable case which challenged racially discriminatory employment practices and unfair immigration laws. This case directly led to the legislature passing the strongest anti-sweatshop law in the U.S. He urged the graduating class to “keep hope alive, lift up the spirit of immigrants, and fight for justice!”

University president, William Covino, recognized students who demonstrated outstanding academic excellence or overcame odds to graduate with her respective degrees. This year, Cinthia Campos of Anthropology, Daisy Parga of Political Science, Anthony Robles of Sociology, and Benjamin Nittayo of Biology were congratulated for their accomplishments. President Covino also imparted some words of wisdom to the Class of 2018.

“Don’t be daunted by the heights of your dreams and challenges. During your time here, you’ve learned how to reach the top. Always remember, you are a Golden Eagle and you will soar,” he concluded.

Visit the flickr page to view pictures from commencement.

The Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) programs held its annual Andreoli-Woods Lecture featuring guest speaker, Dr. Paul Henry Barber, 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 PhD) at prestigious universities this coming fall.

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 students who participate in the program. Provost Mahoney also acknowledged the accomplishments of Dr. Geraldine Woods and Dr. Anthony Andreoli whom the annual lecture series is named after. Dr. Woods worked tirelessly to establish the MARC and MBRS programs (which are housed under the MORE Program) at the national level. She also acknowledged Dr. Anthony Andreoli who as a faculty member at Cal State LA increased the research opportunities and advancement of minority students as the director of the campus’ MBRS Program. The program grew to become one of the strongest and largest among such programs nationwide.

Dr. Barber, who earned his PhD from University of California, Berkeley, gave the keynote address aptly titled “Lessons in Probability from an Improbable Marine Scientist” which detailed his unusual path in earning his doctorate degree. He reminded students that like him, everyone has their own path to achieving their goals. He implored the students to “draw inspiration from others but realize they are following their passion.” He closed his lecture by asking the students to remember that they are a part of a rich legacy left to them by Dr. Woods and Dr. Andreoli. Thus, they have an obligation to be a “transformative scientist.”

The dean of the College of Natural and Social Sciences, Dr. Pamela Scott-Johnson, thanked the faculty and staff of the MORE Program for their work on behalf of the students and congratulated them on the students’ successes. As a beneficiary of the MARC Program herself, Dr. Scott-Johnson reminded the students of the MORE community in which they can rely on in times of difficulty as they pursue higher education. In closing, the dean wished a happy retirement to Dr. Margaret Jefferson, an emeriti professor who has been instrumental in the continued success of the program. She recognized her service and commitment to the program and acknowledged the hundreds of students who have benefitted directly from her years of dedication.

For more photos from the 2018 Andreoli-Woods Lecture, visit our flickr page.

In April 2018, the Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies Department held its annual conference on Chicano history. This year’s conference, Chicano History, Historiography, and the Historical: Out of Many, One, commemorated the 50th anniversary of the founding of Chicano Studies at Cal State LA. The free and open to the public conference featured guest speakers who discussed topics on the Chicano movement ranging from Anglo-Mexican newspapers in Times of Dictatorship and Revolution, colonial revolts in the History of New Mexico to the Chinano Generation. Keynote speaker, Mario T. Garcia, Distinguished Professor of Chicano Studies and History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, gave a lecture titled Why I Write Chicano History: My Personal Odyssey.

The conference was sponsored by Cal State LA’s Office if the President, Office of the Provost, the Gigi Gaucher-Morales Memorial Conference Series, the College of Arts and Letters, the College of Natural and Social Sciences, the Department of Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies, the Emeriti Association at Cal State LA and the joint sponsorship of Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo León (México).

For more the 2018 conference, visit the conference page.