Four Cal Poly Students Recognized at CSU Student Research Competition
Contact: Keegan Koberl
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Four Cal Poly students were awarded first- or second-place prizes at the 2023 California State University (CSU) Student Research Competition.
Students from across the CSU competed in 10 divisions in the following categories: Behavioral, Social Sciences, and Public Administration; Biological and Agricultural Sciences; Business, Economics and Hospitality Management; Creative Arts and Design; Education; Engineering and Computer Science; Health, Nutrition and Clinical Sciences; Humanities and Letters; Physical and Mathematical Sciences; and Interdisciplinary.
Jordan Richards, a second-year graduate student in the food science program, and Jack Madden, a third-year food science major, won first place in the Biological and Agricultural Sciences category. Seeking to reduce food waste and utilize what is currently wasted in carrot processing, Richards’ and Madden’s project, mentored by Professor Samir Amin in the Food Science Department, involves manipulating carrot pomace and utilizing the fiber in the pomace to retain water and flavor in beef patties.
“The food science program prepares you well for sharing and speaking about your research, and I felt confident in sharing about the work I’ve been so focused on over the past two years,” said Richards, originally from Kingston, Jamaica, who plans to defend his thesis this summer. “The competition judges took an interest in my project and asked a lot of engaging questions about how the patties tasted and how people responded to sensory tasting.”
Robin Bedard, a graduate student in the biological sciences program, and alumna Megan Rottenborn (Biological Sciences, ’22), both in the Physiological Ecology of Reptiles Lab (PERL) lab with Professor Emily Taylor, won first place in the Behavioral, Social Sciences, and Public Administration category. Bedard’s and Rottenborn’s study focused on obtaining data on policies for relocating nuisance snakes in the continental U.S. and comparing the policies with data on actual procedures being performed by snake relocators. They created a resource connecting relocators with policies and best practice information to assist them in conducting relocations legally, safely and in the best interest of all involved, including the wildlife agencies, snake relocators and the snakes being relocated, as well as to provide research-based recommendations for state agencies to determine the best policies for their state.
Madeleine Goertz, a second-year mathematics major and Frost Research Scholar from Kirkland, Washington, won first place in the Physical and Mathematical Sciences category. Goertz conducts research in algebraic geometry and illustrated that similar triangles at various orientations can be represented uniquely by points on the surface of a donut shape (called a “torus” in mathematics).
“I’ve always been fascinated by the beauty of pure mathematics, and the idea of constructing one space that uniquely represents all objects of a class of an entirely different shape that I’m interested in seemed very intriguing,” said Goertz. “I think this competition really brought into focus how critical it is to be able to communicate your research to a general audience; if you can’t explain the essence of your work to a motivated person who doesn’t necessarily have all of the technical background, you don’t truly understand your work, in my opinion.
“Without the incredible research opportunities that I’ve had at Cal Poly, Eric Brussel’s (professor in the Mathematics Department) dedicated mentorship and the William and Linda Frost Fund’s generous financial support to enable this entire project, I would have never been able to participate in this competition,” Goertz added.
Ethan Gutterman, a third-year history major with a minor in ethics, public policy, science and technology, won second place in the Humanities and Letters category. Gutterman, a Cal Poly Honors Program student and previous university representative to the prestigious Panetta Congressional Internship Program, presented a local history project about the history of Black people in San Luis Obispo and surrounding communities. With support from the BEACoN Research Mentors Program and the College of Liberal Arts Summer Undergraduate Research/Creative Activities Program and his mentor, Professor Thanayi Jackson of the History Department, Gutterman researched the 54th Coast Artillery regiment, the U.S. Army's only all-Black, heavy artillery unit that fought during World War II. Soldiers in the unit were transferred to the Central Coast in the 1940s but had all mostly left the area by the mid-1950s. Through oral history, newspaper records, business directories and census records, Gutterman sought to better understand the reasons individuals would have left or stayed in the area with a goal to make more materials available for future historians and community members.
San Diego State University hosted the 37th annual competition April 28-29 and students presented their work in person for the first time since 2019. They competed by discipline category and, where feasible, as an undergraduate or graduate student. First-place finishers were awarded a $500 prize and second-place finishers were awarded $250. In 2024, Cal Poly will host the 38th annual competition in San Luis Obispo.
“The systemwide research competition is an excellent opportunity for our students to share their research experiences, methodologies and findings with their peers, faculty and staff from across the state,” said Dawn Neill, interim vice president for research. “We have many students with outstanding research to share and the CSU Student Research Competition provides an excellent venue for our students to showcase their effort.”
Cal Poly’s participation in the CSU Research Competition was organized by the Office of Student Research (OSR). Jane Lehr, director of the OSR, said, “We are honored by how well all of the Cal Poly delegates represented the campus and showcased the power of Learn by Doing.”
Cal Poly was also represented at the 2023 CSU Student Research Competition by Squeaky Buentipo (Biomedical Engineering), Marina Kare (Child Development), Pranshul Lakhanpal, Nam Nguyen, Asmita Sharma (Computer Science Master’s Program), Iris Bookholtz (Environmental Earth and Soil Sciences), Fiona O’Neill (Environmental Management and Protection), alumna Matti Toivola (Physics, ’22), Michael Dalsin (Physics), Trevor Loe (Physics, Mathematics), alumna Olivia Wallin (Psychology, ’23), Ariadne Kaylor (Psychology), and Trevor Hidalgo, a former Cal Poly student who transferred to San Diego State University.