May 2023: Accomplishments of the CSULB community
Lindsay Kerr named April Employee of the Month
Kerr has worked for the past six years in AIM, providing input on accessibility, including electronic documents and campus environments for people who are blind or have low vision abilities. In addition to checking websites and documents for accessibility, she also proofreads Braille documents and makes corrections when necessary.
“Lindsay is a spirit of ‘I can do this’ and never gives up on advocating for herself and others,” said Mary Nguyen, director of the Bob Murphy Access Center. “She is knowledgeable, fierce, and is going to make a name for herself as a future educator to young minds. Lindsay always is connected to the latest and greatest with regards to accessibility and assistive technology. She always points us in the right direction when we have questions on how we can create an accessible living environment.”
President’s Awards announced
President Jane Close Conoley and Provost Karen Scissum Gunn have announced the 2022-23 President’s Awards for Outstanding Faculty Achievement. This year, 20 faculty members are being recognized for demonstrating outstanding and sustained academic achievement in teaching, service, research, scholarly and creative activity, administration and success initiatives.
The awards are also meant to acknowledge the work of faculty that aligns with the strategic initiatives reflected in Beach 2030. Each President’s Award includes a monetary prize of $10,000. Faculty in eight colleges have been recognized. For a complete list, check out the Office of the President’s website.
Beach professor and CSU colleagues receive Momentum Award
Bonnie Gasior, Ph.D., a professor in Spanish, was part of a Cal State University team that recently won a prestigious national award for training fellow faculty to assist students with their mental health.
On April 30, the National Council of Mental Wellbeing recognized the CSU with its inaugural Mental Health First Aid Momentum Award for its work promoting positive community change through education and faculty-led support for those experiencing mental health challenges, such as depression and substance use disorders.
Gasior co-founded the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program at the CSUs in 2019. Gasior and fellow Spanish professor Darci Strother of Cal State San Marcos became certified to facilitate MHFA training, then were named faculty fellows for Student Mental Health and Wellbeing through the CSU’s Innovative Teaching and Future Faculty Development program. The two developed webinars to prepare faculty and student support professionals to become virtual mental health allies.
Since then, they have trained more than 600 CSU faculty members in MHFA across all 23 campuses. Gasior and Strother were present at the Los Angeles Convention Center to accept the award with other CSU colleagues.
College of Business students win Innovation Challenge
BookBound, a class assignment turned into a business, won first place at this year’s Sunstone Innovation Challenge, rewarding the team of five College of Business students with $15,000. The CSU-sponsored challenge is a “Shark Tank”-style, business plan competition to award students with funds toward their start-ups.
BookBound is a free app where readers can engage with each other by joining book discussions, posting reviews, viewing reading statistics, engaging with authors, and tracking reading milestones. Readers will also pay a subscription which will have a book sent to their home each month.
BookBound’s five members are: Nathan Deo, Elias Babaalian-Morales, Jaelyn Guiterrez, Jorge Zuniga and Sammy Alhussain.
Master’s student receives NSF research fellowship
Biological Sciences master’s student Emily Blackwell recently received the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to conduct her work in the CSULB Mammal Lab. She aims to study the impacts of urban heat islands and artificial light at night on urban mammals. According to Blackwell, “These are two pervasive stressors found in cities across the world that degrade urban habitat and can make it difficult for urban mammals to continue their normal activities. The urban heat island effect causes cities to be hotter than surrounding areas, and artificial light at night pollutes the natural darkness of nighttime.”
Blackwell said she will be using wildlife camera traps, which take photos of animals, to study animals such as raccoons, opossums, coyotes and squirrels. Her fellowship includes a $111,000 stipend to be paid over three years, as well as $36,000 in tuition payments to The Beach.
Engineering professor helps increase enrollment by 65%
Jalala Torabzadeh, Ph.D., chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) department, has managed the largest increase in student enrollment in the department’s history. Under his leadership, student headcount in MAE increased by 65% from 1,053 to 1,739 between 2012 and 2022. Torabzadeh has also hired 12 new faculty members during his 10-year tenure as chair, a 60% increase.
Torabzadeh plays an active role in Beach 2030 as one of its first members, and leads Beach 2030’s Advance Partnerships for Public Good initiative, which aims to foster strategic partnerships with public, private, government, nonprofit organizations and various industries, including Boeing, Northrop Grumman and SpaceX.