Three Cal Poly Pomona student research teams each earned second place in their subject category at the CSU system- wide Student Research Competition in Sacramento on May 4 to 5.
Biological and Agricultural Sciences
Janam Dave took second place in the biological and agricultural sciences session for his study, “Aerosolized Liposomal Amphotericin B (AmBisome) Maintains Antifungal Drug Concentration in Lungs for up to Five Days Post-Treatment.”
A senior majoring in biotechnology and chemical engineering, Dave worked with Professor Jill Adler-Moore over 20 months to help develop an aerosol delivery system for AmBisome and evaluated its pharmacokinetics in mice. In immune-compromised patients, Aspergillus pneumonia causes 50 to 90 percent mortality and causes 50 percent mortality even with treatment, indicating the need for improved therapy. AmBisome, an antifungal amphotericin B drug, is currently used intravenously to treat this infection. The new aerosol delivery maintained high drug concentrations to the lungs for five days.
For Dave, the best part of the project was “working in such a great lab environment with lots of resources and supportive lab mates…. Dr. Adler-Moore and senior lab scientist Jon Olson really care about my personal development and doing high quality research work…. Investigating a potential new treatment method is very exciting, challenging and rewarding. I have learned a lot about the importance of persistence. Things don’t always work the first time, and one has to be ready to refine, improve and try again. Working on a project like this has developed my ability to analyze evidence, to think creatively, and to think critically.”
Dave, who transferred to Cal Poly Pomona from Pasadena City College, plans to continue his research work as a master’s graduate student in Adler-Moore’s lab and then go to a doctoral program combining his interest in biology and engineering.
Humanities and Letters
Seniors Parveena Singh and Devon Mier, who are both majoring in English literature, were awarded second place in the humanities and letters category, for their project “Where Do I Belong, Here or Where You Are?”: A Postcolonial Feminist Reading of the “Wide Sargasso Sea” and “Corpse Song.”
“By applying a lens like postcolonial feminist theory,” said Singh, “the text reveals something new to us. The lens allows us to bring ethnic women’s stories to the foreground since they tend to be ignored in a significant amount of Western literature.”
Their paper discusses how opposing forces in power, race and social status can displace the identity of an ethnic woman. They also explore how both texts incorporate multiple concepts such as “double colonization” and “othering” in order to reinforce the economic, social, and psychological oppression of the two female protagonists. The presence of multiple identities and how they can lead to either the displacement of a woman’s identity or the reclaiming of it is also examined.
Professor Alison Baker and Professor Daan Pan served as mentors on the project.
The team of Laura Da Silva, Nguyen Nguyen and Michael Ramirez won second place for their “Innovative Classroom Assessment” of Cal Poly Pomona’s fluid mechanics class (ME 311). The students compared two sections of the ME 311 course, one taught in a traditional lecture format and the other using a “flipped classroom” model in which students watch instructional videos before class and use an online homework platform leading to more interaction in class, including team battles, where students work in teams to solve equations in a competition format.
Grade point averages, socio-emotional variables, and focus group data were collected at the beginning and end of each quarter. One of the assessment tools the students used was a survey that analyzed the psychosocial variables that contained students’ background (e.g. ethnicity, gender, parental education), students’ attitudes about themselves, and their perception about the class, including whether it was satisfying, well-prepared and enjoyable, said Nguyen, a senior majoring in psychology.
In the experimental group, 41.3 percent of students received an A. In contrast, only 14 percent of students in the control group earned an A. Tests also revealed that students in the experimental group perceived the classroom as significantly more stimulating when compared to the control group.
For Ramirez, a senior majoring in psychology, the impetus to focus on mechanical engineering was the department’s diversity.
“We wanted to help our students succeed, but especially address the disparity between people of color and women in the STEM fields.”
Ramirez will start a master’s degree in public health at UC Irvine this fall.
For Da Silva, a senior psychology major, building the relationships with engineering students was the best part of the study. In the flipped class, the engineering students “felt more confident in their abilities and ready to successfully complete the entire program. The engineering students also taught us that they are problem solvers, and that they value innovation and change. This really inspired me to continue to innovate the classroom to help our engineers succeed!”
Da Silva plans to enroll in a doctorate program in psychology with the goal of becoming a school psychologist.
The team’s paper has been accepted for publication in June by the American Society for Engineering Education. The students are also planning to run more in-depth data analysis and write a different paper on how student attitudes and background predict their performances in the course.
Professors Faye Wachs and Julianna Fuqua were the project mentors and are part of a larger collaboration with Professor Paul Nissenson, Professor Angela Shih and others in the mechanical engineering department.