Research @ the Beach

Spring 2024

Each semester, this online publication is produced to recognize faculty and students for their work. Our Spring 2024 issue of Research @ the Beach highlights ongoing faculty research and the 2024 Faculty Internal Multidisciplinary Grant, Mini-Grant, and Summer Stipend recipients. In this issue:

Discover how Hossein Sayadi is using artificial intelligence to drive innovation in computer science and engineering; Michelle Alancar is empowering individuals by emphasizing fitness, nutrition, and behvior modification; Madeleine Liseblad’s media history research; and how CPaCE and COE are partnering together to provide training to California’s local agencies.

You can also discover how Banafsheh Behad is examining applications of operations research and management science to public policy questions; Isacar Bolaños’ work on historical perspectives on the varied and uneven effects of contemporary environmental issues; and Lora Stevens-Landon and Paul Scotton’s research on detecting the environmental impacts of war in Ancient Greece.
Finally, we are proud to highlight the amazing research of graduate student Carlos A. Fitch, undergraduate students Miriam Adhanom and Mariana Villegas, and the accomplishments of the 2023 - 2024 McNair Scholars.

More information can be accessed by clicking the topics below. 

Awardee Project Title Department Award Type
Paul Laris Increasing capacity and access at the River Ridge Ranch environmental field station Geography Mini-Grant ($5,000)
May Ling Halim Waiting for Prince Charming: Young Children's Knowledge and Beliefs About Romantic Love Psychology Mini-Grant ($5,000)
Samar Needham The Effect of Stress on Emotional Working Memory Psychology  Mini-Grant ($5,000)
Houng-Wei Tsai Androgen receptor regulation of sexual dimorphism in anxiety-like and cognitive behaviors in mice Biological Sciences Mini-Grant ($5,000)
Michelle Barrack Evaluating energy availability using doubly labeled water and evaluating relationships with reported dietary intake and resting metabolic rate in female adolescent endurance runners Family and Consumer Sciences Mini-Grant ($5,000)
Nizan Shaked Art Against the System School of Art Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Jeff Janisheski Site-Specific Theatre Project with LA-Based Playwright, Paula Cizmar Theatre Arts Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Sam Anvari UX/UI Research (Car Buck for UX and P-English for Typography and Linguistics) School of Art Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Claudia Barrulas-Yefremian Balancing Act: The Challenges and Triumphs of Small Business and Women Entrepreneurship Management  Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Heather Macias “If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”: Teachers’ perceptions of the social-emotional learning embedded in drag Teacher Education Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Hossein Sayadi To What Degree Can AI Assist? Exploring the Role of ChatGPT  in Computer Science Education CECS Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Feike Leij Transfer Functions to Quantify Water Flow in the Vadose Zone Civil Engineering and Construction  Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Andrea Calabrese Study of the Principles Governing the Response of Metamaterials for Structural Control Civil Engineering and Construction  Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Parviz Yavari Environmental Impact on High strength Aluminum Alloys Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Hongzhao Liu Development of a Novel Minimalist Autopilot System for Small Unmanned Aircraft: Capability Advancement after Feasibility Evaluation Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Maryanne Diaz Getting Sober with Satan: A Qualitative Analysis of the Satanic Temple Sober Faction Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Emergency Management Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Kevin Valenzuela The Biomechanical Effects of Different Percussive Massage Modalities on Vertical Jump Performance and Knee Extensor Strength Kinesiology Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Joshua Cotter Short-Duration Simulated Microgravity Alters Human Skeletal Muscle Myonuclear Morphology Kinesiology Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Kurt Escobar The Effect of Creatine Supplementation on Acute Exercise Glycemic Control Kinesiology Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Tina Zhao The impact of citizenship status and healthcare access among California’s immigrant Latinx communities on drug overdose mortality rates Public Policy and Administration Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Melissa Maceyko Organizations Speaking Out: Impacts on the Passage of Discriminatory Policy & Legal Decisions Anthropology Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Loretta Ramirez Get Back to Where You Once Belonged: A Chicana-Apache Professor’s Autoethnography on Racial and Rhetorical Belongings Chicano and Latino Studies Summer Stipend ($4,650)
San Bolkan Student Success and Student Struggle: Using Latent Class Analysis to Determine Why First-Year Students Stop Out of College Communication Studies Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Amy Heyse From ‘Lawlessness’ to ‘Racial Injustice’: Presidential Responses to Racialized Violence from Ford through W. Bush Communication Studies  Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Christopher Shaw “The Secret World of the Creole: Omissions, Evasions, and the Chameleonic Creole Code” Comparative World Literature Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Scott Winslow Evaluating the Efficacy of Drone-Mounted LiDAR Sensors for Estimating Aboveground Biomass in California Blue Oak Woodlands Geography Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Sean Smith The Pike and Prejudice: Gaming Spaces and Urban Transformation in Long Beach, California History Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Ulices Pina Rebellious Citizens: Social Upheaval and Democracy in Revolutionary Mexico History Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Heather Rae-Espinoza Using patient and carer insights to inform a real-world study of treatment experience with rare cancer Human Development Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Colleen Ahland The Expression of Number in Africa: A Typological Overview Linguistics Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Michael Ahland Compilation and Editing of Raw Data Appendices, Two-Language Dictionary, Corpus of Six Texts and Subject Index for Contracted Book (Due in Summer) Linguistics Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Gabriella Hancock Conservation Psychology: Determining the Psychological Underpinnings of Animal and Habitat Pro-Conservation Behaviors to Promote Global Biodiversity Psychology  Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Amy Wax The Validation of a Scale to Measure Ambivalent Homoprejudice toward Lesbian Women at Work Psychology Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Paul Weers Identification of the lipoprotein binding site in apolipoprotein III Chemistry and Biochemistry Summer Stipend ($4,650)
Enrico Tapvicza Machine Learning of Nuclear Forces for Large-scale Molecular Dynamics Simulations in Chemically Complex Environments Chemistry and Biochemistry Summer Stipend ($4,650)


Applicant College Co-Applicant College Application Title
Lora Landon CNSM Paul Scotton CLA Detecting the Environmental Impacts of War in Ancient Greece
Min Gu CED Zakiya Atkinson COTA Investigating Inclusive Arts Practices: A Global Exploration of Arts, Disability, and Race
Jingyi Zeng COE Sarshar Arash COE Engaging Student Learning with Fluid Mechanics Activities in Introductory Teaching Labs
Eun Jung Chae COE Ga-Young Suh COE Multi-modal Approach to Analyze the Dynamics of the Inferior Vena Cava (IVC)
Sam Zeff CHHS I-Hung Khoo COE Developing an augmented reality based dynamic visual acuity assessment
Mortaza Saeidi COE Anna Lee COE 3D Printing of Graphene-Based Electrodes for Electrochemical Energy Storage Devices
Alex Klotz CNSM Siavash Ahrar COE Engaging Student Learning with Fluid Mechanics Activities in Introductory Teaching Labs


Hossein Sayadi

Hossein Sayadi, PhD 
Assistant Professor
Department of Computer Engineering and Computer Science
College of Engineering 

Driving Innovation in Computer Science and Engineering Through Artificial Intelligence

Dr. Hossein Sayadi is an Assistant Professor of Computer Engineering and Computer Science in the College of Engineering. His research primarily centers on areas of hardware security, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, cybersecurity, computer architecture, and computer science education.

Dr. Sayadi’s journey into the field of computer science and engineering was fueled by an enduring fascination with innovation and technological advancement and their transformative impact on society. This early passion, along with a profound appreciation for excellence in education, inspired him to pursue a doctoral degree, and subsequently he embarked on a tenure-track faculty career in computer engineering and computer science, joining CSULB in August 2019. He eagerly embraced the opportunity to contribute to this emerging field and educate and inspire the next generation of aspiring engineers and scientists.
With over 17 years of academic experience in computer engineering and computer science, Dr. Sayadi’s commitment to advancing the field through high-quality research and scholarship has remained unwavering. He is the founder and director of the Intelligent, Secure, and Energy-Efficient Computing (iSEC) Lab at CSULB. Dr. Sayadi’s groundbreaking research endeavors have resulted in more than 70 peer-reviewed publications in esteemed conferences and journals, 1 book editorship in Springer focused on AI-enabled Electronic Design Automation, in addition to authoring multiple book chapters. Notably, his research contributions have been disseminated in top venues in the field, encompassing flagship conferences such as DAC, DATE, ICCAD, ASPDAC, ISCAS, BioCAS, FIE, EDUCON, as well as distinguished journals like IEEE Micro, IEEE Access, JETCAS, and TOMPECS.
Dr. Sayadi have secured significant funding for his research efforts, including multiple prestigious grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and research awards from CSULB. Notable among these achievements are two NSF grants: one for Enabling Biomedical Hardware-Assisted Cybersecurity (NSF ECCS-ERI: $200,000) and another for Secure Communication in Wearable Devices (NSF CISE-MSI: $300,000). Additionally, he has received several internal awards including two ORED Multidisciplinary Research Grants ($15,000) for the periods of 2021-2022 and 2023-2024, and multiple RSCA mini grants. These resources have empowered him to cultivate multidisciplinary research collaborations within the department, college, and beyond. Dr. Sayadi actively involves both undergraduate and graduate students, including those from underrepresented minority groups, in engaging and practical research projects. This not only enriches their educational experiences but also contributes to advancements in the field of computer science and engineering, equipping students with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the job market.
In his research pursuits, Dr. Sayadi has embraced multiple significant directions, spanning both technical computing research and education research. On the technical research front, his research projects mainly lie in pioneering effective and robust AI-enabled solutions to enhance security, performance, and energy efficiency across various domains including high-performance computing, embedded systems, biomedical devices, and Internet of Things (IoT). One of his ongoing research initiatives, supported by NSF’s Engineering Research Initiation (ERI) program, revolves around developing advanced AI-enabled performance-aware techniques to achieve accurate, cost-efficient, and adaptive detection and identification of complex cyber attacks, such as malware and side-channel attacks. This research initiative aims to enhance the security and resilience of computer systems at the hardware level against emerging cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
On the education research front, Dr. Sayadi has dedicated his efforts to exploring innovative solutions aimed at improving equity-driven education. Recognizing the paramount importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in both research and education, Dr. Sayadi’s research team has leveraged emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning, and data analytics for elevating personalized and adaptive learning. Furthermore, this research delves into conducting gender and race bias analysis within computer science and engineering education as well as broader academic communities. Through the strategic utilization of technology, the overarching goal of Dr. Sayadi’s research is to cultivate equitable and inclusive learning environments for students while promoting culturally responsive education within CSULB academic community and beyond. By fostering collaborative research efforts and involving students from diverse backgrounds in cutting-edge multidisciplinary research projects, Dr. Sayadi’s research group continues to push the boundaries of knowledge, driving innovation and advancing inclusive excellence within academia.

Michelle Alancar

Michelle Alancar, PhD
Department of Kinesiology
College of Health and Human Services

Empowering Individuals Through Emphasizing Fitness, Nutrition, and Behavior Modification

Dr. Alencar, is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology in the Option area of Fitness. She is an avid researcher and key opinion leader in the area of  mobile health, telehealth, and insurance-reimbursable lifestyle coaching.  Dr. Alencar got into her line of research because of a close personal experience in the journey of wellness by witnessing her mother’s battle with obesity and diabetes,. Dr. Alencar saw how broken the current healthcare system. With a focus on sick-care and prescription medications, there was no integration of the whole person. Current healthcare doesn’t even touch the areas that impact a person the most (nutrition, fitness, mental/emotional wellbeing, support). She sought out to see how holistic wellness can empower people to be their own advocates to a better health and quality of life through health coaching.

Dr. Alencar leverages her expertise to empower individuals, emphasizing fitness, nutrition, and behavior modification to unlock their potential to reverse or prevent chronic conditions through lifestyle change. Dr. Alencar is a trailblazer in the field of Exercise Physiology and Adult Weight Management, wears multiple hats: a Ph.D. holder, a Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, and a Certified Clinical Nutritionist. Her impressive resume extends to include certifications as a Certified Nutrition Coach, Medical Exercise Specialist, Lifestyle Therapeutics Health Coach, CDC- Lifestyle Coach  Master Trainer, ACSM-Certified Exercise Physiologist, and NSCA-Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist.
Dr. Alencar has received funding from the NIH and private sector grants to support her initial clinical trials targeted on leveraging telemedicine-based health coaching to support patients with obesity.  Her first study at CSULB was the first of its kind to investigate the effectiveness of a telemedicine-based weight loss program enhanced with video conference health coaching support when compared to standard of care. In an era where obesity rates are on the rise and access to traditional healthcare services can be limited, telemedicine offers a promising solution for reaching and supporting individuals seeking to manage their weight. The inclusion of video conference health coaching with digital tools adds a personalized touch, potentially improving adherence and outcomes. Understanding the efficacy of such programs is crucial for informing healthcare providers and policymakers about viable strategies for combating the obesity epidemic and promoting healthier lifestyles in populations with diverse needs and constraints. Today, her research has extended beyond obesity and applies health coaching to various chronic conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea, hypertension, and many others with her most recent publication accepted for publication in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine to be shared shortly.
Dr. Michelle Alancar presenting on the future of wellness technology
Dr. Alancar presenting on the future of wellness technology
Dr. Alencar’s dedication extends beyond her own research endeavors. Her research impacts CSULB by providing service-learning based research assistantships to current students through her direct industry involvement with the health coaching organization inHealth Lifestyle Therapeutics. She co-founded the organization back in 2015 based on her positive research in this area and true passion for the field of health coaching. This allows Dr. Alencar to support bridging the gap that exists between academia and industry by providing CSULB students the opportunity to participate in a robust internship experience. Students benefit from the exposure to research and data-driven projects as well as opportunities to prepare for a potential health coaching career. She is equally passionate about teaching and mentoring the next generation of researchers and health coaches. Her commitment to education and industry ensures that her expertise and insights are passed on, inspiring and shaping the minds of future scientists and wellness professionals.
Dr. Michlle Alancar with student
Dr. Alancar is passionate about teaching and mentoring students
Dr. Alencar can be followed on LinkedIn at

Dr. Madeleine Liseblad

Madeleine Liseblad, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Journalism and Public Relations
College of Liberal Arts

An Award-Winning Combination: Collaborations and Media History Research

Dr. Madeleine Liseblad is an assistant professor in the Journalism & Public Relations Department. Prior to academia, she was a journalist and a PR professional. She conducts primarily historical and qualitative research focused on television news.

Why did you become interested in your research area and methodology?
I have always been fascinated by history and why things are the way they are. Having a history interest and being a former journalist, it was natural to be attracted to the history method and media research. You are uncovering evidence, just like an investigative reporter. And the history method is very similar to writing a longer article; you weave your evidence into your narrative.
What do you research?
I gravitate toward broadcast history. However, for me research is really about what interests me—the opportunities I find—and if I can fit it into what I already know in terms of methodologies or theories. And if I don’t have proficiency to pursue a topic, I find someone who has expertise and collaborate. For example, I worked with Kirstin Pellizzaro (Arizona State) on the quantitative study “Reporting from My Home: Location Effect on the Para-Social Phenomenon and the News Broadcast Industry,” published in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. I am not a quantitative researcher, but I do know para-social interaction. This successful collaboration won First Place, Open Paper Category, from the Broadcast Education Association’s News Division in 2021.
History research is often a solo endeavor because it does not have traditional sections, making it hard to divide work between researchers. For example, literature is weaved into the narrative, not a separate section. Having said that, I have been very fortunate in my academic career to have worked with fantastic research partners who complement me. Most of my award-winning studies are with co-authors.
My current research is largely based on the Lee Zhito Collection at the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). Lee Zhito spent almost 50 years at Billboard magazine, working his way up from part-time writer to publisher. This research began as a collaboration because MTSU professor Greg Pitts heard this was a new, unexplored collection. He is not a historian, but knows radio and Billboard. He invited me to examine the collection with him. That collaboration has now resulted in three journal articles “‘A Good Honest Journeyman Newspapering:’ Billboard’s Lee Zhito Exposes Editorializing at George A. Richards’s ‘Station of the Stars’” in American Journalism, “Uniting an Industry: Billboard’s International Music Industry Conferences, 1969-1985” in the Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association, and “Breaking the Billboard Magazine Mold: The Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson and Julio Iglesias Super Specials” in Journalism History. We have done seven conference presentations and won two prestigious research awards. In 2021, we won the Wm. David Sloan Award for Outstanding Faculty Paper from the American Journalism Historians Association; the award is the holy grail for a media historian. This year, we won the First Place, Open Paper Category, from the Broadcast Education Association’s History Division. And we are not done with our research collaboration.
One of my longer research projects was my book, American Consultants and the Marketization of Television News in the United Kingdom (New York: Peter Lang, 2020). It focused on how news consultants spread the American television news format abroad. I was lucky to get exclusive access to company archives, and my book only contained a small portion of the material I collected. This is a research area I am planning to return to soon.
Why study media history? Why is it important?
Media history shows us why we are where we are today and it can provide a glimpse of the future. For example, our current global TV news format is thanks to audience research and news consultants, originating in the 1960s and 1970s with Eyewitness News and Action News. Media history provides a roadmap for the present and the future.
I firmly believe in the information and watchdog functions of journalism. And I believe just as strongly that I have a responsibility as a media historian to uncover important people, organizations, and events that may have been forgotten. The past provides important context.

Tom O'Brien Headsho

Tom O'Brien, PhD
Associate Dean
College of Continuing and Professional Education

Collegiate Partners: How CPaCE and COE Work Together to Support California's Local Agencies in Delivering Training

It’s likely that the least known and perhaps least understood College within CSULB is the College of Professional and Continuing Education (CPaCE). College of Professional and Continuing Education | CSULB  CPaCE works with campus, business, community and international partners to offer a diverse range of degrees, professional development certificates, and short-and long-term international education programs. As a College, we are most visible when partnering with other academic units in assisting them with the development, marketing and administration of self-support degree programs; but we also play an important role in connecting the campus to the external partners who can help us better understand the needs of employers for not only degrees but also non-degree credentials. Partner input also helps us better align the changing demand for skills in the workplace with the education programs offered on our campus. All of this allows CPaCE to contribute in unique ways to the broader mission of the university and the goals of the Beach 2030 strategic plan.

In the 2022-23 academic year, CPaCE-related enrollment in for-credit, professional and specialized or customized programs totaled more than 29,000 students. These include enrollments in summer sessions and open university seats, the American Language Institute and a wide range of professional programs in areas as diverse as crime and intelligence analysis, global logistics, human resource management, and bio manufacturing applications.
Another area of CPaCE activity is in transportation-related research and training, including providing support to the Port of Long Beach and Long Beach Unified School District for the Academy of Global Logistics (AGL) at Cabrillo High School AGL - Academy of Global Logistics - Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo High School ( CPaCE’s work for AGL involves curriculum development and industry coordination for this unique Port-supported four year pathway in logistics. Like the large majority of transportation-related projects in CPaCE, AGL is coordinated through the Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT), which receives a large majority of its funding from the US Department of Transportation, Caltrans and a number of other organizations. Last year CITT received over $2.8 million in awards to support research on our campus, and the development and piloting of workforce training programs.
One of CPaCE’s and CITT’s key partners in the area of transportation is the College of Engineering (COE), College of Engineering | California State University Long Beach ( which in 2023-24 enrolled nearly 6,200 students in 12 different degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate level, and secured $7.1 million in funded research. The two Colleges have worked together on a number of projects including COE’s B.S degrees in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering offered by CSULB in the Antelope Valley. CPaCE, through its Office of Professional and Workforce Development (OPWD), has also provided grant support for a zero emissions vehicle training program led by COE faculty.
It is in two other areas however where the COE and CPaCE partnership most effectively demonstrates the potential value to the University and the State of strategic collaboration between an academic college and a professional and continuing education unit.  Since 2018, the College of Engineering and CPaCE have led CSULB’s efforts as part of the California State University Transportation Consortium (CSUTC). California State University Transportation Consortium | Mineta Transportation Institute ( CSUTC is a group headed by the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University and which also includes CSU Chico and Fresno State in addition to CSULB. The CSUTC generates research and workforce training programs using funds generated by California’s Senate Bill 1 and that support the improved mobility of people and goods and strengthen the State's economy.
CSUTC projects have involved researchers on 14 campuses. In the first six years of the program, CSULB has been awarded funding for 66 of the CSUTC’s total 198 projects, more than any other single campus. These projects reflect the diversity and strengths of our two colleges with Engineering faculty undertaking valuable research in the areas of automated truck platooning, vehicle-generated wind energy for electric power generation, and performance testing of hot mix asphalt among others. CPaCE/CITT has drawn upon its strengths in applied freight research and workforce development for projects that range from the development of a GIS in Transportation curriculum for a middle school summer program, and an assessment of Best Practices for recruitment and retention of the transportation and highway construction workforce. The combined skills and approaches of our two colleges help COE and CPaCE demonstrate our leadership in transportation research, education and training across the educational continuum and across the State.
I have supported the College of Engineering’s Hamid Rahai in his role as CSUTC lead for our campus. We have a similar partnership in the CA Local Technical Assistance Program (CALTAP) Center California LTAP (, this time with CPaCE and CITT taking the lead. Like the CSUTC, CALTAP is also part of a broader network, this one national in scope. The LTAP program is managed by the Federal Highway Administration; has existed since 1982; and assists local, rural, and tribal transportation agencies by offering low-to-no cost access to workforce training and technical assistance. There is an LTAP Center in each of the 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Dr. Hamid Rahai
Dr. Rahai plays a critical role in the CPaCE and COE partnership
In California, CALTAP is managed by Caltrans’ Division of Local Assistance (DLA) and the audience for local assistance in a state of our size is vast.  CALTAP serves the State’s more than 600 local public agencies, which includes 58 counties and 482 municipalities, cities, regional transportation planning agencies (RTPAs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), towns, special districts, and tribal communities.  CITT administers the program, undertakes statewide needs assessments, manages the logistics of training, and coordinates with tribal governments on transportation-related training. We also design our own programming including classes that train non-GIS technicians how to use geospatial information systems for purposes of community outreach among other local government responsibilities. 
Trainings are a critical resource in training California's workforce
Dr. Rahai’s unique contribution has been in the development of a series of training modules that together comprise the Sustainable Engineering Training Academy (SETA). SETA courses on the Environmental Impacts of Construction Projects, Fugitive Dust Mitigation, GHG Emissions Mitigation, and Renewable Energy have already been delivered with more modules on the way.
The Sustainable Engineering Training Academy (SETA) has multiple courses available
One again, our complementary strengths allow both CPaCE and the College of Engineering to support California’s local agencies in delivering training to their employees in ways that are informed by our research and deep knowledge of both transportation and workforce development. The partnership is clearly one where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, reflects the potential for even more collaborative efforts, and positions CSULB at the forefront of transportation research, education and training among not only the CSUs but California’s colleges and universities in general.

Dr. Banafsheh Behzad

Banafsheh Behad, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Information Systems
College of Business

Examining Applications of Operations Research and Management Science to Public Policy Questions

I am an Associate Professor of Information Systems in the College of Business. My research examines applications of Operations Research and Management Science to public policy related questions, such as negotiating pricing contracts for vaccines and mitigating the spread of fake news on social media.

My interest in studying public policy problems started when I was a PhD student in University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As an Industrial Engineering student, my focus on the practical applications of mathematical methodologies naturally led me to explore their potential in addressing real-world challenges. As part of my dissertation, I created a game theory model to study the competition between the pediatric vaccine manufacturers in the United States and how the government negotiates the vaccine prices with the manufacturers.  My research demonstrated an analytical approach for managerial government officials to influence pediatric vaccine prices via the procurement of public-sector goods. As an academic researcher at CSULB, I furthered my research by exploring additional mathematical models aimed at providing insights into the United States pediatric vaccine market. In 2021, my research addressed the COVID-19 vaccine pricing, using optimization and game theoretic approaches. This study provided insights to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as they negotiated vaccine prices with manufacturers. The prices suggested by our mathematical model were consistent with those predicted in the media. My research in vaccine pricing have yielded seven scholarly journal publications.
As a researcher, I was driven to explore and investigate a variety of other issues and challenges. After the 2016 Presidential election, I developed an interest in studying the prevalence and propagation of fake news in social media. The propagation of fake news on social media is widely believed to have influenced the outcome of national elections, including the 2016 United States Presidential Election. My research question was what drives the propagation of fake news on an individual level, and which interventions could effectively reduce the propagation rate? On this topic, I co-authored one journal publication.
Meanwhile, I have also explored several other public health-related issues, including the impact of automobile travel on obesity, the correlation between obesity and seatbelt usage, and the impact of lifestyle choices on life expectancy.

Dr. Isacar Bolanos

Isacar Bolaños, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of History
College of Liberal Arts

Historical Perspectives on the Varied and Uneven Effects of Contemporary Environmental Issues

As an undergraduate student majoring in History at the University of California, San Diego, I enrolled in several courses on the history of the Middle East. Through these courses, I developed an interest in the history of the Ottoman Empire. This empire existed between the fourteenth and early twentieth centuries, and at its height, it ruled parts of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. I was particularly fascinated by the fact that the history of the Ottoman Empire could provide important insights into many contemporary issues in the Middle East. That realization inspired my initial interest in the Ottoman roots of nationalist movements in the region, and as I began my doctoral training in History at Ohio State University, I thought that I would write a dissertation on this topic. However, over the course of my doctoral studies, I began thinking about Ottoman history in ways that I had not previously considered; I began to take seriously the role of environmental crises in shaping the empire’s past.

My interest in this approach to Ottoman history was the direct result of reading works on the environmental history of the Ottoman Empire as part of my preparation for my comprehensive exams. As I read the work of scholars who offered new insights into the history of the Ottoman Empire by examining how epidemics, climate anomalies, and other natural disasters affected Ottoman society, I began to wonder whether this approach could lead to a similar rethinking of one of the empire’s least studied regions—Iraq. As I read archival documents produced by Ottoman authorities during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, I came to realize that these officials were very concerned with several environmental issues in Iraq. Among the most important of these were disastrous flooding along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, epidemics of cholera and plague, and droughts that were a contributing factor to famines. I also came to realize that the Ottoman government’s response to these crises increased state authority in the region, primarily through quarantine measures, large-scale hydraulic infrastructure projects, and famine relief operations.
The developments are the topic of my current book project, Disaster at the Margins of Empire: Droughts, Epidemics, and Floods in Late Ottoman Iraq. In 2022, I received a year-long fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies to work on this book. To date, I have published two peer-reviewed articles related to the environmental history of Ottoman Iraq:
  • “The Ottomans during the Global Crises of Cholera and Plague: The View from Iraq and the Gulf,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 51.4 (2019): 603-620.
  • “Water, Engineers, and French Environmental Imaginaries of Ottoman Iraq, 1868-1908,” Environmental History 27.4 (2022): 772-798.
While my research focuses on the environmental history of Ottoman Iraq, the environmental crises that I examine—droughts, epidemics, and floods—often had a global component: droughts and floods could be influenced by global climate patterns, such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation; localized epidemics of cholera and plague were often tied to global pandemics. Thinking of environmental issues in global ways has led me to develop two new courses that CSULB students interested in environmental issues can take. These courses are “HIST 397: Global Environmental History” and “HIST 398: Global Histories of Health, Medicine, and Disease.” Both courses demonstrate how environmental factors give us important insights in the history of major developments that have shaped the creation of the modern world, including industrialization, internationalism, and globalization, among others. More broadly, it is my hope that through these courses—and through my research—I can further the goals of the President’s Commission on Sustainability by offering historical perspective on the varied and uneven effects of contemporary environmental issues, such as climate change and pandemics.

Dr. Lora Stevens-Landon

Lora Stevens-Landon, PhD
Professor & Chair of Earth Science
Department of Earth Science
College of Natural Science and Mathematics

Dr. Paul Scotton

Paul Scotton, PhD
Classics Program
College of Liberal Arts


Advancing Digital Technologies in Education

Ever since she began work on her PhD 30 years ago, Lora Stevens’ research has focused on understanding past climate change, particularly droughts. She has worked in SE Asia, Iran, and North America. Her work often overlaps with events in human history, such as the rise and fall of civilizations, so it is a natural transition for her to collaborate with Dr. Paul Scotton to expand his research on Lechaion Harbor in Greece.

Paul Scotton began excavating at Ancient Corinth over 30 years ago. His archaeological career includes excavating at the Minoan site of Pseira, the Mycenaean sites of Mycenae and Gla, and the Roman site at Campo del Chiase.

The history of Lechaion is incredibly rich.  As the primary port of Ancient Corinth, it served as a commercial hub for both ancient Greeks and Romans for over a millennium.  It has been witness to many societal changes and was even the site of battles.  Some of its history is documented in the ruins that are currently being excavated by Scotton and his team.  But more information can be gleaned by analyzing the sediments in basins within the harbor for tell-tale signs of human activity.

Our initial joint project “Detecting the Environmental Impacts of War in Ancient Greece” received funding from CSULB ORED Multidisciplinary Grant. This project is looking at only a small slice of history at Lechaion Harbor to see if we can identify the effects of war and war-readiness in the ancient world. We know from historical and archaeological records when and where the fighting took place.  Now we will use cores collected near the battle sites to look for traces of heavy metals in the sediment that are a by-product of early smelting.  We aim to determine if a single multi-day battle using early armaments along with a decades-long state of war-readiness leave a measurable footprint on the environment.

The collaboration between our two disciplines is very exciting. There is so much potential there.  Throughout history, humans have impacted their environments by modifying the landscape, altering the natural vegetation, and leaving behind pollution. In turn, their lives were also impacted by changes in their environment and climate.  Unravelling these intersections provides a deeper understanding of how human societies have developed over the millennia and can provide a framework by which to measure modern impacts. Furthermore, the collaboration of two seemingly different disciplines, Classics and Earth Science, really highlights the power of interdisciplinary thinking and the potential advances that can be made when we step outside our comfort zones.

Carlos A. Fitch

Carlos A. Fitch
Master of Arts in Equity, Education, and Social Justice
Border Frictions: A Qualitative Exploration of Queer Tranfronterizx Students at the Rural California Borderlands’ Higher Education Institutions
Thesis Chair: Dra. Lindsay Pérez Huber
CED Scholar Femtor: Dr. Betina Hsieh, University of Washington
Femtor: Dra. Vannessa Falcón Orta, SDSU-I

Graduate Research Summary

Carlos A. Fitch is a Master of Arts candidate in Equity, Education, and Social Justice whose thesis explores Queer Transfronterizx students navigating higher education, making agency of their Queer bodies, and resisting the militarized border along the rural borderlands of California – Baja California. This study is novel in its approach, and its findings can both transform the understanding of Queer Transfronterizx students in higher education and inform universities on how to better support this community of students.

Carlos A. Fitch Art
Carlos A. Fitch's goal was to provide a meaningful analysis of the layered oppressions experienced by Transfronterizx students with various minoritized identities, including identifying as a Queer of Color, in a rural border context

Fitch utilized testimonio (Pérez Huber, 2009) and pláticas (Fierros & Delgado Bernal, 2016) research methods that (a) disrupt colonial Eurocentric epistemologies, (b) are grounded in Critical Race Feminista praxis and Chicana Feminist Epistemologies (Delgado Bernal & Alemán, 2017; Delgado Bernal & Villalpando, 2002; Delgado Bernal, et. al., 2006; Morága & Anzaldúa, 1981), and (c) acknowledge the diverse theorizing and methodological perspectives of Communities of Color. Fitch’s approach expanded the pláticas method to capture the intersection of jotería and Queerness by combining Chicana Feminist pláticas with jotería pláticas as theorized by González et al. (2023) to create pláticas atravesadas. His goal was to provide a meaningful analysis of the layered oppressions experienced by Transfronterizx students with various minoritized identities, including identifying as a Queer of Color, in a rural border context. 

Fitch recruited collaborators to participate in his study through convenience and snowball sampling methods. Seven higher education students who identified as Queer and Transfronterizx, provided testimonios. Of those seven, Fitch conducted a plática atravesada with three collaborators. Fitch relied on a Jotx Critical Race Hypo as a pedagogical tool to frame the dialogue of the plática session. 

Drawing from both Latinx Critical Race Theory (LatCrit) (Solórzano & Delgado Bernal, 2001; Solórzano & Yosso, 2001) and Jotería Studies (Álvarez & Estrada, 2019; Ochoa, 2015), Fitch analyzed his data through a racist nativism conceptual framework that pinpoints everyday racism as an integral component of the everyday transnational journey of Queer Transfronterizx students (Pérez Huber et al., 2008; Pérez Huber, 2010), while positioning their homeland connection at the forefront of this border-crossing experience. Four themes emerged: 1) transing identities, 2) cis-tematic oppression and subordinations, 3) realities of resistance, and 4) jotería imagination (See Figure 1). Overall, Queer Transfronterizxs experience a spectrum of struggles and joy that are impacted by the layered and complex encounters with larger social systems as is immigration, education, and familial dynamics. 

Queer Transfronterizx are constantly traversing the US-México borderlands and the borders of gender, sexuality, immigration status, and cis-heteronormative performance. When crossing the US-México borderlands, Queer Transfronterizxs experience homophobia, queerphobia, transphobia, citizenship questioning, violations to their humanity, and other overt notions of oppression from fellow citizens and both immigration and law enforcement officers. As noted by Fabián, one of Fitch’s collaborators, these experiences of oppression are ingrained in their hypervigilant consciousness of everyday routines: 

“For a long time, it was just a constant state of worry of like, "¿Qué tal si nos quitan algo?"[1]. This constant state of being scared, even if we had nothing. It was a very low key, carceral, border crossing. There's so many things that just make you get scared. There's dogs, all these things. Seeing people with weapons or even being scared. I think I was scared for a long time because my mom had a residency status. [If] she broke the law, she would be taken away from that residency right. It wasn't until we got that citizenship [...] that all those worries aren't there anymore. They're still there in terms of when, I'm like, voy a cruzar para atrás [to México][2], I get scared. I start to think, "Shoot, do I have anything in the car?"” 

Once inside the ivory tower of higher education, Queer Transfronterizxs experience systematic invisibility of the Queer Transborder self, including the erasure of this identity in strategic planning of academic and student affairs practices that ignore and diminish Queer Transborder students’ struggles. This is noted through Miguel’s narrative, one of Fitch’s collaborators who experienced homophobia and hate discourse in the community college he attended: 

“There was this little moment at [community college] where they [Christian students] were putting up signs and posters saying 10 reasons why you shouldn't accept same sex marriage or something… articles everywhere, a bunch of articles next to each other all over the school, and it was against LGBT. It was basically hate speech. I remember people were complaining to the school about it, and they just said, "Oh, no, that's allowed because it's free speech." They just let that happen […] I remember I would take them down, and I would tell my friends to take them down […] pretty sad that the school wouldn't do anything about something pretty harmful towards the Queer community.”

Queer Transfronterizxs often articulate their human and cultural agency and transformational resistance through their intersectional identities and the pride they carry in spaces. Queer Transfronterizxs mobilize themselves to create community, engage in border consciousness and institutional accountability, and enact collective resistance through language, gender expression, and understandings of sexual pleasure. In essence, Luisito, one of Fitch’s collaborators who serves in the city council as the first openly Transfluid Latina mayor in the state of California, noted: 

“It took me a while to get back into the university system, primarily because of my connection to political activism here in this county. When I was at UC Santa Cruz, I would go back and forth the eight-hour drive […] I would go back and forth every other two weeks just to continue being involved in Imperial County, specifically with Black Lives Matter.” 

Twofold, Luisito reflected on their perceived privilege as a Transfluid Latina Transfronteriza given the proximity to México, access to two nations and two Queer scenes, while signaling the practices to challenge the cis-heteronormative system:   

“For anybody that crosses the border, the LGBT experience is that people use their cumulative wealth privilege and border-crossing privileges, those that have legal status to be able to express their LGBT [self], their gender rotations, and their sexual identities on the other side of the border where it's seen as more anonymous.”

Queer Transfronterizxs exhibited how Queer fluidity, through gender and sexual identities, linguistic choices, pronoun flexibilities, and their political positionalities pushed boundaries of borderlands to expand knowledge within their households, intimate circles, classrooms, and society-at-large. 

Fitch’s research demonstrates the racialized journeys of Transfronterizx students as they navigate the challenges imposed by the enforcement of racist and nativist practices in U.S. higher education and immigration systems. He gives voice to the Latinx students with intersecting minoritized identities traversing the US-México borderlands and brings to light their experiences with (in)equitable educational institutions as are state-funded universities. These experiences of the Transfronterizx student-collaborators are in many ways like his own.  

For three years of high school and his entire higher education journey, Fitch crossed the US-México border to remain connected to his deported parents who live on the Mexican side and to receive an American education. While Fitch was earning his bachelor’s at San Diego State, he learned of Transfronterizx student identity from the Director of their Cross-Cultural Center, Dr. Vannessa Falcón Orta. It was then that he was finally able to connect and find a Latinx cultural term where he fit, a term that represented his experience – a Transfronterizo student.

Transfronterizx students do not exist only at the US-México border, they cross borders around the globe that have been created to separate communities. More research is needed to understand the dimensions of Transfronterizx students’ experiences, their sociopolitical contexts, the immigration inequities, and sociocultural discrimination that impact them, and the effects of nativism on educational policies and Transfronterizx students. Fitch’s research lays a foundation – it is a start. 


Álvarez, E. & Estrada, J. (2019). Jotería studies. In H. Chang (Ed.), Global encyclopedia of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) history (pp. 863–867). Charles Scribner & Sons.  

Delgado Bernal, D., & Alemán, E. (2017). Transforming educational pathways for Chicana/o students: A critical race feminista praxis. New York, NY. Teachers College Press. 

Delgado Bernal, D., & Villapando, O. (2002). An apartheid of knowledge in academia: The struggle over the “legitimate” knowledge of faculty of color, Equity & Excellence in Education, 35 (2), 169-180. 

Delgado Bernal, D., Elenes, C.A., Godinez, F., & Villenas, S. (2006). Chicana/Latina education in everyday life: feminista perspectives on pedagogy and epistemology. New York, NY. Suny Press. 

Fierros, C. O. & Delgado Bernal, D. (2016). Vamos a platicar: The contours of pláticas as Chicana/Latina feminist methodology, Chicana/Latina Studies, 15 (2), 98-121.   

González, A., Orozco, R., & González, S. (2023). Joteando y mariconadas: theorizing queer pláticas for queer and/or trans Latinx/a/o research, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 1 (1). 1-17.  

Morága, C. & Anzaldúa, G. (1981). This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Fourth edition. Albany State University. New York Press.                       

Ochoa, J. (2015). Shine bright like a migrant: Julio Salgado’s digital art and its use of Jotería. Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict, & World Order, 42(3-4), 184–199.  

Pérez Huber, L., Benavides López, C., Malagón, M. C., Vélez, V., & Solórzano, D. G. (2008). Getting beyond the “symptom,” acknowledging the “disease”: Theorizing racist nativism. Contemporary Justice Review, 11(1), 39–51.   

Pérez Huber, L. (2009). Disrupting apartheid of knowledge: testimonio as methodology in Latina/o critical race research in education, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 22 (6), 639-654.  

Pérez Huber, L. (2010). Using Latina/o critical race theory (LatCrit) and racist nativism to explore intersectionality in the educational experiences of undocumented chicana college students, Educational Foundations, 77-96. 

Solórzano, D. & Delgado Bernal, D. (2001). Examining Transformational resistance Through a Critical Race and Latcrit Theory Framework: Chicana and Chicano Students in an Urban Context, Urban Education, 36 (3), 308-342.

Solórzano, D. & Yosso, T. (2001). Critical race and LatCrit theory and method: Counter-storytelling, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education14(4), 471-495.

[1] Translation: “what if they take something away from us?”

[2] Translation: “I’ll cross back [to México]”

Miriam Adhanom

Miriam Adhanom:

I entered CSULB as a Music Education and Vocal Performance major in the Fall of 2021. In the following academic year, I was taking a music history course and assigned a research paper on a musical tradition not covered in our class. As a second-generation Eritrean-American woman, I was beyond excited to write about Eritrean music. I would meet with the instructor, Dr. Ray Briggs, with questions about music history, music and academia, and how I might approach the study of my own musical heritage as an Eritrean-American. Recognizing my potential for graduate-level research, Dr. Briggs suggested that I apply for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF). I applied and was one of only four sophomores and juniors awarded the MMUF for the Fall 2022-Spring 2023 application cycle. 

My research topic developed during the Summer and Fall of 2023. With Dr. Briggs as my MMUF mentor, I wrote a 23-page research paper titled “‘My Country, The Country of Heroes’”: Resilience, Resistance, and Music During the Eritrean Struggle for Independence.” In this paper, I explored the uses of music and its socio-political implications in the 30-year effort to achieve Eritrean independence from Ethiopia.  In addition, to gain insight into relatable conceptual frameworks, I studied other revolutionary movements across the world and how the arts and culture affected social change. I applied some of those concepts to the Eritrean context. My methodological approach included drawing from my background as a musician to analyze the musicological features of selected songs, interviewing an iconic musician who experienced the war period and wrote music in response to it, and familiarizing myself with modern Eritrean history. I applied to several PhD Ethnomusicology and Musicology programs with this manuscript and was accepted to both UCLA and the University of Michigan to further my scholarly endeavors. 

My research will contribute to the diminishment of the gap in current scholarship on Eritrean music and culture. In music and general academia, East Africa is underrepresented in scholarly writing. Moreover, Eritrean music is one of the least studied topics in Eritrean cultural studies. My scholarship will enhance the musical and academic community’s understanding of how Eritrean national identity was formed. I want to help broaden the definition of what African music is, and what it means to be African. Ultimately, I want my research to unite the diaspora community and document how Eritreans outside their home country are acclimating to their new environments.

Mariana Villegas

Mariana Villegas

My research is embedded within my queer identity and simultaneously, I recognize that I have privileges as a cis-gender woman. My intention is to uplift trans voices and stories through my research to ultimately celebrate their unique lives. Although the current political narrative is hostile to the trans community, my focus is to bring their joy and creativity to the forefront of scholarship. As a queer and gender-questioning individual, I credit my exploration to those brave enough to be non-conforming. Additionally, the passion behind my research is credited to my love of music coinciding with my curiosity in performance using sexuality. I'm very excited to continue my research and creativity under the Gender Studies Ph.D program at UCLA!

My research explores how a transfemme rapera from Puerto Rico, Villano Antillano, engages with reggaeton as a queer and trans individual. Specifically, how does her presence in the man-dominated and phallocentric genre transform its gender and sex politics? Drawing theoretical concepts from Deborah R. Vargas' lo sucio and Marcos Gonsalez' trans/queer of color spectacular obfuscation, I conjugate Antillano's lyrics and visuals from her song, Vocales into my analysis.

My intention with my research is to celebrate the creativity and innovation from trans individuals and commemorate their accomplishments in queerifying old and new concepts and diversifying how we interact with potential realities. I envision this potential in CSULB culture, transcending into academic culture (and beyond!).

Graduate Acceptances

Name Major Graduation Graduation School Research Activity 
Anjelica Waight Kinesiology: Exercise Science Spring 2024 Degree:  DPT/Ph.D. Washington University, St. Louis Research Assistant, Dr. J. Dawson
Luigi Gutierrez Chemistry Spring 2024 Degree: Ph.D. University of Indiana Research Assistant, Dr. E. Marinez
August Stine-Woods Psychology Spring 2024 Degree: Ph.D. Auburn University Research Assistant, Dr. A. Johnson
Desiree Blanco Romero Psychology Spring 2024 Degree: MSW University of California, Los Angeles Research Assistant, Dr. C, Ahrens
Erick Gutierrez Chemical Engineering Spring 2024

Degree: MA Arizona State University

Research Assistant, Dr. H. Tavassol
Christian Carrillo Psychology Spring 2024

Degree: MA

Research Assistant, Dr. S. Needham
Kylie Yant Biology  Spring 2024 Degree: Biology Certificate CSULB Research Assistant, Dr. J. Brusslan

Pending Graduate and Post Baccalaureate Programs

Name Major Graduation Graduate School Research Activity
Miontranese Green Applied Statistics  Spring 2024 M.A. CSULB (pending) University of California, Los Angeles(UCLA) Research in Industrial Projects for Students (RIPS)
Dylan Kurz Sociology Spring 2024 Degree: Ph.D. Reviewing offers from UC Irvine, University of Massachusetts, Portland State University UHP and Sociology Honors
Scott Tomlinson Business Administration: Finance & Marketing Concentrations Fall 2023 Degree: Post baccalaureate Northwestern (pending) N/A
Kimberly Ayala Biomedical Engineering Spring 2024 Pending Dr. Ga-Young Kelly Suh  
Yeraldine Polo Nutrition and Dietetics Spring 2024 Degree: MPH CSULB (pending) Advancing Nutrition Development through Alliances for Education and Leadership (ÁNDALE)
Ayoola Fadonougbo  Biomedical Engineering Spring 2024 Degree: Postbaccalaureate (pending) UHP Honors Thesis

Graduates in the Industry

Name Major Graduation Research Activity
Andee Gonzalez Management Info Systems Spring 2024 UHP Honors Thesis
Savanna Hernandez Social Work Spring 2024 UHP Honors Thesis

External Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

Name Major Summer Research 2024
Maylia Brown Psychology University of Michigan(UM) Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP)
Makana Woods Kinesiology: Exercise Science University of Michigan (UM) Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP)
Darrell White Rhetoric and Composition Rutgers University (pending)
Jacob Nguyen Psychology

CSULB McNair Summer Research Internship Program

University of Souther California (USC) Summer Research (pending)

Mika Tomaya Social Work 

CSULB McNair Summer Research Internship Program

UCI Summer Research (Pending)

Martin Pelayo Computer Science  University of Michigan (UM) Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP)
Aline Curel-Silva Marine biology

CSULB McNair Summer Research Internship Program

University of California San Diego (UCSD) Summer Research (Pending)

Jose Pineda Physics Harvard University Summer Research

2023 - 2024 New McNair Cohort and Research Activity 

Name Major Summer Research Activity 2024
Viviana Hernandez Communication

CSULB McNair Summer Research Internship Program

UHP 496 Enrollment

Alejandro Duran Biochemistry 

CSULB McNair Summer Research Internship Program

UHP 496 Enrollment

Natalie Vega Psychology

CSULB McNair Summer Research Internship Program

UHP 496 Enrollment

Danny Sarmiento Mechanical Engineering

CSULB McNair Summer Research Internship Program

UHP 496 Enrollment

Heiddy Ussery Sociology

CSULB McNair Summer Research Internship Program

UHP 496 Enrollment

Shelly Fonseca Accounting

CSULB McNair Summer Research Internship Program

UHP 496 Enrollment