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Research @ the Beach

Research @ the Beach

This online publication is produced each semester to recognize faculty and their ongoing work. The articles reflect the diversity of research and creative scholarly activities endeavored by our faculty. The articles can be accessed by clicking on the topics below.

Stop and Frisk Policing

Image of Assistant Professor Jan HaldipurBy Assistant Professor Jan Haldipur
Sociology Department
College of Liberal Arts

No Place on the Corner: The Costs of Aggressive Policing

In the early 2000’s, New York City began to experience a surge in “stop and frisk”—a police tactic that became a distinctive feature of the New York Police Department. Young black and Latino men disproportionately became the focus of this approach, which targets residents of select neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs.

The southwest Bronx became “ground zero” for many of these stops. Here, the public parks, streets, and corners once relied on to socialize and meet with friends are no longer available to many young members of the community. Even the quintessentially “New York” act of sitting on one’s own stoop has become risky. 

In 2011, the year “stops” would reach its highest point, I set out to research the effects of this police strategy on the everyday lives of residents in the southwest Bronx.  In particular, I sought to ethnographically explore how the lives of poor and working-class families have been reshaped by aggressive policing tactics: young people caught between neighborhood violence and persistent police contact, and the mothers and fathers of the neighborhood, who are often forced to shoulder the burden of these police encounters.

Among other things, my findings suggest a substantial erosion of faith in local and state institutions.  Moreover, these aggressive policing tactics discourage the formation of social ties in the neighborhood—the very networks often needed to get ahead.   

This research culminated in a book set to be released later this year entitled, No Place on the Corner: The Costs of Aggressive Policing (NYU Press). 

Image of New York Police Department surveillance tower in the Bronx

A New York Police Department surveillance tower in the Bronx.

Photos courtesy of Jan Haldipur

High Stakes Interior Design

Image of Assistant Professor Von DominguezBy Assistant Professor Von Dominguez
Department of Design
College of the Arts

Designing for a Billion Dollar Industry, Lessons Learned

Remember the time your parents told you to stop playing video games? Suffice to say, those days are in the past.

As an interior designer for a commercial design company, our main clientele has consisted of corporate office spaces for one of the largest video game developers in the country. Due to contractual reasons, the name of the company in this article will be referred to as “Video Gamer Net.” Since its creation, Video Gamer Net has undergone rapid transformation and nearly double the company growth over the past three and a half years. These statistics produced approximately twenty-five office building re-designs at over half a million square feet of lease space.

Image of interior design rendering

This rendering depicts a typical team collaborative meeting room with the whiteboard display installation.

This article reflects on the “lessons learned” of designing and producing spaces for Video Gamer Net. Currently, I assist in project coordination techniques such as space planning, construction documentation, client meetings, and project administration.

Lesson 1: Expect things to change, and change often.

Innovation evolves constantly in the video game industry, the same holds true of their work spaces. Space plans, designs and material choices are in constant flux and alternate daily, sometimes hourly. One minute, you are creating an open office space for thirty employees, the next the program doubles in square footage and the scope of work increases. A good designer needs to be flexible and open to better solutions and possibilities.

Lesson 2: Never fall in love with your designs.

What you value in your design may not be the client’s first, second or even third choice. The design should always reflect your interpretation of the client’s vision and uses, not your own. Learn to take constructive criticism and keep progressing your designs to fit their needs.

Lesson 3: Communication and collaboration are key.

With constant change comes constant communication. A great designer always makes sure any changes that are being made in the design are corresponded to colleagues, associates and clients. This requires a steady form of contact between all parties involved to make sure every detail is accounted for and all trades are the same page.

These lessons are not just valid for corporate office spaces, but for all aspiring designers wishing to enter the industry. At the design company, our main goal is to create spaces and places that enrich the lives of those who occupy them. With these observations in mind, one can look forward to a successful design and a satisfied client.

Image of  interior design modern furniture

Meeting room furniture inspiration and concepts.

Images courtesy of Von Dominguez

Robotics and Virtual Reality Innovation

Image of Assistant Professor Emel DemircanBy Assistant Professor Emel Demircan
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering & Biomedical Engineering
College of Engineering

Improving Human Performance via Biomechanics, Robotics, Virtual Reality and More!

In the Human Performance and Robotics Laboratory, we focus our research in biomechanics, robotics, virtual reality and haptics (science of applying touch/tactile sensation and control to interaction with computer applications).

The lab’s current main project is designing a full-body suit that tracks human motion and muscle activity, while providing motion-optimizing feedback.

The purpose of this project is to create a suit that can be used in possible applications such as: correcting posture while walking or running, providing guidance for blind people, and rehabilitation.

Image of student demonstrating real-time motion tracking

Graduate student demonstrating real-time motion tracking of the multibody framework.

The lab also features other exciting projects that are being worked on by our graduate students. One such project is a generic, multibody simulation framework that can track and analyze human motion in real-time. The main advantage of this framework, compared to other existing simulation software, is the fact that it was built on top of a widely-supported game engine.

This means that the framework can easily be integrated with a plethora of technologies, such as: virtual reality, haptic feedback systems, and markerless motion capture. 

Moreover, since the framework is generic by design, it can be used by other developers to create applications that use motion analysis . . . applications that can potentially be used towards human rehabilitation and training!

Speaking of human rehabilitation, another active project in our lab is a virtual reality simulation of a soccer environment that provides psychological rehabilitation for athletes who have suffered a traumatic injury on the field.

The project incorporates marker-based motion capture to track the athlete’s motion and control the simulation’s character in real-time. Athletes within the simulation will experience haptic feedback similar to kicking a soccer ball. Simulations such as this one can be used to provide physical/psychological rehabilitation in a control setting. Future applications of this project can include specific sport-related training.

One other interesting ongoing project is on optimization of running strategies. In this project we record the movement data and physiological data from human subjects while running. This data will be analyzed later using deep learning algorithms. This method returns useful information on the most important characteristics of a professional runner. These results are important for designing personalized training and rehabilitation plans.

Finally, the most recent project in our lab focuses on incorporating haptics in a human robot collaborative manufacturing process to increase efficiency and task focus. The goal of this research project is to test the feasibility of incorporating haptic feedback as an alternative feedback method for robot-human collaboration, with a focus on manufacturing. As part of this project a haptic interface glove and arm sleeve will be designed to give haptic feedback to a user collaborating with a robot to complete a simulated manufacturing task. 

Image of graduate student controlling a robot from within a virtual reality simulation.

Graduate student controlling a robot from within a virtual reality simulation.

Photos courtesy of Emel Demircan

Violence Against Women in Nepal

Image of Professor Barbara Grossman-ThompsonBy Assistant Professor Barbara Grossman-Thompson
International Studies Program
College of Liberal Arts

Research in Nepal: Studying the Roots of Violence against Women and How that Might Change for the Positive

In summer 2018, in partnership with Dr. Charlotta Salmi at Queen Mary University London, I began a two-year project titled “Visualizing Gender-Based Violence in Graphic Awareness Campaigns in Nepal.” This project is part of the British Academy’s Sustainable Development Programme 2018, and it is supported under the Global Challenges Research Fund.

Our project investigates representations of gender-based violence (GBV) in graphic art forms in two of Nepal’s major cities: Kathmandu and Pokhara.

During three weeks of fieldwork in June 2018, we studied how four types of violence – domestic abuse, trafficking, street harassment, menstruation-based discrimination – are portrayed in graphic print publications (comics, zines) and public graphic expressions (murals, graffiti, street art). We also used interviews and focus groups to collect data on how stakeholders such as NGOs, activists, and artists use graphic art as an awareness-raising tool.

This preliminary trip served to pilot the larger initiatives that will occur during three additional field visits in 2019-2020. Two CSULB undergraduate students were able to join us this summer, one supported through a CSULB ORSP Student Summer Research Award and another supported through the CSULB McNair Program. Both students developed their own individual research projects, pursued language training, and presented their work at an undergraduate research symposium.

Nepalese Art

Street art with a social message is found throughout Kathmandu, Nepal. Here, three installations address the importance of women's access to reproductive health services.

This fall (2018), and over the next two years, our work on this project will have three primary objectives.

First, to understand the impact of visual and narrative techniques used in graphic GBV awareness campaigns. Specifically, we hope to elucidate the role of religious heritage and popular culture in representing violence and gender, and promote critical reflection of cultural representations of GBV. 

Second, to encourage knowledge exchange between disciplines, researchers, and stakeholders in Nepal in order to shape inclusive practices in current messaging.

Third, to run two creative initiatives with local arts organizations and NGOs:

(1) an open-access digital archive of graphic representations of GBV and (2) a series of graphic art workshops for 600 girls (aged 12-17).

We are most excited about this latter initiative, which will allow us to leverage our research project into meaningful community engagement.

Photo courtesy of Barbara Grossman-Thompson

Sport Training and Research

Center for Sport Training and Research (STAR):
Maximizing Athletic Performance through Technology and Science

Department of Kinesiology
College of Health and Human Services

The mission of the Center for Sport Training and Research (known as STAR) is to conduct multidisciplinary sport science research while providing athletes evidence-based training practices. 

Long gone are the days of denying water to athletes to demonstrate “toughness.”  Modern day sport training relies heavily on technology and science to fully maximize athlete performance.

Over the years, STAR athletes have included both professional and amateur athletes in basketball, volleyball, golf, track and field, softball, rowing, and baseball.

STAR has seen a significant increase in athletes as they will go from training 150 athletes per week to 300 by the end of the year.  

The number of athletes has created a perfect storm of evidence-based training for the athletes and research for STAR’s faculty and students.  

“It’s absolutely crazy right now – all of our faculty are red-lining it, and we get students involved through the STAR internship program while faculty are separating themselves from peers in their fields,” says Associate Professor  Dr. Will Wu, founder of the STAR program.

Image of Center for Sport Training and Research Staff

Front Row (L-R) Dr. Sharen Teng (STAR Sport Medicine/Biomechanics), Dr. Mimi Nakajima (STAR Sport Medicine), Dr. Leilani Madrigal (STAR Sport Psychology), Mac Pierson (STAR graduate student), and Dr. Will Wu (STAR Director). Back Row (L-R) Dave Sabo (STAR Strength), Anthony Herr (Asics Athlete Manager), Tony Carpenter (Candace Hill’s coach), Candace Hill (professional sprint athlete), Dr. Tiffanye Vargas (STAR Sport Psychology), Rumesh Balendran (STAR undergraduate student).     

Dr. Wu directs STAR and is joined by an extremely talented group of faculty that combines their research prowess with their experience working with athletes.  The STAR team is comprised of discipline-specific directors: Drs. Mimi Nakajima (Athletic Training), Tiffanye Vargas (Sport Psychology), Leilani Madrigal (Sport Psychology), Sharon Teng (Physical Therapy), Kevin Valenzuela (Biomechanics), and Dave Sabo (Strength & Conditioning). 

“I’m really excited about what we are doing in sports injury and prevention – we have a software platform and database to aggregate all our sport injury and assessment data for long term tracking and injury prediction," says Wu.

“Our sport psychology group is doing exciting research in mental toughness, coaching behaviors, athlete efficacy, and psychological skill use.” 

“The biomechanics and motor control group just started a project with our national championship men’s volleyball team looking at shoulder kinematics and anticipatory skills in volleyball – we are all having a ton of fun right now.”

Dr. Wu says the growth has been a nice confluence of timing and personnel, “we are very fortunate to have a very supportive and forward thinking dean in the College of Health and Human Services.  Monica Lounsbery has been extremely supportive and sees STAR’s multidisciplinary approach as a productive model of research in our college.” 

When asked about what makes this center unique Dr. Wu says, “you have a group of very talented individuals who are team oriented, selfless, and work extremely well together”.  STAR takes pride in its multidisciplinary approach to solving complex problems.  “We succeed based on viewing research and training with a variety of lenses -- once we understand that as scientists, we can make leaps and bounds in answering questions and helping athletes reach their full potential.” 

For more information about STAR, please contact Dr. Will Wu at will.wu@csulb.edu

Photo courtesy of Will Wu

Pavement that Helps Clean Up Oceans

Image of Associate Professor Shadi SaadehBy Associate Professor Shadi Saadeh
Civil Engineering & Construction Engineering Management
College of Engineering

New Engineering Designs in Road Pavement Can Significantly Reduce Pollution Runoff to Ocean

Today, green lands are being replaced by rooftops and roads which is leading to alteration in water movement across the landscape (Booth and Leavitt 1999). Some of these changes may be unintentional or intentional but can have severe consequences, especially in disturbing runoff processes. The loss of the water retaining property of the soil in urban landscapes is due to chemical constituents carried by the runoff. As the water flows through its path, it picks up pollutants and deposits them into bodies of water, causing those bodies to become polluted. To reduce the runoff volume, environmentally friendly concepts should be implemented within the infrastructure.

Permeable pavements may be an alternative low impact development (LID) and/or best management practice (BMP) design for the storm water management. The quality of the permeable pavement depends on the design specifications, construction and maintenance practices. Design and construction of permeable pavements requires structural and hydrological analysis for the proper function of the pavement. In the structural design of the pavement, thickness of the different layers of the structure, which can bear the design traffic is determined. In the hydrological analysis, the stormwater management objectives are met as the infiltration of runoff water through the pavement can filter the water.

The following are the benefits of permeable pavements.

  • Recharge of the ground water reserves.
  • Less consumed energy and natural resources.
  • Low-impact Infrastructure and cost-effective method for stormwater mitigation by eliminating the use of drainage structure.
  • Reduces hydroplaning.
  • Absorption of noise created between tire and pavement surface during rainy conditions.
CSULB construction test site
CSULB construction test site.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has shown interest in developing fully permeable pavement design for use in regions that convey substantial truck activity as a potential stormwater management, utilizing best management practice to give low-effect infrastructure and proficient framework operation.

A location was selected within CSULB for the construction of the test sections. Pressure cells and strain gauges were installed during the construction of pavement for measuring the stress on top of the subgrade and strain at the bottom of surface layer on both test sections to assess the performance of the fully permeable pavement. The data from pressure cells and strain gages were analyzed using MATLAB program and graphs were plotted to study the pattern in the data sets. The plots revealed that the asphalt section experienced more stress and strain in comparison to concrete test section. The traffic count was also determined.

Both test sections showed reliable performance in terms of distresses, and performed well in terms of infiltration during 2017 - one of the wettest years in California. Based on the performance evaluation of both test sections, the fully permeable pavement design will be enhanced and developed as a potential best management practice for stormwater mitigation.

Photos courtesy of Shadi Saadeh

Teaching Teachers to Teach Better

Image of Shelley XuBy Professor Shelley Hong Xu
Teacher Education Program
College of Education

The Million Dollar Question: “How do I Teach Reading Effectively?”

In the past two decades, I have been asked this million dollar question each year by teacher candidates in my courses, and we have been exploring possible answers to this question.

“How do I Teach Reading Effectively?”

With the passing of each year, the journey to seeking answers is getting more and more challenging and interesting, due largely to additional variables we need to consider.

For example, children from diverse backgrounds bring to school their various, unique experiences and perspectives, challenging teachers to adapt pedagogy to capitalize on their strengths and address their needs.

Hence, teacher candidates in our teaching credential programs must be well equipped with pedagogical content knowledge (PCK).

My recent research has focused on exploring the development of teacher candidates’ pedagogical content knowledge through their lesson planning, teaching, and reflection. PCK (Shulman, 1986) bridges the content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge.

  • Content knowledge includes knowledge about language (e.g., sentence structures) and about reading development (e.g., comprehension process).
  • Pedagogical knowledge focuses on ways of teaching content, that is, delivering certain content in a certain way, which “makes the learning specific topics easy or difficult” for learners (Shulman, 1986, p. 9).

Image of qualitative word cloudFor example, a teacher, who is doing a think-aloud (e.g., articulate the thinking process on how to extract details from a paragraph), may vary how the strategy is being used, depending on children’s academic backgrounds.

For children at a grade level, the teacher may do the think-aloud for a few sentences and then ask children to try on their own.

With English learners, the teacher may focus on one sentence at a time, and use learners’ native language, if needed, to explain in detail the thinking process.

Findings from my work have indicated that all teacher candidates have been developing their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), as evidenced in their ability to link the old with the new through activating children’s prior knowledge, use a familiar text or realia to explain a new concept or vocabulary, model for children in a variety of ways, and pay attention to individual children’s needs.

Image of research survey data resultsTeacher candidates have also identified a struggle with striking a balance of teaching the content and applying an appropriate strategy, such as spending much time on teaching how to do a think-aloud, leaving limited time for children to practice in order to master the lesson content (e.g., extracting details from a text).

Most importantly, teacher candidates have learned to view teaching reading as a complex process involved with multiple variables and further development of PCK.

During this research, I, albeit learning a lot from teacher candidates, have not found all answers to this million dollar question. So my quest continues with a next study on how teacher candidates use different types of assessments during lesson teaching to enhance their PCK.

Images courtesy of Shelley Hong Xu

Cancer, DNA and Knot Theory

Image of Assistant Professor Ryan BlairBy Assistant Professor Ryan Blair
Mathematics and Statistics Department
College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Shoelaces and Computers or . . . How a Pure Mathematician Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Computation

Knot theory is the mathematical study of loops in space. To put it simply, take a shoelace, tie a knot in it, glue the ends together, and you’ve formed a knot. Specifically, the result is a loop in 3-dimensional space.

Image of partial colored knot diagram

A portion of the process of coloring a knot diagram to find the Wirtinger number.

Knot theory is a highly active field of pure mathematics with many applications to the sciences.

For example, knot theorists collaborate with bio-chemists to study the process of DNA replication with the intent to develop cancer treatments and antiviral drugs. Knot theory has also given new insights into quantum mechanics.

My fascination with knot theory began as an undergraduate in an REU in which I studied different ways to color knot diagrams. Sketching for hours with colored markers didn’t feel like any other mathematics I knew. I was hooked. That summer, I learned to use these sketches to prove theorems about knots, and now knot theory is a core component of my research.

I’ve tried to bring the same wonder for the subject in the research experiences I’ve designed for students at CSULB.

Image of Professor Blair with student

Undergraduate researcher Nathaniel Morrison (left) and Dr. Blair (right) presenting a knot, which they recently discovered is counter example to a conjecture about Wirtinger number.

In the fall of 2016, I began an REU with two math majors, Paul and Roman. Our goal was to investigate “Wirtinger number”, a new measure of complexity of knots that used an altered set of coloring rules from those I had learned as a student.

Dr. Kjuchukova and I had designed Wirtinger number as a tool to gain insight into an old unsolved problem known as the “meridional rank conjecture” (MRC).

Roughly speaking, the MRC states that an algebraic complexity (meridional rank) of a knot is always equal to a geometric complexity (bridge number). We hoped that Wirtinger number would act as an intermediary, telling us how bridge number and meridional rank are related.

To my surprise, by the spring of 2017, our team had proved that Wirtinger number was equal to bridge number, giving significant insight to the MRC. Even more surprisingly, Paul and Roman were able to leverage the algorithmic nature of the Wirtinger number to write code that calculated bridge number very quickly.

In a matter of hours on an old laptop, we had calculated the bridge number of approximately 500,000 of the total 1.7 million tabulated knots.

What started as an unassuming undergraduate research project grew to transform my research program and teach me the value of computational approaches in knot theory.

Based on the success of this project, I worked with my collaborators, Dr. Kjuchukova and Dr. Cahn, to pursue funding. In June 2018, we were awarded a collaborative research grant from the National Science Foundation. With this support, we plan to use computational methods to gain new insights into old problems in knot theory.

Photos courtesy of Ryan Blair

Wellness and Aging for Everyone

Image of Professor Iveris MartinezBy Professor Iveris Martinez
Archstone Endowed Chair, Gerontology
Family and Consumer Science Department
College of Health and Human Services

Center for Successful Aging Promotes Social Connectivity between the Generations

The Center for Successful Aging in the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) was relaunched this past April 2018.

The vision of the Center is to serve as a leader in community engagement, workforce development, and interdisciplinary applied research to address disparities and promote quality of life in aging in Long Beach and beyond.

Our mission is to bring faculty, students, and community partners together to develop creative solutions for diverse aging populations.

Professors leading a discussion at community meeting.
Professors Grace Reynolds-Fisher
and Vennila Krishnan discussing
aging successfully with community
members at the American Gold Star
Manor in Long Beach.

A priority of the Center is social connectivity, which requires linking generations, developing positive associations with aging, and preparing the workforce for increasingly large cohorts of older adults.

We are spearheading research that builds and translates our knowledge on aging well to community programs and policies. We are committed to promoting aging with dignity by addressing social isolation and preparing the current and future workforce across disciplines to provide quality services for older adults.

The Center builds on CHHS’s core values of innovation, growth mindset, integrity, and collaboration. We aim to increase understanding, discover scientific breakthroughs, and enhance the communities we serve. 

In partnership with Archstone Foundation, American Gold Star Manor (AGSM), and SCAN Healthcare, the Center is integrating systemic innovations to serve the needs of older adults by providing a sense of community, facilitating aging in place, and improving access to services.

Four supported interdisciplinary projects are being implemented throughout next year at the AGSM. Students are at the core of every project, offering practical experiences with aging populations. Our intention is for successful projects to be duplicated beyond Long Beach.

Among these projects is A Purposeful Design for Older Adults: Connecting Seniors to their Community through Walking (PI: Kellie Walters, PhD Assistant Professor, Kinesiology) being developed collaboratively with residents, the City of Long Beach, and faculty. The goal is to foster partnerships with the city and local businesses to design walking paths that are safe and engaging for older adults. We aim to design, implement, and evaluate scalable interventions in key areas of faculty expertise and community interests that will influence environmental strategies and policies enabling older adults to remain engaged and active in their communities.

Iveris L. Martinez, PhD, joined the faculty of CHHS in March 2018, as the Archstone Foundation Endowed Chair in Gerontology and Director of the Center. Dr. Martinez brings over 20 years of experience in the field of aging, within academic centers, governmental and community organizations to address the needs of diverse aging communities and promote wellbeing. Her most recent NIA-funded research focuses on understanding the cultural incongruencies between the perspectives of Latino caregivers to family with Alzheimer’s and caregiver support services, with the goal of reducing disparities in service utilization.

For more information, contact us at: Iveris.Martinez@csulb.edu or 562-985-2079.

Photos courtesy of Iveris Martinez