News Release| 2011 Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars; Cal State L.A.

September 21, 2011

Eleven CSULA students awarded pre-doctoral scholarships, the most in the CSU system

Los Angeles, CA -- Representing the largest group from any California State University (CSU) campus, 11 Cal State L.A. students were selected as Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars for the 2011-12 academic year.

Designed to increase the pool of university faculty, the prestigious pre-doctoral scholar program supports the doctoral aspirations of CSU students who are economically or educationally disadvantaged. Each scholar will receive a $3,000 award, covering travel expenses to doctoral-granting institutions and to attend professional conferences as well as fees for college applications and graduate exams.

The following CSULA scholars will explore the prospect of doctoral studies: Joanna Barreras (social work major), Te-Kang Chao (computer engineering), Jeremy Coltman (anthropology), Andres Garza (philosophy), Efren Lopez (English major), Oscar Marquez (Latin American studies), Paulo Medina (anthropology), Susana Morales (Latin American studies), Cecilia Salvi (Spanish and anthropology), Thien-Tin (Tino) Truong (physics and anthropology), and Amy Wat (mechanical engineering).

Additionally, four CSULA students received honorable mentions: biology major Diane Rico and anthropology majors Kaitlyn Brown, Ian Irving and Rebekka Knierim.

Since 1998, 155 CSULA students have been recognized as Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars. More than 50 percent of the CSULA students have entered top-ranking doctoral programs throughout the United States and in several foreign countries.

The following are examples of the ambitions of this year’s promising scholars:

Te-Kang Chao, a San Gabriel resident, is studying “The Effect of Timing Functional Electrical Stimulation with Robotically Controlled Hindlimb Position on Ankle Flexion.” Chao shared that his goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, with a focus on neural science.

An Alhambra resident, Lopez is interested in utopian studies and American Literature. He said, “I am also interested in examining the ideology of dystopian and apocalyptic images and narratives in the broader culture. In a future project, I intend to explore the intersection between [utopian] political movements, classroom pedagogy, and the global economic restructuring of the academy.”

Morales, a Los Angeles resident, is completing her master’s degree in Latin American Studies with a certificate in Women and Gender studies. Her thesis is an ethnographic study of women street vendors in the East Los Angeles area.  She shared, “Some of my research interests include urban social movements, intersections of gender, power, and class, and feminist and autonomist theory.”

Medina’s research is on the role of warfare, specifically focusing on defensive architecture that infers violence of the preclassic lowland Maya. He explained, “My research interests include origin of complex societies, cave archaeology, and Maya hieroglyphs. I have conducted research at the archaeological sites of El Mirador, Peten, in Guatemala, for two seasons, and Xunantunich in Belize for one season.” Medina currently resides in Pasadena.

For a list of the 67 scholars selected from the 23 CSU campuses, go to

The award honors the late Sally Casanova, who launched the program in 1989. A member of the CSU Chancellor’s Office staff during the 1960s, Casanova also served as associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of graduate studies at CSU Dominguez Hills, from 1991 until her death in 1994. She was married to Cal State L.A. chemistry professor (now emeritus) Joseph Casanova. 

For more information, contact Alan Muchlinski, interim dean of Graduate Studies and Research at Cal State L.A., (323) 343-3820.

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 Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 220,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six Colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to the Honors College for high-achieving students, opening in fall 2011. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.