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CNSM at Home - November 2020

A Message from the Dean

Dean Curtis Bennett

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we roll into the holidays, and no doubt one of the busiest parts of the semester for us all, I am embracing the season and reflecting on some things I'm grateful for.

I am grateful for my family, friends, and my health (especially during a pandemic), but it strikes me that one of the biggest reasons I'm thankful this season is all of you.

Our faculty and staff have risen above and beyond the call for the past few semesters. What has been asked of you is no small task - and I hope you know that your exemplary work, constant adaptability, and compassionate approach has not gone unnoticed.

It isn't me, or the board of trustees, or the state that makes this college run - it's all of you. For all of your work in these difficult times and otherwise, I express my immense thanks. You all consistently make my job much easier and I am exceptionally grateful for all of you and everything you bring to the table.

I, like you, can't wait to get back to campus and return to our regular routines.

Unfortunately, the latest upward trend in COVID-19 cases suggests that we will be working in our current circumstances for a little while longer. I've found that during this time I've been feeling mentally exhausted and last week, it got so bad that I ended up getting sick (thankfully my COVID test came back negative). In other words, I was experiencing burnout.

A lot has been asked of us and we are heading into a strange holiday season, and I fear for myself that this year I won’t get the usual recharge from the season. I've mentioned before that we should all be putting our health first, but recently several people have recommended a short podcast from The Takeaway, an episode on COVID burnout. It's about 19 minutes long, and I know that finding time for anything can be hard right now, but I found it helpful and helpful to know that I am not alone in these feelings.

Finally, I want to wish you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving - I hope you are able to get some of the rest you deserve.

Enjoy your holiday and I will see you after Fall Break.
Take care of yourselves!

Be safe, be well, be just.


5 Things to Look Forward to Once We Get Back to Campus

We know that the past couple of semesters have been extremely difficult for everyone. But we can't wait to see everyone again (following safety guidelines). That's why we decided to share some of our favorite activities that we can't wait to do again together!

1. Nights at the Observatory

pillars of creation

The Department of Physics and Astronomy's telescopes sit on the roof of the Hall of Science (HSCI) and are available for use every Tuesday, weather permitting. We can't wait to get back to observing the wonders of the universe alongside our talented faculty and students. Follow @CSULBPhysics on Twitter to stay up to date.

2. Science Learning Center

children doing a science activity

The Science Learning Center (SLC) is one of our hidden gems on campus. The Center provides unique learning experiences for elementary and middle school aged students in local communities, as well as the students of CSULB, through exhibits and activities that encourage questioning and hands-on investigation.

3. CNSM Open House

children playing with interactive topological map

Our annual college open house is an event we look forward to every year. Not only do we get to see our prospective students and hopefully inspire some future scientists in the community, but we get to take stock of all of the wonderful and engaging things we offer to the community around us. Guests can meet all of our departments, experience interactive displays from the Shark Lab, tour the marine labs, try their hand at math challenges, tour our many collections, and much more.

4. In-Person Colloquia

faculty giving a talk

Almost all of our departments offer some sort of weekly or recurring colloquia during the semester. The college also offers its Fellows Colloquium once per semester. These talks are a great opportunity for us to appreciate the unique work happening in each field. Students, faculty, and guests get a chance to learn from high-profile guests from different scientific areas and make valuable connections. At the end of the sessions, there is usually an open Q&A session with the speakers so that everyone can have their questions answered. This semester we transitioned these incredible presentations to Zoom meetings or webinar format, but getting to return to in-person colloquia will be the icing on the cake once we return to campus.

The following colloquia are hosted via Zoom:

5. Student Research Symposium

students giving poster presentations

Every fall semester, the college and the Jensen SAS Center provide an opportunity for students to showcase their collaborative research with CSULB faculty. All CNSM students are encouraged to participate in the Symposium by getting an approved abstract from their faculty mentor and making a poster presentation. The entire CSULB campus community and friends of CSULB are invited to campus to celebrate these students' accomplishments and examine their research. This year, the symposium will be converted to an online format but we can't wait to get back and see those posters in person!

Faculty Features

Bang the Drum

Dr. Lihan Wang

Geometric Analysis in Higher Dimensions

Dr. Lihan Wang works with geometric analysis to help us understand the world around us. From GPS to black holes in our universe, read more about Dr. Wang's research.

How It Started

Dr. Galen Pickett

A Look Back

Dr. Galen Pickett reflects on one of his first science experiments as a child and how it sparked his curiosity and passion for the sciences.

CNSM Faculty Award for Excellence

Congratulations to the 2020 Recipients of the "Pretty Darn Good Professor" Award

Dr. Thomas Gredig

Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy

Dr. Gredig has made numerous valuable contributions over the years that reflect the mission of our College and our University. He has mentored over 70 students in his research program dealing with the development of organic semiconductors and championed an inter-disciplinary Materials Science program between the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He is an innovative instructor, engaging and motivating students through traditional, online and discovery-based approaches to learning Physics. He continues to enlarge research opportunities for students and the department as the PI on the recent award of an NSF MRI Grant for an Atomic Force Microscope. His service activities span a versatile range, from peer and program reviews to bringing the excitement of science to the public. For these and many more activities that highlight his commitment and dedication to our students, and the creation and sharing of scientific knowledge, he is recognized with the PDGP award for 2020.

Dr. Bengt Allen

Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

Dr. Allen is noted for being an excellent colleague to the members of his department, the college, and the university in all three aspects of his professional duties: teaching, service, and research and scholarly activities. He has given freely of his time to improve the College’s ability to change its teaching approaches so that it can adapt to a new mode of teaching. His positive role in guiding CNSM faculty through the unprecedented changes in our mode of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be overstated. One of the the primary developers and instructors for the Biology Online Learning and Teaching (BOLT) Faculty Learning Community(FLC) series, his expertise in teaching and online class instruction, specifically, was critical for the success of the BOLT series. He was then appointed to be the College Champion for mentoring faculty college-wide in online/remote teaching. As a researcher, he has enhanced the training of many students. He has been the Thesis Chair for 14 Master’s students, mentored many undergraduate students in research, and his support from the National Science Foundation allowed him to offer students exceptional opportunities to participate in meaningful research projects. His students have conducted field research at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Lab and presented their data at National and Regional conferences. In his time here he has used his knowledge, experience, and motivation for learning to make the students in our college become experienced in quantitative and statistical approaches to looking at the world around us.

Dr. Michael Schramm

Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Dr. Schramm is recognized for excellence in his commitment to student success through teaching, service, and research. Organic chemistry is known as a course in which many students struggle yet students repeatedly give Dr. Schramm highly positive evaluations for the impact he has made on their learning. He puts much thought into how to most effectively convey the concepts of organic chemistry to his students to maximize their understanding. He served as the PI on an NSF Major Research Instrumentation grant of $315,000 to purchase a replacement NMR when the research grade 400 MHZ NMR spectrometer in the chemistry department was no longer repairable. The grant proposal was rated #1 of the 120 proposals submitted. The 400MHz NMR is highly beneficial to students in advanced undergraduate laboratory classes and plays a vital role in the research of numerous faculty and their graduate and undergraduate research students. As the Chemistry graduate advisor, his outreach efforts resulted in significantly larger and academically better prepared cohorts of new master’s students. To improve timely graduation he developed a new procedure for scheduling thesis defenses to ensure that students develop a plan to complete and defend their thesis. He has mentored about 70 undergraduate researchers and 7 graduate students, three of whom have completed and defended their MS theses. The students in turn receive excellent training and mentoring and many are co-authors on research publications. He has established productive international research collaborations in both Japan and New Zealand that has included CSULB students.

Fall Fellows Colloquium - Zombies!!! The Physiology of the Undead

Presented by Dr. Mike Harris

Did you miss our Virtual Fall Fellows Event? Not to worry! We recorded and captioned it for you so you wouldn't miss out on Dr. Harris's fun and exciting presentation.

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VIDEO: Fellows Colloquium Fall 2020 - Zombies!!!

Keeping Up with CNSM - Thanksgiving Recipe Share

Yvette Castano - CNSM Fiscal Advisor

Creamed Corn (Serves 12)

  • 6 cans of corn
  • 1 qt whipping cream
  • Splenda or sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • Flour

Open 6 cans of corn and drain.
Add to pot and put on high heat.
Pour heavy whipping cream in pot until corn is a little covered (1 quart usually works).
Once it starts to get hot and boiling, put it on simmer.
Add Splenda for baking, or you can do sugar, about 4 tablespoons, mix and taste and go from there if you want it sweeter.

In a separate bowl, melt ½ stick to ¾ stick of butter.
Add a few tablespoons of flour to melted butter.
Whisk with fork until you feel it looking and feeling like a paste. Not to runny, not to thick. You want it to slowly come off the spoon like honey.
Put half of the mix of butter and flour in pot of corn and stir. It will start to thicken after a couple of minutes. If it is still too runny after a couple of minutes, add a little more paste.

If the corn starts to look to thick and pasty, add a little heavy whipping cream to change the consistency or until you get the desired thickness you seek.

Christine Whitcraft - Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

Whitcraft Cranberry Relish

  • 1 package whole cranberries (12 oz)
  • 1 medium orange (rind on, seeds out)
  • 1-2 apples (peeled)
  • ¾ - 1 c. sugar (1 for every bag of cranberries)

Put all of these ingredients, except the sugar, through a feed mill or meat grinder. How fine you grind them is up to you, but you do not want to lose all of the liquid and structure/texture.

After the fruit is ground, add the sugar.

Let the relish sit for several day (2-3 days) and then taste it to see if it is sweet enough for you. This is totally up to you but you can make it as sweet as you desire!

Allie Puz - CNSM Communications & PR Coordinator

Deep Fried Devilled Eggs

  • 13 Eggs (12 for deviling; 1 for egg wash)
  • All purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Dill
  • Yellow mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Ground mustard
  • Panko breadcrumbs

Hard boil 12 eggs, and then halve them.

Pop your yolks into a separate bowl for your yolk mixture.

For your yolk mixture: Add mayonnaise, mustard, ground mustard, salt, and pepper to your separated yolks - add all spices to taste. Mix until well combined.

For your flour mixture: In a small bowl, mix about one cup of all-purpose flour with kosher salt, pepper, and paprika.

Get your peanut oil up to 375 degrees (you can use a deep fryer or an enamel pot).

Dredge your egg white halves in your flour mix, then dip in a beaten egg wash, and then panko breadcrumbs. Try to get them as fully coated as you can.

Drop a few into your frying oil at a time.

Give them a minute or two. Once they turn golden brown, get them out and let them rest until they are cool enough to handle.

Pipe your yolk mixture into the center.

Sprinkle the tops with paprika and dill, and serve.

Lane Olsen-Cooper - CNSM Assistant to the Dean

Mom's German Brussels Sprouts

  • Bag of Fresh Brussels Sprouts
  • Bacon (Fried bacon - broken into small bite-size pieces)
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Pepper
  • Garlic seasoning

Boil the brussels sprouts to soften, drain. Cut the sprouts in half.

Fry sprouts in butter, flipping frequently. Then sprinkle brussels sprouts with virgin olive oil and stir in bacon bits.

Season to taste with pepper and/or garlic.

Serve hot or warm.

Fun Fact: Turkey was the first food eaten on the moon by astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Stay Safe & Healthy CNSM.